Here are some interesting articles about my kites, and kite-related things I've been doing (well, I hope they are interesting). You can jump to the article from the list.
A few years ago, I had an interesting time doing some research on some old(ish) Sport Kites, as a result of repairing a kite for a friend. Repairs are normally straightforward, replacing broken spars or fittings, but in this particular case, the kite had been completely disassembled, some spars broken, the bridles removed and tied into neat bundles, and the stand-offs were missing.
The kite in question was a LiteFlite, a British kite sold through The Kite Store in London in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I was surprised when I looked for information and enquired on several Club Forums how few of these kites there were around, because at the time they were quite an item, and I for one, stared longingly at them in the brochures.
One friend had a LiteFlite S in their garage 'collection' and sent a copy of the booklet, but the kites were slightly different. Still, it was a place to start.
Eventually, someone turned up who had bought a few of these kites as a sale lot a few years ago, and we were able to get together and discuss them. I was even given one for a contribution to a charity appeal.
This picture shows the kite I rebuilt, the pink & green one, and the kite I was given, the traditional black and pink kite, which was, apart from a tweak of the bridle, ready to fly.
These were snapped on my Mobile phone after the first test flight in almost zero conditions, very successful if a little short-lived due to a lack of energy on my part. I will however be going into training shortly, so that I can carry out the famous 'multiple 360' manoeuvres for which these kites are fabled.
I will add a little more to the story when I have time, but for now, thanks to everyone who helped along the way, JimC, Brian Beasley, Dave Green, Keith Griffiths, and particularly Dave Bleasdale and Jim and Julie White.
Incidentally, I now have spare rubber fittings for the stand-off connections on the LiteFlites, if anyone is interested. I found a supplier who still had some in stock, but had to buy a pack (shrewd tactic on the part of the shop to get rid of redundant stock, I think).
As a result of my research into the LiteFlites, a good friend remarked that there must be lots of kites out there, in garages and attics, which once gave their owners great pleasure, and given the opportunity might do so again. In no time at all the Vintage Kite Meet was organised at Shipley Country Park in Derbyshire, in August 2010, to get those old kites flying again. It even has its own Facebook page and (probably) more friends than me! In fact, it's probably worth a lot more of a write-up than this, so I might give it a page to itself.
Please don't be misled by the picture on the right; although there were a lot of sport kites on display, there were single-line kites too, and an original Rev 1.
If you want to have a look, you can also go to www.facebook.com/vintagekitemeet
Also at the first Vintage Kite Meet, I was really pleased to have a display of Gibson Girl Box kites, and a transmitter and some other pieces of equipment. I was fortunate enough to to be offered the transmitter earlier in the year, because it had belonged to the great kiteflier Tony Slater, before his passing. My own Gibson Girl Box Kite is very busy. It goes with me to all the schools and places I visit doing my kite talks, and usually grabs the attention of the students and their teachers.
I perhaps should explain to those who haven't come across one before, that the Gibson Girl was the name given to the World War 2 transmitter system for downed airmen, which consisted of a dynamo-driven morse-code transmitter, and long-wire aerial which was held aloft by a box kite (or in some cases by a hydrogen balloon). The affectionate name tag was coined by American airmen because of the seductive shape of the transmitter casing, which was shaped to fit between the knees of a person sitting in a life raft bobbling about in the sea. It does sound better, and is easier to say than ' KITE M-357-A PART OF RADIO SET SCR-578-B '
Again, the kite really warrants more of a write-up than I've given so far here, and in fact, showing the kite, and talking about it, have highlighted a few myths in what I had understood as some of its history.
Here are some pictures of my set.
It may not seem that important, but if the two lines of a Sport kite aren't exactly the same length, the control of the kite is affected, and you have to compensate by having one hand slightly in front of the other (away from you). If you fly regularly, this becomes more and more of an issue.
I've been flying Sport kites for a L-o--n---g time now, and I've developed a way of making line sets which is pretty reliable. Nothing fantastically earth-shattering, and in fact the process is basically the same as the way I was shown all those years ago, but I've tweaked it a bit, and more importantly, written it down so that I can pass it on. Of course, if you like I can arrange to make them for you, or even give you lessons!
So, this is my way of making pairs of lines for flying Sport kites. The link to my 'How to' document, in .pdf format (approx. 1.5Mb) is
(if you have any problems with the file, or being able to folllow it, please let me know.)
The Japanese Sanjo Rokkaku kite has become world-famous over the last few decades, as the quintessential oriental fighting kite. In Japan however, there are many types of fighting kite, many of which are not hexagonal in shape. Here is an old explanation of the kite.
For the International competition arena there is but one restraint on the design and that is that the sail height should be greater than 2 metres or 78¾ inches for Team fighting, and between 1 and 1.5 metres for individual events. That of course, and the essential element that the kite should be immediately recognisable from the ground to allow supporters to cheer it on.
But for the actual shape and construction, there is much debate and difference of opinion. From the earliest days of its’ introduction into the West, the proportion of the hexagon-shape was recommended to be 5 units high, 4 units wide, with the cross-spars 3 units apart.
Alternatively, there are exponents who say that the true Rokkaku shape fits perfectly into a circle.
Realistically, the proportions sometimes have to be modified by a small margin to cater for materials or other design constraints.
There are others who swear to have perfected the ideal flying machine with their own unique tweaking of these dimensions, and will probably let you no where near there winning Rokkaku with a tape measure.
Karl Longbottom has, to good effect, added the small modification of making the bottom triangle (the distance from bottom spreader to tail) slightly deeper than the top triangle (the distance between the top spreader and the tip). This gives good stability without compromising the fighting potential of the kite.
The bridle also has alternatives, typically a four-point or a six-point bridle is used. Each has qualities to commend it. A four-point bridle is simpler to set up, and allows for the flight characteristics of the kite to be altered simply by altering the amount of bow alone. Alternatively, the six-point bridle would need adjustment if the bow was changed, but the additional support it gives for the spars in the kite mean that lighter sparring may suffice, making a more agile fighter.
The anchor points also affect the characteristics of the kite. Spaced to give good support to the cross-spars is essential to avoid breakage, but still allowing the kite to flex or bow under the pressure of control from the line makes for a more manoeuvrable kite.
Additionally, over the recent years, but I'm talking the late 1980's and 1990's, a series of rules was drawn up in America and Europe, to be able to include Rok. Fighting in modern kite festivals. Her is a .pdf file containg those rules... Rokkaku Battles - UK Rules.
The number of times you might see Rok. fighting at a UK kite festival today (I'm writing in 2018) are limited, the popularity has decreased in favour of modern two and four-line displays and large infatable kites, but there are still a great many people flying Rokkaku kites for their own pleasure and, who knows. it might come back into fashion. We'll have to wait and see.
For the last couple of years, I've been playing around with Kite Aerial Photography, KAP for short. some of my friends are more advanced in this subject than me, but my photographer Cousin, Roger, became interested and fired so many questions in my direction, that I had to learn quickly.
I now have several kites I use, three cameras, and 2.5 picavet rigs (one in production, half-made). Here are two photos, Whitby Abbey and Coldstones Cut, near Greenhow/Pateley Bridge.
I have recently been asked to consider the use of KAP rigs in the Archaeological survey of remote sites, and have written a paper detailing what's involved, and you can get to it here (though it might take a while)... Kite Aerial Photography for Site Survey
The file is approximately 1.9Mb and in .pdf format (Adobe Reader)