Tips-n-Ideas

Beginner Series

Pardon the mess, here and/or in other parts of this site!

All will be looking better by mid-November. T.P. (major site update in progress)

So, you have selected the Beginner Series of emails. They'll arrive in due course, but meanwhile... Here's a short selection of Flight Reports which illustrate a few things that might interest you as a beginner.

Read up and see if you can spot a handy hint or 3 :-)


The Effect Of Rising Air

Earlier in the day, things looked fairly calm, but by the time I got out there were windier periods. Down at the reserve, moderate gusts would come through from time to time. Just enough to launch the fresh wind Dowel Box kite it appeared. Sure enough, after a few tows and sink-outs, the blue 'squashed box' design managed to claw its way higher. A bit of timing and working the line helped of course.

Passing through 100 feet or so, additional wind strength made for very ideal conditions for this kite. Climbing further was a uhhm ... breeze. Initially the sky was rather overcast and the box kite settled down to a rock-solid position in smooth, moderate winds. Just over 90 meters (300 feet) of line was out.

A ragged formation of white cockatoos flew across just down-wind of the field. Flickering specks of pure-white. Later, a splash of red and yellow shot past me at shoulder height - a parakeet of some kind, in a hurry to get somewhere downwind of my position.

Why fly on 90 meters when there is more line on the winder... Out it went, another 30 meters to 120 meters (400 feet). Not long after this, I noticed that the kite was scooting around a lot more, and even climbing overhead from time to time. Well, 80 degrees at least. Thermals had arrived! Indeed, the sun was now out, not quite at full strength due to thin sheets of cloud here and there. But the air had responded to the ground's warmth within minutes. Now I had a big fish on the line, not a barge...

All up, a great flight, with the wind meter peaking at 9.6 kph at ground level. But somewhere between 15 and 20 kph upstairs, I think.


Wind Too Strong

Popped down to Seacliff Beach today with Aren, to help some Cub Scouts with the kites they made in a workshop with me the previous week. Unfortunately, the amount of successful flying was almost nil due to very fresh winds. The poor kids were flying spinners, not kites! I put my own Tiny Tots Diamond up for a few minutes. It gamely stayed up on about 6 meters (20 feet) before the wind speed crept up by another few kph and forced the little kite down onto the sand.

All the while, some Delta stunt kites were doing OK and also a couple of single-line retail kites. Fiberglass spars might be 4 times as heavy as dowel, but they certainly shine in heavy wind! Being synthetic, they also bend very evenly on both sides of the kite, keeping it balanced despite the air pressure.

With the punishing wind coming off the ocean, even my Fresh Wind Box was showing a bit of imbalance, leaning over to the right. It's getting a bit old and flappy! Even heavy-duty drop-sheet plastic starts to stretch eventually. It would probably take around a meter or 2 of tail on the left side to correct it, but I just packed it away instead.

Near the ground, the Windtronic meter registered an average of 23kph with a gust to 35kph. That's breezy!


Smooth Air At The Beach

Down at Christies Beach, we found a patch of dry sand which provided ample space over which to fly. Holding the wind meter at shoulder height, it registered around 9.5kph gusting to just over 11kph. Fairly smooth, as was expected since the wind was coming from across the ocean.

Just like the Roller yesterday, a few small pieces of tape were required to secure some of the spar tips to the sail. This kite hadn't been flown for quite a while either!

With the breeze so very smooth, it was possible to take some video on only 4 or 5 meters (15 feet) of line. This kite has never been recorded in such clarity before. I'll be posting it on FB of course ;-)

A couple more videos were taken on 10 meters (35 feet) of line, before I let it out to well over 30 meters (100 feet).

In the process of letting line out and re-climbing the kite, it became clear that it was slightly out of trim...

At low line angles, with more strain on the sail, the Rok leaned over and drifted far to the left. As the line angle became steeper, and line tension eased, the kite smoothly righted itself and continued to climb straight up. This pattern happened several times as I let the line out in stages. Never mind, a small tweak of the upper sliding knot of the bridle should be all it needs.

One of the leaning episodes took the kite far too close to the esplanade and its traffic. So I had no choice but to pull in very quickly to clear the road. This forced the kite down onto the embankment. Fortunately, it was possible, during a slight lull, to pull the kite off and into the air again. No damage done.

After packing up, another wind check revealed it had moderated down to 7kph, gusting to 9kph. Ultra-smooth beach flying makes a change from the somewhat less predictable experience of flying inland!


How To Stop A Kite Turning

Despite a weather site showing 1kph gusting to 2kph(!), the neighbor's palm fronds were indicating differently. Not much out there, but certainly plenty for the ultra-light-wind Dowel Delta!

Aren and I walked down to the local small park and it wasn't long before the kite was rigged and airborne. A gentle gust provided ample lift to get the pale-orange craft up past tree-top height. Once there, staying up was fairly straight-forward.

For some time now, this kite has required a short plastic tail-let off one wing-tip to keep it straight. On 60 meters (200 feet) of line however, it soon became apparent that a little more correction was required. At one point, the kite was pressured into doing a very large, slow and graceful loop to the left. Fortunately, I happened to be one step ahead so a safe clearance from the nearest tall tree was assured! After passing within a couple of meters of the grass, the kite soared high once more.

After bringing the Delta down and attaching a short length of electrical tape to the end of the tip-tail, another launch was effected. This time the big pale Delta performed admirably, holding station much more easily. Despite the changes in wind speed, the air seemed very smooth. Minutes would go by with the kite almost parked stationary at a high line angle. Wonderful stuff!

As happens with Deltas, small disturbances occasionally pointed the nose off one way or another. Resulting in a drift to a new position for a while.

Finally, with some video taken, much more line was let off the winder. On around 120 meters (400 feet) of line, the kite was way up there, and well over 'tiger country'. Places you don't want to land in other words. But the air was so smooth and the Delta well trimmed by now, so the risk was minimal. It took quite a few minutes to get the kite down before Aren and I walked home.


Polka Dot Diamond Drifts

A friend had requested that the traditional bow-ties tail on his Diamond be switched over to a less troublesome drogue...

So yesterday, with a gusty light breeze outside and bonus winter sunshine, it seemed prudent to get the Diamond up for a test fly. Before the weather closed in as forecast.

Down at the reserve, the kite was easily launched and flew briefly on 30m (100 feet) of 50 pound Dacron line. 'Briefly' because the air was quite active despite the time of year. Clearly, it would take more than a short length of line to ensure the kite stayed up, despite it's excellent wind range.

The air certainly wasn't smooth. To my surprise, the drogue line managed to snare in the towing-point fitting. As sometimes happens when flying a supposedly reliable tailed design, I looked up just in time to see trouble... The kite was about to touch down in an unstable configuration! On more line and hence in smoother air it would be unlikely to happen again. And so it turned out...

Moving to a better location on the field, I soon had over 60 meters (200 feet) of line out and the Diamond was doing well. Quite a sight against the blue sky and high-level clouds. Large shifts in wind direction were nudging the kite left and right. Also, sudden decreases and increases in wind speed were causing just as sudden ups and downs in the brightly dotted Diamond's flight path.

After taking a few videos, and soaking up a little more sunshine, it was time to bring the Tyvek-sailed Diamond down. Below 50 feet off the grass the tension eased up and it became much easier to loop the Dacron line onto the winder.

It was test flight complete, with video proof of a coping kite in the rough air!


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What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Club Fly At Semaphore

    Nov 11, 18 10:45 PM

    It was back to the usual Semaphore Park location this month... True to the weather site prediction, a Gentle-strength breeze was coming off the ocean after mid-day. The direction was much more souther…

    Read More

Wind Speeds

Light Air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2

Gentle ...
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3

Moderate ...
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4

Fresh ...
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5

Strong ...
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7

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