Kite Blog


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!



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.


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!


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.


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!



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.



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!



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...


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.


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!


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.


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.


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!


January 2020
Felix Mottram