A few of my favorite kites…
Same Old Same Old
Every year we try to bring lots of new things to the demonstration arenas as we travel around and next year will be no exception as we are working on new routines throughout the cold winter months and will have new colourful kites and tails to show.
Usually, by the end of the festival year the seasoned campaigners and fellow demonstrators will have seen some of the things a few times over and could probably join in with very little practice especially the things we have kept over from the previous year. What we have to remind ourselves is, however, that we are constantly hitting a new audience. Some days the crowd is made up of completely different people just two hours later in the day after the first demonstration – apart from the hard core picnickers and followers of particular teams or kites.
In the last edition Mr. Blowers raised a point about one of our repeated pieces and the possibility of some traders selling inferior kites and people being disappointed that their purchase doesn’t perform the same as kites they see in the arena. This is why, when I am doing the attention grabbing “Crash a Kite” demo, using the same HQ Bolero as I have been using for years, and slamming said object in to the ground, I am at pains to point out that prospective buyers should ask for advice when buying or even come to us for unbiased opinions. I show that it is possible to buy a strong, virtually unbreakable, kite for around thirty pounds or sometimes less and I always emphasise the point that a sensible trader will want to keep the buyers trust. They want them to have fun flying – and they know that the customer won’t be back for another if the kite breaks first time out. Unfortunately, there will always be those who know better when they think they see a bargain!
Con Te Partiro
…Italian for time to say goodbye.
Is it now that we bid farewell to this beautiful ballad?
Marilyn and I first decided on using this music when we stood by the fountains outside of the Bellagio in Las Vegas more than ten years ago (just around the time when people were beginning to get a bit fed up with the Frog Song!). Having a classical feel to it, we don’t think it’s too sickly and having found out that other teams have started to use it too it then maybe I question that we give up what has become known as our signature tune.
It does look superb in the sky in light winds when we use our T4’s with 30mtr, black and yellow colour coded tails. We get great feedback from people every time we fly it and even had people who had arrived late come over worried in case they missed it.
Well, what do you think Mr or Mrs Reader?
If you have an opinion let us know – better still if you can find us a nice piece of music with a big build up before the end, we’d be interested! (By the way we tried Nessun Dorma and it didn’t really work). We have new pairs ballet music but it’s something big, with a big end that we can do in twos, threes and fours with tails that we are after!
I Don’t Believe It!
When I was full time employed I travelled about quite a lot, often having to use pay and display car parks.
Because of this I always made sure that I had plenty of change with me so that I wasn’t faffing about just before an appointment. One time I did a Victor Meldrew when a rather obnoxious character more or less insisted that I change his two pound coin. I related the above to him and then, looking him straight in the eye, explained “This is NOT a public service!!”
The above is sometimes true with spare parts for kites (but never to fellow demonstrators). It is not always easy to get replacement parts – especially when you have such a diverse range as the kites we carry about! It doesn’t matter if someone offered us £10.00 for a 50p connector – when we have driven out to the practice field in the middle of Salisbury Plain on a freezing cold day and something breaks we are pleased that we had a spare – money is not a lot of help at that moment if you see what I mean?
There are some packs of spares that you can buy and Kiteworld sponsored us with a rather good one from Prism. Whilst a few pieces may be unique to Prism kites most are universal – but then there are a lot of Prism Kite owners out there too! Included in the pack is a booklet with some very useful tips – not the usual, obvious stuff but things you might not have thought of before.
The box is labelled as a kite repair kit and, sensibly, contains repair tape as well as sail patches and a sleeving kit. Although the packet looks cumbersome it contains an easy to find/difficult to lose, bright orange bag in which to keep everything together and then stowed away in a pocket on your kite bag. All the fiddly bits you need (I don’t do fiddly) like a sail grabber arrow knocks, a knife, ferrules, clips and retainers are there – just about everything, I think, except T-pieces – but there are so many variations in sizes of those it would be pointless to try and pick one or two. The best thing here is to find what you need as spares and order some up separately! Let’s face it, one of these days you are going to have the perfect day with the perfect wind and you will either lose or break something that means you won’t be able to fly –or has it happened already?
This handy, Prism bag of bits could have, or may yet, save that frustration…?
In the “Kiteflier” edition before last I wrote about a new kite from the well known American flyer and designer Dodd Gross.
The kite in question, is the Dream On, has become almost as well known for its prowess as an affordable, and excellent all-rounder as, unfortunately, its temporary, untimely unavailability. It has graphics which you either love or hate but since we began flying them in team routines early this year, they sold out almost immediately.
I decided to take a look at the next kite down from this one – the Skydog Freebird which is vaunted as the next purchase up from a beginner’s kite but perfectly reasonable as one to start off with.
When the winds do pick up the Freebird’s loose trailing edge flaps in the wind giving resistance to shooting off at extra high speed and adding to the stability and straight line tracking, giving off a purring sound as it goes.
Framed in 6mm carbon this colourful piece is quite durable and withstood a few fairly hefty crashes during the filming of a video which can be found by following the links on the front page of our website.
Trial and Error
With a little bit of acclimatisation and remembering not to be too heavy handed I found that I could perform my limited repertoire – and that means that a more skilful trick flyer would make this thing really dance!
It was not too difficult for me to stall or to push both hands whilst stepping in to get it on its back nose away – two favourite positions from which to start tricks.
The Freebird comes with its own line set which I found a little short at only 20metres. I found that by using 90ft lines it flew more slowly, easily and was a bit more fun too! With a claimed wind range of between 5 and 20mph any owner of this kite should be able to get in lots of flying hours.
I was looking back through some articles I wrote to see if I had done anything on the original Maestro. I found that I was pleased to see that it was replacing the Phoenix, a kite of which, at the time, I was not a big fan and that I was going to review it in the following edition.
That never happened – I will attempt to explain why.
I have been asked why it is I only say good things about kites. Well that’s not entirely true as you can see from other reports here. Just because I don’t like something or indeed do like something it doesn’t mean to say that it really is good or bad, I am just grateful for the privilege of being asked to test something and reporting back on how it fits my own individual style and preferences – sometimes though, you just have to read between the lines of what I say!
I suppose it would be true to say that if I really don’t like a kite, then it won’t write about it.
So then, on to the Maestro II. Yes I am guilty of leaving this at home always meaning to give it a try – “next time out”. I will say that I wasn’t inspired by its predecessor which I found I had to work too hard at because it felt so heavy to me and pulled like a train on standard settings in a high wind.
Mind you some people like that in a kite!
Tails Not Included
Then, the other day, we took it out because we have some really colourful tails that are quite heavy and we wondered if this almost full sized and equally colourful kite would perform. Well perform it did and the proof of that is on video in the HQ section of our website.
Whilst HQ have used their usual standard colours they have subtly added some greys then incorporated all of the colours into a much classier design giving a feel-good factor about flying this model.
Maintaining the slightly lower aspect compared to other kites, the mark two has a re-designed sail which, thankfully, loses the support stays that you had to fit in towards the outer edge. This modification has taken away the pull but leaving the kite both very stable in its tracking and yet unstable so that it is trickable! We tried it for speed against its older brother/sister (whatever!) and were very surprised that there was no difference!
This was really weird because I was leaning back against the pull wondering if Marilyn would cope and she was just stood there, relaxed and enjoying the flight – or was she enjoying seeing me having to work a bit?
Should I/Shouldn’t I?
I have seen a few beginners tempted with this kite because of its colours and the fact that at under a hundred quid it is one of the lower priced, big kites.
It’s not a bad idea if you are keen and want to improve rapidly – just go steady to start with!
If you have a smaller kite and are looking to move up but don’t have the budget for one of the high priced super kites then you should have the Maestro II on your list of possibles – it’s not so very far away!
The strength of this kite has been improved by the use of tapered, wrapped spars (lower spreaders) which also gives it the rigidity to perform in a very agile manner.
Although the kite feels lighter in flight I am not sure that it is lighter on the scales – I didn’t check – but even a beginner will only need about 5mph to get this one going!
I spoke to HQ the other day – I didn’t want to write about this kite if was about to be phased out but they assured me that this was a big seller and was going to be around for some time to come!
Hopefully you will see Close Encounters Display Team doing one of the new routines with these during 2011. With three in the air like the one above it should be very exciting and an excellent photo opportunity!
As one who likes to take kites with me, whenever I travel I am always interested by kites that fold down really small and unfold out big.
I may have said some when that I don’t do fiddly and therefore can’t always be bothered with messing about with bits that should go here or there when I could have been flying at least ten minutes ago – although there are exceptions to that – Treczoc’s Cody for instance (mental note to get that out again soon!) Ok this one is not in the same league (or price range) as that but it is a lot of almost instant fun and a nice size too. Like nearly all lower priced kites (this one being under £30.00) it comes with line included – Can somebody tell me – why is that?
What has become the instantly recognisable Prism design is also incorporated in to this single liner giving it a classy look but I have to say this is my least favourite of the three colour schemes available. The line is attached at the point of the keel. I would have liked to had a choice of more than one point here but knowing how fastidious designer Mark Reed is, all options would have been explored before venturing on to the market.
The Stowaway is very quick to rise in to the air (video on our site) although by Prisms own admission doesn’t attain good stability until it reaches to top of the window. A weight has been added to the tail to aid in ascension and there are also loops at the wingtips where tails can be
attached. I have seen a group of these flying with three tails each, then they were stable and magic!
Just for a change I had no problems at all with the assembling of this kite. As I was fitting the spine together the leading edges assembled themselves which confused me for a moment before bringing a smile to my face! I was amazed at how it opened out to a five foot four inch wing span.
Folding the kite back down however was much more fun for onlookers than it was for me because the blooming thing kept reassembling every time I let go of one part to fold up another.
Once you do get it back under control there is a Prism Velcro band to wrap around it before popping it safely back into the bag with the supplied reel of 200ft braided line.
We really liked this one and not just for the fact that it was in our team colours – see what I mean on the video! There are other colours too but once we had seen this there was no chance we would have anything else!
The open keel on the Ascension means that stability is almost a given. I liked launching this one. I let it glide away gently, holding it just a metre off the ground for a good 50metres before holding the winder tight to watch it rise swiftly and steadily.
I wondered how I might fare in an altitude sprint against some of the guys with their hand built specials.
Sprints are usually held first thing at festivals and are often plagued by low wind – ideal! – The Ascension will still fly in a 3mph wind – the kind where you can just feel a breath on your face!
This, to my mind was a higher end kite at a lower end price. At around thirty six pounds they still put in line for free – I wonder what the magic number is when things change and you don’t get the line included?
I didn’t think that packaging for the Ascension did it justice and you would be forgiven for walking by mistaking it for a less expensive model if you were in a traders shop or tent and it was just stood up in a bin.
This has virtually the same wing span as the Prism Stowaway at about five feet four but actually looks much bigger than that! I know that this one will be used by us a lot through 2011.
Allan & Marilyn Pothecary