Kite Blog


12/07/2020 Blackheath

By contrast with the last two weekends today was almost a flat calm. There was occasionally sustained air movement from most of the compass points!

Zens with green race and a Robertshaw sail were occasionally in the air.

I had hoped to fly the early JMH delta kite having been wondering how to re-spar it since breaking a bamboo component at the previous flight last year. I had prepared some 18mm dowel and aluminium connectors. I was aware that there was a potential weak point and so it wasn't a complete surprise that the sail filled and then with a loud report the kite collapsed! Back to the drawing board...

I went on to fly the late JMH delta and the 1991 Decs Rokakku. Both were quite hard work in the occasional breeze from whichever direction. The Rokkaku runs away with line quite forcefully but the delta requires a more hands-on-the-line approach maintaining some tension at all times. It was good to fly it in this way even if there is a risk of line burn.

Felix


05/07/2020 Blackheath

Another windy forecast had me looking back at notes for July over the last few years to find that it had generally been a light wind month. I can remember Washington Tyne and Wear events with blustery conditions, not least when a Cody train broke loose.

On Friday afternoon the forecast windspeed for Sunday was 19-38mph but it was a bit less on the day c16-32mph.

So we were all on RSS kites. These have proved to be a very successful design, lightening the line loading but maintaining performance. We had a good session without calls today.

I also managed to tune the Peter Lynn pilot kite following the simple instructions regarding the “B” bridle.

The JMH 1986 Flare that was damaged last Sunday has been repaired using oversewn dacron. This replaced a previous sticky tape repair. A similar preventative fix was done on the other vertical pocket. I also attended to a small repair on the JMH Della Porta: Eight rhomboids 1993 yesterday.

Felix


28/06/2020 Blackheath

The forecast was for c15-30mph and cloudy. We had the wind but the cloud was broken so there was quite a bit of sun as well.

RSS kites and an Xtra Vent because Martin arrived first. There were some lulls but mostly it was constant with gusts blowing through.

My plan for today hit an early problem which was not resolved on the field today. The pilot kite that I had planned to use needed tuning and while I found that small incremental corrections to the bridle did make a difference I did not hit on Peter Lynn's solution from 2010:- 'To pull a Pilot kite to the right, shorten "B" bridle on the right. - End of story!'

So that will have to await another occasion. A launch of the 1986 Flare resulted in an arc to crash landing. I knew that the bridle needed further adjustment but have paid a price for over confidence. One broken spar and a split sleeve end will need to be fixed.

We could see that showers were forming so left a little earlier than in past weeks. Turning back to the A2 roundabout proved to be a quicker route to the tunnel approach. There were a few spots of rain as I unloaded the car back in Hackney!

Felix


21/06/2020 Blackheath

Another week of weather watching and once again we have been fortunate that early rain moved away to a drying breeze which was strong enough for our needs.

Ironically, when I arrived on site there was a bit of a long lull in the breeze, sufficient to set up a full sail 1.5. I had been expecting to use a full vent and so it proved after a third flier arrived on site and set up a full sail. We quickly changed to full vent with green race and had some subtle no calls interaction.

Then, as is the custom, we set up a JMH kite. This time it was the 1994 Double Malay stack. It is probably the equivalent of a seven Rev 1 stack so I had made an anchor point with the barge pins again.

After a couple of mis-steps we got the stack in the air and took turns on steadying the bridle bar. A simple turn of the bar seemed to have the desired input to the kites if they appeared to drift off line.

Quite how Jørgen managed to fly these kites without assistance I am not sure. They are however obviously designed for a substantial breeze and a good ground anchor. There was a magical sound of the wind resonating through the whole rig. Wonderful! Jørgen Møller Hansen Rhombus shaped kites 1985

Felix


14/06/2020 Blackheath

I had been watching the weather forecasts all week and was hopeful for a settled steady southerly breeze with some brightness. We got the breeze but actually had some good sunshine as well.

I set up a full sail 1.5 with race rods and was just about airborne when Martin arrived. I was then able to collect the additional kit from the car.

My plan was to see how many of the JMH Rhombus shaped kites 1985 we could put up. We have flown up to three sets previously. I had undertaken quite a lot of restoration/refurbishment of the 81 kites. All the tails had been re-fixed to the ramin spines, the eyelets had been replaced and the reinforcements for the eyelets re-sewn as needed. The flying lines for the pink and pale green sets had been replaced with new line.

And of course, spare spreaders had been cut and finished!

The 16 square metres sail area and the 5mm polyester braid line for the lower sets indicate a fairly heavy load so I set two of the barge pins with a rope link for connection.

We flew seven sets as more would have taken the line too close to the main road. The angle of flight achieved with seven sets probably took the top kite close to the 60m height limit as well.

The kites were sometimes settled in line, other times they were snaking rhythmically with the coloured tails swinging into view. Altogether a great result. I have posted a video here:- Jørgen Møller Hansen Rhombus shaped kites 1985

We did even manage to fly the revs up close...

Felix


07/06/2020 Blackheath

The wind was lighter than forecast soon after my arrival but strengthened later. Full sail 1.5s with race rods were just holding in the lulls and we did fly a bit closer today as the rules have changed.

I had hoped to fly the Peter Malinski train in full today as I thought that I had cut spare sticks and put them in the new bags for each set. Seems like I had only replaced broken ones and so we only managed four sets again today using 'spares' from the fifth set as we inevitably broke some during assembly.

While the whole train was well behaved in lighter breeze moments today the pilot kite exhibited an anticlockwise loop tendency when the gusts blew through. I will have to check it over but do not think that the length of the pilot line should have been an issue.

The mini spectacle certainly attracted attention across the heath today. I hope that we will be able to do some further focused flying days over the remainder of the summer. That would include some Rev flying, of course.

Felix


31/05/2020 Blackheath

So next weekend we can fly six kites together providing we keep 2 meters apart. Unlikely that there will actually be six of us but at least it is now allowed.

Today was full on blue sky, just the odd clouds off towards the horizon and plenty of swifts to keep us company in the air above. A fairly steady easterly breeze meant that full vent 1.5s were just about comfortable most of the time with green race frames.

Having had recent experience of the JMH Della Porta kites and some success in configuring the Hex Pilot I was intent on tackling the late Four Square that we initially flew back in March 2019. At the time the kite appeared to be unstable and we thought that the bridle may not have been finished.

In keeping with social distancing I was intent on managing the kite by myself although assistance was offered. I had run out about 35m of the 2.5mm spectra flying line 'secured' at the ground end. The kite was assembled and then pinned face up with the lower edge of the kite downwind. I attached the bridle to the flying line and moved the kite so that the lowest legs of the bridle were tight. I then lifted the kite so that all the bridle lines were tight with the top edge of the kite on the ground. There were issues with the bridle lines that needed to be resolved. This could not be done under tension so the kite was lowered to the ground again and secured. Once the bridle was set with no loops the kite was lifted back under tension and the tails attached. It was then a case of rotating the kite, checking that everything looked 'correct' and then releasing it into the sky! It was somewhat gratifying that the kite launched perfectly with no sign of instability.

Flying on spectra is somewhat risky because it does not stretch under stress like polyester line. If the kite goes into a powered dive or spin releasing line quickly may help in recovery. I was expecting to hand hold this kite both to soften the impact of gusts and to aid recovery. I would also expect to fly on twice the length of line as used today to help avoid the possibility of the kite drifting off to either side of the wind window and 'falling out of the sky' in lighter breeze moments as seen a couple of times today.

Felix


24/05/2020 Blackheath

Another breezy day so I was flying the RSS kite today. There were two other fliers nearby but we were not sharing kit so they were flying the Xtra Vents by Bazzer. Flying was 'at a distance' except for one moment when a family group came a bit close. Should have grounded the kites really...

A further session on the Hex Pilot and this time the breeze was consistently strong enough to keep the kite at the top of the window which turned out to be really quite high. Except, of course, for when a switch occurred and the kite went into a spin all the way to the ground. Dropping the line tension will probably resolve the spin but I was not quite set up to release line fast today.

A further small adjustment to the bridle may also resolve line pressure sufficiently. I am very pleased to have put this kite together even if it does not eventually get used with the Peter Malinski Hexagonal kite train.

Felix


17/05/2020 Blackheath

It was strange to be driving to Blackheath today. I was quite prepared to turn around and drive home again if there was any indication of congestion on the site. While there were people about, many in pairs at a distance, there was plenty of space at our usual spot.

Mid vent 1.5 for a while just to remember how it felt on a dry surface with some sun breaking through the high cloud. I then set up the Hexagonal 'pilot' kite that was sewn up back in the autumn as a possible replacement for the missing element of the Peter Malinski 'stack'. The bridle had been roughly configured but I knew that there may be some considerable 'tuning' required to achieve anything like a stable and sustained flight.

A combination of re-tying and using dowel pegs eventually got close to stable flight on a fixed line. At that point I extended the flying line, hand held it, and found that the kite was flying like a well balanced fighter kite. It really needed slack line in order to change direction or to stop a spin. While I had put seven lines in the bridle the centre and top two are the main elements and it may be that the remaining four lines will need to be discarded. It is possible that they are the cause of instability. More experimentation is required but considerable progress had been made today!

Felix


11/05/2020

Website distraction yesterday in a good way. I had found some details of the two kites that were raffled in aid of the Bristol Kite Festival 2009. They were in the original JMH design from 1991 but in the 1.5 format, one yellow, one blue.

After a bit of further research I found some images by Laura Berg from Long Beach WSIKF 2009 and Laura was able to send me higher resolution versions for the web site.

It was good to pin down that episode and to be reminded that Rich Comrass who Jake and I met in Miami 2013 was one of the winners of the raffle.

It may now be possible to fly kites individually depending on the interpretation of the new rules that are coming into effect during this week.

Felix


03/05/2020

Cervia would have ended today and the lilac bush in the Hackney garden here has begun to end its glorious spring show. Still haven’t started the Tetraeder exercise but the weather has not been great this last week.

The 1992 Rev 1 re-make project is now in hand. Martin Lester will sew the sails and Revolution will finish them as has been our practice. They may be finished in time for any surviving Autumn events but probably will only really get used next year. Something to look forward to, anyway. It is quite likely that we will also get the fourth Rokkaku made as well, to complete the set. Not sure that my sewing skills are up to that yet so probably get 'someone else' to do it!

I have laid off the JMH kite repair works in the last few weeks and intend to pick up on that soon hoping for a slight lifting of restrictions over the summer. One issue that I have encountered is figuring out how to remember what needs to be done and to keep track in some way. Getting spares organised and ‘in place’ is also needing further attention. That is a useful reminder that JC may also have some Rev SLE spares that could be very useful for some of the JMH kites, notably the early 7m Delta which needs replacement for broken bamboo spars.

Felix


26/04/2020

So, that is the sixth week with no flying. Berck would have completed and Cervia would be well underway!

Further work on the website through the week so there are now 29 event pages and 25 kite and banner pages. I have set up an entry page with a copy of the introduction page from about 1992 along with the storyboard I prepared in February 2020. The index has been reduced to five headings, some of them toggling with context.

The good news this week is that JC has located the Blue (Ultramarine) Rokkaku from the 1992 set of four. That means that only the Red one is missing now. He also confirmed that he has the Flexifoil sails. They are illustrated on the c1992 page. Not sure what we would do with them but great to know that they are also not lost. We’ll certainly get them photographed when the opportunity arises.

Felix


20/04/2020

Another diary entry for my benefit as much as anything else. Further work done on the Decs web site during the week and it now seem that a further re-build is needed to reflect an emphasis on the visual elements of the events recorded and the kites.

I'll probably look for a visual splash screen and take it from there. Some elements may be condensed...

The easterly winds persisted all week so it would have been quite a challenge at Berck but at least mostly sunny!

Felix


13/04/2020

I was completely preoccupied yesterday with web site updates using images that Davide Baroni had kindly sent. They are from Cervia 2014-2019 so plenty to be configuring with a few of my own images for context. Today Marian Linford has sent a whole set of images from Cervia 2016, so more to do!

Light wind yesterday which would probably have meant an onshore sea breeze at Berck. Today and for the rest of the week it looks like easterly winds will prevail so it would have been quite difficult for kite flying.

Felix


05/04/2020

12-22mph SSE with clear blue sky would have been a perfect flying day so that is one day down to the lock down, rather than the weather.

I did do my normal weekday 10 miles on the bike, except, of course, going around Victoria Park rather than through it! There were quite a lot of cyclists and runners in the parts of the ride where I do not usually see anyone at all.

I had thought that I might do some Tetraeder building today but did not quite get to it!

On the web site I ended up scanning colour prints from a group of early festivals so I now have some images of the kites to work with as well. Too many of the early digital images were just too small for the storyboard idea.

Felix


29/03/2020

Strong NNE wind with wintery showers would not have been particularly enticing for kite flying on Blackheath today.

So, some more imagined launches and thoughts about further material for the web site. I have looked at some of the notes I made at or after events. It can be a strange shorthand for what was a very focused activity over periods of days in some cases. The routine in Cervia 2014 is a case in point particularly as Davide Baroni is posting images from his extensive catalogue on Facebook.

I'm thinking that a 'storyboard' pdf of the JMH Rev designs would be a simple solution given that we do not have many high resolution images of the older designs. Just about getting geared up to do it alongside the various little bits of maintenance needed on JMH kites!

Felix


22/03/2020

While taking the air, going for a walk, run or cycle ride may not be prohibited in London just yet it seemed appropriate to show restraint hoping that more stringent rulings will remain distant.

So virtual kite flying only today after another week of consolidating records on the web site. The accumulative record is much more impressive than the constituent parts. I like the idea of gradually being able to populate the records of past events, maybe only with a couple of images but also with written memories. Interesting to have a record of weekly notes over the last 10+ years to hand as well!

If the weather remains fine I might start on some back yard Tetraeder training. There may just be room to get a flyable unit built even with zero prospect of a launch.

Felix


15/03/2020 Blackheath

Another breezy day, 15-30mph SSW, mostly cloudy but with the odd flash of sun and blue sky.

RSS sails were comfortable and today, even with only three fliers, there were some called moves.

We put together the JMH Flare Kite 1986 as it is almost the last kite to have a page set up on the site. (Once done I will start on the Rev designs.)

The wind was outside the comfort zone but it was useful to try adjusting the bias that appeared in the stronger gusts. The adjustment required is less than a dowel peg so I started to shift the bridle line. The first step in this respect was not enough but the line was marked for future reference.

I have been considering making plans for a Malinski Tetraeder session but that will depend on weather conditions and if outside activities are permitted in the coming weeks. A slightly desperate prospect really!

Felix


08/03/2020 Blackheath

Having been watching the forecasts closely I managed a circa 10:00am arrival on the 'Heath'. After a short wind check stroll I set about preparing the JMH Della Porta 8 Rhomboids for another 'strong breeze' test. The intention was to use a secure anchor as the kite was walked into the middle of the wind window before launch.

We were almost successful at the first attempt but the pulling power of the kite was somewhat more than I had anticipated. It really needed a ground anchor in flight. For the second launch I used a longer flying line and was happy for assistance in getting the line onto the ground anchor. Once launched the kite did occasionally wander with the shifting wind and the indications were that it did need the actual wind speed available.

We did keep the kite flying long enough for me to feel confident to leave the ground anchor and check the kite from underneath. The spars were certainly under some stress!

Video of JMH Della Porta: Eight Rhomboids

When we ended the flight we waited for a slight lull in the breeze, unhooked the flying line from the ground anchor and walked forwards. The kite floated elegantly to the ground and tipped over to lie flat with the bridle lines on top. The windward edge was secured and we wrapped as planned. Thanks very much to Martin and Maggie for your assistance today!

After all the excitement we then flew RSS sails until the forecast thundery showers closed in from the South West.

Felix


01/03/2020 Blackheath

Finally got out on Blackheath today in bright windy conditions. RSS Rev for a while getting a feel for the breeze which was often as little as c12mph but also sustained gusts probably well over 25mph.

I decided that although the conditions were a bit extreme I would try to fly the JMH Della Porta: 8 Rhomboids 1993. Apart from anything else learning the set-up can only be achieved by doing it.

There was a moment of anxiety getting it out of the bag as the elements did not fall free, seeming to be inextricably tangled. Fortunately appearances were deceptive and the 'unfolding' resolved the apparent tangle leaving the bridle lines free to the comb. In windy conditions the windward 'edge' needs to be secured at all times. I had set a ground anchor at almost right angles to the kite and the wind direction. Once the spars were set the kite was held up on its edge allowing the bridle to be combed out completely. The kite was then held flat on the ground with a 'pin' through the top centre join point while the tails were attached.

At this point I made a 'mistake' and as a result a spar was broken and no flight was possible. In lifting and turning the sail in 'high wind' the bridle needs to be secured statically, that is, to a ground anchor.

Wrapping the kite was done with the 'pin' through the top centre; removing the horizontal spars first but leaving the centre of the top one in place until the verticals were split in two and the lower sails folded over. The loose bridle lines were wound around the sails up to the comb and remaining plaited bridle lines. The kite was put in the bag followed by the plaited bridle and finally the loose spars.

I'll fix the broken spar during the week and maybe try again next Sunday, subject to the weather of course!

Felix


23/02/2020

So, it was the third weekend where conditions were simply not conducive to 'kite flying'. 20-40mph was forecast and it certainly sounded like it in Hackney!

I was planning to set about repairing the JMH full vents but got distracted by the new line of development on the web site. In addition to having started to set up pages for the individual JMH kites I have also set up some event pages as follows:-

Cervia 2018

Cervia 2019

Cleobury Mortimer, Shropshire 2019

I do have sets of images for a couple more events and have established a reasonably straightforward workflow for the future.

Maybe we will get to fly kites next weekend.

Felix


16/02/2010

And then it was wet. High winds had been forecast but did not really materialise.

So, preventative maintenance on the 2007/8 Rev 1 stacks today. All leading edge mesh edges oversewn with a three step zig-zag stitch. There were not as many actual breaks as I had anticipated. Maybe there are more on the 1.5 stack?

We managed to get a peculiar wrap in the stacking lines of one four set. Not yet resolved but shows that it can be done! After un-tangling the JMH Double Malay stack anything is possible!

Felix


09/02/2020

The synoptic chart from the Met Office on Wednesday 5th February was clear that the isobars would be tightly packed today and so they were.

No thoughts of kite flying but a bit of weather spotting via the webcams at Lyme Regis, West Bay and Polzeath.

The day did start though, with a bit of knot tying, roping in a rotten fence post in the back yard...

Felix


02/02/2020 Blackheath

Brisk WSW breeze 17-30mph so 1.5 RSS kite for me today... Out of the comfort zone for anything else really so no SLKs today.

Terry Riley's album Assassin Reverie track Tread on the Trail proved to be an interesting accompaniment for two fliers.

Having completed the rigging for the Peter Malinski Tetraeder earlier in the week thoughts turned to configurations. Having done one initial drawing it became apparent how versatile the system is and just how many variations are available. It will be fun translating back into the configuration of the spars and connectors as they are one step removed from the sail shapes.

The team will be doing the first four days at Berck this year to leave days available for Dieppe. I am thinking about Fanø but suspect that it would be best left until we are more familiar with the JMH kites.

Felix


26/01/2020 Blackheath

There was low dark cloud and some drizzle leaving Hackney but the low cloud had broken south of the river with a bit of sun breaking through occasionally.

Steady southerly breeze probably about 10mph so full vented 1.5s with green race. A bit of Bersarin Quartett to get 'in the mood' and then I was intent on putting together the JMH Double Malay stack.

I had a dim recollection that it had been put away hastily 'the last time' but had not fully appreciated the consequences of that! It took almost two hours to get to the stage that the individual pairs of bridles could be addressed. At that point the forecast rain was approaching fast and despite a hasty wrap it was on us before we got to the vehicles.

It might be a bit frustrating when things don't quite go as smoothly as hoped for. The image posted this week of the Double Malay stack flying at Fanø in 2009 was an inspiration. We'll get the flying images and video in due course!

Felix


19/01/2020 Blackheath

Just enough breeze for Zens with green race but not much else today.

I had taken the Peter Malinski Hex stack pilot copy as more work is needed on the bridle. It was not to be! Yesterday I had been working on the connectors for the Malinski Tetreader. 40 or so still to do so that is 120 knots to tie before starting to fit them; 4 to each of the 35 sails. The line I was using was being re-cycled from the 2007 JMH design Rev 1.5 bridles. I do have a reel of bridle line somewhere!

I was travelling light today as my normal vehicle had been hit by catalytic convertor thieves during the week. Not all cars are kite kit friendly.

Still waiting to get final confirmation for Berck and Cervia but plans are mostly in place.

Felix


12/01/2020 Blackheath

There really was a brisk SW wind this morning despite forecasts suggesting otherwise up until about 24 hours previously! While there were quite extended periods of 10-15mph it did blow c30mph quite often during the time we were there.

So RSS Spiders 1.5 were just right!

In the circumstances I was not 'brave' enough to attempt to put up the JMH Double Malay stack 1994. We have flown it before but not with a good sunny backdrop such as we had at times today.

We flew the RSS kites for a considerable length of time, silent mode only with accompaniment from Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Kronos Quartet and Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan.

The approach to the northbound Blackwall Tunnel was stationary so I took the long route home.

Felix


05/01/2020 Blackheath

A bit of a grey day again but there was some SW wind and the drizzle I saw driving towards Blackheath held off. I.5 full vents with green race were comfortable but mid vents would probably have been fine.

I had hoped that Jake would be able to join us today for the first un-wrapping of the JMH Asymetric Kite Stack 1995. I had brought the kite along with some 2m lengths of dowel in case of breakages and as the ground was not wet and the wind speed felt low enough we did go ahead with assembling the 'structure'.

I could not quite feel the 'lift' of the stack initially and while we did get two launches there was something amiss. On reviewing the video it was clear that there was a configuration issue with the front set. We had a similar issue with the Triple Malay stack on our first flight of that composition.

We have received the formal invitation to Cervia and some of us have opted for the early flight out of Heathrow this year as there was a significant price step already.

Scarborough is not happening again so we are looking at other options now to fill out the years events. Billing near Northampton is a possibility even though it is the week after Portsmouth. We might consider other events in the West!

Felix


June 2020
Felix Mottram