It has been a little over 3 months since my last entry. Wow! Time flies doesn't it! Work was booooming and I was taking advantage of all the extra shift hours available. However. I miss spending time with the things that make me happy. The important things. My growing family. My friends. My kites.
My son, our middle child, just turned 8. Growing into a fine young boy. Around 2 years ago, when he was 6 and this still blows me away, said "he wanted a kite just like mine but different". After talking with him for a while to find out exactly what he was after, yep he wanted a Rev. So I set him up on Watties colouriser. http://kitepaint.com/#!/ He played with it for a while, came up with some pretty cool designs too. We chatted about different kites. I told him that he could earn extra money by doing jobs and that if he stuck with it I would match him dollar for dollar. After explaining what that meant, he had a quiet grin of determination. Then it hit me. He might get a Pro before I do!! He did all sorts of jobs to keep topping up the kite fund. Some were easy, some were not. He went without lots of treats to put that money to it as well. I began taking him out flying with me. His attention span got better and a kind of stillness would come over him when we flew. We sat down a month before his 8th birthday and did the numbers. He was about 6 months from a B Series, poor little fella wanted it sooner than that. I had a quiet word to my wife, then began to feel him out for a scheme. He had gone off his technicolor dream coat rev, thank me later Baz! He was liking the older style Blue Grey B Series. Which is good as it would match my Red and Grey B's. We got a Travel frame package ready to fly. It came just before his party so he could show all his mates. We have had a couple of flights on his new sail. The winds were a little light for the 3 wrap travel frame but he had fun. I would like to say a big thanks to Kevin Sanders as he sent my boy a set of his handles and a stake. A much lay appreciated gift.
Now, once he's got the hang of it, I'm putting him on some 30's and we are going to the streets!!!
With not a lot of flight time comes, for me, a level of desertion.
Motorvation leaves. Inspiration dries up. Inclination goes. I begin to contemplate selling off kites that I don't fly.
Then the day breaks and a new source of inspiration presents itself. My oldest girl, 10, has a group of friends that knock on our door every weekend and they all go to the park to ride, play, skate and generally just hang out. This past weekend was no different. There was a gentle breeze so she asked if she could take her kite. She is really good like that to ask, of course the answer is yes. I tell her if she doesn't want to share her kite with the rough kids to say I said she couldn't. Anyway, she is gone for maybe half an hour. I spy her little delta floating on the breeze. Suddenly she is back and looks a little upset. Apparently some other kids were making fun of her "little" kite. I start to tell her not to bother with them when she gets this twinkle in her eye.
"Dad, can I fly your big one?" she asks with a widening smile.
Yep, I know exactly what she means and how she feels. So I give her a brief demo how to set it up just to remind her, she is always helping me set up though. I tell her to set up on the other side and let them come to her... So she does. And they do. I peak out the window to see a little crowd of her friends standing around her fly this massive, to them, kite. A 3 meter (10 foot) delta with a 15 meter (50 foot) tail. She came back all smiles and gave me a big hug.
"They had never seen one THAT big. Thanks dad."
Awww, bless her.
With a few projects at home requiring some attention I didn't get out much to fly. BUT. I got out on New Years Day and enjoyed some of the highest wind yet! We had a howling Easterly that was in a real hurry to leave the desert behind and hit the beach, like most Aussies would've been doing at the same time. Winds were above 60km/h (approx 40 mp/h). I had flown gusts at that speed but not constant, powerful and a little worrying too. Glad to say the good old PoloVTD got a good work out and me too.
Once back at work just after New Years, we had 2 weeks of maintenance. I work in a paver making factory. I took advantage and flew most days after work for a bit. I took my two Sevens, Std and SUL, and left all my other kites at home. Hoping this would give me the opportunity to concentrate on the 2 stringers. Most days wind were on the upper of the Std's range so I kept to the edges for quite a while. I had lost a lot of feel for not only the length I was flying on but also the inputs for freestyle. To get back some touch and feel I printed out the ISK Compulsories for dual line individual and practiced the figures. I worked on straight lines, even speed across the window and tried to maintain the grid. Day 1 was pretty rough but as the days went on, the figures became less of a signature and more of a capital. Square Cuts (DI 18) is my current favourite and Circle Over Diamond (DI 03) is the toughest. Don't get me started on Stops (DI 12)....
Friday just gone, the wind just bottomed right out. I pulled out the SUL and gave it a run. Literally! I'd flow duals in zero before but only at 30 feet NOT 100! That was different. Challenging. But ultimately very rewarding. Nothing like a 720 slide to get the blood pumping. One thing that was really addictive was the absolute slow motion of an axel. The Seven is a really forgiving kite and the Mylar panels refracted the sunlight as it went through its rotation was downright sexy!
As I had both kites with me and the day was just glorious, I took a couple of pics of them together. What a stunning pair!
Boxing Day 2015. I was going through the recyclable bin in search of some instructions that were reported missing from my littlest girl's "Frozen" Lego set. I kid you not! I noticed a guy with his two kids and a kite at the park. I paused to watch, like any kiter would do. I watched them struggle to get it into the air. I saw the kids lose interest. I had a déjà vu from exactly 4 years back. Quickly told my wife I was just going to help them out and over I went. Went and introduced myself and offered some assistance which he readily accepted. I gave the kite a once over. It was a cheapo dualile, would've cost $20 at most. Plastic sail, cheap lines. First I gave him a basic run through, let out all the lines when it's down on the ground not in the air. Give to the kite if you heading South to the ground. Small hand movements not massive arm yanks. After a couple of minutes of successful flying, there was a gust that just stretched out the sail in a very unkind way.
I quickly ran ran back to my house and grabbed my SKD Seven Std and 80 foot lines. Quickly set up, explaining what AND why I was doing. A quick flight to make sure the bridle was dialled in. Then handed over the straps. All the frustration just melted away from his face. Sure we didn't do any tricking, just flew around. But! He was flying and not struggling. His kids called out to him that it was time to go so he handed me the straps back and I flew a few figures, stalls and slides for a bit of fun. We talked while I packed up. All about kites. I think I opened his eyes to a lot more than a $20 dollar kite. Then, and there is always a then, he asked me how much my Seven was. The smile didn't disappear totally from his face when I told him... I explained that it was an investment over a few years. Break the cost of kites down over a few years and most people see the value. I pointed him towards Kitelife.com as a portal into kiting. Gave him a website for a kite shop here in Oz. Gave him my details. Hopefully there was enough of a spark to keep going. Only time will tell.
I got started in kites not that long ago. Coming up 4 years this Christmas.
I took the kids across the road to the park to fly the el cheap-o fluoro yellow SLK octopus after lunch. They had fun for a few minutes then they got bored. I thought this is a good thing to do but there has to be more to it. That night I went online to look at kites. Saw all the usual delta shaped dual line kites. Then I came across a "sport wing". What the heck is a sport wing I thought. There was a link to a YouTube video. I clicked on it and down the rabbit hole I went...
It was JB ripping it up down on the beach on a blue & grey B2 Standard. I must've watch this 20 times that night. I had made up my mind. I had to get one of these! After a bit of mucking around, and a few false starts, I got my very own Revolution kite. A lime & blue EXP. Due to these not being very popular here in Oz, it wasn't my first choice of colours but I have grown to love them now. Man, that thing was terribly frustrating and incredibly joyful at the same time. Eventually I got the hang of it. I got lots help and tips from other pilots on this and the Rev forum. I then got some more kites. Then more. And pretty soon I had a full wind range. Which helps as when I have the time to fly, sometimes the wind isn't cooperating. Big wind. Small wind. No wind. Now I'm getting a bunch of duals and SLK's too.
Kiting, and the greater kiting community, have really changed my view on life. Before kites, I wouldn't have lent out a $50 tool. Now I let people fly my kites worth much more than that. When I fly, I am released from the stress and troubles of everyday. No matter what my week has entailed, throw a bit of ripstop around for a bit and I'm golden for another week.
I hope many people get out of their passion what I get out of kites. It's not just something I do, it a way of life.
Live it. Share it. Feed it.
A passion, no matter the type, cannot help but be exuded from your pores. It doesn't control your life but definitely guides the choices made within it. Kiting. You know when the winds are sweetest. You know the markers. The trees that sway in the right direction. You change your travel route home from work to take advantage. Your passion is infectious to those around you.
You seek out like minded souls. Seeking knowledge, tips and tricks. You scour the forums for any scrap of info that helps you along. You invite friends to come out and fly. To see what it's all about. You offer them to try your kites.
You offer advice on the forums. To your new friends. You pass on tips that have worked. Tips that you have come up with. You check in with friends to see how they are coming along. You organise mini flies. You begin to branch out to mix things up.
Live it. Share it. Feed it.
We have all been the "new guy". Wide eyed with a ton of questions. Their enthusiasm is infectious. Re-invigorating even the jaded individual. That enthusiasm will carry. You. Me. All of us. But we must culture it. Nurture it. Practise it. We are all hard core pilots. If only for a brief time of the week, or month, or year. Live the passion all year long. Share the passion with everyone, they may be a like minded soul. Feed the passion in your brothers and sisters. I genuinely care for all my kiting friends. I would happily fly with all of you. Share my bag of birds gladly. Willingly. Enthusiastically.
For the longest time, I was my own worst "block" to advancing my skill set.
Starting out I quickly learned when I could fly and when I couldn't. As my skills came along I fell into the "comfort zone" and basically stuck to that wind range. Sure, as I got a vented sail I would venture out in the higher winds but still stuck to what I was comfortable flying in. Comfortable. I was stagnating. I started to wonder if this was it. I began to make those excuses we all have done. Not enough wind. Too variable. Too tired. Then my work and family responsibilities began to creep in. It became easy to go "next time".
Then I began to alter my perceptions. My mind set.
I had light wind kites so I had the low wind equipment. I saw others fly in ultra low winds so I new it could be done. I stopped making excuses and started to apply my skills to fly outside my comfort range. I got over myself. Half an hour every day after work and one week I began to feel very comfortable in low low winds. Eventually was able to fly in Zero. And with that came a mental change. If I can fly in nothing then I can fly in anything. Anytime. Just like that!
Low winds are no longer no fly days, they are a chance to advance my skills.
Dirty air is now a challenge not an obstacle.
Dont accept the conditions, adapt to them.
Down here in Oz we have just turned the corner into Summer and I'm hoping to be out a lot more during the daylight than I have been. Where I live we have this belting Easterly that comes rushing down the escarpment making a Vented sail pretty much the only option. Then tapering to NOTHING around midday giving the SUL and Indoors a go. Then early evening "the doctor" comes in to provide some respite from the heat and lends itself to Standards/Mids. Literally an entire bag could be used in the space of 24 hours.
Due to work and family commitments I find myself mostly flying at the "unholy hours" of early morning. 2 or 3am is nothing new. Quiet. Peaceful for sure. Lonely, you bet. Not many flight buddies at that time. It does open up some opportunities that normally wouldn't be there during daylight hours. Shopping centre carparks are empty. Playgrounds and basketball courts are vacant. Shadow flying on great big walls using the floodlights is immensely satisfying. Always scouting for the next "after hours" site.