Kite Blog


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!

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 2020
Felix Mottram