IN WHICH THE PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENT GETS RUDELY INTERRUPTED, TWICE.
I was recently at a kite festival in a somewhat Buddhist country, and the package included a visit to an historic (founded 13th century) monastery.
As such places tend to be, this one was in the hills above plains where peasants have tilled the soil (and provided supporting tithes no doubt) since time immemorial.
There were multiple buildings, the obligatory gong with its rope supported striking log and a notice saying bugger off, a bubbling stream, and many meandering swept stone paths.
Having almost no tolerance for boredom, I soon escaped the guided party and found myself a pleasant place to sit and contemplate (pondering on what makes kites fly of course) with my back against a wall, the bubbling stream in front, and surrounded by that very special manicured version of nature that Buddhists do best.
In the interests of inner harmony, and in what I thought was entirely consistent with taking a first step along the eight fold path, I let loose a loud fart- echoed off the surrounding hills it did.
However, unbeknownst to me, on the other side of the wall I was leaning against there was a monkish gentleman who took great exception to this.
Perhaps at that moment he was engaged in meditation just penultimate to his attainment of nirvana. Certainly his reaction (I didn't need to be fluent in his language to get its full meaning) would suggest nothing less than that I had set him back by multiple re-incarnations.
Mortified I am, but taking some solace from the thought that Gautama Siddhartha would likely have made a teaching from this unfortunate incident which could have helped very many others along their path to enlightenment.
Perhaps it would have included a suggestion to refrain from kimchi.
But matters of the spirit and the state of one's internals aside, to kite stuff:
We aim to provide event organisers with the best display relative to cost that is possible.
To this end, we are not kite tourists; our focus is entirely on entertaining the public.
I thank the various kite fliers who have applied to join, and have replied to all of you personally (which has been hard because some are people I like very much, but who, by my view, don't currently have enough spectator appeal to qualify - a somewhat subjective judgement I admit).
Business is, and needs to be, hard-nosed about competitiveness, and from this perspective, I have an observation about kite teams that I will share here:
Generally (always?) teams of kite fliers (groups working together to launch kites and keep them up) accomplish less per person than individuals can, by a lot.
Sure, it's easier to be part of a team, especially when the pressure is on to claim some sky before others do in the mornings, for pulling down and clearing tangles, and for packing at the end of each day.
But by any cost-benefit, from the perspective of the organisers, energetic individual kite fliers with plenty of baggage allowance provide more spectator results per dollar. Ideal is for kite fliers to each fly their own stacks, but share by lifting each other's spare stuff when possible, and cooperate during launching, tangles and packing. I'm increasingly seeing this ideal actually happen. Surprisingly, amongst the core group of 'professional' fliers who attend many events in Asia now, on the first day there is occasionally even some initial negotiation about tether points, rather than the previous anarchic "run and grab."
Single skin kites:
Personally, I freely confess to having traded on reputation a bit for the last 3 or 4 years while I've been developing these. That they are now flying well enough to take their place in the sky on their own merits is a considerable relief to me. For much of this time I had no good reasons to expect that they ever would, except the blind stubbornness that seems to be a required pre-requisite for successful innovation.
It's rather like for car engines; internal combustion piston engines have been completely dominant for more than a 100 years, and some of the reason for this is not that there aren't probably better answers but that IC engines have now had so much development that no new idea can ever catch up enough to get a foot in the door. Hopefully ram air show kites don't have this sort of head start, and my recent experiences with a 20m SS Octopus at a series of 5 or 6 events where there was everything from no wind to far too much, has made it clear that the SSs have their foot firmly in the door.
The 1Skins (and Boomers) have been in a state of "nearly there" for more than 2 years now, and have just passed a key test for a new design- they're being copied. Not just copied, but copied and IMPROVED- at least in light wind conditions. I'm delighted- and have now copied the change, (a light wind front bridle setting) right back!
But they (copies included I suspect) still have a persistent problem with 'diving over' (a tendency to lean of inexorably to one side or the other as wind speed increases), not made any easier by that it generally doesn't happen when I fly them- only when other people do. And I have some that fly straight in VERY strong winds, so I know that the top end can be achieved. But they need to do this straight from the factory without endless tuning and re-tuning.
I've had many theories as to what the underlying cause of 'diving over' is, but by the middle of last year had settled on its being caused by indentation of one side leading edge. This then pulls the kite into a dive to that side, from which it doesn't recover until it gets into a lower wind zone nearer the ground or into turbulence that kicks it back straight.
But late last year I tried a ram air inflated leading edge tube to a 3sq.m 1Skin which should have fixed the problem entirely if the cause is leading edge indentation.
It did substantially reduce diving over behaviour, to the extent that I then made this change to production 3sq.m 1Skins from about October on, but it hasn't eliminated it entirely.
The new theory then became that it was all about disposition of lateral area. Simply, this is that if a kite is leaning off to one side and there is a lot of lateral area (keels) towards the rear, then the wind catches under this, lifting the kite's trailing edge even further and causing it to dive more to that side. I've noticed this with ram air pilots over the years- and still need to correct our 11sq.m Airbanners pilot which suffers from this a little in very light winds.
To which end I've just made a 1Skin with the centre of lateral area 200mm or so forward (at the cost of not having all bridles exactly the same length).
With high expectations I took it out in a stiff southerly last evening.
Guess what; it dived over worse.
I think I heard echoes of a mocking celestial fart about then- or it may have been a big truck rumbling along the main road.
But it looks like I will now have to go through several incarnations as the kite equivalent of a frog or some such before I can get back on the upward path.
PETER LYNN, June 1 '16, just leaving for a few days on a beach in Kelantan.