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About this blog

My personal observations

Entries in this blog

 

18/11/2018 Blackheath

Bright and sunny with a brisk easterly breeze today, probably 12mph gusting much more… Full vented with green race mostly, I was on the RSS again which meant that I occasionally needed to move a bit faster.  Some called moves today, nothing too challenging but it was the free flying interaction that impressed me most… I have located this text and all that precede it in an orderly manner at www.felixmottram.com/kiteblog.  I will eventually deal with the remaining ‘translation’ issues where characters, mostly punctuation, were not handled properly.  Some of the invisibles took a bit of finding! No ‘stack’ work today as it was a bit windy and a bit cold too! Felix

Felix

Felix

 

11/11/2018 Blackheath

I arrived on Blackheath today in bright sunshine with a mostly blue sky.  While showers had been forecast I had for some reason assumed that they would be elsewhere but on the SW horizon there was a very dark area of cloud.  After a few minutes it was apparent that it was approaching fast. I set up an RSS ( it was a fairly brisk SW breeze) assuming that it was going to be a fairly sharp shower and that the rest of the kit should stay in the dry.  It was only when the sun was obscured by the leading edge of the cloud that a brightness could be seen on part of the horizon.  The darker, unmistakably wet part of the shower was going to pass to the south of Blackheath. There were a few spots of rain and then the clouds cleared and we were able to proceed with setting up the stacks that MW and I had tied during the week.  First up was MWs Rev2 stack fronted by a relatively new vented sail.  Some of the bungees on the old sails were mostly perished so will need replacing.  For the time being they were tightened anyway.  The stack flew very well for a first fix, four sails so far with maybe five or six to be added… I then set up the first four of the JMH 1.5 stack.  I knew that there were some discrepancies in the line lengths but it flew ok despite being somewhat overpowered.  I’ll do further adjustments when the breeze is more appropriate and when we can rig the whole eight stack. On leaving Blackheath there was another ‘anvil shaped cloud’ approaching from the SW… Felix

Felix

Felix

 

04/11/2018 Blackheath

I have noticed previously that the high level cloudscape can be particularly varied and interesting in the remains of Atlantic hurricanes that have been swept up by the jet stream that delivers the weather to the UK.  Today was one of those occasions, with temperatures well into double figures as well! Light SW breeze so mostly full 1.5s with race rods.  Nothing called today, not least because minds (and some bodies) were elsewhere… The sleeved kevlar turned out to be too tough really for the link line application but fortunately the alternative arrived just in time from Holland.  Today we started MW on re-rigging a Rev2 stack that was flown occasionally back in the nineties.  The sails are still bright so had obviously not seen much ‘daylight’.  We may include the additional Rev2 ‘prototype’ that came into my possession at some point early on in Rev history! I decided that preparing the link lines for the 1.5JMH stack would be an indoor job so that delivery can be quick and easy on the field, as with the Rev1 stack at Dieppe. Felix

Felix

Felix

 

28/10/2018 Blackheath

At 9:00am the rain looked steady so the prospect of flying today appeared remote.  The forecast was mixed but in the event there was a break in the ‘showers’ around our normal start time. Full vented with green race and an RSS in the occasionally brisk ENE breeze. There was some warmth in the sun but was definitely ‘gloves’ weather; the first this Autumn.  We did not last long as there was an approaching shower.  More rain back in Hackney at 2:00pm. I have located and ordered some 1.2mm kevlar cored polyester line so should be knot tying next weekend… Felix

Felix

Felix

 

21/10/2018 Blackheath

Clear blue sky with steady westerly breeze, probably 4 gusting 8 mph.  Wet underfoot to start but soon dried out… Zens and CRs with green and black race rods mostly.  There was a bit of called flying but nothing too energetic.  A neat transformation from circle to vertical line and the reverse suggested a whole range of novel moves that just need to be ‘called’. Once the ground had dried a bit I ran out a new line-set for the stacks, the standard 100ft 200lb (thanks to Vliegertak Kite Lines) replacing the shorter 300lb set used previously.  It was good to see the two four stacks flying ‘together’.  Still not so much for the fliers to see though! The next task was to locate 8 sets of 1.5 ultra light/3 wrap spars.  With a couple of donated sets I was able to find enough bar one centre spar so I substituted a green race one for the front kite!  I hope to rig the 2008 JMH 1.5 sails to match the Rev 1 set.  Just need to decide on the appropriate link line as the kevlar cored pink polyester would be overkill… and I am not sure if I have enough anyway. A longer session today, not least making up for last week. Felix

Felix

Felix

 

14/10/2018 Blackheath

No repeat performance today after last Sunday!  It did not look as if we would have any flying today but at 10:30am the radar was no longer showing  heavy showers approaching from the South so we ‘took a chance’. Full sail 1.5s with Race rods mostly in the NW breeze before the rain arrived again. So that was our token OSOW effort for another year…  I note that last year Chris Murphy first visited us on the second Sunday.  It looked as if we had much more flying on that occasion! Felix

Felix

Felix

 

07/10/2018 Blackheath

Sunshine to start and with a light northerly breeze we were flying into the sun.  Zens with green race to begin with… We then set up the two four stacks and ‘everyone’ took them for a spin.  I managed to get a couple of photos as well!  High cloud had moved in by this time. As the wind was occasionally dropping down I decided to join the stacks and try the longer handles on the full rig.  Forward flight was really not happening when the handles were on full forwards.  I will be interested to try this setting in a ‘higher’ wind speed in due course. Everyone got to fly the full stack and I am hoping that we can do a ‘repeat performance’ next Sunday for OSOW… Felix

Felix

Felix

 

30/09/2018 Blackheath

Sunny to start with a light westerly breeze c10:30am.  I set up the full eight stack of Rev1s as at Dieppe but found that the ground surface was less consistent and provided less grip so quite quickly opted to split the stack into fours…  MW was more than happy to fly the four on the 200lb set of lines while I checked over the shorter 300lb set that I used to use on the six stack. After some considerable corrections to this lineset we had the two four stacks in the air for quite some time before setting about team kit maintenance. Switched green race leading edges back into the 1.5 JMH full vents, re-installed diamond leading edges in the 1.5 JMH full sails and de-spared the Not Zens for winter storage… Then, back to the four stacks for a short time.  I had used a set of 15 inch handles for the 300lb lineset and found the extended range of movement to be advantageous as expected but without feeling too risky with ‘full on’ power.  I will try them on the full eight when the opportunity arises, in a lighter breeze!  We did witness ‘popped’end caps so might want to tighten the LE bungees at some point… We may have the full contingent of Blackheath regulars on site next weekend! Felix

Felix

Felix

 

23/09/2018

I had hoped to sort the team kites today as the last night that we were in Dieppe was the night fly so we had made up a  temporary ‘small’ bag… The weather forecast had not been looking good all week and this morning it was very wet but without the high winds originally expected. Suffice to say sorting the kites will have to wait another week, at least; the current forecast for next Sunday is not great! Time to think about the schedule for next year.  It looks as if we will not be needed at WSIKF to make up the numbers… Given the potential cost that is a ‘good thing’ really. There may be some more interesting projects developing closer to home, post Moscow… Felix

Felix

Felix

 

17/09/2018 After Dieppe

Travel to Dieppe went smoothly and we had a chance for a stroll around town before registration and heading off to the gite in Puys. We had varying numbers of fliers for the first three days but then were settled on eight from Tuesday morning onwards. I had tentatively hoped that the opportunity to rig a stack of 8 Rev1s would arise during the week.  We duly tied two linked 4 stacks and the first fix was very successful.  I flew the stack alongside the 1991 20sq meter JMH parafoil which was a great sight. The graphics on the JMH Rev 1s work extremely well in the stack… The post Moscow project got an airing on Friday evening reasonably successfully but the ‘joke’ title of the group in Moscow needs to be discarded without delay.  Curious to be flying moves that I drew back in 2010, finally.  We did not get to do the full Dutch Windmill which was first flown at Portsmouth… Great to be flying in a large group with consistent ‘graphics’ but there is massive opportunity to create something much more exciting than plain black! Our journey back from Dieppe on Sunday was slow after arrival in the UK.  It took almost an hour to get out of the port at Newhaven and the M25 was blocked so we had to do a cross suburban route back to Blackheath and the Blackwall Tunnel… Felix

Felix

Felix

 

02/09/2018 briefly Lytham St Annes

Travelled to Kendal on Friday and on Saturday walked out of Sedburgh up Winder on a circular route.  Later in the day travelled up the River Brathay valley and over the Wrynose Pass.  The cyclists that we saw at the top of the pass travelling in the opposite direction looked very excited to be heading downhill… It was a brief re-introduction to me of Cumbria. On Sunday we stopped off at Lytham St. Annes to see the event in action before heading back to London. We are all set for the early start on Friday heading to Dieppe! Felix

Felix

Felix

 

26/08/2018 Blackheath

There was only going to be a narrow window of opportunity today before the rain arrived. The southerly breeze was reasonably consistent probably 8-10mph so mid-vents with race rods felt comfortable most of the time.  Still getting to know the 15 inch handles on a new set of leaders but there were no issues today. At the end of July Blackheath was brown underfoot.  It is now mostly back to a new growth of green. The rain started soon after 11:00am and is still steady in Hackney at 12:30… Felix

Felix

Felix

 

19/08/2018 Blackheath

Cloudy with a mostly brisk SW breeze so we were on full vent 1.5s with race rods.  We used the RSS kites in Scarborough but apart from that the last time we flew full vented appears to have been in Cervia… Nothing called, just a relaxed fly.  Jade joined us for the first time in a number of years. We expect to be at Blackheath next weekend but will be travelling the following weekend with a brief visit to Lytham St. Annes a possibility.  Dieppe follows taking the next two weekends.  It will then be the 23rd September when we are back on Blackheath! I am hoping that Dieppe will see the development of the Super 16 concept following on from the Moscow event. Felix

Felix

Felix

 

12/08/2018 After Portsmouth

Travel to Portsmouth was a bit dramatic for some of the team with repeated torrential downpours. The event on Saturday was very well attended.  We set up close to the War Memorial as the 'other' end of the south side of the arena was dominated by ‘commercial operations’. Not Zens were used extensively early in the day but the JMH mid vents came into play later… Sunday was going to be wet but we had a narrow window in which to get prepared before the rain started.  It was a ‘one-kite’ day, that being the mid vent.  It did get very wet on site but by the end of the afternoon we were actually able to pack everything ‘dry’. Interesting to meet with fliers who had originally met the team in Germany in 1989… Felix

Felix

Felix

 

05/08/2018 Blackheath

After last weekend’s respite we were back to high summer today.  Intermittent light breeze from the SE generally but switching 90 degrees to either side.  No sign of the swifts which is what I would have expected… Zens and CRs again but I set up some 15 inch clipless handles on a new set of lines.  The increased brake provided felt very ‘familiar’ so walking ‘fast’ downwind in a very light or no wind situation was now ‘possible’ with the larger sail.  I can now see that limiting the ‘forwards’ option, (more brake) prevents the sail load spilling in light wind and can appreciate that it would be very difficult to hit a ‘close to’ full sail loading just by feel! The full vented JMH 1.5s LEs have been checked and oversewn where necessary.  The re-sewn JMH Not Zen sail arrived from San Diego so everything is ready for Portsmouth. The weather forecast for next weekend is cooler and maybe a bit wet! Felix

Felix

Felix

 

29/07/2018

The long hot dry summer spell ended this weekend and the Blackheath regulars decided to take a break rather than cope with potential transport difficulties, rain and high wind. It does appear that ‘summer’ will return shortly so we should be on site as usual on 5th August for final ‘preparation’ ahead of the Portsmouth event the following weekend. I probably need to tackle LE degradation on the nearly 10 year old full vented JMH 1.5s in the meantime.  They are next on the list for re-making but we may need to postpone that until the end of 2019! Felix

Felix

Felix

 

22/07/2018 Blackheath

Mostly high cloud today with an intermittent WNW breeze. Zens and CRs again but from the outset the occasional stronger breeze moments were really at the top end of the comfort range with green race spars.  There was some direction shifting but only through a c120 degree arc. Some further conversation today about the elusive sound tracks, both for the team and the ‘post Moscow’ project. I am hoping that a re-sewn sail will turn up in time for Portsmouth.  Why is it that these arrangements always seem to get pushed to the wire? Felix

Felix

Felix

 

15/07/2018 Blackheath

An almost cloudless dark blue sky today with an occasional 2-3 mph breeze from the South West.  At other times it was at all points of the compass.  I walked a 360 with the kite at the top of the window(s). The crispy ground surface had been mown since last week so no snagging issues today. Zens with green race, soundtrack Miles Davis “Kind of Blue”. All set for Portsmouth now after various changes in the line-up.  I will be visiting Lytham St Anne’s on Sunday 2nd September ahead of the Dieppe event.  I’m hoping that the issue between French Fliers and the Dieppe Organisation are resolved to everyone’s satisfaction before the event… Felix

Felix

Felix

 

08/07/2018 Blackheath

Some of us were south of the river yesterday afternoon/evening for the Devonshire Road Nature Reserve event… Blackheath today was looking very ‘summer’ dry.  The surface was crunchy underfoot not least because I have full hearing after a month of cotton wool and eardrops. Zens and CR sail today mostly green race, a great combination!  The circular nature of the wind direction kept us guessing as did the drying flowerheads and their propensity to snag lines at launch.  We all succumbed at one time or another. Not a lot called today but we did have the sound sticks in action… Terry Riley and Steve Reich again. Felix

Felix

Felix

 

02/07/2018 After Tramore, Ireland

It was a really delightful weekend in Ireland…  The local aviation authority had designated kite flying permission up to 500 feet between midday and 5:00pm.  So that is basically what we did. On Saturday the breeze was initially consistent from the SE but became minimal later.  We kept the show on the road flying the Not Zens.  A PA system was provided and we eventually found the audio connection and set about mirroring our recent Blackheath ‘method’ of running a medley of the teams familiar musical accompaniments along with some recent additions.  Overall we had a lot of airtime. The breeze on Sunday was initially much stronger offshore NNE.  During the course of the afternoon the potential onshore sea breeze occasionally prevailed but between times there were moments when the wind direction was changing by the minute. On Saturday we flew the JMH 1991 parafoil for an extended period from a ground anchor but on Sunday the turbulence early on proved to be too much. The CR ‘sun shade/kite storage facility’ in its new configuration worked perfectly even in the early blustery conditions on Sunday. Felix

Felix

Felix

 

24/06/2018 Blackheath

The final full weekend in June was another light wind day, thermaling around the compass. Just a bit of high level cloud mixing with con trails kept the full intensity of the sun at bay.  I have done a bit more work on the ‘not tent/sun shade’ so that is all set for Tramore. Zens with green race today along with a Robertshaw with black race.  We were on 120ft lines but mindful that we may need 100ft sets next weekend.  Nothing called today but I did take the opportunity to use the sound system to play Steve Reich’s Pulse and Quartet that were released earlier this year. Just the odd swift today.  Not as many as in previous weeks and probably fewer overall than in previous years. Felix

Felix

Felix

 

17/06/2018 Blackheath

It was a bit of an ‘edge of seat week’ as it was apparent that there was very little or no wind at all in Moscow down on the river.  Wednesday saw an improvement but by that point it was basically too late for creative work by the TV people.  The chance of performing live on the Thursday evening had always been ‘remote’. Anyway, there was a breeze on Blackheath today from the west.  At times it was too strong for 1.5 full sails and green race rods.  Mid vents would have been better. We did get some called flying today, not least in response to passers by.  Always amusing to explain how long we have been ‘doing this’. Almost all set for six in Tramore, Ireland, the weekend after next.  Fine tuning packing is all that is required. Felix

Felix

Felix

 

10/06/2018 Blackheath

Another typical June day on Blackheath.  Today we were joined by the swifts which I suspect I will also have noted in previous years.  Sometimes they seem to be very close to the kites. It was Zens with green race for most fliers today.  Nothing called and in the variable thermaling wind we were often at the ‘close to vertical’ top of the window. I did a bit more ‘testing’ on the configuration of the ‘not-tent’.  The intention (sorry) is to get it available when we travel to events by air.  We may have to source a ‘club hammer’ locally, of course. Looking forward to seeing the ‘Moscow’ team performance on Thursday.  Preparations appear to be well underway… Felix

Felix

Felix

 

03/06/2018 Blackheath

The prospect was for a typical June summer day on Blackheath so I had planned to do some further configuration on the ‘not-tent’ that we often use on festival sites as a cover for the kites and bags. The green race rods for our personal  Zens had arrived before Scarborough, now was also the opportunity to distribute them and fly the kites which we did, taking advantage, or not, of the 180 degree shifts in direction.  The only safe place was at the top of the window but when that is really ‘straight up’ it can be a dizzying experience. We did fly the Zens sporadically and wondered how the Basingstoke event was faring.  Light wind in a bowl is not likely to be easy. The ‘not tent’ is now set with Rev spar end caps at all the guy rope fixing points, doubled up at the front and back of the ‘cover’.  I just need to locate the spare 4 wrap Rev 1 spars and we will be set to go… Felix

Felix

Felix

 

29/05/2018 After Scarborough

The drive north on the Friday before the holiday weekend took about six and a half hours.  We followed a weather system and eventually encountered some rain. There was time for a look around the town before heading to the local YHA.  We noticed that the castle was enveloped in the low cloud. Saturday started with a much higher cloud base which remained a moody presence for much of the day.  The brisk northerly breeze was not warm but it was mostly consistent. JMH Mid vents worked fine until being overpowered as the breeze strengthened towards the end of the day.  There was too much for the 1991 20 sq metre JMH parafoil. Sunday was  a considerable contrast with clear blue skies, a similar northerly breeze, just a bit less of it.  JMH mid vents again but today we were able to fly the parafoil, first on a short line, and then later on about 20 metres of line.  It was almost at the limit for ‘hand holding‘ the kite but we found that releasing the line produced a quick collapse and landing. Monday was forecast to be foggy.  It was bright and sunny at the YHA first thing but the upper part of the town and castle were in the fog/low cloud off the north sea.  The breeze was stronger and so we flew the RSS Spiders, at length for the first time, to good effect. The drive back to London was much easier than anticipated.  From a long way north we became aware of a weather system to the south.  It had cleared London not long before we arrived home… Felix

Felix

Felix

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