Kite Blog

26/12/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 26 December 2010 16 views  

On the Blackwall Tunnel approach the flags were static, as if frozen.

There was a slight air movement on the heath, even at 'c1 degrees Celcius below' hard to discern but at least it was mostly consistent. Although the bright sun did have a warming effect prior to high cloud filtering the effect there was little or no rising thermal circulation.

I guessed that the air movement was between 1 and 2 miles per hour... Who knows? Anyway the Zens with Race frames and 3 wrap centre worked fine and a Rev 1 with Zen spars seemed to cope as well.

We flew some silent leading, as in 'no calls' just fly and pick up the intention to slow into 'Mercedes turns' or simultaneous 'ladder ups'. (There was a bit of treacle flying as well.)

The transition into the 'block' equivalent is potentially very interesting.


19/12/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 19 December 2010 8 views  

Arrived soon after 10:00am to find Martin already beginning to feel the chill. It may only have been 1 degree below freezing but it was a lazy wind.

Full sail 1.5s with Race rods were just about at their limit but we flew some neat 'wrong order' following moves after extensive 'free for all' flying.

For the uninitiated 'wrong order' is when the fliers and the kites are not in the same order. 'Free for all' is when the kites are flown independently with the intention to interact spontaneously. Peripheral vision is helpful here!

Seasonal greetings from Blackheath, as in the attached image.


Attached Thumbnails  

12/12/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 12 December 2010 9 views  

Managed a 'soon after 10:00am arrival' to find Martin flying his Zen. Set up in line but as the sun came out there was a distinct change in the wind speed so we switched to full 1.5 with Race Rods for some!

We flew four and looked at the ways that a four block could be formed and the possibilities that follow from a 'different' order of fliers that we might have arrived at habitually. My suspicion is that a fundamental switching of focus to 'mirrored pairs' rather than 'a following line' will make all the difference. It may be a case of 'think grid'. <grins>

In the somewhat variable light wind we did fly some quite demanding slow speed rolls and ladders. There was definitely a touch of 'slo-mo' on occasions. Always great to see in my book.

Flying directly into the sun was a bit of a chore today but the sun shining on the spectra made it shine like spiders web. Quite an astonishing sight!


05/12/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 05 December 2010 10 views  

The remains of the snow that arrived in London during the week was still lying on Blackheath today.

1.5s with Race Rods was the set-up today and we flew mostly 'randomly' with the occasional 'following line' and the odd call.

It is interesting to learn how to watch the other kites and to move to the appropriate 'space' in the sky, interacting and avoiding in equal measures. Having confidence in the ability of the other fliers ability to stop and 'bail out' if needs be is of course of the essence here. We had a couple of 'terminal' threads today due to 'very close' following... and the light breeze!


28/11/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 28 November 2010 13 views  

The snow that was forecast for today earlier in the week did not arrive but the Canada Geese made their first appearance close to our regular field.

It was another 2mph day so the Zens were put through their paces again along with a Rev 1 with Zen spars.

Once again I was surprised by the way the Zen can fly to the top of the window and with some care, in rising air, beyond the zenith. Even though the temperature was below zero (celsius) in the shade the sun had a warming effect and was obviously generating thermal air movements. This was also manifest in the 90 degree 'wind' shifts we felt at ground level.

It is quite dis-orientating looking up vertically and hanging onto a thermal by circling around but it is an amazing sensation. Falling off the top may mean a walk to untangle a kite that has looped itself in an unrecoverable way but is by no means a walk of shame <grins>


21/11/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 21 November 2010 8 views  

More worm casts underfoot with a northerly breeze and low cloud never quite breaking to brighten the scene. Martin lined us up with the church spire as the centre of the window and two lamp posts as the edge of the frame.

Having started with Race Rods and the full 1.5 sail there came a point where the Standard Race Rods were looking stressed but the Green ones that I was using were still holding up.

We switched to full vented and Standard Race Rods, always a treat!

We flew parallel - vertically, horizontally and diagonally with the 16 grid in mind and executed 540 wing tip rotations upwards and downwards at nominal edges of the wind window, also 360s in the centre to keep the wraps in order.

It was particularly interesting to adopt the diagonal configuration and see the 'click' points during the rotations.


14/11/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 14 November 2010 8 views  

Another 'soon after 10:00am' start and dry to begin with Zen focused day. We tried the Zen spars in the Decs JMH Rev 1s and they added a further twist to the range of kite/spar possibilities. With lightweight handles the lines transmitted a significant buzz from the kite, quite electrifying...

Flying 5 in 1-2 mph was working well today with parallel 360s, ladders up/down and Figure 8s as well as 'dice 5' block moves.

Gradually the rain moved in and it became apparent that the 'flexibility' of the Zen frame did not cope very well with a wet sail.

'Q' Why do we fly kites when it is pouring with rain?

'A' Because we can.

The Canada Geese were on the heath but have not migrated to our usual pitch. We only had to contend with the fallout from the fireworks last weekend and the worm casts today.


07/11/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 07 November 2010 6 views  

A bright start with cooler breezes from the North, light to begin with (soon after 10:00am) today. Forgot the sunglasses again!

It was one step up from Zen conditions at the outset today so the sequence has been broken. At this stage there is nothing special to 'show' (as in video) for the Zen flying. They have the capability to carry on going for longer up to and including those 'over vertical' moments in 'rising air'. There is a point at which the Rev 1 or 1.5 kites stop going forwards. The Zens keep on going and for the flier this is a significant moment even if nothing special appears to have happened from a spectators viewpoint.

So with standard 1.5s and Race Rods we looked at grid 360 upward and downward rolls along with ladder up/down and block moves. With 5 kites the parallel diagonal infinity looked like it would run out of air space but I think that it will be worth trying in the 16 grid.

As the breeze gradually increased a point was reached where the sail and spar configuration felt overpowered. We could have changed spars/sails but took the lazy option and packed up. The journey home usually takes me 15 minutes but today it took an hour due to the temporary closure of the Blackwall Tunnel under the Thames.


31/10/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 31 October 2010 16 views  

There will be one day in every Autumn when the colours of the trees are most dramatic. With light breezes and wet grey skies I think that the day was today.

That it was the clock change weekend simply made it even more enigmatic.

Wet kites and lines are not great in low wind conditions but the Zens with Race and 3 wrap centres felt comfortable today. The 15 inch handles once again seemed to fit the bill apart from the clip issue. Most of the time the handles are well apart with the lower ends pointed outwards so absolutely no chance of accidental snagging. It's the 'same handle snagging top lines' that seems to be catching me.

3 Zen weekends in a row! I'm thinking it may be time to order a super vented kite...


24/10/2010 Dunstable Downs

Posted by Felix Mottram, 24 October 2010 10 views  

Watching the weather forecasts through the week saw a gradual easing of wind speed and likely rainfall. Arriving at 9:30am to find a clear sky and c2mph from the North West (I think) was a real treat even if it meant flying directly into the sun once again. (I did have sunglasses with me today)

Having commented about the Zens (and Weather forecasts) it seemed sensible to set up the full sail 1.5s at the outset. I did, however, use the new version of the Race spars. This set-up felt very crisp and later in the day switching to the full vented seemed to carry the characteristics of the spars. More practical comparisons required here, for sure.

As conditions remained light during the morning we did put up the Zens with Race and 3 wrap centre. There was not so much rising air as on Blackheath the other weekend so no 'past vertical' moments. Learning the 'turning interval' with these sails continues. I was using the long handles today which had not felt comfortable when I tried them previously.

It was a great 'gathering' day with some relaxed grid and linear flying. The parallel flying, ladders up/down, grid fly left/right/up/down seemed particularly effective. Thanks very much to all who took part and especially to Baz for having set up the meeting.


17/10/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 17 October 2010 9 views  

Metcheck had been suggesting through the week that today would be a light wind occasion. It turned out to be a glorious October day, the only downside being that what breeze there was came from the North. Flying into the low sun without sunglasses gets to be tiring eventually.

We flew 3 Zens on Race Rods with 3 wrap centres and had the fairly extraordinary experience of flying 'over' the vertical point more than once. As all 3 fliers saw their lines go beyond vertical this was obviously a 'design feature' and no freak accident <grins>

At least when the kite had gone 'over the top' the flier did not have to look into the sun any more...

Getting familiar with the 'turning interval' of the Zen was the real achievement today.


10/10/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 10 October 2010 11 views  

When the wind is from the east the eastern side of London is spared the depressing descending whine of planes headed for Heathrow as they cog in over Blackheath for the final approach to the runway. Given that it can start at 6:00am the absence of the noise is a real bonus and lends a relaxed demeanour to the days unaffected by the background disturbance.

Full vented 1.5 on 120s with 4 wrap frame was required today although the Rev 2 on 80s with a Race frame was very comfortably within its wind speed range.

I finally noticed the ferrule arrangement for the Rev 2. Just as well I had not gone looking for the missing ones.


03/10/2010 Margate

Posted by Felix Mottram, 03 October 2010 14 views  

This was our final Autumn event. Southerly winds over the north facing beach (backed by buildings) were never going to be easy but on Saturday we coped with the Rev1 sails and our regular spar set-up. (4 wrap centre, 3 wrap the rest)

On Sunday we started with the Rev1.5 sails and 3 wrap spars but progressed to the JMH vented sails with 4 wrap spars at a key moment as the weather developed through the morning. There were big changes in wind speed and direction but we managed some extended arena presentations.

After a short break c2:00 pm we returned to the beach to find that the event had been closed due to the adverse conditions! (The SLKs had suffered line breaks and other damage)


28/09/2010 Post Knokke

Posted by Felix Mottram, 28 September 2010 15 views  

Ironically, after the previous weekend's blog concerns the event at Knokke (25-26th Sept) in Belgium provided a positive lift in respect to team capabilities and aspirations.

Saturday was tough but DE's mega vented 1.5 sails coped very well with the very high onshore wind speed and kept the team performing.

Sunday morning started with Rev 1s but we quickly moved on to the JMH vented 1.5 set with 4 wrap spars. These proved to fit the conditions exactly and although I do not expect to see video evidence 'any time soon' we developed some new figures which will, I am sure, set an interesting bar in the near future <grins>


19/09/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 19 September 2010 6 views  

A dry grey day as befits mid September. A high cloud base provided the panorama of the northern and southern stacks for the Heathrow approach with an odd, larger than usual aircraft, take off from City Airport thrown in for good measure.

In reflective mode I'm wondering how it is, after 20 plus years flying the Revolution kite, we 'put up with' not being able to do everything, 'precisely' that we would like to do with the kite. Then we also have to 'accommodate' new fliers who 'complain' about how hard it is to learn.

So, going back to last week's 'no wobble ladder up/down', I cannot claim to be able to hit the mark every time but I do think that this simple manoeuvre holds the key to the successful control of the kite and that it is an essential skill for the Mega Team environment. Owning the hover is one thing but the transitions may be even more important...


12/09/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 12 September 2010 13 views  

After 4 weekends away Blackheath was looking very green today compared to how it looked just over a month ago.

There was time today to shuffle the carefully dried (after Sunday at Bristol) team kit ahead of the final two events of the season, Knokke in Belgium (25-26/09) and Margate in England (02-03/10).

The standard JB Pro 1.5 on 3 wrap was about right in the variable breeze (circa 1 - 8 mph) today but the mid vent on 2 wrap was also viable with a light touch. As we do not have the mid vent sails as a team option it was a rare pleasure to fly this format. (It was interesting to have seen how many mid vents were used at Long Beach.) This is all in complete contrast to the Decs' historical collective determination to use the Rev 1s at every opportunity up to the point that that even the 'heaviest' of fliers were not in comfortable control. <grins>

We took the opportunity today to look at handle holding positions and also the discipline of the <forward ladder up/down with precise wing tip turns to a 'no wobble' stop'>. I think that this should probably be the next challenge to mega grid fliers...


30/08/2010 Portsmouth

Posted by Felix Mottram, 30 August 2010 22 views  

It was an excellent event at Portsmouth this year with 'slightly' demanding conditions on Sunday afternoon. <grins>

Thanks to everyone who took up the challenge of the grid fly in the arena on both days and also for all those who took advantage of the dedicated Rev field on Saturday, Sunday and Monday as well.

Having flown alongside Herman van den Broek in kite arenas in many countries over many years I was very touched to have been awarded the Portsmouth 2010 trophy by the event organisers. Thank you.


23/08/2010 Home in Hackney

Posted by Felix Mottram, 23 August 2010 5 views  

Just a quick note to confirm that after a very constructive week at WSIKF I got home at about 2:30pm local time today.



EDIT 26/08/2010. So we did not get close to 100 which means that it is still there as a challenge for the future. What was achieved though was a great lift in the confidence and capability of many fliers and also an understanding of the practical considerations of mega-team organisation. The two line launch worked very well indeed, helped by the discipline and patience demonstrated by all the fliers as the field was set up! It should be possible to bring the fliers closer together on the ground as well as in the air so that they could see the big picture, at least in peripheral vision.

The 'super sixteen' fly was a bit of a revelation in the lower wind speed. Plenty of potential for further development in my view and great fun on the day!


08/08/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 08 August 2010 8 views  

After a tense week, both at work and personally it was great to wind down in light breezes on Blackheath today. For the third weekend running it was light enough to set up the Zen alongside the JB Pro. Today we were flying into the sun so the plain white Zen glittered dramatically.

I ended up leading a 'no call' routine with the 1.5s in 'treacle mode' and found that a leading 'ladder up' could be an effective move that might also fold over at the top of the window.

Some 'free form' flying proved as interesting as ever. You really have to be confident about the capability of the other fliers to cope with random flight paths.

Finally, we packed the 'box' with the team kites for WSIKF. It weighed in at 22kg/48 1/2lb leaving space for a few final additions.


01/08/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 01 August 2010 17 views  

Another Zen possible day but again, like last weekend, alternating with the 1.5 JB Pro. Both line sets benefited from some precision adjustment enabled by the needle nosed pliers. I'm thinking that a finer leader knot spacing is going to be beneficial, about 1/4 inch steps should be good. Sliding adjustment has it's attractions but I do not think that the flier is ever going to be 'clever enough' to be able to adjust by 'feel' alone.

A strange sky scape over Blackheath c11:00am with contrasting cloud tone that gradually gave way to a more conventional 'sunny' afternoon.

The swifts that arrive over Hackney at the beginning of May have almost all vanished as they do most years at the end of July.


25/07/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 25 July 2010 8 views  

So it is now three weeks to WSIKF.

I flew Saturday and Sunday this weekend. Winds were light enough on Sunday to get the Zen out. I tried the 'very long' handles initially but the kite felt 'too heavy'. Switched to the 13 inch clip-less and found the sweet spot without delay. Flying with 3 wrap centre and Race rods the kite was 'spring bound' but incredibly buoyant in the sub 4mph breeze.

The step up in sail area from the Rev 1 to the Zen is still surprisingly significant to me.


18/07/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 18 July 2010 11 views  

A quiet fly on Blackheath today.

With just four weeks to until the WSIKF event I was contemplating the static drift we used to enjoy when flying the Paul Morgan Mega Deltas. I recall seeing six or more kites at the top of their wind window drifting in unison if not spiralling on thermals.

At Portsmouth 2008 I remember watching the ripple of gusts moving across the wall of Revolution kites. I look forward to seeing the kites at Long Beach respond and hope that the fliers can 'go with the flow' and re-position accordingly.

The idea that the fliers could respond 'in unison' is one of the special aspects of the Revolution Mega Team.


11/07/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 11 July 2010 8 views  

Jørgen Møeller Hansen joined us on Blackheath today and we were able to fly the vented 1.5 sails that he had designed for us last year. It was the first time he had seen these sails in action and having been anxious about the graphic he was very pleased with the results.

We were four fliers today and flew 3 wrap frames in a relaxed slo-mo pace (verging on treacle at times). The sails, sewn by Bazzer are a slight variation on the JB design and have a silky feel in the c7-10 mph winds we had today. It was a great contrast today, to last Sunday's blustery conditions, where the same sails with the 4 wrap frame were tested, we found out today, to near destruction. One of the sails was damaged, a 3 inch rip and 3 smaller rips and abrasion in close proximity.

Must remember to ensure that the team check the sails as well as the ferrules every time the kite is set up and broken down. Unfortunately, team kit is treated with less 'respect' than personal possessions.


04/07/2010 Sunderland

Posted by Felix Mottram, 04 July 2010 7 views  

The Northern Area Playing Fields at Washington proved to be a testing venue this weekend. Light breezes on Saturday prevented a grid demo going ahead on Saturday despite sterling efforts from the potential participants earlier in the day.

Sunday provided some really difficult conditions with wind speed variations occurring very quickly. We ended up flying the vented 1.5s to their practical limits high wind wise yet within seconds, literally, the wind speed dropped to the point that they were not viable.

Thanks to all the fliers who participated in a 5 x 3 grid (edit 5 columns, 3 rows) called by Jacob (not flying) at the end of the afternoon.


27/06/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 27 June 2010 10 views  

Since last weekend the weather in London has been transformed into 'full on' summer mode. Today on Blackheath there was an intermittent light breeze up to c5mph providing the opportunity to fly the Zen again.

With switches in direction I am sure that I did fly from all 360 degrees between 10:30 and 12:30. The strongest air was moving vertically so it was important to be prepared to catch a lift when it was available.

I did set up a 1.5 with Race Frame alongside the Zen with long clipped handles. Watching the 120ft lines take on a spiral line to the kite indicated the need for a very light touch. In these circumstances crossing lines with other fliers would likely cause confusion as there is so little feedback 'down the lines'. I'm thinking that the only way forward for team flying is to insist that, in light winds, the Rev fliers do go ahead and try to fly together just in order to gain experience of how to deal with the issues. It will often 'not work' but 'so what'?<grins>


20/06/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 20 June 2010 15 views  

As expected it was quiet on Blackheath today after the excitement of the Kite and Bike festival last weekend. A cool northerly breeze and thick grey clouds did little to lift the atmosphere.

Thoughts turned to forthcoming events at Washington Tyne and Wear and Washington State International Kite Festival. Mount Rainier (or Mount Tahoma) may not have the cultural significance of Fuji in Japan but I am looking forward to catching a glimpse of the mountain on the approach to SEATAC.

I was very lucky, back in the 90's, to attend the Autumn Japan Kite Association event at Fuji City and fly all day in clear view of the volcano. More recently, a fleeting glimpse from the Shinkansen (bullet train) was not quite the same.

Washington UK promises a c16 person mega team which I hope will develop the theme set by the Ainsdale and Penshaw events held during the winter months.


13/06/2010 Blackheath Festival Weekend

Posted by Felix Mottram, 13 June 2010 9 views  

I arrived on Saturday mid-afternoon, after work, to find the team comfortably established on the heath in the north easterly breeze. I watched the six person team going through their paces with confidence led by Mark and David.

On Sunday we were eight and again Mark and DE took advantage of the favourable, though occasionally blustery breeze, first on the Rev 1s, later the 1.5s to work through the recently developed           repertoire.

Towards the end of the afternoon a sixteen person mega team with The Decs, The Flying Squad, Maggie and Chris led by DE showed off some dynamic flying to the appreciative Blackheath audience.

As Blackheath is The Decs 'home ground' we were invited to take the final arena spot.

It will feel very empty on Blackheath next weekend...


06/06/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 06 June 2010 8 views  

A late entry as I have been mesmerised by Alex's video of the Decs at Berck. (The routines tend to be unique, we will never fly it again...)

A light rising breeze today allowed some experimentation with spars in the Zen sail.

Later, race rods in the JMH vented sail proved the range for that kite.

'Sprockets' <grins>


30/05/2010 Blackheath 1.5 Vented Variant thoughts

Posted by Felix Mottram, 30 May 2010 8 views  

Some time ago we asked Jørgen Møeller Hansen to produce a graphic for a 1.5 vented kite based on the B Pro sail panel layout. He duly came up with a design which we eventually, (when we were able to afford funding), forwarded to Revolution asking Bazzer to sew the sails. What we had not expected was that Bazzer would follow Jørgen's drawing exactly and so produce a variant of the vented sail with astonishing attention to the detail of Jørgen's design.

We have now used these kites in earnest at Berck and Cervia festivals and they have proved to be an excellent investment from a practical point of view as well as being visually stunning.

I would never claim to be able to identify  incremental differences in sail configuration as the adaptive tendency is so strong but today I did try to compare the JMH sail to a Bazzer B Pro (not LE version). It was probably blowing c15 mph on Blackheath. The JMH sail seemed to absorb wind speed variations even more than than the B Pro did. The downside to this may be that more effort would be needed to articulate speed changes but in bumpy conditions the apparent further flattening of response is helpful. There did not appear to be any loss of wind window.

As noted else where I am specifically interested in the collective capability (100 grid) rather than individual performance especially when the increments are so subjective. I will not dwell on the comparison <grins>

Felix <edit>  

23/05/2010 Blackheath, Angle of attack

Posted by Felix Mottram, 23 May 2010 9 views  

It was strictly light wind flying today. A Zen day indeed. In Cervia we had seen the 'clear advantage' that the Zen had over the Rev1 in light conditions. Today we found an apparent discrepancy in the angle of attack when putting a Zen and a Rev1 face to face. I'm thinking that the difference in the bridle may be the cause of this. The kites did not 'lock' together in the usual way <grins>

At Portsmouth in 2009 we flew a 16 person grid using the JMH 1.5 and 1 kites together. I do not think that face to face pairings of the different kites featured but it would be interesting to try this at the next opportunity, maybe at the Blackheath event in June. I am sure that we have stacked the different sized kites before...


16/05/2010 Rougham

Posted by Felix Mottram, 16 May 2010 11 views  

Approaching Bury-St-Edmunds from the west close to 9:00am today, Sunday, we could see a 'Kite Shaped Object' in the air over Rougham airfield. We had been instructed to head for the main car park and to set up alongside the main runway in a 'Rev Designated Area'. This we duly did and soon a group of 10-12 fliers were flying in a relaxed and good humoured way. There was some talk about leader lines and stacking kites in the air. Compatible line lengths are helpful in team flying <grins>

At one point I was put on the end of the line of fliers and asked to call. This is not something that I usually do and having had a bad cough/cold during the week it was a struggle to make myself heard. We did, however, manage to set up a grid of nine kites flying upward/downward wing tip turns which looked very neat. This was somthing I had wanted to see 'in team' and also 'in the grid'.

I hope that plans for a Rev Gathering at Rougham later in the year do go ahead and I will certainly make every effort to attend.


09/05/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 09 May 2010 6 views  

It was very strange flying on grass today after 15 days of flying on sand. It was an unseasonably cold and grey day on Blackheath.

On reflection, the idea of flying kites for 15 days and still finding interest and creative possibilities on the final day, in this case, in Cervia, is fascinating in its own right.

The 3 or 4 kite days in Italy were magical. No wind at 10 am so set up the Zens, almost imperceptible increase to the point that the Rev1 is viable by about 10:30 am. By 12:00 it is time to switch to the Rev1.5 or go to lunch... The early afternoon is plain sailing but by about 3:30 pm it is time for the vented Rev1.5 kites.

Today, the 'plan A' from Berck was dusted down in anticipation of Rougham! It will be a low key event after the last 3 weeks.


03/05/2010 After Cervia

Posted by Felix Mottram, 03 May 2010 6 views  

A great week in Cervia, Italy. We coped with the c125 ft wide arena and light winds earlier in the week and enjoyed 3 kite days towards the end of the event. Rev 1 to start, moving to Rev 1.5 in the middle of the day and ending on the 1.5 vented as the onshore breezes built...

It was amazing to meet with people who remembered our visits to Cervia of 10 years ago and more.

I hope that we will be able to attend the 2011 event.


18/04/2010 After Berck

Posted by Felix Mottram, 18 April 2010 7 views  

A great week in Berck, France. Heavy winds earlier in the week finally gave way to the chance to fly the Zen in near zero mph this morning. The 'turning interval' is different and I will be interested to do some more flying on a 'more comfortable' surface than soft sand.

The Team was led by DE for the first days of the event and he put together a new routine which was well received.

Jacob led the arena work for the 8 person team for the last 3 days in The Decs traditional mode.

The JMH vented kites performed very well indeed...


04/04/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 04 April 2010 4 views  

This was the last Blackheath fly for a while. The next two weekends will be in Berck and the two after in Cervia. Getting to Blackheath from home is very easy in the car. A quick drive past the Olympic Park, through the Blackwell tunnel, turn right at the top of the hill and that is it! (15 mins max) A bit more travelling for Berck and Cervia <grins>

A parallel side slide 360 around the last kite was today's special moment. We actually set the pendulum going as well and as this was almost entirely spontaneous it says a lot about the practical capabilities of the fliers. Well done... you know who you are!


27-28/03/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 28 March 2010 5 views  

We arrived mid afternoon on Saturday to kick off our pre-season warm-up for the 'complete' team. Rev1s were the order of the day until the breeze dropped off almost completely ahead of a squally downpour. There was time to fly DEs Zen before the storm broke. We then retired to 'The Tolly' on Royal Hill.

Most of us coped with the clock change overnight reasonably well and we were on site Sunday at c10:00am for a 5 hour session blowing out the cobwebs and getting the winter absentees up to speed. Today, with standard 1.5s, forward and reverse parallel wing tip 180 turns were a focus as was the gradually developing 'burst [compound leaders benefit] Felix'. The contrast between very simple moves and compound routines is instructive.

Confidence in flying in very close proximity to other kites/fliers is crucial. It is important to get fliers to realise that if things go wrong it is no big deal. Getting out of trouble in the most elegant and friendly fashion is of the essence here. Sometimes, in trying out new moves, any of the fliers must have the confidence to call the stop, especially if they find that they are wrapping lines at right angles. There are some places one just does not want to go <grins>

'Fire drills' should be part of our repertoire!


21/03/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 21 March 2010 4 views  

Arrived just before 10:00 am to see Jade and Martin with Rev1s set up but zero wind speed.

Just for fun, I set up the Rev2s Race Rods on 80ft x 100lb and 15 inch handles. (On reflection now I can see that additional flex in the spars may be advantageous. I had got used to compensating for the lack of flex in the speed series kites. The tracking advantage may be significant as with the fragile bamboo components of a fighter kite.)

The Rev2s will work in almost zero wind speed but light weight snag free handles would help translate the minimal feel/feedback. I will have to check if we have some SUL Rev 2 frames.

Switched to the Rev1s on the 80ft lines but this felt very confined in contrast to the Rev2s. The Ex iQuad SUL framed 1.5s proved to be a happy compromise and Martin, Ashley and I carved some slo-mo following and parallel ladders up and down in the slight breeze that developed towards 1:00 pm (circa 1-3mph).

Decs Team meet on Blackheath next weekend. I hope that the current weather forecast holds good.


14/03/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 14 March 2010 7 views  

There was sunshine on Blackheath today. The temperature may have reached double digits (Celcius) for the first time this year!

The custom Rev2 Race Framed on the 80ft lines and long handles (15in) was once again set up alongside the vented Rev1.5 JB Pro custom 4 wrap on 120ft lines (13in handles) in a brisk NW airflow (which meant we were flying directly into the sun).

The delicacy of touch required for the Rev2 is in considerable contrast to the expansive moves that are required for the Rev1.5. I had not realised quite how 'long' the arm moves need to be for the larger sail especially if the breeze drops towards the lower end of the wind range of the kite. Stepping up to the Rev1 may demand an even longer span which may be beyond normal reach...

We noticed that when flying an inverted hover 'arms straight down, handles horizontal' may be the most comfortable and effective position. I suspect that mobility of the hands while flying is crucial in many ways and I am sure that a rigid grip is completely counter productive as it quickly leads to muscle fatigue. Finding how to keep a light grip in higher wind speed seems to be the key. <grins>


07/03/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 07 March 2010 3 views  

A complete contrast weather wise today after last Sunday with clear skies, bright sun, but a steady, (most of the time) cold easterly breeze.

Put out the pair of Rev2s Race Framed on the 80ft lines and long handles, not least to dry them out. (?) It was interesting to fly out to the edge of the wind window and 'throw' the kite through 'precise' turns. Long arms and plenty of movement on the ground were 'all' that was required. Slo-mo turns worked 'in the mind' rather than by virtue of physical input. 'Zen' or what?

The transition back to the Vented JB 1.5 Pro was curious as noted last week. Suddenly every movement needed to be amplified by a significant factor. Maybe, therein, lies the advantage of switching between kites...


28/02/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 28 February 2010 5 views  

A very wet morning but lower wind speed than forecast provided an opportunity to set up lines and handles for the 2 new Rev2 kites that arrived last Monday morning.

For reasons I will not go into here we are using the 15 inch handles. The top leader extensions I had to make measured 11 inches to the used knot.

The kites felt fantastically light and extremely responsive and worked very well with long arm slo-mo input.

Switching back to the vented 1.5s afterwards was quite curious.

The rain finally eased as we left the Heath having tested the wet weather gear to the point of failure...


(EDIT Thanks to Maggie for the photos)

Attached Thumbnails  

21/02/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 21 February 2010 6 views  

DE was up from Devon this morning so we planned a 10:00am start. At 9:45am driving towards the Blackwall Tunnel the rain was getting heavier and the skies lowering.

Happily the forecast for early rain with brighter conditions following was completely correct. By 10:05am the downpour had eased and the sky was brightening from the south.

Six fliers convened to run through some basics as well as the 'Burst Felix and Brenda' combo. The there was also an 'e*** axis' thing. My head is still spinning.

Conversation turned to the question of how many experienced 'grid capable' fliers there may now be in the UK? <grins>


13-14/02/2010 Penshaw Monument

Posted by Felix Mottram, 14 February 2010 9 views  

It was strange to fly in close proximity this weekend to the monument which dominates the area close to the Washington Kite Festival event which I first attended individually in about 1987.


The local road system presents the monument from many directions and so it can be confusing as an outsider to know one's actual position within the local geography.

Two days of gentle weather is sufficient to develop the BDGs mentioned elsewhere.

I hope that more fliers will take on the mantle of light wind flying.


07/02/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 07 February 2010 8 views  

A low grey cloud backdrop lifted soon after I left the field today.

Team fliers were not out in numbers today so I was able to concentrate on the turning interval etc. of the 1.5B/Bazzer sail with Race Frame on extended handles. I have alluded previously to the throw, spin and catch aspect of flying this kite and the similarity in this to a diamond fighter kite. I am still working on the 'long arm' moves, occasionally finding 'body blocked' moments where the full sweep of the arms needs some concentration. The breeze was light today and so the challenge of 'slow' (treacle) flying was very much in evidence. The pro-active stance on the ground seems essential... <grins>

All set for the trip North next weekend. I am looking forward to 'the gathering'.


31/01/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 31 January 2010 8 views  

A bright sunny day with a westerly breeze, frosty underfoot.

Today we flew Rev1s with 3.4.3/3.3 UL spars sometimes at the top end of the comfort window. I wanted to push the extended handle issue and found that in the slightly stronger breeze than last weekend 'too much forward' is very difficult to cope with. If the breeze gets up the kite becomes 'very difficult to control' and feels like it will go off at a tangent if the pilot slips slightly. This is exactly what we see in practice, time after time, so suggests that we should aim for the 'sweet point'.

Flying 1/8th turns with wing tips on the ground requires a specific amount of 'forward' in the line settings. It is not possible to compensate by moving on the ground...

Looking forward to the NE event.


24/01/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 24 January 2010 11 views  

Following on from last weekend but in lighter conditions (2-4 mph) we flew parallel moves, 5 fliers on Rev1 3/4/3-3/3 90lb 120ft and just for fun had Jacob calling from the middle of the team for a while. He was not entirely happy about this which is understandable as callers do like to have an exit strategy rather than being 'locked in'.

Parallel 'nailed' wing tip 90s, 180s and 360s looked sublime once everyone had 'clocked' the turning interval.

I had set up on long throw handles and as the calling receded behind me it became apparent how much easier it is to hold ground in light breezes with these handles.

The Canada geese had been on the field but fortunately not in great numbers.

Looking forward to the NE Event.


17/01/2010 Blackheath (Interlaced parallel team flying)

Posted by Felix Mottram, 17 January 2010 10 views


We had a very creative few hours on Blackheath today.

The sub-title says it all. There were also plenty of parallel 180 degree wing-tip turns, both forward and reverse in the equation.

One of the key considerations for grid flying was to keep the individual fliers in the centre of their wind window. The next step is to expect them all to be able to deliver a stationery 360 degree rotation without risk. The slower the better... No wobbles!

I think that we should be looking at the 'lowest common denominator' in this respect and figuring out how to deal with the issues.

Full 1.5 sails today with 4 wrap mostly. Well done Maggie for going for it...! <grins>


10/01/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 10 January 2010 5 views  

Last year on Saturday evening, the second weekend in January, I tripped and fell, badly bruising my left elbow. Last night I slipped on ice and fell, badly bruising my right elbow. The symmetry is spooky <grins>

Anyway the weather on Blackheath was relatively benign today compared to what was forecast. A few inches of snow underfoot (and a smooth north easterly breeze) with slate grey clouds enhanced the appearance of the mixed set of JB vented 1.5 sails.

Jacob led 5 fliers in some parallel forward/reverse upward then downward 180 wingtip turns. Later we paired the 'columns' in opposite directions which looked really cool. The last reverse turn up at the top of the window was the testing one. Moving on the ground is a great help both on the upward and downward execution. I cannot imagine why... <grins>

We flew a number of variations from centre column to edges also with emphasis on speed control. We noted that in order to impart maximum acceleration in a 'pulled' manoeuvre it is advantageous to be holding the handles in a horizontal position so as to avoid imparting imbalance in the loading on the sails as the 'pull' progresses. 'Hanging' the handle at the top connection point has limited application in my view.


03/01/2010 Blackheath

Posted by Felix Mottram, 04 January 2010 6 views


DE did the Devon/London/Devon trip in order to attend today. "Kudos" Thanks David...

Most of us were on the Heath at 10:00am and the light breeze was OK for the standard 1.5 sails with UL or Race spars. DE led us into some slow reverse ladder up/downs to great effect, either wing tip or double kite width. Jacob joined us a little later having recently returned from visiting JMH in Denmark over Christmas. A bottle of Gammel Dansk was broached to toast the new vented sails.

We continued to fly the standard 1.5 sails and worked on the six person Burst Felix/Compound Benefit where the original move is extended with bursts to edges, step by step... A Radar and consecutive global 360 rotations complete the move.

The breeze lightened so we switched to the JMH Rev 1 sails and installed our favoured 3/4/3 LE with 3 Verticals spar set for the first time with these sails. We continued to work in a similar vein until the breeze freshened again at about 1:30pm.

(Note to self - must organise lunch on Blackheath during the winter in order to extend the flying day)

December 2023
Felix Mottram