The building continues on the Painless Parafoil. I have all of the pieces hemmed and ready for assembly. I have been keeping the pattern for the bottom panel a secret until I could see how it would turn out. The pattern is quit striking. I finished the applique and have to admit from a distance, it looks pretty good.
But up close, I am not happy with the sewing. I’ve been told by several kite builder friends that I should go ahead and finish the kite since it will look good in the sky. And others have said that I should redo the panel because if I’m not happy with the kite I probably will not fly it much. That’s the core of the problem. Others will see the kite in the air and will want to see it close up on the ground. I really don’t want to show off sewing that is not the best I can do. I don’t mean perfect sewing. Just sewing that doesn’t show poor or sloppy technique. I know I can do better.
So I have started a second bottom panel. This will set back the completion of the kite. But I will have a kite that I am proud to show off. I believe I know how to improve on the first one. So here goes. Wish me luck.
We have woken up several mornings to the strong smell of smoke. It seems that a good portion of the eastern part of our state is on fire. We are in the middle of a drought and the land is parched and dry. There have been a couple of thunderstorms but they haven’t produced enough long-term rain to wet the land. In fact, lightning is to blame for at least two of the fires. Thank goodness we are not threatened by the fires but we are downwind. So no rain, high temperatures, high humidity means we have been staying at home in the air conditioning most of the week.
I have been sewing a bit. I say a bit because most of what I have had to do is hemming the pieces for the parafoil I’m building. And I hate to hem. I’m putting a 1/4 inch hem on all the pieces per the instructions. I’m not good enough at sewing to roll the hem as it goes through the sewing machine. So I have to fold and crease the edges before I sew the hem. Yeech! So I put it off and put it off and now I’m pushing the deadline I set for myself. Finally getting the hemming done, I have started the applique on the bottom panel. That is going so much faster. I enjoy it more and that makes the work easier. I’m hoping that by Thursday I will begin final assembly. And hopefully, flight on the Fourth of July.
Sunday there was absolutely no wind. I mean NO WIND. I got to the beach late and there were only a couple of people there. The main activity was standing around talking. There were several Walas and a Laima (both low wind kites) laying on the ground. Even the Breeze by HQ would not fly. And that is a pretty reliable dual-line low wind kite. I only took one kite out of the car to take with me. It was the Chiroptera, my newest kite, labeled an indoor and ultra-low wind kite. I started flying it on a short line with a wand. I actually got some nice glides and a couple of swooping turns. The wind picked up to about 1 mph and I put it on a spool of line and it flew wonderfully overhead. When the wind let up, it just hovered and drifted and waited for another breath of wind to climb again. The only kite that would fly that day. Because I came by myself, I did not bring a camera with me. So the only photo I have of the maiden flight of the Chiroptera was taken with a cell phone camera. Not the best but it will do in a pinch. Thank you Will Sturdy for building a great kite. Thank you Barry for the photos.
This weekend was spent at the Old Dominion Stunt Kite Competition at Dorey Park in Richmond, VA. We had never been to one before and wanted to see what constituted a stunt kite competition and renew friendships with some people we hadn’t seen in a while. While we were warned that the competitions could get very boring and had prepared a back-up plan if needed. It turns out, we never left the park.
The competition is divided into two types; precision and ballet, and is set up for dual and multi-line kites on three levels; novice, experienced and masters. Also there is competition for pairs and teams to fly. Apparently, they have changed the precision competition rules and, instead of just doing figures, the flier must tie the figures together with transition moves. This makes it more of a fluid routine and makes it less boring because it not just the same thing over and over and over. Of course, the ballet routines are never boring. The choice of music for a ballet routine is as varied as the style of flying. The winds were a challenge all weekend. No wind, then some wind, then no wind, then some wind, etc. And rain on Sunday made things even more interesting. The competition kept on, even in the rain.
There were a fair number of kite builders in attendance. Most were competitors as well as builders. I had several conversations with them and shared a couple of the kites I had made. And they shared theirs. We talked sewing techniques and ideas and I learned quit a bit. I also got to meet people who I had only known from the online forums and found out their true names. It made me feel like I was a part of something and not just a faceless voice on a computer screen. I’m finding that sharing brings us all together. No matter where we come from. One person in particular was trying to get me to tell the secret pattern of my current kite build. It’s not going to happen. The secret will be revealed in due time.
I tried to put up a couple of single line kites over the weekend. Between the two days, I’d say I got maybe a half hour of flight time with about three different kites. Two were kites I had made and one was the Chiroptera I won in the raffle. So for two kites there wasn’t enough wind and for the one there was too much. I had wanted to fly my Vamp Devil but I never took it out of the bag. If the pros were having trouble keeping their kites in the air, what hope did I have. And, at times, the competitors were having trouble. One of the great things was that even though these fliers were serious about winning and earning league points so they could advance in the standings, they weren’t above laughing at their mistakes and enjoying the time together. As this was my first competition event, I can’t say whether it is this way at all the events. I sure hope so. By the way, I was informed that as I did manage to fly a kite at Dorey Park I was now considered a member of the Richmond Air Force, the local kite club. I think this decision was made so I could be drafted to help tear down the field equipment at the end of the day. I have to admit, I didn’t put up much of a fight. Many hands make light work.
Saturday night was a cookout at one of the local kite members house in the country. What a special place. And what great food. The awards were given out for the first day’s flying. And there was an auction for some kites that were donated to raise money to help fund the competition. I stayed out of the auction as I had already received a new kite. I had gotten the Chiroptera, the raffle kite, that morning from the builder. He even signed the kite for me. The party broke up about dusk as the next days flying was to begin early.
Sunday was Father’s Day. We got to the field late because we had a special Father’s Day breakfast. And John got to open a Father’s Day present from our daughter. It was a figurine of Charlie Brown trying to fly his kite. The inscription on it was “Believing Is Halfway to Flying.” So appropriate. He as thrilled. We got our canopy set up and talked to a few people when he got another Father’s Day surprise. The dog got him a red Vamp Devil. Now John has never flown a quad line kite so he was in no way expecting one. Especially from the dog. But he wanted to show it off so we hung it on the back wall of the canopy so everyone around could see it. And it’s tail billowing out behind it whenever the wind came up. It caught a lot attention from people who had never seen one before. Hardly anyone realized it was a quad line until we told them so. And then the rains came. We stayed dry under our canopy and gave shelter to several kite bags. The Vamp Devil was put away so it wouldn’t get wet. The rain was heavy at times but not steady. At the coast we would call it “coming in squalls”. And of course, it quit when it was time to give out the awards and pack up for the day. Then it was off to a restaurant for a Father’s Day dinner. A place of John’s choice for a dinner of his choice. Well, really his second choice. The first one was crammed and the waiting line was out the door.
This morning we slept late and took our time coming home. Made a couple of stops on the way and still got home in good time. Did we have a good time? Yes! Will we do it again next year? Most probably. The pressure will be on for us to fly in the novice class. We have been warned.
Just a short update on the progress of my latest kite building project. I am making my first parafoil kite. I guess you could say this is the proper step in the progression started with my pan flute. It is called a “Painless Parafoil” and is on the small side compared to some. But I haven’t that much space in my workroom so I will use that as my excuse for not going BIG.
I have the pieces cut out and ready for hemming. I intend on putting an applique on the bottom panel. That will be the next step after hemming. Then comes assembly. I am going to document the process as I go along. But, please, be patient with me. I am a procrastinator.
I have given myself a deadline. July 4th. The reason for this will be revealed as progress is achieved. Wish me luck.