short flight reports once appeared in the site blog page - that's the
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With a gusty light breeze and sun peeking through outside, it seemed an ideal time to test the new 3-Skewer Sled. 3mm skewers were unavailable in the shops, but the 4mm ones are probably quite ideal for this 3-Skewer design and others which will follow. The kite has 9 skewers in total, plus some short reinforcement pieces. However each spar is approximately 3 skewer-lengths long, hence the 3-Skewer designation.
In an earlier outing, moving the bridle knot didn't seem to do much. So today, with breezier conditions, I tried an experiment with a little air-bucket taped to the trailing edge, on 1 side.
With the kite in the air, it still seemed to loop right in stronger gusts so there was no option... Shift the knot a lot further and see what happens! This was quite fortunate since the knot shifting worked very well. However it was somewhat counter-intuitive since to correct a loop to the right I had to shift the knot in the same direction. For most flat kites it's the opposite.
After toying with the knot position and seeing the 3-Skewer Sled veer off obediently in either direction, I used 2 or 3 short flights to get the knot position close to perfect. The air bucket wasn't needed so I got rid of it. Then, up the Sled went in moderate strength wind. Right up to some pretty steep flying angles I'm happy to report! The breeze was cool and gusty but there was no trouble with collapses.
Checking the wind meter at shoulder height for half a minute, it registered an average of 11kph, gusting to 21kph. It must have been gusting into the high 20s up at 150 feet but the 3-Skewer Sled was quite comfortable. Then I started letting more line out...
Unfortunately there was trouble after that, when one of the top corner spar caps ripped out. Never mind, some extra reinforcement with packing tape will fix that. The mod should allow the kite to fly reliably over the whole Moderate wind range - from 18kph right up into the high 20s. The towing points were showing no signs of strain at all.
Oh yes indeed. It was a challenge flying out of a confined space and over obstacles. All in thermic and generally messed-up suburban air...
MBK 2-Skewer Sled
The kite was a 2-stick sled of all things :-) A slightly modified MBK
2-Skewer Sled to be precise. A strip of wide but light packing tape
along the leading edge helped to prevent curl-unders and the resulting
The first brief flight was up and over the over-grown rose bushes at
the side of our small property. It was all over in less than half a
minute. However, the kite managed to find some smoother air just above
the height of our peach tree in the corner. The sled recovered from a
small collapse but inevitably succumbed to a short pause in breeze
Next, after moving to the rear lawn, a few swishes on
just a meter or 2 of line enabled the kite to catch a ride to gutter
height. From there, some fancy line-handling and footwork got the small
sled hovering just above the roof tiles. But not for long. Once again,
the inconsistent breeze at that height soon shot the kite down.
then, after a few more judicious swishes, I managed to get quite a few
meters of line out. Out over the roof tiles as previously, in
Gentle-strength gusts. The orange sail floated up, brightly lit by
sunshine and it spent a minute or 2 over the roof. The bamboo and
plastic craft was several meters clear of the tiles this time. Perhaps
high enough for a few neighbors up and down the street to catch a
Once again, low wind speed spelled the end of the flight.
But not without a fight. There was plenty of line-working going on
through every little gust and swirl through our yard.
Sometimes you don't need a large field to have some fun...
2-Skewer Sled Sails High
With local winds in the Gentle range, it was an ideal time to take out the 58cm (23") tall 2-Skewer Sled kite...
week I had been flying the kite on polyester thread in cool, light
conditions. But that would be far too much of a risk today! So the
thread was swapped out for a 20 pound Dacron line.
At the reserve,
in the car park, I had a bit of fun attempting to launch the kite near
the trees. It was a challenge in the sporadic breeze filtering through
between the trunks and lower branches. The real problem though was the
dead band at around the height where there was most foliage.
by floating the kite out, it avoided the dead zone by being far enough
downwind. And then, when well above the tree-tops, the kite really bit
into the prevailing breeze.
After flying for a while on 30 meters
(100 feet) of line, I let the kite pull more line off the simple block
winder. The 2-Skewer Sled was just strong enough to tumble the winder in
the dirt, as line steadily came off through my hands. This also had the
effect of keeping a nice even tension on the line as the kite climbed
away. A fairly low line angle was maintained as the kite moved out and
On 60 meters (200 feet) of line, the kite had a tendency to
hang left most of the time. So I brought the sled down to adjust the
sliding knot on bridle... With a shift of several mm to the left, the
kite climbed away again on a straighter tack. The improvement was
confirmed minutes later when the kite held a higher angle in the
cloudless blue sky than before.
The air was warm and active, which
troubled the kite occasionally with turbulence. Finally, the sled
folded right up and down it went, nearly all the way to the grass.
However, with a few flicks of the wrist I managed to pop the sail open
again - just a meter (3 feet) or so off the ground! The climb back up
was steady, although not particularly fast.
Then it was decided to
go all the way out to 90 meters (300 feet). At that length, the small
bright orange sled was unable to pull the line straight, even during
gusts. The weight of 20 pound Dacron line adds up over 100's of feet.
followed was a huge flight, the 2-Skewer Sled pulling hard at times and
riding thermals almost overhead. It could have done with another mm or 2
of bridle knot adjustment, but still made more than 250 feet altitude
easily. From that great height, it took a few minutes to wind all the
thin Dacron back on! Finally the little sled flopped down in the car
park, having flown for more than 20 minutes since the last launch.
2-Skewer Sled Found And Flown
So, what other Skewer kite was there, that hadn't been flown this month? ...
behind the 2-Skewer Sode on top of the book case was the 2-Skewer Sled,
all rolled up. And surprise, surprise, also the little and very faded
1-Skewer Sled! Taking both kites, Aren and I headed out to fly.
Correction, only I headed out to fly - Aren had his scooter ;-)
had been very light for most of the day and this seemed to continue
into the late afternoon. However, puffs of light wind kept wafting
through every few minutes, which provided ample pressure for the bigger
sled to launch on it's polyester embroidery thread line.
the frequent lulls, the 2-Skewer Sled managed to gain some height and
flit around on over 30 meters of line. Without tails, the kite tended to
weave strongly and even loop around as the wind speed pushed over
double figures in kph. This kite really should be flown with a tail from
the bottom of each vertical spar! Not just for stability, but to slow
down it's fierce forward acceleration which can occasionally collapse
the leading edge.
With the kite on the grass after sinking out, I spent some time flying the tiny 1-Skewer Sled. Ah the memories!
the little kite was being flown on 20 pound Dacron which was quite
heavy for it to support. This kite does better in Gentle to Moderate
winds. However, it gamely hung up there for a minute or 2 at a time in
the fitful Light breeze.
And that was about it for today. Next time I might try the 1-Skewer Sled on the embroidery thread instead...
Speedy Sled Parts Polyester
what happened, bringing the flying session to an abbreviated end. The
2-Skewer Sled had been zipping around on at least 30 meters (100 feet)
of polyester sewing thread, when the line broke...
the camera, I looked back up only to see a far away fluttering, a
flashing of orange plastic, as the hapless kite drifted downwind and
disappeared behind a very large tree. Was it lost forever in the upper
branches? Keep reading this post to find out...
Aren and I had
been down at the local small reserve, each doing our own thing. The lad
kicking a soccer ball and the grown man flying a small kite. Wrong way
round? Some may think so, but they won't be reading this.
breeze was light but gusting to almost moderate strength from time to
time. To begin with, the kite was flown low over the green winter grass.
Getting sewing thread off the square cardboard winder was taking a
while. At least the small kite was getting some air time, weaving around
and climbing a few meters every now and then. Down low though, it kept
sinking out during lulls in the breeze's strength.
decent amount of thread was off the winder and the trusty bamboo-sparred
Sled flew high above the tree tops. The kite was now being subjected to
rather more air pressure than it could handle comfortably...
Forced into frontal collapses, the kite started to show off it's ability
to re-inflate by itself. This was happening every few seconds with each
collapse being brought on by excessive forward kite speed. POP - there
it goes again. And each time, with no intervention by me, the two angled
spars would feed air back into the sail and re-inflate it after a
second or two of free-fall.
And then we lost the kite in the tree,
a very common kite tale. But had we? Walking back home, the kite came
into view, lying on the road near a corner. A car approached and
straddled the kite. Whew. Before the next car could arrive, I rushed
over and did the rescue. No harm done. This kite will fly again!
2-Skewer Sled Capable Of Thermaling
up the online weather report, it had the wind measured at 16kph gusting
to 22kph. Great, time to try the 2-Skewer Sled again, in somewhat
smoother winds than before.
However, at the reserve, things had
really calmed down. It had all the appearances of a 'zero wind and
thermals' day. For quite some minutes, all I could do was loft the kite a
few meters at a time on little puffs of air that came through.
Eventually the kite got high enough, with a little careful working of
the line, to get carried away and up on a gentle thermal. The air was
relatively smooth, although the little Sled did tend to collapse
occasionally when sitting face-down, with the flying line dangling
vertically below it. The kite never went overhead though, since there
was an enormous bow in the line. The winds were barely strong enough to
keep the kite airborne.
This kite will collapse if it accelerates
too fast, but I've never had any Sled recover so well on its own.
Numerous times, I was able to resume a flight without needing to land
the kite or bring it in. Still, it would be helpful to make sure this
kite collapses less often than the original tailed 2-Skewer Sled. It was
supposed to be an improvement! Next mod will be to remove even more
sail from along the center-line. Just a cm or 2, keeping the angle of
the side-spars the same.
Never-the-less, I managed to get a
couple of high thermal climbs out of the kite. Once, this happened all
the way from launch. From 2 meters to over 120 meters (400 feet) of line
out in just a few minutes. A nice thing to happen with any small
Checking the wind meter afterwards, it had registered an average of 2.2kph, gusting to 9.6kph. That's light!
2-Skewer Sled On Thread
to fly another bright-orange 2-Skewer kite. I've been chastised for
posting too much blue-kite-in-blue-sky you see, mainly on Facebook. I
admit that it was a bit boring, visually. Hence the skewer kites have
been the first choice for a little while now!
Today's flights were
combined with a walk with Aren, who kept up on his scooter. Rolled up,
the kite and its square cardboard winder were effortless to carry. Aren
continued to scoot at the reserve while the Sled did it's thing in the
cool winter air.
Large banks of cloud were everywhere, one of
which fortuitously hid the sun while I took video. Yes, the wind
direction had once again placed the kite directly in line with the
The breeze seemed to be gusting close to moderate speeds,
that is around 20kph. A little dicey for the Sled, which initially flew
straight up on 10m (30ft) of polyester thread. The kite stayed up long
enough to get some video however.
On a second flight, with more
thread let out, there was some tendency for the sail to collapse due to
excessive wind speed during the gusts. Again and again, the bright
orange Sled flopped shut but just as regularly the sail would re-inflate
with a pop. This would happen every few seconds during long gusts.
as half expected due to the age of the kite, a taped tip came loose.
This quickly brought the kite back to the damp green grass. Easily fixed
of course, with some electrical tape that I had stowed in a pocket.
Finally, after about 30m (100ft) of thread was taken off the winder, the kite found less chaotic air...
breeze now being just below the kite's upper limit, the small Sled flew
smoothly at around at 60 degrees of line angle. The dark thread
remained in an almost straight line to the kite for minutes at a time.
Nice flying indeed. With the sum total of equipment being used probably worth less than $2!
2-Skewer Sled Near Sunset
to family commitments over the last week or two, there haven't been
many opportunities to fly the big kites, do KAP and so on. But sometimes
a small kite fly can be worked into the schedule...
Today we went
down to the beach with the priority being the construction of a
sandcastle. Everyone involved. After completing all due diligence at
this task, my own agenda came to the fore. Yep, out with a kite of
The breeze was just off the ocean and very smooth. Not
perfectly constant though, as the average speed would peak from time to
time. Read that again, it does make sense!
Anyway, the wind was
quite ideal for the small light Sled, which had its spars angled
slightly closer together towards the lower end. At least once while I
was taking video, the kite collapsed low down when swirling about in a
gust. But it promptly re-inflated and stayed in the air, thanks to those
While the little orange kite was parked on the end
of 20 meters (65 feet) of polyester embroidery thread, anchored to a
tent pole, I took a wind meter reading. 6 kph gusting to 8.2 kph, just
above shoulder height. Perfect!
Eventually it was time to pack up.
But not before capturing a few stills of the sunset lighting up the
dappled cloudy sky over Brighton beach.
Two Skewer Sleds Tested To The Limit
was blowing quite a bit outside, but I thought it might be instructive
to take out both the 2-Skewer and 3-Skewer Sleds and see how they
Down at a nearby school oval, the 2-Skewer Sled went
up first. Some days ago I had removed some area along the center-line of
the kite, bringing the spars slightly closer together. To cut a longer
story short, the kite behaved similarly as before. However, this time it
seemed almost immune to leading edge collapses through sheer speed,
when gusts would force it to fly very fast in the direction it happened
to be pointing. That was good!
Unfortunately, it still had a
strong tendency to collapse when it reached high line angles while under
high line tension. Perhaps that's not too much of a problem since it is
supposed to be a fairly light-wind kite after all. It just needs to be
flown in more suitable conditions.
So, out with the 3-Skewer Sled.
Within seconds of getting it to around 50 feet, an almighty gust caused
one side spar to bow alarmingly out to one side. The spar caps at each
end managed to hold. I've never seen that before, but it was a clear
indication that taping the middle of each Sled spar to the sail is a
very good idea! That's been done now, and I'll be updating all the
Near ground level, and in a somewhat
sheltered position, the wind meter had recorded an average of 6.6 kph
with gusts to 22 kph. Closer to 30 kph at around 200 feet perhaps. With
such hairy flying going on, there hadn't been an opportunity to let out
much more line than that! Must be nice to these Sleds from now on...
Prototyping Fun With New 2-Skewer Sled
it was fun when the kite started behaving itself! The aim this time
around was to create a 2-skewer sized Sled that would be stable enough
to do away with the 2 long tails of the original.
side flaps were drastically down-sized to similar proportions to my
other Sleds. I also tried slanting the spars so the leading edge was
wider than the trailing edge. Finally, the leading edge cut-out was done
with 4 straight lines rather than 2. Hence it was more like a curve
than a shallow V. To compensate for the extra missing sail area, the
towing points were shifted upwards a little.
This version launched
ok, but was very prone to a leading-edge collapse. It never got above
20 degrees of line angle! Back to the drawing board. Actually, just back
to the car seat where I slit the kite up its center line, and removed
about 3cm (1 inch) of sail width. The narrower kite behaved better, but
still had trouble when accelerating fast or when it reached high line
Back home, I decided to add a little sail area back onto
the leading edge. At the same time I simplified it back to the tried and
true shallow V shape... The extra area would force the kite to fly at
slightly greater angles of attack to the breeze most of the time. Back
out at the flying field, the Sled immediately flew much better. Super
stable and only suffering a leading-edge collapse in the strongest
gusts, which might have been over 15 kph in strength.
gusty air, it was fairly straight-forward to get 60 meters (200 feet) of
line out, with the kite surging up to high line angles from time to
time. Still the occasional collapse, but the air was really rough up
there! With heavier sail plastic and less gusty conditions, I think this
2-Skewer Sled will be a real delight to fly - with or without tails. A
nice beach kite.
Wind meter readings? During the second outing, the breeze at ground level averaged 3.6 kph, with the strongest gust at 12.3 kph.