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  • Berck 2016

    Well what a week that was! A few accidents, incidents and mishaps, but a generally enjoyable experience. And I don't think I have ever seen so many people.

    The festival was in full swing when we arrived on Wednesday morning, and although we arrived at a sensible hour, about 11am, we were still unable to find a parking space near the hotel and had to park on a side street. It was a gloriously sunny dat, but with a chilly wind. Time to go and investigate. As I said above, I've never seen so many people at the festival midweek. Usually there are relatively few people, and often the schools are in term time. But this week seemed different. Checking with our hotelier he told us that this year the festival coincided with a holiday in Northern France, so hence the massive crowds.

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    This was to be the story of the week really, huge crowds every day. Fortunately the festival alos seemed to coincide with some very low tides. Even when the tide was in thereseemed to be more space on the beach, and when the tide was out, the available space was massive. So we fell into a routine, mornings were spent flying then lunch, usually at a sandwich bar, or some such, then afternoon spent flying, strolliing, snoozing before meeting for pre-dinner drinks then finding a restaurant for our evening meal. Fortunately Berck is well blessed with restaurants.

    Saturday is market day, so most of us spent the morning wandering around the market before heading back. But saturday was struck with a heavy shower at lunchtime, which sent everyone scurrying for shelter. Suddenly all the restaurants were full, and there were queues at all the sandwich bars. Not to be beaten, we headed to the internet cafe, which is a few hundred metres from the beach, and far enough back that the crowds don't tend to get there, so we were able to sit and grab a sandwich there. 

    Sunday was back to glorious sunshine, and as some of the invited participants headed off for home, the arenas started to empty. And Sunday comes with another challenge, the sheer number of motorcycles that descend on the town. You really cannot move for the things, which suddenly completely take up the wide pavements as parking spaces. 

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    And finally, Monday and again a sunny day, but we were booked on a fairly early ferry, so could not afford to hang around in the town, so hit the road to head for home.

    Accidents and incidents? Well one of the party had a nasty fall and carried an injury through the rest of our stay, and on the Sunday, one of our cars was damaged, we think by a motorcycle handlebar.

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  • Kite Eating Trees!

    Sunday saw us flying kites on the sports field at the Sellindge Sports and Social Club, in what transpired to be the Palmer Family Fly-in. I felt a bit of an interloper.

    When I arrived, Mike, Barbara, James,Sarah and Luke were already there. Now its not often that I've been able to say that. There were three flowtails adorning the sky, with a good selection of line art underneath. The wind was brisk, and somewhat chilly. More fool me for not bothering to take a coat. I had lots of kites I needed to test fly. Some have never been flown, having beean acquired with various bits missing. Most made a reasonable attempt at flying, though one is in definite need of a significant tweak. That might have to wait until after Berck now.

    As the Palmer family headed for the pavillion for lunch, I was left to my own devices until Steve turned up, making me jump out of my skin! While I played with assorted hexagons, Steve set out his newly acquired Rev II. Fast isn't it! Then the rest of the Palmer Clan came back to join us having had a nice roast dinner. And James was happy playing with his pirate kite. Don't tell Paul Fletcher, or he'll want one.

    Whilst Mike was sorting something out, he noticed that some of the line laundry was lying on the ground, but there didn't seem to be any sign of the kite. Further investigation showed the flotail to be in the top of a tree, quietly being munched. Several rescue attempts were undertaken, and eventually the tree was persuaded to give up its lunch, but not without removing one of the kite tails to snack on. But we managed to get that back too.

    As we were clearing up, a couple of likely lads arrived and asked if they could fly their power kite and land board. We directed them to the clubhouse to seek permission, which was granted. So the rest of us headed for the clubhouse to drink warming coffee and watch the experts. Unfortunately, I would guess that it was the first time out for these young lads. They were going to attempt to flys a Flexifoil that was approaching 8m size I think, in a quite brisk breeze. And it soon became clear that they hadn't got a clue. There were roars of laughter from the assembled masses, who thought this was most entertaining.

    Well next week, several of us will be heading off for Berck for the international kite festival, and the rest are planning to fly at Brogdale I believe. Wherever you end up, I hope the weather is good for you.

  • A good day

    We've had some awful weather this winter. I doon't recall any time when I haven't been out flying for months on end. It seemed to be a case of a couple of nice days during the week, when at work, then come the weekend come strong winds and heavy rain

    So it was nice to buck the trend and get some decent flying in. We'd decided to pay a visit to St. Mildred's Bay in Westgate, near Margate. Strictly speaking we were flying adjacent to the Esplanade, which is above the bay, but its easier to describe it as St. Mildred's. The weather on Satruday was glorious, and whilst there was a little more cloud around today, it was still very pleasant, and the whole of Kent and South East London seemed to have decided to head for Thanet. But getting to the site at about 11:30 the field was desrted and I had the whole area to myself. So the newest Della Porta got its first airing. The breeze was a bit light, but it flew OK, I think the bridle needs a tweak though.

    Then while still on my own, I started setting out my flock of swifts. And before long they had attracted other kite flyers!

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    We settled in for a pleasant afternoon in the sun and pleasant breezes, which drifted in and out. The wind was predominantly off-shore, which meant it was coming over the houses. So if kites came down too low, they ended on the ground, but if they stayed up higher there was plenty of breeze.

    I left at around 5, while others carried on flying. Shortly after I got home, we had thunder and lighting and heavy rain. But I don't care, cos I've been out having fun flying kites. The world suddenly seems a better place.

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    Next week, I think the plan is we are going to give Sellindge a try again, having been rained off at Easter.

  • If its April, it must be Berck

    Good wine, good food, good company, good weather and this year dancing girls (I kid you not). It can only be Berck Interntational Kite Festival. This year is the 29th edition no less! An advanced party of KKF stalwarts went out for the opening weekend of the festival, when the weather looked nice and sunny, but a bit breezy. The main throng attended the second weekend, when the weather was forecast to be wet, but to a pretty large extent, they got it wrong.

    So most of us arrived on Thursday morning having left dear old blighty at stupid o'clock. The ferry we were on was pretty deserted, perhaps they had heard about the quality of the breakfast. Poor would be a compliment. We arrived in Berck to sun coupled with a stiff breeze, and went to say hello to our hotelier, before having a bit of a fly. We were honoured to find kiting royalty sharing our humble hotel. We even managed to find Natalie, who used to own the Bar de Bains, and stopped for a chat.

    Friday dawned to the signs of a heavy overnight shower or two. But no sign of anything during the morning, so whilst it was misty, we went for a fly on the beach starting off with light wind stuff, but having to switch over later as the wind started to pick up. Those of us who over-indulged at lunchtime went off for a siesta, whilst others took to the beach again.

    There is a corner of Berck that is forever KKF

    What would Saturday bring. More of the same really, except that the sun came out in the afternoon and the wind fell away to flat calm, so any hopes of flying were dashed. Some wandered around the festival site, whilst others went for a walk. Some spotted some dancing girls on the France Bleu stage.

    Dancing Girls

    Saturday evening is night flying followed by the firework spectacular. Many of us braved the conditions to watch the show. A couple were able to survey the scenes from the luxury of their balcony! No wonder she's treasurer.

    Sunday morning was dull with the occasional shower. Someone had spotted that there was a treasur hunt organised, so we decided to follow the route. In fact there was a choice of two, so we chose to follow the one that stayed local to Berck-Sur-Mer rather than the one that took us into Berck Ville. So off we trotted at a very sedate pace. The route took us along the seaside footpath to the Bay d'Authie, where we were able to watch the seals basking on the sandbanks and occasionally going fishing. The route then took us back into the town, following some of Bercks historic landmarks. The first half of the route took us all morning, and we decide to abandon it at the cafe for a very well earned lunch.

    An Englishman's home...

    And on Sunday afternoon the sun came out and a gulp of swallows was seen on the beach. It attracted a lot of attention from local photographers as well as other festival participants. I now have to send plans to Germany!

    Gulp of swallows

    We were due to head off on Monday morning. Half of us headed up the coast to do some sightseeing, and the remainder went for a fly in the stiff breeze on the beach, before grabbing a final coffee before heading up the motorway. Turning onto the approach to the docks at Calais, the signs over the road said "Port Ferme" which was all we needed to hear, but guess what, it was a lie.

    So during the weekend we sampled several restaurants and a couple of new cafes. The food was of the highest standard throughout, as was the calvados. The Pizza emporium seems to have changed hands, but the menu is the same. The bistro under the arch was open and the moules were good, but you will have to ask Barry about the pinball customer! Next year is RICV Berck 30th anniversary. Its bound to be a big one, so book early!

    Beer o'clock

    You can see more photos on my flickr photostream, or follow some of the stories on Mike Goodes blog

  • Hanami Festival at Brogdale

    Kent Kite Flyers were invited to participate in the Hanami Festival at Brogdale Collections on Saturday 11th April. Hanami translates as "flower viewing" and represents an opportunity to enjoy the transient beauty of flowers. Whilst literally referring to any flowers, it is more customary for it to be used in the context of cherry blosson, or less frequently plum blossom.

    Anyway, Brogdale, as home to the national fruit collection, should have a reasonable amount of blossom on show, and has been inviting people to partake of picnics under the cherry blossom during April. The one day festival was organised as a larger event incorporating music and tea ceremonies. There is quite a large Japanese community in Canterbury. Kent Kite Flyers had originally been invited to provide a static display of Japanese themed kites, but this was subsequently changed to provide a static and flying display. Unfortunately, being in a field some distance from the main event, providing a static display seemed pretty pointless.

    So on Saturday morning, several members arrived to add some colour to the sky. Unfortunately, shortly after we arrived, so did the rain, which persisted all morning. Some kites had already been put out ready to fly, which were very quickly drenched. The rain was predicted to last until around lunchtime, and for once the weather forecast was pretty accurate as, at about midday, the rain stopped and the skies cleared. to provide a warm, blustery but bright afternoon. Those of us who had toughed out the conditions were glad to have stayed - well it gave everything a chance to dry out anyway.

    Several Japanese themed kites were flown, most of them having their design origins in the Japanese Edo period, when most of the kites we currently laud in the west were designed. Of course there were several rokkakus on display, and several sodes too. A stack of yakko bees, and at least one small edo flew, as well as a couple of surugas. Although few kites carried Japanese designs or images on them, at least their design origins were right, and one edo was made from a Japanese wall hanging and was framed in bamboo, so pretty traditional really.

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  • Easter Bunny brings the sun

    Happy Easter everyone! and wasn't it wonderful. For once the Easter bunny bought us some good weather, and if the weatehr continues like that through the summer it will be a grand year for kite flying.

    Sunday saw KKF participating in the Easter Egg Hunt at Sellinge Sports and Social club. When I say participating, I think we were banned from stealing the eggs, but were invited to fly kites and try to put some colour in the sky. The marning was bright but windless, followed by cloudy and windless. There were lots of kites on the field, but for the most part they stayed resolutely glued to the grass. The occasional flurry of wind caused much activity, which always seemed to end in disappointment. But then the wind picked up a little and the clouds cleared to leave us in glorious sunshine for the rest of the afternoon. And whilst we could have made use of a little more wind, the kites all managed to get off the ground. There seemed to be a lot of winter projects and purchases on display. Several kites bought from the Stuart Richards' collection saw their first airing, aloong with two magnificent Ghenkis from Peter and Jacqui. Little know fact - people think, from the name, that the Ghenki is a Japanese design, but in fact it is Dutch! Several of the kites received favourable comment from the people meandering around. During the afternoon a local traction engine enthusiast went for a drive past too - on his way to the pub no doubt.

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    So we continued to fly well into late afternoon, when the chill returned. Several raffle prizes found their way into the hands of assorted kite flyers too. Next Saturday sees us participating in the Hanami festival at Brogdale. This is a Japanese themed event. Originally planned as a static display, we shall now be flying as well apparently.

  • Bunch of Bercks

    Its been a while, for which I apologise, but some of us have been away enjoying the delights of wine, beer, food and kites at the 28th international kite festival of Berck Sur Mer in France.

    Its a dirty job, but someones got to do it, and this year we stayed for a whole week, travelling out on the Desnesday and returning on the Tuesday, the day after the festival had officially finished. While there, we had a real mix of weather with some gloriously sunny weather, some cloud and strong winds, some very turbulent conditions and even some rain. But whatever the weather managed to throw at us, we survived and kept on flying.

    As we don't officially register with the organisers, we aren't officially allowed to use the arena spaces, so we fly outside the arenas. This isn't usually a problem during the morning as the tide goes out so far that there is plenty of room. But after lunch, when the tide is in, there is no space, so we stop flying until the water has gone away sufficiently. So our usual format for the day is fly, lunch, wander/siesta/fly, pre-dinner drinks, dinner. Of course, this year there was a major change as the Bar de Bains was closed. I did meet with Natalie and Christophe, the ex-proprieters, on the beach, who explained the position (politics basically). They are extremely disappointed that the building now stands empty and unused, a monument to political pig-headedness. But we were able to find another bar on the esplanade, and once we had broken the staff in, they got used to our presence every day. Unfortunately, the vantage point isn't so good, so we cannot see everything going on "sur la plage".

    Thursday was a very good day for kite flying.. A light breeze in the morning meant it was a low wind kite day. I tried to fly my suruga, but it still had a habit of being unable to recover from a dive. Time for some more modifications. It wasn't helped by breaking one of the ties for the rods. Friday the wind was much stronger. But Janet did fly her Kiteability replica. By the afternoon, everyone seemed to be struggling with the conditions, and the cold.

    Kiteability

    Saturday was a much better day again, and we all managed to fly in the morning. More adjustments to the suruga, it seemed to be much more stable, at least it had stopped diving into the sand at every opportunity. Saturday night is night fly an fireworks. Some of us old fogies headed off to bed after dinner, whilst others headed to the sea front to wath the display, which I'm told was spectacular.

    Sunday, a good morning flying, but the it started to drizzle, then drizzle turned to heavy rain, and we all ended up soaked through to the skin and with very wet kites. However, in the early afternoon, the sun came out and it turned into t-shirt weather. By now, lots of the teams had already left. The Al-farsi team, and Andrew Beattie had left on Sunday morning, along with a lot of the German fliers. So some of the arenas were starting to look a bit empty. I always think it is a shame that on the final Sunday of the event, the beach starts to look a bit sparse, when a huge number of locals are coming into the town to enjoy the event. What it does mean is that there is now space in the arenas for us to fly. So I took my kites out to dry them, which didn't take long at all. However, the wind was now off-shore and very turbulent. Very "interesting" flying conditions. All the large kites were getting thrown about the sky and suddenly hit by down drafts, which would collapse lifters, and leave a lot of tangled messes.

    Monday, and the wind had turned to on-shore. The breeze had dropped to light again, and conditions were just about perfect. We all managed to fly kites and dry them out and enjoy the sunshine. Heather managed to fly eight of her flo-tails which created quite a display. The final set of modifications to the suruga seem to have worked, it is now flying quite well, and performing in light breezes too, which it wouldn't do before. By now, we almost had the beach to oursleves as most of the teams had left or were in the process of packing up to go. It means that the afternoon arena performances become extremely curtailed. The two line megateam has dropped from over 20 to about 12 pilots sadly. By lunchtime, the breeze has picked up and the sea mist has rolled in to provide a lot of cloud cover. The temperature has dropped again as we head off for the bar for one final time.

    And so our trip closes. Tuesday morning we need to say our goodbyes to our hosts and head off for the journey back. On a parting note, the Scratch Bunnies won the World Sports Kite Championships for the third time in a row, and decided to retire from competitive flying as a team. We met some old friends and made some new ones. The famous film star from the hotel was away filming yet again (You have to be there to understand). I managed to fly every kite I had with me, but then I only took a few, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Jurgen is looking forward to welcoming us back next year.Suruga

  • Fun in the sun at Folkestone

    The kite season seems to be kicking off well. Today we were entertaining ouselves, and some local children at Radnor Park in Folkestone. The wind was typically troublesome, sometimes gusting, and then lulling back to nothing. All of which manages to keep the kite flyer occupied. 

    We had a very good turn out from members, who took advantage of the sunny weather to come out and play. I think it may have been helped by the cliubs committee decidding to waste the afternoon having a committee meeting!

    For the rest of us, we were able to play with some old kites, test some new ones and even make some purchases as Syd is clearing out his kite cupboard as his health makes kite flying a particularly painful activity. There were in total about 14 of us there, and a wide array of kites were on show. And of course some of us were preparing to make the trip to Berck in northern France for the huge kite festival and world sports kite championships. I will be heading out on Wednesday, and others are coming out on saturday for the closing weekend. I'll try to keep you updated with the activities. But I think we have to raise a cry of "Go bunnies go!" (you need to be there to understand).

  • Berck 2013

    Well we're back, safe and sound and more or less in one piece after a few days "relaxing" on a French beach. The forecast for the trip wasn't great so we had all packed warm clothing, and by god did we need it.

    Having collected Bill, Barry & Janet we arrived at Dover to a 30 minute delay on our crossing due to gales in the Dover Strait. The captain advised that the stabilisers were working and based on that crossing, they certainly did their job. So by the time we left Dover, Gerty had already texted us to let us know that there was plenty of parking available in Berck. But, by the time we arrived, all space had disappeared, so we ended up parking "a short walk" away from the beach. Having checked in to our accommodation (under new management and undergoing

    refurbishment) we headed for the Bar de Bains to say hello to Christophe and Natalie. What's this??? A Vendre??? You can't be serious. Having discussed the situation with Natalie, it turns out that French law forbids permanent businesses to be established on the beach. Therefore they are staying open for this season, then selling up and deciding what to do. But it means that the building is closed to the public, and customers are only allowed on the terrace. I do hope there is some room for manouvre as they do add to the festival ambience. After some drinks, we had a wander round for the rest of the afternoon, until able to find a parking space close to the hotel.

    The building is closed to the public

    Friday dawned cloudy and very windy. We thought about flying, but then decided it was too cold and windy for any of us. So we took a wander round to see some of the flying contingent. Managed to find Collin, Derek Kuhn and Guy Reynolds sheltering wherever possible from the wind. The day was spent wandering and trying to keep warm. Another good reason for the shelter provided by the Bar de Bains.

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    Saturday was much brighter and warmer. so gave us an opportunity to fly. We all found a spot on the beach and had a couple of hours playing with various kites. As is traditional, after a good flying session we adjourned to the bar for refreshment before finding somewhere for lunch, then spent the afternoon going our own ways before meeting up for a late afternoon coffee (well alright lager) before dinner. Dinner was taken at the Pizza restaurant near to the hotel and those who wanted to wandered off to watch the fireworks on the beach.

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    Sunday came and someone had stolen the wind. Slightly cooler than Saturday, but we all headed out onto the beach to play again. As the day progressed the wind picked up, and the day followed much the same pattern as others. At dinner on Sunday night, Gerty decided to treat us to a bottle of champagne. 

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    And so to Monday, and time to say our goodbyes. Having checked out of the hotel and arranged for the hotelier to email me as soon as he knows next year's dates so that we can book our trip, we headed off to the bar to bid a fond farewell to Christophe and Natalie, who promised to try and find us on the beach next year if they are still in Berck. The day was cold and grey and the organisers were busy removing all trace of the festival from the beach. We did any last minute shopping and headed off for the journey home.

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    My thanks to Gerty, Bill Barry and Janet for their company, always a pleasure, never a chore. In addition to the photos here, you can find more on my flickr account. I'm sure we'll head back next year for more adventures if you are inerested in joining us.

  • Berck begins

    Many of you will be aware that Collin has been at Berck Festival from the start on Saturday. He sends us this report.

    Arrived in Berck around midday on Friday to rain and high winds, but we perservered and managed to get in two days flying although we did get a drenched and sand blasted, packing up wet kites and equiptment everyday so going out today (Sunday) to dry kites! Guy arrived Saturday and is camping at the moment as they never organised a hotel room for him! Sunday was a fantasic flying day, lots of kites up and thousands of apppreciative public, Monday was good too but less packed.
    I have put up more picture on FB if you are interested, LOTS to give you a flavour of the festival:

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    The web cam points only at a single line arena so it is a real shame that you cant see the whole spectacle, there are a lot of KAPers going around so maybe someone could post a pic of an ariel view. To the right of that view (camera positioned on the Agora swimming pool) is another arena, to the left is the main arena and behind that is our arena for banners and Vlags as a back drop. Left of that again is the big kite arena and yet another arena after that...then there is the huge sandy beach where we over spill onto if the winds in the wrong direction BUT there were 500,000 people milling around shoulder to shoulder and picknicking on the beach!
    Very well organised, good accomodation and great atmosphere.

    Gotta go back to WORK now, stunning work place.....somebody has to do it.....

    Web Cam: www.opale-sud.com/var/opalesud/cam/camAgora640.swf

    Well you did ask Collin, so here is an absolutely stunning image from French KAPer Garder-le-KAP. Meanwhile I'm off to pack. See you on the beach tomorrow I hope.

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  • Basking in the sun

    Sunday 14th April saw us holding a fly in at Mote Park in Maidstone. In the morning it really didn't look very promising. After bright early morning sun, the skies coulded over and drizzle followed by heavier rain defied the forecasts. But it was just a clearing up shower and the day grew into a glorious sunny breezy one.

    So we all headed off to Mote Park, or should that be Mote Can't Park. As was to be expected, the car parks were full to overflowing, and the overflow car parks were closed due to the wet conditions underfoot. The result was that parking in the park itself was impossible. So those of us who arrived late headed up to the leisure centre car parks.

    The skies were clear with just the occasional high clouds and the wind was best described as "frisky". Typical for this site, teh conditions are often tricky, and with the predicted wind of 15 mph gusting to 35 mph flying was always going to be a challenge. Not to be disheartened, Matt was busy bridling his 1 metre edo. The bridles are about 62 feet long and there are 17 of them. But after a little trimming and tweaking the kite was soon flying extremely well. Good job well done that man.

    A variety of colourful kites were to take to the sky, though many were to struggle in the conditions. A number of chinese squid were to be seen. I think the prize for number of kites flown goes to Kevin. I don't think he managed to try every kite in his bag, but he certainly managed to fly a lot of them.

    It was good to see a large turn out from the club and the park was buzzing with people, many of whom had brought their own kites to fly. All in all an excellent day. My face is beginning to tingle a bit, but I'm not sure whether that is through the sun or the wind. Next week several of us are off to France for the Berck Kite Festival (Collin is already there). For those who don't go, its our regular monthly fly at Canterbury.

  • Tonbridge Part Two

    What a difference a week makes. Last weekend a few of us, well three to be exact, went to the park in Tonbridge where it was grey and bitterly cold. So much so that after a couple of hours we had all had enough and headed for home. This week we basked in glorious sunshine and very light breezes. In fact the weather was so nice we had members turn up from far and wide.

    I arrived at lunchtime to find Steve, Sue and Jackie sitting at a park bench finishing their lunch. Shortly afterwards, Tony Makepiece, Secretary of Brighton Kite Flyers arrived, soon to be followed by Barry and Janet, then Kevin and Wendy, and finally Bill and Jenny. Not only that, but there were family groups out on the park trying to fly kites. It was good to see Jackie again after a long absence. Hopefully we'll see more of you as the year progresses.

    Initially there was very little wind. Steve was flying a new roller he had just finished, and wanted to check some construction details with mine. Steve and Sue had been there since about 10:30, so had had some practise. So I put up a KKF roller and showed Steve how to lock the bridle. It looks a well constructed kite. Bored with rollers, I decided to try some sport kite stuff so tried an ultra light for a while. Then I went back to the car to get some big stuff out and by the time I got back to the field, Tony had returned with a similar idea. We both put up 7m HQ flowforms and watched them wallow and die in the light wind. Tony's aim was to test the frogs he had made during the winter. He manaed to get two ont he line before the wind disappeared for a while and we decided to pack things away. that's not to say the wind was entirely well behaved. While the kites were on the ground a sudden gust picked them up and blew them down the field. 

    Talon

    A little bit extra wind came along, so I thought I would replace the flowform with a powersled 81. this proved a bit more enthusiastic and eventually gave sufficient lift to give my dragon a fly. It really needed some time to inflate and work out some of the creases having spent the winter wrapped tight in its carry case. The poor weather means these inflatables have not seen any air time so are all a bit creased.

    Dragon

    Eventually it was time to depart having had a really good afternoon's flying.

    Committee Meeting...