There has been a heat advisory out for our area all this week. Yet, it was the day of our weekly kite fly and I left the air conditioning and headed for the beach. Let me tell you, it’s not all that much cooler at the beach than anywhere else. Upon arrival, a couple of us spent some time in the parking lot trying to decide if we should fly or not fly. After all, who in their right mind would come to the beach today to fly kites? We would. Three of us headed to the flying beach, not expecting to have any other company. On the plus side, the wind was the best it’s been in a while. I grabbed only two kites, a single line kite and a soft stunt kite. I didn’t expect to stay long and didn’t want to lug the bags in the heat.
After filling a sandbag for an anchor, I put up my Twin Tail Dragon by Into The Wind. I hadn’t flown it in a while so it needed to get out of the bag. It flew great. The wind was blowing about 15 mph and was perfect for the long tails on that kite. And I love the many colors.
Then I went out to play with my Symphony 1.8 soft stunt kite. I had been ignoring this kite in favor of my quad line kite and my latest couple of delta-type stunt kites. So today was to be a fun day. Little did I know that the wind would pick up in just a couple of hours.
The initial plans to not stay out long didn’t pan out. There were about three families from out-of-town joining us and flying their kites. They also wanted to visit and learn about the kites we were flying. Our local kite shop host pulled out the Symphony 2.2 for one of the visitors to try out. This is a larger kite than my Symphony and it has more pull. Both the father and the son tried this kite out and really enjoyed the pull and the speed. They had just purchased a smaller soft kite but I think their will be a larger one in their future. They had way too much fun. Even when the flying line broke when the son was flying. Guess the wind was picking up too much. I know I was getting a lot of pull from my 1.8 so I can understand why the son was digging himself into the sand as he flew. We’ll be looking for this family to come to the festival this fall.
Another family came down with their kites. The father had a vintage Skywave kite. I would love to have one of these. He flew it for a while but, as the wind picked up, he decided it was a little too much and packed it away. They also had a couple of smaller single-line deltas up and they also took them down so they wouldn’t crash and break. The third family had a couple of smaller (shall I say cheaper) single-line kites that couldn’t handle the wind at all. But they tried. By this time I was ready to leave. The sand was blowing across the beach. The sign for me to pack my kites in the bags and head for the shop. I may be too cautious but I don’t want to have a major accident or an unrepairable kite.
I will say that there was so much going on, I didn’t notice the heat on the beach. I guess I’m becoming more confident with my ability and my knowledge because I’m beginning to interact more with visitors. Now when I got back to the parking lot the heat factor hit. A little bit more visiting and I was ready for somewhere cool. It was a pretty good morning but now I’m going into hiding, at home, in the air conditioning.
This weekend was the inaugural flight of my newly completed “Painless Parafoil”. As soon as I unfolded it, it wanted to fly. And it did. What a wonderful feeling when something you’ve worked on for weeks is completed and behaves like it should. It flies!
I spent the first flight making changes to the bridle to get the right angle on the kite so it would fly the bet it could. It was more active than I expected. So I borrowed the ribbon tails off my husband’s delta kite and sent it up again. The tails helped a bit. I could see that I would need more that just those short tails to tame this kite. I made a couple of more bridle changes before bringing it down and going home. It was a wonderful first flight.
Today was the weekly kite club fly. I got some 24 foot transition tails to put on the Eagle and planned on doing some final tweaking at the fly. The transition tails did help. But it’s still more active than I thought it should be. I’m going to borrow some larger transition tails from my husband and see if the next flight isn’t even better. If so, I may be doing some heavy negotiating about a trade of the smaller tails for the larger. Or I may just not give them back. LOL.
The club fly was not well attended today. I got there late. There were a lot of kites up despite the low turnout. After about an hour, everyone left. My kites were the only ones in the sky. After I got the Eagle settled, I added my large mesh delta with its long tails and my small Stowaway parafoil with its long tail. The tails made it seem like there was more in the sky and my kites didn’t look so lost and alone. It was rather strange to be flying by myself. I got out my Symphony soft stunt kite and played with it for a while. I hadn’t flown it in quite a long time so it was fun to play.
It looked so colorful against the blue sky that I was wishing I could get a photo of it. And that made me realize that I didn’t have many photos of any of my stunt kites. It’s just not possible to take a good photo of a stunt kite while you’re flying because your hands are full of either two or four kite lines. I need to arrange for someone to take photos while I fly and just switch from one kite to the next until the entire contents of the kite bag is flown and shot. Let’s see, who can I draft for a project like that?
Anyway, to get back on topic, it was so beautiful on the beach today and so peaceful that although I was flying alone, I didn’t feel lonely. It was peaceful and quiet and just a great day to be there. And so I spent almost 2 1/2 hours on the beach with my kites. Until hunger drove me home. It was a great day and now I’m sitting in the backyard listening to the night sounds. Seems like an appropriate ending.
Today I finally finished sewing the Painless Parafoil. It may be called the “painless” parafoil but, for me, it was far from painless. The last two days I have been sewing the top and bottom panels together. There are eleven ribs between the two panels that must be attached in parallel lines across the panels from one side to another. they also must end up in the same line front to back. So if any of my measurements are off, now is the time they will show up. And they did. I seamed and ripped and seamed and ripped until I finally made it across the kite. The final hemming of the trailing edge went pretty smoothly. In a couple of places the one or the other panel gaps just a little. But from the ground, it will never be seen. I can guarantee I will not be entering this kite into any competitions.
The bridling took some time just because there were twelve lines. They are in pairs that must be the same length. There was a lot of measuring and re-tying of knots until this was right. Now, all day there has been a wind on our street. This means there has been an even stronger wind on the beach. After getting the bridling done, I was ready for a test flight. Guess what! No wind. This kite appears to be cursed. Tomorrow will be the test flight day. Hopefully it will fly and I can get some decent photos of it. From how it appears as it lies on the floor, the appliquè looks pretty good.
This kite is called the Painless Parafoil because the ribs are shaped with angles instead of curves over the top, This is supposed to make the kite easier to assemble. And it is easier to match straight lines to straight lines instead of a curve to a straight line. And the top and bottom panels are all one piece instead of being assembled cell by cell. However, it is my opinion that the larger number of ribs and the smaller cell size actually makes this kite trickier to assemble. There isn’t that much space to work with and it is more critical that everything be parallel. I may or may not try another soft kite. If I do, it will be a pattern with fewer cells. I can put up with a “burrito” roll in order to sew the final seam.
One thing for those kite builders who may be reading this. I hemmed the cells closed on the trailing edge. Leaving a two-inch opening for each cell. This should restrict the air flow without stopping it. I got a look at a parafoil from this pattern that is a proven flier. The trailing edge was done this way on that kite. So I couldn’t see changing something that worked.
And what have I learned from this kite? My sewing table is too small to do anything larger. I sew better curves than straight lines. The seam ripper is your friend. And I must not strive for perfection but just do the best that I can do and live with the rest as long as it flies.
As much as I hate to admit to it, I did not fly a kite today. This morning was the weekly club fly and I didn’t go. I got up this morning and didn’t feel quite right. Couldn’t tell of it was an oncoming cold, a possible sinus infection or just exhaustion due to the fact I was up until 2:00 am sewing on my parafoil. Yes, foolish me! You would think I would know better and not stay up until the wee hours of the morning. I’m not exactly a young college student anymore who could do things like that without batting an eye. But I guess some habits are hard to break. I would stay up late after the family went to bed to work in my darkroom and still get up and go to work the next day. I survived that. Well, maybe not in the best condition but I survived. However, now, after a couple of late nights, I’m wiped out.
So, I stayed home. I rested, worked on the computer and started sewing again. I finished sewing on the ribs to the upper panel of the parafoil. All eleven of them. I should have picked a foil with a smaller number of ribs. And I got the six keels sewn on the bottom panel. Now I just have to sew the top to the bottom without catching extra pieces in each seam. Then it’s hemming the trailing edge and attaching the bridle. And I’m done, at last. This project shouldn’t have taken this long. I am such a procrastinator.
My friend at the kite shop loaned me her painless parafoil so I could see how it flies and how it was put together. So far, things match between that one and mine. The sewing on that one is a lot neater. And, since it is a proven flyer, I’m going to finish my trailing edge that same way that one is finished. Maybe tomorrow, I can fly that one and see how the bridle is set. One less thing to guess at.
The dog was kind enough to let me use his space to get a current photo of the parafoil. As long as I didn’t try to move his moose, all was good. He’s very possessive. By the way, a little birdie told me that there was no wind this morning at the beach. I guess I didn’t miss much.
I hope everyone had a good Fourth of July weekend. Our celebration was kind of low-key. Mostly because the kids did not make it home this year. We did attend the annual Neighborhood Cookout and were able to put faces to a lot of the names of people living on our road. Still don’t know everyone but our reputation is growing. We heard a lot of “Are you the people who fly the kites?”. Several have seen us cleaning out the bags in the yard or loading up the car to go to a fly. Most of them haven’t flown a kite since their childhood and fondly remember the paper diamond or box kite of their youth. They have no idea of the kites available today. Nor do they believe that we have so many kites for so many different kinds of wind.
Sunday was the regular weekly club fly. It was all the more special because there were more kite friends there from out-of-town. We got there earlier than usual but not as early as most. We remain the “second shift” of the fliers. The sky was filled with kites of all shapes and sizes. I couldn’t begin to describe all that was there. The kites ranged from the large Suttons with banner tails and mesh and flo-tail deltas to the flakes, dragons, smaller deltas and the most unusual kite of the day, the flap kite sun beam by HQ. There were several dual-line stunt kites flying along with a couple of quad-line Revolution kites.
The sky was so full we only put up three kites ourselves, the Flo-tail Delta by Premier and two limited edition dragon kites by Go Fly A Kite, the Flying Tiger and the Jester. After a while I flew the Vamp Devil. I’m still having a bit of trouble getting the brake lines exactly right but each time it’s getting better. I’m getting a better understanding as to how the four lines work together and how some changes make things better and some make things worse. It’s all good. The only bad thing about the Sunday fly was that I forgot my camera and my iPod died. The sky was so beautiful that I was kicking myself for not being able to get some photos. I am also trying to figure out a routine for the Vamp Devil for the kite festival in October. And I was really inspired to listen to some music while I was flying. I guess I’m going to have to work things out on paper first and then add the music. Thank goodness I have a few months and the option of backing out at the last-minute. After four hours on the beach, we went home and nursed our sunburn.
Monday, being the official holiday, was crazy at the beach. Many people came to the beach for the day, many people came to the beach for the weekend and were trying to go home and many people were staying for the week. It all added up to a lot of traffic and a lot of people on the beach. Parking was hard to find. We didn’t fly but did hang out at the kite shop for a while. What holiday flying we did was done today. A good friend had to come down to work in the area and made it a “busman’s holiday”. For those of you who don’t know it, a “busman’s holiday” is when you combine a workday with some sort of non-work recreation. In this case, flying a couple of kites for a couple of hours on the beach before returning home. For him, it was a long day of driving. But we met on the beach and had a nice visit and a good couple of hours flying.
For those who are following my kite building progress, I finishing the replacement bottom panel late Saturday night. I looks so much better than the first one. I changed the way the pieces were assembled and stitched. Now I’m not afraid to have anyone see what I have done. And I’ve learned a lot. About appliqué and about my perfectionism. So the kite was not finished in time for the holiday. In fact, I have not sewn a thing in the past two days. The pieces are laying on the table waiting for me. I will probably finish this week and try to fly it at our next club fly. Just a week late. But better late than never. And I will not let this project reach the never stage. So, until the next time we fly…