The Peter Powell Stunt Kite is a classic, and copies popped up such as the Cayman stunt kite in the next section down below. Unlike most modern stunters, it was a steerable Diamond. This design enjoyed huge popularity and is still well-known today. Every kite came with a 30 meter (100 feet) plastic tubular tail which aided stability and put a grin on the face of anyone watching!
Peter and his sons have recently (in 2014) re-introduced a design based on the original, called the Sky Stunter MkIII. An exciting development for fans of this classic kite!
It was fairly straightforward to stack the Powell kites too,
so people had fun flying several at a time. This is set to continue, with the MkIII available in a stack of three.
You have to wonder if all
those super-long tails ever got tangled when more than one kite was
attached to the lines. Perhaps only one tail, on the furthest kite, was
the way to go...
1970s, millions of Peter Powell Stunt Kites were sold when stunt flying became a craze in the U.K. Mr Powell himself
lives in that corner of the world and has sons who no doubt have flown a
kite or 2 themselves by now.
Although multi-line kites have also been around for a long time, it
was the Peter Powell kite that really boosted the popularity of this
kind of controlled kite-flying. Instead of just a handful of expert
enthusiasts being involved with stunters and traction kites, the general
public ended up embracing all kinds of multi-line kiting.
'Cayman' Peter Powell Stunt Kite
Courtesy of WindPowerSports
Courtesy of WindPowerSports
These kites are not available for sale any more. However, you might find these technical details interesting, particularly if you have never actually handled the kite itself.
The photo over there shows a red and yellow Cayman. See how this
sport kite is actually a Delta in disguise! It has nearly everything a
single-line Delta has, except a keel. The 2 leading spars are there, as
is the spine down the middle and the spreader keeping the leading edges
apart. However, the spine is so long that the sail shape looks just like a Diamond from a distance!
Here's some specs:
- Wind Range: 13-65 kph (8-40 mph)
- Wingspan: 122 cm (48 inches)
- Height: 120 cm (47 inches)
- Weight: 240 grams (8.5 ounces)
- Sail Fabric: Rip-stop Nylon
- Spar Material: Fiberglass
Thanks are due to the guys at windpowersports.com for the above details.
The Peter Powell Stunt Kite
The very first kites came with bamboo spars! That's a great
choice for home-made kites, but perhaps they don't lend themselves to
mass production. These stunters had black plastic sails.
By this time, things were going crazy. The distinctive Diamond stunter was being churned out en mass
with aluminum spars. The initial color choices for the sail were Red
or Blue, but Yellow, Pink and Black and others soon followed.
Enormously long tubular tails which inflated in the wind came in bright red and yellow, and probably some other colors as well.
Wooden handles for the flying lines were supplied and the instructions were printed on parchment.
This was the age of fiberglass spars, and the Peter Powell design
followed suit. Maybe safety was a concern too! Aluminum is a great
conductor of electricity. Not a great material to hoist way up into the
air on the end of a couple of wet kite strings, in bad weather. Could be
a ... erm ... shocking experience!
Black sails were still available at this stage, although the
material was now that great kite-making stuff, rip-stop nylon. I imagine
the range of color schemes was more varied than ever before, by this
Post Millenium (2000 onwards)
A little birdie told me that Mr Powell gave up selling the design
altogether, back in 2006. I suppose serious historians rely on more
than little birdies, but anyway...
The value of these old kites, some of which are still lying
around forgotten in cupboards and old sheds, continues to rise. In fact,
it's getting harder to put your hands on one now. If you try a search
on eBay, you might just have to make do with a poster showing
some Peter Powells in flight... Perhaps people are hanging on to them,
now that the value of a flyable original is climbing past US$100 or so
Kite fliers still reminisce about the Peter Powell Stunt kite
online in forums and other meeting places. A handful of kids are lucky
enough to have a genuine original that was once flown by their father or
even grandfather. The excitement reverberates around, with talk of how
easy they were to fly and how impressive those long tails were. Some of
the kites that are still flyable limp into the air with packing-tape
The Peter Powell Stunt Kite lives on!
Yet another little birdie told me that genuine PP kites are again being manufactured from a design by Peter and his sons. The PP MkIII. Pricey but very good I'm sure.
AN UPDATE: We have now had the pleasure of flying this kite. It's very durable, and easy to assemble and fly in a wide range of wind strengths. A little more care and skill is required in strong winds, of course.