As assiduous readers of this newsletter may recall, I score my performance at kite events (and the performance of other show kite fliers also, though not always out loud) by 'kilogram -hours'. One kg of fabric up in the air for one hour scores one kg-hr. Pasir Gudang rain storm.
Not that kg-hours are the measure of everything for kite festivals- those who do workshops, sports kite flying, lolly dropping, Rev shows, ground displays and etc, are in different categories.
And of course, weight of fabric in the air isn't a perfect proxy for the crowd impact that large show kites have either.
Because, although all kites are created equal, some are clearly more equal than others.
As well as size, movement counts for quite a bit, as do recognition factors, colours, brightness, and originality (though this tends to count more with kitefliers who've seen it all before than with the public at large).
A better metric than weight would be the visible area of fabric.
But weight is much easier to measure- even from a distance and for unfamiliar kites, a fair guess can be made as to what a kite weighs.
And weight is hard to game; if instead we used some more comprehensive but therefore more subjective measure for setting our league tables, then the focus might change to beating the rules rather than entertaining the crowd.
On a reasonably good day I can often get to 250 kg-hours, and I think my personal record is somewhere around 650 (but for this I need more than the 46kg baggage weight that seems to trigger dummy spitting at Star Alliance check-in desks world wide). Elwyn enjoying the weather.
The Pasir Gudang festival (Malaysia, last weekend) generated a record of the opposite sort for me.
Three days , 8 hours per day on the field, plus a night-fly, resulted in just 30kg-hours.
And it gets worse: There were two of us, so my share was only 15kg-hrs.
I know, it's pathetic to have to make excuses, but there was almost no wind- and even when there was a bit, generally the kites were too wet to fly because of frequent rain.
Except when, for 10 minutes, there was too much wind: Blew all the tents away-and thunder and lightning (curious how they seem to go together), and too much rain also.
With this squall about to hit (wind at last!), we had a team (of two) discussion about whether to launch the big kites or not. My view did not prevail (some votes being more equal than others it seems), but I did then put up one of our new 6sq.m pilots- just to test how it would handle extreme conditions. Unfortunately, a momentary lull just before the full storm hit dropped it- and from then on we were more concerned about not drowning- which would have been a real possibility had we looked up into the sky open mouthed with amazement as the heavens fell.
But, for all this, the Pasir Gudang festival was a huge success; perhaps the best ever (and I've been to 17 of them so far). Elwyn with support team.
It seemed to me to be the biggest and most engaged crowd there's been there- so many happy faces.
Congratulations to the organisers, and everyone who has supported this event!
But which of course begs the question as to whether it really matters if I do or don't keep kites up.
Which thought I'm now going to ignore completely, on account of that it conflicts with my basic programming.
Come to think of it, the last time this particular team (Elwyn and I) went to an event, (Taiwan October '11) it also was seriously impacted by weather- in this case a huge typhoon.
And, just after we arrived back from Malaysia late last week, Ashburton also had a tropical downpour (though of the temperate variety with some of the torrential rain arriving in the form of big solid bouncy white lumps).
What is going on?
There's a common factor!
This extreme weather must be following Elwyn around.
Shsh then- if this becomes known, we might not get invited to any more kite festivals, ever.
Peter Lynn, Ashburton, 28th Feb 2012
PS: From last month's Newsletter I was widely quoted on various forums as having said that NPW (nasa para wing) traction kites are superior to 'foils. Single Skin Nasa Parawing
Which is not quite what I said:
I did say that NPW's are superior in light winds (even for upwind/downwind courses) and that the cross over point is at stronger wind than most fliers think it is.
And, to expand a bit; there is no doubting that single skin traction kites with higher performance (by L/D) than NPW's can be made.
The question is, whether they can be developed to fly reliably enough in higher performance form- and without losing too much of the light wind performance and strong pull that make NPW's special.
I strongly suspect that they can be, and if this is true, then we may be about to experience another seismic shift in the traction kite world's plate tectonics.
And about time too. Lately it's been getting far too boring and predictable!
Peter Lynn Kites Ltd
105 Alford Forest Rd
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