Kite Blog


26/12/2021

We had provisionally arranged to meet as usual but the weather overnight was very wet and the prospect was for rain continuing into the afternoon.

We will reconvene on Blackheath in the New Year on January 2nd, all being well.

Further work on re-framing the JMH 3m Rokkakus will continue as I have located ferrules for the four wrap Rev spars that will be used as end plugs.

Felix


19/12/2021 Blackheath

There was some discrepancy in the forecasts today, NW or NNE 2 or 7mph.

We got about 6mph from NNE plus varying degrees of fog, at its thickest we could not see the church.

Zens on green race were fine but did get very wet in the process. It is not often that kites need to be dried out after a Blackheath session as we do not usually fly in the rain.

A real medley of tunes today from Bill Frisell, Thomas Morgan, Marc Johnson, Terry Riley, Pino Palladino and Ron Miles. Joe Levano's saxophone playing on the Marc Johnson track seemed particularly suited to foggy flying!

I had taken the JMH 3m Rokkaku kites but the wet and muddy ground would have been difficult to avoid so they stayed in the bags. Martin did bring a SLE set to add to the others I have collected to replace the spines in the light weight frames of the 3m Roks. I have located sufficient 4 wrap Rev1 spars to do the horizontals in all three kites as well.

We are expecting to have a regular Blackheath fly next Sunday, unless, of course, lockdown is re-applied in the meantime.

Felix


12/12/2021 Blackheath

Light SW breeze so full sail 1.5 kites today. The gusts were few and far between.

The low cloud was occasionally broken but with plenty of brightness on the horizons.

We flew with the Steve Reich 'Music for 18 Musicians' again and then some Marc Johnson as light relief.

I had taken the two 3m JMH Rokkaku kites but flew the late Delta briefly on a fairly short line. There was very little pull as the kite flew at a very high angle on the middle keel setting. Occasionally it topped out in a lull and was descending towards the flier.

I'll probably go with what is available rather than hoping for specific conditions over the next few weeks of winter. I’ll need to refine the ground anchor configuration and safety rope when conditions are a bit drier.

A drizzly shower approached as we were leaving the site today.

Felix


05/12/2021 Blackheath

We have had a series of Sunday morning flying sessions where the wind has been quite variable. Today was another instance where occasionally the wind speed would be above 11mph but much of the time it was about 6mph.

It was from the NW again but the was no issue with the sun as it was very well hidden behind low grey clouds which extended to all horizons only showing brightness in the far distance.

Steve Reich to start followed by Terry Riley as accompaniment to another extended session of no call flying.

We decided to pack a bit earlier than usual and before we had wound the lines a shower arrived as if to confirm our decision.

Felix


28/11/2021 Blackheath

It was supposed to be 11mph again but it was more like 6mph most of the time today. We did get almost uninterrupted sun so in the NW breeze sunglasses were a requirement.

At the beginning of our flight I suggested that we go with the long Steve Reich piece 'Music for 18 Musicians' again. It was remarkably how quickly the hour and seven minutes passed and we followed with 'Music for a Large Ensemble' which runs for fifteen and a half minutes. All call free and mostly silent, just the occasional touch of kites.

The window replacement project at home was completed last Monday and the kite room has gradually been shuffled back into shape. The Peter Malinski Hex Kite train was returned yesterday so the final configuration can take shape. I have taken the wheels off the 100,000 mile bicycle frame to save space and the double bed has been tipped up to provide more floor space.

Access to the kite cupboard is no longer blocked so once a bit more sorting is done all the kites will be available again.

Along the way a Don Mock kite from 2000 that I had completely forgotten about turned up in the kite bag that I had used on trips to Japan in 2007 and 2008. I'll take it out to fly sometime, not remembering having done so before!

The situation regarding the Berck Kite Festival that Gérard Clément started in 1987 has been resolved. He has stepped away from the organisation of the event because he observed that it had drifted into being a commercial enterprise with little consideration for the kite fliers. It is sad to see it end this way, in terms of Gérard's participation, as we had invested so much time and energy in the event over the years. The team attended the event 25 times starting in 1990. I am told that many French fliers will stay away from any further iteration of the event in respect for the stand that Gérard has taken.

Felix


21/11/2021 Blackheath

Eleven miles per hour from the north was forecast and that was what we got, quite consistently. The cloud cover had come across quite abruptly while travelling towards Blackheath but fortunately it did break for some extended periods later.

Full vent 1.5s were optimal and we had a quite extended session of no call flying with accompaniment from Steve Reich mostly with a bit of Terry Riley for good measures.

I had bruised a toe a couple of days ago and so did not really expect to fly any JMH kites today. I figured that standing about Rev flying was going to be ok but the more active engagement of the single line kites might be problematic.

I have begun to re-configure the kite room as the window replacement project is very nearly complete. A final one to be painted tomorrow morning and then we have the whole house back!

I have also replaced a late 2013 MacBook with a new one and have almost got it configured. There was an issue with iTunes Playlists which is now resolved. I need to transfer a Lightroom Library and then everything will be set.

Felix


14/11/2021 Blackheath

Six miles per hour from the north was the lower forecast and that is what we had on Blackheath today.

I had taken the late JMH Delta but did not get around to flying it.

That was in part because after a brief initial fly with the full sail 1.5 Revs I selected Steve Reich 'Music for 18 Musicians' which runs for 1 hour and 7 minutes. That was followed by the last section of Terry Riley's Salome Dances for Peace which runs for 13 1/2 minutes.

I had not flown with either of these previously but knew that the structured changes in the Steve Reich composition could invoke different styles of flying. That was indeed the case and it was an enjoyable, if self indulgent, time flying. There were only a couple of light collisions, no calls, of course and a melodramatic unfurling of a rainless frontal band of low clouds which gave way to a briefly brighter moment towards the end of the flight!

At home the windows project is in the second phase which should be completed by the end of this coming week. I will then have access to all the JMH kites again!

Felix


07/11/2021 Blackheath

The forecasts suggested 12+mph and I had been hopeful of flying the late Composite Kite (Della Porta): Four Squares by Jørgen Møller Hansen but on the day the wind was variable from the west, sometimes 5 or 6 mph and sometimes 13-14 mph but with no consistency.

I had another task and that was to get some images of the 2009 Bristol Kite Festival raffle prize, a 1.5 Rev version of the 1991 design by JMH. As the sun is low in the sky in November and the wind from the west it seemed best to deal with this before our usual flying session. This coincided with the wind dropping to the lower level in a timely way.

We then moved on to free flying first with full 1.5 sails with Steve Reich, Music for Large Ensemble as accompaniment and then switching to full vent 1.5s with Bill Frisell, Valentine as accompaniment.

It was only when we stopped that it became apparent that it was quite chilly so we wrapped lines a little earlier than sometimes and headed home for lunch!

Felix


31/10/2021

Our routine visit to Blackheath was interrupted by the arrival of a fairly intense low pressure system bringing heavy rain and high winds during the course of the morning. While the rain had mostly passed soon after 11:00am the blustery condition intensified in the early afternoon. So no kite flying today!

After last Sunday's incident I had a fairly manic day and a half at home with a window replacement project. Two week had been suggested by the contractor but the initial installation was completed very quickly and we are still waiting for timing of the finishing work.

After this initial installation I was able to untangle the Jørgen Møller Hansen Flare Kite Stack 1987 and assess the damage from last weekend. Apart from broken spars there was one tear in sail fabric, one torn seam and some detached bridle lines and eyelets. I am confident that I will be able to deal with all of this in due course.

I had originally started this blog on the Revolution Site in 2008 and when the company set up a new web site I extracted my previous entries and maintained a double entry on the original site and my own web site. As activity on the Revolution Site has now declined I will no longer be updating that site but will continue here at https://www.felixmottram.com/kiteblog/index.html (The Revolution Site shows 666 entries and 186,226 views)

Felix


24/10/2021 Blackheath

During the early part of the past week I had undertaken repair work on some Revolution leading edges where the mesh had become brittle and partly broken. Over sewing with a triple step zig zag has served us well in the past.

We needed the 1.5 full vent sails in today's breeze which was a pleasant change from the stillish air of late.

I was also excited at the possibility of flying the Jørgen Møller Hansen Flare Kite Stack from 1987. We flew it in September 2019 and I had noted at the time that I thought it would need to be anchored, that it would be too heavy to hand hold.

We set it up today and had a couple of extended flights during which I got some photos and a short piece of video...

And then... the ground anchor failed leaving the stack dragging one of the two barge pins across the ground and not really losing any height. The main A2 was the first 'obstacle' encountered briefly and eventually the stack tangled with the trees of Greenwich Park and we were able to catch up and assess the situation.

After breaking down the lower sails I attached a length of the flying line to the remaining stack and we were able to cross back across the boundary road of the Park and pull the kites free from the trees.

This is not an experience that I will want to repeat. Fortunately there was no damage or injury so the 3rd Party Insurance cover that we have did not need to be invoked!

Felix


17/10/2021 Blackheath

Grey with a light southerly wind which was mostly a bit above 6mph but occasionally dropped away. It was quite wet underfoot as autumn is under way.

We flew full sail 1.5s mostly with Bill Frisell as accompaniment. I was flying on a new knotless leader configuration. This worked extremely well at the first outing today. I’ll probably have to wait another five years or so before being able to confirm a complete success.

Four sets of four ply bungee are now made up for the 1992 Jørgen Møller Hansen Rokkakus either singly or stacked. I will also make up some prusik loops for these Roks (bow lines) and also for the Rev Handle leader lines, to cover potential breakage/failure and for other uses!

We flew two of the Rokkakus today, mostly just anchored but requiring occasional intervention as the kites were quite damp and heavy. Blackheath today 17th October 2021.

Felix


10/10/2021 Blackheath

It looked as if there had been heavy equipment in use after last weekend's event but the site was mostly litter free.

Low grey clouds and a westerly air movement were the precursor for eventual fine drizzle. I was pre-occupied with setting up and flying the JMH Sanjo Rokkaku kite from 1991 with a lightweight frame. The very light breeze was almost enough to get it airborne on 200ft/60m of spectra line with a four strand bungee at the line anchor point. Zens were flown on standard team lines today!

Eventually the breeze did pick up from the north to about 6mph and while the drizzle increased the Rokkaku had a settled flight. I was even able to walk away and get the camera, catching a few minutes video of the flight! Blackheath today 10th October 2021.

Felix


03/10/2021

Today Blackheath hosted the start of the London marathon and I had decided that a rest would be a good idea. Alternative venues could have been available...

I have acquired a pair of upholstery pliers which may help with the replacement of D rings on the JMH kites. Slots in the blades and a spring hold the open ring prior to closing into the end cap. The Composite Kite (Della Porta): Eight Rhomboids 1993 is the next one to tackle. It has 12 caps so reasonably manageable. The Asymetric Kite Stack 1995 has 72 caps so I will have to be sure of the method before undertaking that project. I need to figure out heating treatment to relieve stress in the cold worked stainless steel first!

I'll probably have some simple repair work on leading edge mesh to keep me busy in the meantime.

One Sky One World next Sunday so I wonder what the weather will bring. At the moment one of the forecasts looks promising.

Felix


26/09/2021 Blackheath

Happy to have a proper southerly breeze today on Blackheath. It might have been in double figures some of the time so plenty to try the new bridles on the 1992 Rokkakus but not too much for the Zen sails on 150ft/45m lines.

I was somewhat surprised when preparing a launch for the first re-bridled kite as it seemed that I had hit the right spot in the configuration. Only a slight adjustment was needed after a settled period of flight. The second kite was good too, a slightly different small adjustment was required. I could not see any significant difference in flight so may settle on the slightly longer bungee in the lower bridle leg.

The Roks were flying on the 100ft/30.5m lines which was as short as I though would be possible for stable flight. The Zens interacted comfortably on the 150ft/45m lines with the fliers standing 20-30ft/6-9m upwind of the ground anchors for the Roks. The Roks were on 2 strands of bungee at the anchor point and I will probably add a strand for single kit flying and more for stacked flying.

The two kites came down at one point and I decided to go with a trial stacked flight today. Switching the bridle lines of the rear kite to the lead kite using larks heads was quick and easy. Best of all the two kite stack performed beautifully. There is some video but it is a bit unsteady. Blackheath today 26th September 2021.

The London Marathon takes place next Sunday starting from Blackheath so we will need to decide on a different venue.

Felix


19/09/2021 Blackheath

So, today just topped off the last few weeks of low breeze with an almost absolute calm 'gusting' occasionally to 2 1/2 mph. Little more than a cooling effect from one compass point or another.

We did wind out long lines for the Zens and had them in the air for a few minutes.

I decided to get on with preparing lines for the 1992 JMH Roks and re-set the two sets of spectra line to equal lengths and attached the second anchor point bungee element. The configuration of the bungee element allows for the simple addition of extra lengths of bungee or shortening the length whichever turns out to be optimal.

I have prepared six standardised bridle lines, 3m each plus 20 cm knot space. I will replace the shorter lines in the bridles of the two kites and replace the prototype bridle bungee arrangements. The longer existing bridle lines will be shortened accordingly!

The attachment points for the standard bridle lines were set on the two kites here during the week and elements prepared for the other two kites.

I would like to try stacking the four Rokkaku kites with a 3m interval as I think that this could be a great target for the eight Not Zen sails in the 1992 graphic. If it does not work there will be no loss and the idea of standardised bridle replacement lines seems like a good one.

There was a threat of rain in the forecast and given the lack of wind we wrapped early so that some of us could attend to the temporary relocation of the Peter Malinski Hex Train.

Felix


12/09/2021 Blackheath

Another almost windless morning with 2mph forecast but no clear notion of direction.

There was occasionally an indication of a breeze, a cooling effect one side rather than the other. Zens worked some of the time and we had set up with 150ft/45m rather than 120ft/36.5m lines and long handles so as to maximise the reverse sail control for floating downwind. This was also to have the required altitude to interact with the 1992 Rokkaku, potentially.

As there was less wind than last weekend I was not sure that I would be able to get the next 1992 Rokkaku launched at all. I had set the bridle bungee yesterday and expected further bridle adjustment would be needed. Putting extra loops onto the upper bridle peg was not sufficient and had an adverse effect of putting twists into the 3 bridle lines so the main loop was untied and shortened.

It was very satisfying to get a launch and make it back to the ground stake and then control the line just above the bungee. An unexpected benefit here was to be able to make a short pull on the spectra line and get the bungee to catch the slack ready for the next short pull. There was enough breeze at 130ft/39.5m, the approximate length of the spectra line, to keep the kite stable for short periods. Just enough to launch a Zen and get it to the same height a couple of times, anyway!

As the 1992 Rokkakus have been flying in very light breezes with the new frames and bridle configuration I am confident that we should be able to get stable flight in somewhat higher breezes and get some interaction with the Zens and the 'Not Zen' format sails.

Flying the Zens on the longer lines today was interesting, all over again, and I'll look forward to seeing a full team of eight in this format. It will be a big sky full!

Felix


05/09/2021 Blackheath

Following on from last week the wind was a bit lighter and from the north east but there were breaks in the cloud cover even as we travelled towards Blackheath this morning.

An event on the heath meant that our usual site and local parking were not available. Parking inside Greenwich Park is expensive and the walk to the flying field is longer but once a year is not a problem.

Zens were just fine but I was not sure if the 1992 Rokkakus would fly. A quick test suggested that there was enough breeze so I set about making a bridle bungee as well as a flying line one based on an initial attempt two weeks ago. This time I was using new 6mm bungee cord from a marine supplier. I had some longer spectra and flew on about 35m of 90kg line.

We did catch a few moments video of set-up and flying here:- Blackheath today 5th September 2021

I had taken 45m Rev flying lines which would have worked but the 35m lines couldn't hold the same altitude as the Rok was at today. Having said that it did fall off when pulled at the top of the window so there may have been some thermal assistance.

The 1992 Rev design is being re-made for 2022 and so the hope is to fly eight of them alongside the four 1992 Rokkakus.

Felix


29/08/2021 Blackheath

A light northerly breeze was what we got today; 6mph and sometimes a bit higher!

Full sail 1.5s and an accompaniment by Bill Frisell 'Valentine' got us under way. There was a dark cloud to the SE but it was local and eventually it drifted onwards.

I had hoped to fly the late JMH Composite Kite (Della Porta): Four Squares but knew that the wind was on the light side. We set it up and I got a few pre-launch snaps but even if there was enough breeze to get the kite into the air there was not enough to keep it there. These flat kites will slide off towards the edge of the wind window if the breeze is light. I have noted previously that if it does not feel as if the kite needs to be strongly anchored there isn't enough wind! Blackheath today 29th August 2021.

So, no spars were broken in the couple of ground impacts that followed the initial attempt and the kite was wrapped in the normal way. I did notice some spars that needed some attention to splitting ends so that is a task for an autumn or winters afternoon!

We flew another Rev session before leaving the heath ahead of the Bank Holiday fair opening.

Felix


22/08/2021 Blackheath

A breeze from the NW was forecast and it was likely to be on the light side so nothing too challenging was planned for today.

Full sail Rev 1.5s were very comfortable throughout the session. I think that the breeze was about 6mph but it was reasonably consistent.

Tread on the trail by Terry Riley was the starting accompaniment.

I had found a very old set of spectra stack lines and had re-sleeved it with a view to trying out various lengths with the 1992 JMH Rokkakus which now have the new frames. I wanted to include a shock absorbing bungee in the line for anchored flying and had wondered if it would be practical for a Rev flier to be walking a rokkaku at the same time as flying!

I tried the yellow rok on a short line with the bungee and after a bit of tuning, doubled the line length. For a light wind we did get some steady flying so it seemed logical to try harnessing the kite and flier. We did get one rok and three revs in the air but there were no additional hands to catch that on video this time.

We did catch a few moments here:-Blackheath today 22nd August 2021.

We finished with another rev session accompanied by Steve Reich Quartet I,II,III.

Felix


15/08/2021 Blackheath

A gentle 10:30am start on Blackheath, slightly drizzly and overcast to begin with but then clearing to a sunny SSW airstream with some cloud blowing past!

Full sail 1.5 Revs today with Bill Frisell 'Blues Dream' to start.

After a slight shower and with the sun beginning to appear I set up the blue 1992 JMH Rokkaku on 2.5mm spectra, about 30m and after a test launch and a slight adjustment it flew, anchored, with only the occasional moment when it veered off to one or other edge of the window.

I set a peg in the top bridle connector and later added another half hitch. We flew the yellow sail but hand held it and caught some still images and possibly some video.

I did fly one of the 1.5 Revs in between the Roks which seemed relatively easy. Back in 1992 we only had the Rev 1s which might have been a bit 'heavy' in today's conditions.

We concluded the session today with another 1.5 rev flight.

Felix


10/08/2021 After Portsmouth

The team had an early start on Saturday 7th August on Southsea Common. We were flying soon after 8:30am on the car park field with a medley of team tunes...

We re-located to the Art Kite field before the 10:00am start of the event proper and set up the JMH banners. Flying the RSS Revolution kites continued beside the field until a call was made for us to do a session on the main arena. A technical issue meant that this was a PA free performance.

Soon after midday I decided that we could try and launch the Jørgen Møller Hansen Double Malay Stack 1994. I thought that the wind was at the high end for this kite but that we should try the upright tethered preparation. This did work very well and although a couple of spars were broken along the way it was a great result. The train was brought down for spar replacements and then launched again. Finally a broken spine meant that the stack was brought down again but once replaced we gathered the kites from the top end removing the cross spar as we went.

There was then an arena presentation with the Revs, this time with a PA.

The final performance on Saturday was followed by a torrential downpour.

Sunday was a later start, again with c20mph wind throughout. Performances were on the same schedule as for Saturday and proceedings concluded before 5:00pm. By that time we had re-packed my car for the return journey to London.

Felix


01/08/2021 Blackheath

Light breeze again, from the SW this time.

We set up Zens and were flying some of the time to the accompaniment, once again of Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan.

Jake arrived as the wind took a break. We transferred team kites and JMH Parafoils to his car and then proceeded to have a session of called flying even as a light shower passed over.

Then, picking up from last weekend, I set up the late JMH Delta as a target for video recording. The c6mph breeze was perfect for the kite and happily I had figured out some of the camera controls so that I could record video on auto levels and switch back to manual for still images.

Over the last couple of days the forecasts for the Portsmouth/Southsea weekend have been a bit troubling. 4mph from the north for two days initially, then 20mph from the west for two days more recently. That just did not feel comfortable. The latest was 8mph from the south west but this far out it is still likely to change!

Felix


25/07/2021 Blackheath

A northerly breeze was forecast again but there was also the possibility of thundery showers today.

The Blackwall Tunnel southbound was closed for maintenance today but we did not know that approaching from the north and assuming the warning lights were left on from the normal Saturday night closure. The queue for the Rotherhithe Tunnel extended from the exit lane but it moved steadily, if slowly.

The road to Deptford was carrying the same traffic so we arrived at Blackheath somewhat over an hour after leaving Hackney.

Full sail 1.5s with race rods for a while with Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan as accompaniment. That combination works well still, after all this time since we first started to free fly in this way. There was the odd swift and a couple of showers.

I had hoped to do a bit of digital movie recording but had not fully understood the configuration I needed to set on the camera. The late JMH Delta felt very comfortable in the c6mph breeze on the centre tow point. I'll look forward to targeting it again at some point.

Back in Hackney I found the basic clue, that, whereas for still images which I do completely manually, I needed to switch to full auto mode for movie recording!

And then the storm arrived, torrential rain and a multitude of thunder claps.

Felix


18/07/2021 Blackheath

The forecasts had indicated high temperatures and a slight northerly breeze.

The northerly breeze was occasional so we occasionally flew Zens.

Pino Palladino & Blake Mills were accompaniment for a time followed by Ron Miles.

I flew the Malinski Modell Deutsche Seewarte 1904 x 0.65 aka Hamburger Diamant Drachen initially on 3mm braided line and then on the deep sky reel with 1.5mm line. We remarked again, how little evidence there was of flying wear and just to prove the point the bottom bridle leg detached and had to be re-tied. I have to admit that I had not examined the original tie point or knot closely but the new one worked... On looking at one of the photographs back at home I can see that it was one of the mystery knots that I had made a mental note to look at more closely! Too late now.

I am still puzzled by the exact configuration of the main wing spar and the tensioners but the kite flies well in a light breeze.

As the temperature was still rising and there was little prospect of any more breeze we packed a bit earlier than usual.

Felix


11/07/2021 Blackheath

Light winds were forecast again so I had taken the JMH Edo thinking that I might get some photo practice as well as flying.

The clouds were thickening after a sunny start as we approach Blackheath. There was less breeze than expected, 3 gusting 6 mph probably though I only measured the 3 mph moment.

We set up Zens and started to fly with Pino Palladino & Blake Mills as accompaniment.

When the moment seemed right I set about running out the Edo bridle and setting the spars. Managing the 17 bridle lines gets easier but there is a challenging moment when a single line is seen to be 'out of place' and the whole bridle set has to be looped through to resolve it. Every time I have done this it seems like magic when the lines all come free, un-entagled! Preparation and flight.

The breeze was just right most of the time and I only came close to a line burn once when letting the kite run free. I did manage to get some photos and then put the camera away in order to simply enjoy the flying.

At a lull I landed the kite and packed it followed by a final Zen session.

It was towards the end of July last year that our Blackheath sessions really got underway. This year we have the Portsmouth International Kite Festival taking place on the first full weekend in August. Let's hope that it can go ahead as planned.

We have pulled out of the Shropshire event as they have an attendee numbers limit.

Felix


04/07/2021 Blackheath

We were not quite sure what the wind was doing as we set up this morning. In the end full vent 1.5s worked comfortably. I ran out a new set of lines at the start, which is always a treat. Smooth wraps for a while, anyway, quite apart from exact equal lengths!

I had taken along a JMH Rokkaku that was in our care temporarily after the event last weekend. I had replaced a rusty component and secured some fraying line ends so it seemed appropriate to give it some air time as well, especially against the late Delta with the similar graphic.

I did not get much time on the line of either kite as I was also trying out a new camera lens. I now have a lens for kite photographs. The only downside is that it is heavy! Late Rok and Delta.

So we flew for a while and then put the SLKs away and had a final session on the Revs. Looking over the shoulder it became apparent that the next shower was on course for Blackheath so we packed early.

Felix


27/06/2021 Hampstead Heath, Kite Hill.

We arrived on site with quite a few kites (actually over 200...[grins]) including the JMH 1985 Rhombus Kite Train consisting of 81 kites. I had hoped that we would be able to fly the complete train for the first time since I started the restoration work.

We succeeded! There were a couple of times when the breeze dropped slightly and we had to bring some sections down but eventually there was a period of about one hour when the train was mostly flying from the barge pin stakes. Train in flight, mostly.

Four Rev fliers flew close by for a performance without music during that time.

Eventually the far end of the train was tangled by a public flier so we had to bring the whole thing down rather quickly. We almost got all the kites back into the arena area before they grounded.

By the time we had broken the train down there was a request for a final Rev demo duly performed by the same four fliers.

The forecast rain held off until we were nearly back at home in Hackney...

Felix


20/06/2021 Blackheath

It certainly did not feel like a midsummer day this morning at 10:00am on the way to Blackheath. There was a thick heavy drizzle limiting visibility somewhat, accompanied by a surfeit of optimism. The optimism was not completely misplaced and on arrival at Blackheath there was no falling precipitation, just very wet grass.

I had prepared a set of new 100ft lines from an old 120ft set and all that I had hoped to do today was check that they were ok before heading back to sort kites and kit for next Sunday at Hampstead Heath, Kite Hill!

So Zens were set up and flown for a while as the sun occasionally showed its disc!

Then back to Hackney for kite shuffling, bag to bag, just over 200 of them including the trains. Not the most exciting activity but it is some time since I did it last. Just need to put hands to the bag of tent pegs and all is set!

It seems that the event next Sunday is being advertised from 2-5:00pm and all manner of trickery is on offer. We’ll see what happens on the day but one thing is sure, there will be no anchored display kites, or so we were told, despite the advertisment image.

Felix


13/06/2021 Blackheath

Another summer Sunday on Blackheath with just an occasional passing thermal introducing a semblance of a breeze, momentarily!

As it was expected we set up Zens which were flown intermittently. While having transported the kite trains I was interested to check the pilot kites, the original Peter Malinski and also the two facsimile kites that I made for his train, one of which we used as a pilot on the Jørgen Møller Hansen this time last year.

We flew all three, briefly. One of the two kites that I made is still showing a turning bias to the right. That is not the one to use in heading up either train!

I also began the process of making a set of 100ft Rev lines from an old 120ft set. It was too hot on the field to deal with the actual knots but the measuring is done!

We will probably have completely different weather next weekend ahead of the following one when we will be at Parliament Hill for an afternoon event, 1:00 - 5:00pm.

Felix


06/06/2021 Blackheath

Light winds were forecast somewhere between west and northwest. There were actually moments of dead calm but the gusts did get to 7mph as recorded.

We had set up Zens and then did a bit of a line checking routine making sure that 100ft lines were available for a forthcoming event.

I also had a look through the kite case to check for missing 'spring line stops'. It seemed sensible to check the other SLK lines and also the PL pilot kite which I flew briefly.

I also set up the Alain Micquiaux 'Switch' kite which I had not actually flown since acquiring it in January 2020. Quite like a fighter kite really, subject to a light touch on the supplied line. There probably was not enough consistent breeze to do it justice but the switching of directions is very neat.

I have fabricated a new bag for the 81 JMH Rhombus Kites 1985 and it is big enough to take the Peter Malinski train from the same period. Just a couple of remaining adjustments and it will also be ready for that forthcoming event as noted in the Ham and High:- 'On Sunday, June 27, Heath Hands are organising a community fun day around the Parliament Hill Bandstand which will include a kite flying event organised by the Heath and Hampstead Society.'

The Kite Society have asked us to attend and they may arrange a PA. If not we'll take our own local sound system and see what transpires.

Felix


30/05/2021 Blackheath

A chilly easterly breeze and a featureless grey sky greeted us onto Blackheath today. We flew full sail 1.5s with an accompaniment by Trilok Gurtu to get warmed up.

A bit of brightness appeared on the south eastern skyline and gradually the flat grey cloud became more articulated and brighter. Finally the disc of the sun could be seen through the cloud and hints of a blue sky followed.

The temperature notched up and eventually we were flying in full sunshine and a mostly blue sky.

I had taken the JMH 3m Rokkakus again and today we did get to fly two of them, one with the lightweight carbon rod frame and the other with the intermediate dowel frame that I hope would fill the gap between the carbon frame and the original heavyweight frame.

The occasional stronger gusts eventually proved too much for the carbon frame and the lower horizontal two part rod broke at the ferrule. The dowel frame is three part which may be the better option. We did catch some video here:- Blackheath today 30th May 2021

I visited the site where I started flying kites in London at Parliament Hill during the week. We are preparing for an event there on Sunday 27th June.

Felix


23/05/2021 Blackheath

The forecasts suggested SW 15 mph gusting up to 30 mph and a risk of showers. The wind meter confirmed 15 mph but gusts weren't noticeable.

It was Xtra Vent and RSS sails, somewhat as expected and we flew for a while with Skúli Sverrissons Strata (featuring Bill Frisell) as accompaniment. Dark clouds were looming from the South West and we caught the edge of a shower.

Having packed the Revolution kites it looked as if there was half an hour or more before the next shower and so I did get to put together the replacement pilot kite fro the Peter Malinski Train 1987. I wanted to see how it behaved on the 5mm braided polyester line and of course to see it with the carefully manufactured fuzzy tail, all 12.5 metres of it!

It flew just fine and certainly carried the line. There is a short video here:- Blackheath today 23rd May 2021

And then another shower arrived!

Felix


16/05/2021 Blackheath

Showers, potentially turning thundery were forecast for today with a SW airflow.

I arrived on Blackheath as a small shower approached and set up a Rev1.5 full vent. The rain shower, when it arrived did not last long and it looked as if there would be about an hour before the next shower arrived, judging by the clouds on the SW horizon.

I had contemplated setting up the JMH 3m Rokkakus and did take them onto the field. However, the rain radar showed a substantial band of rain rather than a local shower was approaching. So, the Rokkakus will have to wait for another occasion ahead of a possible London based event at the end of June.

Work on the Malinski Hexagonal Train is almost completed as I have now attached connecting clips to all the tails. I am wondering how best to manage the tails as attaching and un-attaching all of them is quite an undertaking even with clips in place. I had found an additional supply of clips on 5 unopened sets of Rev2 Kevlar lines from the early days! 8 clips on each set of lines...

Felix


09/05/2021 Blackheath

Last Sunday we didn't actually get to fly a kite but considerable progress was made towards the eventual flight of the Peter Malinski Hexagonal Kite Train.

This week I had anxiously watched the forecasts as the near gale force winds subsided to something more manageable. We got 13-15mph gusting upwards but mostly fairly steady. This was, I considered the optimum for the JMH Composite Kite (Della Porta): Eight Rhomboids which I have been hoping to fly again. This was in part to get some good images for the web site, filling one of the few remaining gaps in contemporary images of the kites. It is also an amazing graphic and the only way to fully appreciate it is in the air! Video of JMH Composite Kite (Della Porta): Eight Rhomboids, Blackheath 9th May 2021

It was, as another measure, an RSS Rev wind and although we didn't fly for long it was clear that we will know when conditions are good for the Composite Kites.

The one downside to today's flight was seeing that the metal components on this kite need replacing at some point with stainless steel. That is one for a rainy day...

Felix


02/05/2021 Blackheath

There was very little wind forecast for today and there really wasn't much more than an occasional breath!

We might have flown Zens but as showers were more likely later we set about pulling out the 23 sails of the lower half of the Peter Malinski Hexagonal Kite Train in order to fit the missing sail and attend to the broken central bridles.

We took the precaution of securing the top lines at both ends. At one point a small gust from the side set the whole train rolling and with the available sail area (about 24 square metres) one could sense something of the power of the train.

There were a couple of light showers while we were working and when all was done we waited a while for the sails to dry before stacking and securing all 24 sails.

As it was then past our usual session end time we did not get to fly the Zens.

Felix


25/04/2021 Blackheath

A cool brisk easterly breeze this morning with a mostly cloudy sky to start. I was seeing 8-14mph on the meter which was at the low end of the forecasts. There were lulls but not low enough for us to opt for anything other than the RSS kites.

Once up and running we flew to accompaniment by Marc Johnson, Shades of Jade and then upping the tempo a bit, to Pino Palladino & Blake Mills, Notes with Attachments. No calls, of course but interesting to see the range of flight developing through the course of our flight today.

The blue gaps between the clouds slowly grew but the sun could not really lift the chill of the 12C base temperature. Wind chill can make such a difference at this time of year.

I had taken a couple of the JMH Composite Kite pieces but felt that the inconsistency of the breeze would see the kites drift off the centre of the wind window as we saw two weeks ago. We will designate them as 'high wind' kites... in a Danish coastal breeze!

Festival kite flying plans for 2021 are probably being re-evaluated now as the level of uncertainty makes everything very difficult. At least the older cohort in the team have now had their vaccinations. We'll have to wait for the rest of the world to catch up!

Felix


18/04/2021 Blackheath

There was convergence in the forecasts today but wind speed and direction and the amount of cloud cover seemed at odds.

In the event what little breeze there was came from 3 out of 4 compass points, occasionally. We set up Zens and found them to be at 180 degrees from the wind direction given where they had been landed previously a couple of times at least. The question was whether to walk the 240ft or just wait for a new lull and switch.

None of us were prepared to run the Zens into a wind window and similarly there did not seem to be much point in setting up the JMH Edo that I had taken. If it had been an all day event it would have been different.

We noticed that the convection cloud that may have been expected did not materialise so the cloudy morning consisted of blue sky and bright sun with interesting very high clouds mostly out to the East and West!

Felix


11/04/2021 Blackheath

The northerly breeze was mostly a bit under the 8-9mph that had been forecast. We set up full vented Rev 1.5s and they were quite often a bit under powered.

Occasionally the sun was quite warm but there was enough cloud about to leave it feeling cold overall.

I had hoped to fly with Pino Palladino & Blake Mills 'Notes with Attachments' to see if it could work with the kites. My impression was positive but it would need a good sound system!

I didn't think that wind speed would be sufficient for the JMH Composite Kite (Della Porta): Four Squares but was persuaded to give it a try anyway. Set up was without incident but I note that some of the yellow sleeves need to be firmly attached to the white rods. The bridle pulled free first time and while the launches we achieved were quite dynamic it was clear that the lack of wind at the top of the window allowed the kite to drift to either side and effectively 'fall off' the wind flow. No amount of running backwards would have made any difference.

The upshot is that the kite will fly happily if it needs to be tethered but will not respond too well to hand held line.

We ended back on the full vented kites flying with Ron Miles 'Rainbow Sign'.

Felix


04/04/2021 Blackheath

So we were finally able to go to Blackheath and fly kites today. The last time was the first weekend in January!

The forecast had been good during the week but it looked as if the windspeed was likely to be less than originally suggested. When I arrived at 10:15am there was very little air movement but having walked to our usual location and looked around a slight breeze kicked in from the NW.

I set up a Zen and was soon joined by Martin and Maggie but the wind was intermittent. I had hoped to fly the late JMH Composite Kite (Della Porta): Four Squares but had also taken the Peter Malinski Modell Deutsche Seewarte 1904 x 0.65. It is a low wind kite so I set it up and we all flew it. It is a delightful kite to fly in low wind conditions and very responsive to flier input. We had Ron Miles, 'Rainbow Sign' as accompaniment today and that worked very well.

We ended with a Zen session with Terry Riley's 'Tread on the Trail' and 'Salome Dances for Peace: V. Good Medicine, Good Medicine Dance' as our accompaniment.

A glorious day!

Felix


28/03/2021

So the weather wasn't really good today, the last lockdown day for the time being. I will now be closely following the forecast for Sunday 4th April when we will fly kites on Blackheath for the first time since 3rd January 2021.

Work on the Peter Malinski Hexagonal Train continued and the two 12.5m fuzzy tails are cut and ready for the final 105cm lengths for the kite attachment legs to be made. That will be a quick process by comparison. The 10cm strips were folded and sewn, cut and then finally sewn flat again.

There was a slight mismatch with the 1992 not zen layout and the Revolution Zen profile. It seems that the bow of the leading edge was accentuated in my drawing by about 2cm. This affected the alignment of the main graphic but I think that it is now resolved.

It is snowing again in Iceland this afternoon but that does not stop the locals from trekking around their newly formed volcano... A veritable procession was seen earlier!

Felix


21/03/2021

I did manage to catch the online Kitemakers Conference contribution from Frank Sazama on Saturday afternoon and later the end of Scott Skinner's session. Interesting to catch technical details in both cases and also to wonder about the documentation of the Jørgen Møller Hansen and Peter Malinski kites restoration process. I think that I have probably recorded just about enough of the process to date.

I think that we should be able to fly kites next Sunday but cannot find any clear indications yet that it really will be possible. [Edit:- 28th is still under lockdown which ends 29th March.]

I have measured out the ripstop for the Malinski fuzzy tails and have decided how to make up a cutting template for cuts at every 1.5cm of 4cm.

The 1992 'not zen' project is now fully under way. Martin Lester is sewing twelve sails which should be completed by the end of May. We'll hope to have ten of them back in the UK after Revolution finish them at the end of June. Two will be going directly to a good home in Canada!

Some of the team are provisionally booked in to accommodation for the Shropshire Kite Festival if it can go ahead in the middle of July.

Felix


14/03/2021

So, two more weeks remaining for the current lockdown. Elsewhere in Europe things appear to be getting worse again and the Cervia beach is off limits from Monday.

I cut out the Hexagonal Train centre fitting but have not drilled it yet. I have been contemplating making tails for the missing sails. I'm not yet sure how the fabric was cut into the fringe edge wondering if it was a hot knife, blade or scissors? Whatever is was, a fair amount of work will be involved.

Shropshire Kite Festival at Cleobury Mortimer is set to go ahead on the normal weekend of 17th-18th July 2021. I'm guessing that accommodation will be in short supply so was contemplating making a day trip but really that is too much travelling! The prospect of taking half of the Peter Malinski Hexagonal Train is, however, somewhat tempting.

I have given notice of a small on-line event for early in April. This involved setting up e-mail addresses on the domain. This turns out to be quite straightforwards once the user password issue is resolved in a secure manner. I now have addresses for web sites etc. that will be separate from my normal correspondence address.

Felix


28/02/2021

Soon, turns out to be the end of March, which is when, subject to continuing success in the reduction of pandemic numbers we will be able to meet in a small group and fly kites.

This news came almost at the same time as an announcement from Artevento that the dates for the next Cervia event would be 25th September - 3rd October 2021. This gave me hope that things would be returning to normal but of course there are many details to take into account before booking that flight.

Split rings have been applied to the second 24 set of Hexagonal sails and the second set of tails have been checked and bundled individually. Connector clips will need to be attached to this set. There were some clips in place on the other set but they will need to be further assessed.

I should see fabric colour samples for the projected set of Rev 1992 sails 'soon'.

Felix


21/02/2021

There is a possibility that meeting a small group for outside sports activity will be allowed again soon. The announcement may occur on Monday evening; tomorrow!

The Peter Malinski Hexagonal Train replacement sail is almost complete. Just the centre fitting to cut and drill and the main flying line attachments sewn. I'll then have to fit the split rings on this set of 24 sails. It will be a fiddly task but, I think, worth the effort long term for ease of attaching/detaching the tails on the field.

I am hoping to be able to get the 1992 Rev1/Zen project properly under way in the next week or so. Then we can wonder some more about the merits of using longer handles for the larger sails. I have always had to fly with more brake than many but can remember looping top lines around forefingers in order to maintain a required hover on occasions. Not a great place to be! The advantage of more brake for low wind flying did usually make up for it before longer handles were widely available.

Looking forwards to actual kite flying again soon!

Felix


14/02/2021

An icy week was somewhat lifted by the invitation I received on the Monday morning to arrange an appointment for my first vaccine injection. Duly arranged for Friday morning a 10 minutes walk from home across London Fields and dispensed within a matter of minutes by one of about a dozen medics assisted by many others.

No cycling this week because of the ice...

The second set of the Peter Malinski Hexagonal Train are in better condition and only two pockets needed attention. There were, however, no split rings on the tail attachment loops. I have ordered more as I think that attaching/detaching the tails on the field will be very much easier if split rings are in place. I was interested to see the second signature sail at the back of the stack and also the single pilot kite attachment point. The connector rings to join the two stacks are quite substantial. I have drawn out the replacement sail fabric ready for the first cut-out and sewing steps. It is useful to have notes on hand from making the pilot sail.

I finished colouring up a full set of the Jørgen Møller Hansen 1992 Rev/Zen revised graphics to send to the team and have had some responses. I'll have to wait a few more days before re-contacting Revolution regarding this project. The full sized print has been dispatched to Martin Lester so that he can check it against the official profile.

While it may be many months before these projects are fully realised it is great to be steadily progressing from one detail to the next!

Felix


07/02/2021

I took deliver of a 1992 Rev 2 sail on Monday 1st February after a search for a Rev 1 sail that has been progressing slowly since last May. The project was to get a set of the Jørgen Møller Hansen 1992 design re-made in the Zen format. I had not remembered that there might be a problem in re-creating the graphic as it had been somewhat compromised in the manufacturing process. Jacob duly advised that this was the case.

So with reference to the Rev 2 sail, the images that we have of the Rev 1 sail and a measured representation of the Zen profile I set about adapting the graphic to the revised format. It was slightly strange to be working with this design again as back in 1992 I had incorporated this kite into a design for the Decorators Pin.

On this occasion I started with vector graphic CAD software so that I could get the overall dimensions set. Using software as a complete beginner can be frustrating but I did eventually find how to draw an arc through three points! This was needed for the Zen leading edge. I switched to more familiar software to do the fill adjustments and sent a proof to Jacob to get his thoughts. I then did further adjustments, freehand, rather than measured.

I am arranging to get a full size print made to send to Martin Lester. There will probably be some further adjustment in respect of the Zen profile. I am very happy to deal with any final adjustments and then we will have a good proof image/pattern for the final manufacture.

It is now three years since the last group of sails were acquired. I hope that this project can be completed in time for team flying this year, (whenever that might be possible), alongside the Rokkaku sails that Jørgen made in 1992 for the Rok and Rev tour!

I did manage to fix the last two pockets on the 23 sails of the Malinski Hexagonal train during the week but also found that there was a sail missing. I will probably make a facsimile replacement as with the pilot kite.

The bicycle feels like new but today, Sunday, it has been snowing and the weather is due to stay wintery for much of the week. So no loss for kite flying today but the cycling will probably be on hold until next Saturday!

Felix


31/01/2021

Another lockdown week has passed quite quickly as I did succeed in re-arranging the kite room and work on the first set of the Peter Malinski Hexagonal Train proceeded smoothly. There are just two more spar pockets to fix and two flying line attachments on one sail. Then I can move on to the second set.

I have to take the bicycle in for annual service this week. I have already discussed the work needed and I will have a complete new drive train in place by Wednesday all being well. As I cycle 5 or 6 days a week things do wear out so this is not a complete surprise.

I realised that I should update the kite events page and subject to the resolution of pandemic issues we might get to fly some kites 'in team' at formal events in 2021. I would certainly expect to do some more work with the JMH kites on Blackheath at some point. I also have a couple of volunteers to assist with the Peter Malinski Hexagonal Train in addition to the usual crew. We will have to get the initial flight done before making further plans for this kite!

Felix


24/01/2021

Another lockdown Sunday and today the weather prevented a bicycle circuit. In younger days a sprinkling of snow would not be a deterrent but more recently slippery conditions are simply too difficult to handle.

I have sewn 50 'spar boot' pockets for the Peter Malinski Hexagonal Train and hope to start fitting them in the coming week. This will require some re-arrangement of the kite room and setting up a work surface with additional support for the bulk of the sails.

I had hoped to place a new order for spars and fittings with Metropolis Drachen but they are having to adjust their sales process due to Brexit. I hope that will be resolved soon and expect to have to pay tax on arrival in the UK.

Having re-configured part of the web site I have been working through images of trips to Japan in 2004 and 2007 which feature a couple of kite events. I'll hope to get pages up and running in some form soon.

Felix


17/01/2021

Second Sunday in the lockdown and I did get out in the sunny conditions to do a near normal bicycle circuit. The parks were very busy so it was on the roads around Victoria Park. QE Park was busier than normal and the River Lea was fast moving although not as high as I have seen it.

The package of kite components arrived from Denmark during the week and the presence of two 1cm D-rings led to some speculation regarding the JMH 120 cell Expansible Box Kite from 1996. The D-rings in it are rusty but I had cleaned and waxed them hoping to keep them stable. The PVC tubing has not started to disintegrate yet but that is probably just a matter of time. Replacing 960 spar end fittings will be quite a challenge but it might be possible to replace the metal components with 'string' and save quite a bit of weight!

It is looking as if it will be another wet week so I may have extra time again for kite work or web site work in the coming days. I do have some trips to Japan to document but that may have to wait for 'retirement'!

Felix


10/01/2021

Today was the first Sunday in the new lockdown and I did not get out on the cycle route as we had a Broadband and landline outage. An engineer called first thing this morning to check that access to the termination point was available!

During the week I received images of the Peter Malinski Hexagonal Train and we can now date it as 1987 or earlier. The images were from Sylt, Germany in spring 1987. I had started to look at the restoration issues and have purchased 10mm split rings in stainless steel for the tail fixing points and checked the tail configuration. More split rings and spring clips as used on early Revolution line sets and without swivels.

I have decided to make dacron 'spar boots' for repairing the spar pockets that have worn through. I'll sew a prototype soon and make a pattern for going into production. The boot will sit inside the spar pocket and be fixed at the front edge to the existing pocket fabric.

I finally got around to putting together the modern version of the Modell Deutsche Seewarte 1904. I don't know exactly why there was a problem when I last attempted this on Blackheath but I have now tape marked the main cross spar to avoid confusion.

The vertical sail tensioning lines seem to work very well and the whole construction is tight and light. I am puzzled by the spar fixing points as they seem very shallow. I will investigate further in due course.

Felix


03/01/2021 Blackheath

There was a bit of rain in the air on my way up to the Sun in the Sands junction but it had passed by the time I arrived on Blackheath.

The NNE breeze was light but steady 6 rather than 8mph but I didn't measure it. Full sail 1.5s with race rods were just right and we flew for an hour or so before the cold crept in to Martin's finger tips. He was more than ready to stop but was determined that it should not be his call.

I had taken the Hex Pilot kite that I made in 2019 and flew successfully last spring but was not inclined to get it any more 'muddy' than it is already. It was one of those days underfoot!

Berck will not be going ahead and I'm thinking that Cervia must be unlikely given the current state of the Pandemic. I would expect to hear about Dieppe sometime in March if not before so there should not be any great urgency to get a new passport now. My current one expires in August.

Felix


December 2023
Felix Mottram