Issue 60: REVisions: Megaflys Worldwide!

Well what a pair of months for quad flying it was. I can very safely say that I don’t think I’ve ever had as busy of a time as it’s been, covering roughly 25,000 miles of air travel across 14 flights into 11 different airports across two continents. Phew, my packing skills have received their ultimate workout! And the purpose of every single trip was simply to fly quads, so you’ll never get a complaint out of me. Mount Vernon, Tokyo, Fujisaki, Uchinada, Grand Haven and Wildwood makes for more flying than any one monkey should get to enjoy. First off, a huge thank you to all who were involved with our trip to Japan, from Revolution, The  Drachen Foundation, Masaaki Modegi, and Sato-san and of course, all the Japanese quad flyers we met while over there. My hat is off to you all and a hearty domo arrigato gazaimus is in order.

One thing that’s fairly typical as iQuad has traveled around the US is that at this point, we’re one of very few teams on this continent. But Japan has a very long history with quad team, close to 20 years of it, and we were greeted by EIGHT separate teams on the beach at Uchinada. What an absolute treat for us, to be able to sit back and watch all the teams practicing and competing. Each of the teams had their own unique style and moves, weaving their way into formations in ways we’d never thought of before. While low winds dogged the team competition on Sunday morning, that afternoon there was a perfect breeze off of the water and we watched all of the team’s routines with great interest. John and I also had the pleasure of judging the individual quad precision competitions as well and there was enough flyers to run two separate heats, followed by one heat with the best of the two groups. One thing that was very evident, the Japanese practice their precision flying a lot. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen such exact flying on all of the compulsories as I saw that day. My pencil was up in the air and flyer after flyer would hit all the key lineup points. Great work by everyone! Also, I was handed a large collection of DVDs containing a bunch of  examples of the various teams flying over a few events, I’m going to investigate the possibilities of having added to the Kitelife video archives sometime soon.

In no particular order beyond the list I scribbled down while on the beach, the quad teams that flew with us in Uchinada are listed below :

The GJ Boys (who took 1st in the team ballet comp)
Team Rising (2nd in the team ballet)
Team Suitengu (3rd in team ballet)
Team Aile and Nest
Team Karasu
Team Wind Ripper
Ishikari Kozo

Along with some other individuals, we managed to get in a great megafly as well, capping out at 33 flyers for a while. I’m be remiss in not mentioning that the king of quad team (I know how he’ll cringe as he reads that honorary title…) was also in attendance, Felix Mottram of The Decorators. I’d met Felix before but, it had been a few years ago at WSIKF, where there were no other Decorators, and at that time, no dedicated quad teams in North America either. I’ve mentioned this before in REVisions, but, for me, The Decorators were one of my main influences while getting into Revs. I’d scour the net for pictures, the few videos that existed and anything else I could see, but, I STILL have yet to see them fly in person. But, soon, as I’ll touch upon later in this article. Having Felix around for the weekend was simply fantastic. We rolled him into the iQuad lineup a few times and that was a pure treat. And during the megafly, Felix managed to corral all the flyers into a new lineup arrangement we’re intending to use extensively in England this summer. While we have talked about it many times over email, flying it firsthand clearly showed to all of us that it’s a very viable idea and an excellent way to squeeze a large amount of flyers into a very small space. I’ll give you a rough approximation below for a general idea of how it works but, it’s discussed in much more detail across a bunch of threads in the Rev forums :

Typically, in megaflys, everyone lines up in one great big huge line, ie :

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

with the person calling at one end. This does work, however once you get past about 18 flyers, a few things become issues, with communication being the biggest one. John may have quite the loud voice when he needs it, but, yelling across 18 or more flyers becomes nearly impossible, especially if it’s a windy day.

Felix has a better idea. The lineup becomes a square or rectangular group (depending on the amount of flyers and how it breaks down into even groups) with 20 or so feet separating the individual groups, so, it ends up looking like this :

x x x x x

x x x x x

x x x x x

x x x x x

x x x x x

So in the sky, you end up with a similar shape. The winds died out on us in Uchinada before we had much time to play with this arrangement, however, later in the month at Wildwood, we tried this again and got to play around some more with it. It’s really a spectacle to see and I’m dearly looking forward to using it this summer at both the Portsmouth and Bristol festivals with LARGE amounts of flyers. This is also a topic discussed in great depth within the Rev forums, including a rough list of the teams and individuals involved. At this point, its safe to say that nearly every Euro quad team will be there, plus some from Japan, and iQuad going in for the US/Canada connection, so with a little luck, we’ll surpass the current world record for kites in a quad team (currently held at 48 flyers at the Tokyo Bay Flight Party last October), hopefully at more than 55.

While I’ll write about our time at Wildwood in the next issue of Kitelife, I’ll comment briefly here about it as well. We managed to pull off the largest megafly to be held in North America that weekend, reaching 34 flyers for a while and I’d have to say, it was easily the most “coherent” megafly I have flown on this continent. One thing I’ve noticed this year is that the “average” skill level of people flying Revs has dramatically increased in one year. People who were shy about crossing lines and flying patterns last year as we bounced around to festivals around the country now have no issues with it at all. We were easily able to get lines of 18 kites snaking around the sky, and formed into a megaball! What a buzz it was and what a spectacle it made in the sky! And also, a tip of my hat to Kelly Mayhew and Jay Nunes (and others!) who organized the Rev Games at Wildwood. Plenty of people got to participate and everyone involved had a great time running through the events. My personal favorite was one suggested by Zach Gordon while we were at Grand Haven, Reverse Drag Races. You start leading edge down on the ground and the race is to see who can get higher, quickly, in reverse. If you bowtie, you are out! Ideally, the straightest line you can fly is the best, but, we weren’t judging on that aspect, at least this time… I suspect this will become a common event at kite festivals over the next few months. I know of one being held in Las Vegas soon and perhaps an effort can be mounted at WSIKF as well in August. Again, if you check the Rev forums, you can find further information on this and maybe start suggesting games of your own. I will say that flying blindfolded must be one of the most difficult flying challenges I have ever had, and it gets even trickier if the wind is switching direction at the same time.

One last thing to touch upon in the column, and that’s quad pairs as an AKA competition. When I was in Wildwood weeks ago, I was really pleased to hear that a regional competition had 3 pairs flying for points. I am pretty sure (but, I’ll check this week…) that this now places at least one quad pair in nearly all of the conferences, but, more importantly, I think 5 pairs managed to rack up points in the season, which will hopefully mean that we can run it as an event at the Grand Nationals this September in Gettysburg. So, now is a great time to remind people to simply ask for it at any events you may be competing in between now and the end of July. It’s quick to run, you can usually just tag it onto the end of individual quad comps without making the judges wear themselves out too much, and then prepare to compete at the Nationals! Maybe in the next year or so, we can even get teams competing as well? We’re starting to see some spring up now, with Mike Kory’s 180GO! In the Midwest, WiiQuad with Bill Seward, Jeff and Donna McCown  in Texas and Scott Weider’s new team on the East Coast. I dream of  day when the World Sport Kite Championships incorporate quad teams into their schedule of events. We’re nearly there…

Ok, one last tidbit. While we’re flying in Japan, there was constantly cameras and camcorders around, and we were completely surprised with how fast some of the video made it out onto the net. While David Baldwin filmed a huge amount of footage for the Drachen Foundation (which, should see the light of day fairly soon!) below is one of iQuad’s rountines flown on the Uchinada Beach on Sunday :

Until the next time I bring a quad out,

David Hathaway