A few days ago we attempted to fly the Skewer
Tetrahedral kite but were thwarted by almost dead-calm conditions. Just
the occasional puff from a nearby thermal would disturb the leaves of
the trees, allowing a quick tow up to 50 feet or so. Followed by a slow
descent all the way to the grass!
Today was different though. A cool moderate breeze blew around the house, ruffling the treetops and bushes. Aren and I took off in the car, and soon arrived at a nearby reserve.
Aren, 5, headed straight for the 'flying fox' in the play equipment area, while I walked some meters over the grass to launch the Tetra. The cool breeze was Southerly, powering up over the slight slope of the field. Even the grass blades were quivering in the airflow, so the breeze would surely be enough for the kite.
The pale orange Tetra floated up easily, and soon I had walked upwind
further and let out 30 meters (100 feet) of line. On this length, and
with very little sag in the line, it was clear the optimum flying angle
of this kite was roughly 45 degrees.
Respectable enough for a small cellular design!
Then it was out with the camera, and soon there were a few stills
and short movies 'in the can'. While processing the photos for this
report, I noticed something intriguing...
Check out the lower cell of the tetra, in the close-up
shot. See how the down-wash from the upper 3
cells has pushed the plastic out rather than in!
the upper 3 cells are doing the weight-bearing, like the wing on an
aircraft, while the lower cell is acting like a stabilizer. It's the
same in the other photos taken today, so it wasn't just a chance
fluttering of the sail material.
Oh, sorry - if you're not a techie ... wake up ;-)
After a while, I let out the line to 60 meters (200 feet) and enjoyed seeing the Skewer Tetrahdral kite do its thing in the late afternoon sun.
Just to see what would happen, I put the wooden winder on the
ground. Most of the time, the little Tetra was unable to budge it.
However, the stronger gusts did shift the winder over the ground a bit,
so it was soon time to hang on to it again.
The wind seemed to freshen a little more, and the kite started to
loop to the right from time to time. It seems that the wind range of
this 4-cell Tetra is somewhat limited. However, there are 2 solutions,
both involving tails.
- A little tail-let added to the left corner of the lower cell would
fix the looping. Of course, some trial and error would be necessary, to
get the length just right.
- A simple tail, several skewer-lengths long, could be added to the
lower tip of the lower cell. This would certainly extend the wind range,
at the expense of holding the kite down to slightly lower line angles.
One day, we'll get out there again, and fiddle around with some tails!
Check out the video down there to see how the Skewer Tetrahedral kite
behaves in ideal (moderate) wind strengths. Unfortunately, I have
forgotten the exact wind meter readings. By the time we left, the breeze
would have been 'moderate, gusting to fresh'.
The story above was an actual flying experience with the described kite.
My write-ups are definitely warts-and-all since things don't always go totally as planned. However, half the fun of kiting is anticipating the perfect flight. When it happens, it's magic!