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About this blog

My personal observations

Entries in this blog


17/01/2016 Blackheath

There was evidence of overnight snow in Hackney and on arrival on Blackheath there was a melting residue which had all but disappeared by Midday.

High clouds thinned at times to let a bit of sun through; just enough to see shadows on the ground.

Wind was from the SE and much lighter than forecast, c1-3 mph so diamonds in full 1.5 sails.

Nothing called today but early on there was some close smooth following searching for the wind window. Always a treat in light winds…



10/01/2016 Blackheath

There was an extensive potentially thundery cloud system looming to the south as I set off from Hackney this morning. Even in the time that it took to reach Blackheath it became clear that this system was tracking quite quickly to the SE even though the local wind direction was from the SW.

10-20mph so full vented with race rods felt very comfortable. Once the sun appeared from behind the high cloud there was almost a balance between wind chill and a slight warming effect, but definitely full gloves weather now.

I have been getting feedback from the team regarding attendance at the 2016 events so we should have a plan in place before long now.



01/01/2016 Blackheath

The forecast looked better for today than Sunday 3rd so we made an appropriately late start under thickening high cloud. A flier was close to our usual pitch on the heath with some two line kites and also a couple of Revolution sails. It was Damon Meheux making an occasional visit. He was in the process of packing up so we exchanged seasonal greetings before setting up.

The breeze was from the SE and initially we thought it was going to be a full sail day but even as we wound out the lines it became apparent that this was a lazy winter’s breeze; goes straight through you rather than going around. So it was full vented with race rods…

The more seasonal temperature of about 7 degrees Celsius meant that we did not fly for long but it was definitely ‘gloves on’ for the complete session.

It was sad to hear the news from Vienna… https://www.facebook.com/flyhigh.drachen/photos/a.180454338654738.39593.111492718884234/1099249796775183/?type=3&theater



27/12/2105 Blackheath

There was a bit of drizzle in the air on the way to Blackheath but it stayed dry for a while on arrival.

C20 mph from the SW again with similar temperatures to last week. We started with full vented and race rods but switched to four wrap. This felt a bit rigid and on reflection I would have preferred Xtra Vents and race.

It is time to start making arrangements for the 2016 events. I will have to make some difficult decisions all too soon about the time I will be able to take away from work for Berck and Cervia…



20/12/2015 Blackheath

blogentry-1810-0-67287700-1450621321_thumb.jpgIt was a showery SW airstream today with un-seasonally high temperature of c14 centigrade again.

Full vented 1.5s with a variety of race rods and 3 wrap felt comfortable.

Some called moves today along with plenty of close freeflying.

Lots of sky-scapes including the one I have attached to this message.

We’ll probably fly next Sunday and then New Years Day just because…



13/12/2015 Blackheath

Very wet underfoot this morning under a low almost featureless cloud ceiling except for a slight brightening to the south early on. 3mph Easterly breeze so full 1.5 sails with diamond rods were mostly smooth and precise even with a bit of movement required on the ground.

The wet lines did occasionally ‘lock up’ but that was mostly transitional and there were only a couple of accidental landings.

No calls today but a lot of close interactive flying. As ever the potential ‘figures’ were quite remarkable. Changing pace was the one aspect that stood out particularly today.

Apparently it is ten years since, on Blackheath, I watched the approaching ‘black cloud’ from north of London and wondered why the sunlight was not turning it white…



06/12/2015 Blackheath

Arrived at about 11:00am. 14 degrees celcius, wind from the SW about 18mph gusting to 30. The lulls gradually stretched with 10mph or less occurring more frequently.

Xtra Vents with 4 wrap were fine to start. Close, slow, not called moves worked well with a few formal sequences.

Berck, Cervia, Portsmouth, Bristol, Exmouth and Dieppe are on the agenda for 2016. We will confirm events in due course.



29/11/2015 Blackheath

The forecast was not very optimistic but we did make the journey ‘just in case’.

Arrived later than usual and the wind was much as predicted, mostly 25mph with gusts up to 38-40. Xtra Vents with 4wrap were OK most of the time and as at South Shields the other year we decked the kites during the stronger sustained gusts.

There were a few moments of ‘brightness’ and the contrast between buildings and sky to the south was somewhat remarkable. The occasional squally shower eventually sent us packing early but it was surprising how localized the rain was. North of the river, at least in Hackney, it had remained dry.



22/11/2015 Blackheath

While it was only about 3 degrees centigrade in the shade the light c3mph NW breeze and the clear sky meant that it did not feel too cold on the Heath today.

Full 1.5 sails with diamond rods were mostly fine for free flying. Holding the diagonals for team moves did occasionally prove difficult but we did persevere to some degree. I didn’t actually wear gloves but that was probably because I had taken serious measures to avoid getting cold; lots of layers!

Conversationally we realized that in the past we would have been flying the Zens in today’s conditions but our current preference was for the smaller kite which could move more quickly in light conditions, if needed.

Even so we will be pursuing our project to get some JMH sails made in the Zen format for the occasions when a ‘big’ presentation is needed. We will probably go back to using longer lines as well for the bigger sails. We took up the 120ft standard so as to be able to ‘fit in’ with the 1.5 Mega Fly project.



15/11/2015 Blackheath

11:00 am on the Heath with a strong SW breeze, Mostly cloudy with occasional breaks of sun or views of blue sky. Still unseasonably warm so no gloves yet!

Xtra Vented kites mostly with race rods only occasionally felt over stressed.

No calls again with only the occasional touch disturbing the sequences. Sometimes the kites overlap without touching…

Exmouth is now the last weekend of August in 2016 so we should be able to muster a full team. I’m still waiting to hear about work commitments for the last weekend in April 2016. Looks like I will not be able to do the full Cervia again!



08/11/2015 Blackheath

A bit of a late start today. Local road closures in Hackney and post fireworks cleaning on Blackheath might have interfered with our plans but on the day were not an issue.

The southerly breeze today was fairly consistent and not as strong as forecast so it was full vented with race rather than xtra vents.

Plenty of no call rolling moves today and some patterns are becoming evident. I’m particularly interested in a ‘stalled’ follow where the lead kite travels the full distance but the following kites take a shorter route while matching the figure.

The starlings were performing on the heath today with the gulls adding a less defined spectacle. The geese were evident underfoot and provided a fly past gaining altitude when crossing our grounded lines.



01/11/2015 Blackheath

The fog was even more dense on Blackheath than in Hackney or ‘en route’. The grass was saturated again but ‘new boots’ were effective <grins>

There was a slight N or NNE breeze so setting up was not too difficult but the wet line magic was in place again.

Occasionally the disk of the sun was just about visible but the church spire was beyond the ‘cotton wool’ environment.

It was a fairly energetic fly today.

Getting home was a bit tedious as the tunnel was backed up to ‘Sun in the Sands’ for no apparent reason. The sun was breaking through on the final approach to the tunnel with Canary Wharf emerging into view.



25/10/2015 Blackheath

There was no discernable air movement when we arrived on Blackheath today. The grass was dew saturated and the boots that I thought were on their last legs almost a year ago finally leaked.

We set up with diamond rods in the assumed direction of the breeze with the usual magic wrapping of wet lines. I actually had to add more brake to get a comfortable grip on the little air movement that was occasionally evident. The 9 degrees Celcius did not feel ‘cold’ at all…

Ashley did call a few sequences but mostly we were working on keeping the kites in the air with no enthusiasm for 360s. That would have been too much like hard work. As the air was moving from the SW there was a limit to forward movement as well. Best not to overfly the road <grins>



18/10/2015 Blackheath

I was a bit late arriving on Blackheath today. Maybe it was in anticipation of the clocks changing next weekend. The daily homebound cycle ride commute is already almost completely dark…

The anticyclonic spell continues so there was a light NE breeze mostly good for full sails and Race frames.

Some good ‘no call’ interaction with the kites close in the sky and we had complimentary remarks from one of the Sunday footballers.

Talk was about impending change at the ‘office’ and the possibility of a ‘meet’ during the winter months. The gamble with the weather makes for a difficult call especially as we have been lucky in the past. Mostly it will depend on the enthusiasm of potential participants <grins>



11/10/2015 Blackheath

Another sunny anticyclonic autumn day today as the remains of a hurricane dissipated over Portugal. The easterly breeze was less than forecast earlier in the week and was about 7-15 mph.

Full vented and race frames felt mostly relaxed except when attempting to stack the kites in the air when it was a bit light…

At least this year we did get to fly on the OSOW date. Jade had put up a selection of SLKs to mark the day before we arrived and they mostly stayed aloft with only the occasional tangle…

I was intent on investigating an un-equal line length and made and then un-made some adjustments realizing that the bridle of the kite that I was flying may actually be at fault. That is, of course, quite apart from any ‘learned’ ability to compensate most of the time. <grins>



04/10/2015 Blackheath

On arrival at 10:30am the sky was cloud free and there was a very light southerly breeze.

Conditions were just right to follow on from last weekend and to try and see if we could really feel the difference between the diamond and green race verticals. The simple answer is that we could but that once the windspeed was making the diamond frames ‘feel’ fragile there was no reason not to switch.

This obviously follows for stronger winds making the green race rods in vented sails ‘feeling’ fragile compared to the more relaxed feel on switching to the 4 wrap option.

Curiously, while on the field today I remembered an Autumn day last year when it was almost t-shirt weather like today. On checking I find that it was Sunday 5th October 2014. It seems that the weather was not so good on the following weekend last year. We did not fly…

I would expect to be on Blackheath next weekend for OSOW but that will, as ever, depend on the weather <grins>



28/09/2015 After Vienna

It was very wet in Vienna on Friday afternoon and there was the prospect of further rain on Saturday morning. A quick stroll to St. Stephens and after that, a pause for coffee and cake set the tone very well indeed, especially for Saturday when the hospitality was almost overwhelming…

It was occasionally damp on Saturday morning but six fliers set up with the JMH re-made sails and stress tested the diamond rods again in the light but occasionally gusty NW breeze. After snapping one vertical we decided to swap them to green race leaving the Diamond leading edge. This felt like a much stronger option and we will have to compare the configurations closely in lighter conditions.

Sunday was brighter, occasionally full sunshine and after a ‘fliers breakfast’ on the site we set about further developing various flying sequences. There were more visitors to the site than on Saturday but most were actively flying kites rather than ‘spectating’.

It was a late flight back to London but after the train from Gatwick, Blackfriars to home was relatively quick on the night bus…



20/09/2015 Blackheath

A ridge of high pressure had arrived to provide a dry weekend just when we needed one. Bright sun and a light slightly variable breeze from the SW so full 1.5 sails with various flavours of race rods.

It seemed as if every time Ashley decided to call some moves the breeze dropped out or shifted but despite that we did run through some of the longer team sequences nominally in preparation for next weekend, of course!

We had to prepare the flight box for the Vienna event with a lower weight limit than we have managed previously. This turned out to be easier than anticipated as we are only going to be six fliers and apart from the Xtra Vents we will only be carrying JMH sails.

Just need to finalize the transport logistics now…



13/09/2015 Olympic Park

blogentry-1810-0-98444500-1442157806_thumb.jpgToday was one of those where nothing quite works. Blackheath was off limits because of a music event. Our fall back site at the north end of the Olympic Park was, we found, all too late also unavailable due to an event yesterday. There was a slight breeze on the remaining ‘lawn’ but little room to manoeuver.

We could have gone to the east end of Victoria Park but somehow the prospect of finding a route home around Hackney Carnival put paid to that as well. Some times it’s best just to ‘go with the flow’.

We should be back on Blackheath next weekend and will have to prepare the kit for the Vienna event the following weekend…



06/09/2015 Blackheath

We did a brief detour to Stratford station today so arrived on the heath just after 11:00am. No breeze at all to start with so we set up 1.5 sails with diamond rods assuming a SW wind direction.

On taking off I quickly found that there was air movement from the NW, that being the forecast direction, but it remained intermittent and light.

High cloud was moving from the NW and eventually cleared to blue sky but the cumulus clouds then established quickly.

There is a music event on Blackheath next weekend so we will probably try the QE park. We will also have to negotiate the Hackney carnival which takes place close to home on Sunday afternoon.



30/08/2015 Blackheath

We flew the new 1.5 JMH sails on 100ft lines for a short while on Saturday in a light southerly breeze at the Aquarius event. Jacob then had to go and play his set with Jonah’s Raft. By the time he came back onto the flying field the rain had set in and wet lines and kites were not going to work.

Today on Blackheath there was a consistent Easterly breeze, about 6 – 7 mph under featureless grey cloud cover. After the disappointing conditions over the last few weeks it was a real pleasure to ‘free fly’ the kites without having to work too hard.

Some urgently needed ‘kite drying’ and a little further ‘spar swapping’ had the team kite sets arranged ready for Vienna at the end of September. We should get to Blackheath next weekend but the one after we will be elsewhere, maybe the Olympic Park.



23/08/2015 After Bristol

We arrived on Friday afternoon at the new site and set up the vented JMH 1.5 sails with 4 wrap as the wind was blustery. At ground level, though, there was often very little consistency and it was difficult to lift the sails. All rather frustrating!

Saturday was very warm and the southerly breeze was often very light. Our first team demo opened the event at 11:00am and this was flown with Rev 1s with our standard 4 and 3 wrap configuration to music selected by the ‘event’.

We switched to 1.5 sails with diamond rods later and eventually attempted a mini mega fly with TFS but at the allotted time the breeze basically failed completely. Light wind flying often involves very little physical feedback down the lines and so ‘crossed line’ can prove to be ‘fatal’.

The weather forecast for Sunday was not promising and after raining all morning heavy showers followed close behind the ‘front’ that passed soon after 1:00pm. We noticed the temperature shift and the change in the wind direction as the ‘front’ passed over.

The public attendance on Saturday looked very good but obviously was minimal on Sunday. Hopefully the auction on Saturday night will help prospects for the event in 2016…



It was very wet on Friday afternoon when we arrived in Portsmouth but the weather on Saturday was good.

We had a film crew in tow on Saturday morning and our warm up session was interrupted by the researcher phoning wanting to know where we were! The preparation for our first demo went quite smoothly considering that we had the full crew trailing us onto the field and asking questions ‘on camera’. We had to deal with an abrupt wind shift during the first track but the second one was better… flying both to music that was ‘rights cleared’ according to the production company.

We started on full sails with green race but switched to diamonds at the end of the afternoon.

Sunday started bright but the cloud gradually thickened. Breezes were light so arena presentations were challenging though we mostly succeeded.

The event seemed at least as busy as it had been on the August Bank Holiday weekends in the past with possibly more ‘public’ flying taking advantage of the extra space previously occupied by the circus and funfair.

Bristol next weekend and we are still hoping that the new 1.5 sails will arrive in time…



09/08/2015 Blackheath

Mostly clear blue sky on arrival c11:30am today.

Light SW breezes so full 1.5 sails with race rods. Typical summer breeze so no consistency in strength or direction. Making the best of it free flying was fine but putting the five kites into formal team figures was just tedious.

Cloud cover eventually arrived from the NW with some curious ‘lenticular like’ features.

No news on the sails but we are all set for the next few weekends away from Blackheath



02/08/2015 Blackheath

A bright start to the day but a sports event meant that the Blackwell tunnel was closed first thing in the morning so there were a few anxious moments looking for confirmation that the route was clear before setting off.

A light southerly breeze switched direction and strength periodically but 1.5 full sails on race and diamond were OK. I realized that one issue with the diamond frame is that it is possible to fly the kite ‘out of the wind window’ to the point that a reviving breeze will flip the sail. It really is unlikely that recovery will be possible in these circumstances…

We hope to have new 1.5 sails ready for next weekend and then we have Portsmouth, Bristol and a slightly formal event in London to see us through August.