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  • Damp and dreary Dunstable

    This weekend saw Dunstable Kite Festival 2018. Unfortunately this year's event was blighted by the weather. After weeks of hot dry weather, conditions finally broke on Saturday 28th July. Overnight rain was followed by temperatures that had dropped by about 10 degrees. But the day was bright with considerable cloud cover. However we were to get the occasional heavy shower.

    This year we were joined by Kite Passion kite team from Germany. But a distinct lack of anchor points in the arena meant we had to leave them flying alone for most of the day. Simon did breifly fly his octopus, and later we had a bunny and spinner suspended beneath his smiley face. But one of the heavy showers sent us running for cover. And when we did relaunch the face, it quickly made for the nearest tree, so that ended our entertainment for the day.

    Meanwhile, our german friends who had been flying a stack of fish, under a 4 metre pilot switched to a maxi ray, which flew eratically for a while before crashing to the ground. They switched back to the fish which flew very eratically as the winds increased, until finally sweaping the ground and the pilot ending up in the crowds.

    Sunday started with a pilots' meeting in the visitor centre during the heavy rain. The decision was made to continue, but the German fliers would not be flying so that they didn't have to fly home with wet kites. However the wind was even stronger than Saturday, and the driving rain made the decision for us, that we wouldn't be flying any show kites. I did breifly fly one of Jilly Pelham's kites, and Gerty did put out half a dozen ladybirds, which qucikly became waterlogged.

    So after hanging around for an hour or so, the weather showed no sign of abating, and having made the obligatory purchase from SkyBums, I decided to call it a day and head for home, reflectin on a pleasant but damp weekend. Despite it all, the scenery is spectacular. Enjoy a very short video of Gerty's ladybirds.

  • Brogdale Cherry Festival

    Sunday saw KKF attending the Cherry Festival at Brogdale.This year it was just a one day event, and we were there to provide teddy bear parachuting and a kite making workshop.

    Saturday had been a glorious sunny day, but Sunday was cloudy, hot and extremely close. And to add to it all, there was very little (read no) wind! But not to be disheartened, we erected our gazebo for the kite making workshop in the main festival field, and put our gear in the back field for teddy parachuting, waiting for some wind. And we waited, and waited. Occasionally there would be a gentle breeze pick up, but it would soon disappear, and lifters stayed resolutely on the ground.And then, just after non, a little bit of breeze picked up and looked like it might hang around for a while. But still there wasn't enought to get a pilot inflated and off the ground. So we had to go old school and switch to a SkyBums megadelta. After a few false starts, we managed to get the kite up to about 500 feet (we had 100ft clearance for the day) and it seemed to be staying put.With the rig attac hed, we were ready to start parachuting, and had a steady flow of children for the afternoon, many of whom had come prepared with their own teddies, and others who were happy to borrow ours. During lulls in the wind, when the rig lost lift, we gave the more energetic children (and adults) an old RAF drogue to run around with. That usually tires them out pretty quickly.

    At about 3:30, the wind ran out and the kite made its way to ground, with absolutely no chance of getting it back into the sky. After putting everything away, we headed back to help clear up after the workshop, where they had had a very quiet day.

    Unfortunately, not a lot of opportunity for taking photographs, but I did get a couple of the birds of prey. Oh, and the ice creams were nice, even if I did get caught by my diabetic nurse with my face stuck into a cornet!



  • What a difference a day makes

    It was the second Bognor Regis Kite Festival at the weekend, and along with many others, I decided to spend the whole weekend in the pleasant surroundings of West Park in Bognor Regis flying kites. I arrived late Friday afternoon and already the camping area was pretty full. I think I was just about the last to arrive. But having got myself and my caravan organised, and said hello to a few people, I decide to go for a walk to see what we could see. It was pretty windy, but wherever you went, there was no getting away from kites. This one was on the back of a beach hut.


    Saturday morning arrived, and it was still pretty frisky. By the time the festival started, it was still blowing and gusting. Because the park is surrounded by trees, there was a huge amount of turbulence at ground level. Kite flying was going to be a challenge today. We were joined by a few KKF day trippers to keep us company, but unfortunately they had picked the wrong day to come. So when you can't find anything to fly, its always good to sit in the sun and have a chat. We're not called kite picnickers for nothing you know


    Rev flyers were out in force. This is Steve showing great control in the conditions.


    And even Superman put in an appearance. He seemed to have weak ankles, but a problem was forthcoming, a length of fuzzy tails between the zips on his boots provided enough drag to untwist his legs when they got twisted up.


    Eventually the small crowds of public went home and we settled down for an evening. Night flying was due to happen, along with a firework display, but we'd have to wait for it to get dark, so I headed to the bar, and settled down to some wonderful singing from Terry Carvey. This guy's got soul and if you get the chance to go to a gig, take it up. He worked his socks off to a small group of people at the bar, and certainly desrved better. Eventually, it got dark enough for some illuminated kites to fly. Pretty standard fare from Singapore, some big, some not so big. Thw wind was easing right off and getting the kites aloft was becoming a problem. Finally, the evening was rounded off with a firework display. Meanwhile Wales were beating Belgium in the Euros.

    As I said earlier, what a difference a day makes. Sunday arrived with a very gentle breeze. Still a bit turbulent at ground level, but manageable. Lots of kites on display today. The arena was full of inflatable stuff, largely shutting out us stick kite flyers. But before the day got to old, I managed to get my celtic knot square kite aloft, and had it flying at about 500 feet. Only its second flight and I'm very pleased with it. Of Course Norfolk Dick was much higher than me with a roller, but some people just have to go one step beyond.

    There would be a good selection of kites in the air today, but some would struggle in the (relatively) calm conditions. The Bognor teddy bounced around all day though.


    Today we were treated to some Vietnamese kites complete with their chime whistles


    But care was needed, there was a kite eating tree waiting for the unwary.


    And that nice Mr Morgan from Sky Bums seemed to be finding time to fly kites


    Its not often you see three lifters being used on a single line, but today was that day. The air banner was struggling to stay aloft, and ended up with three lifters on it.

    Another mention of another singer who was belting out her songs all through the lunchtime and early afternoon. This time it was Helena Mace and again she is well worth a listen if you get the chance.. But the festival was due to finish at 4pm, and so the crowds started to drift away, leaving us kite flyers to carry on playing on our own. Conditions were wonderful for flying and everyone seemed to be making the most of it. Ultimately, it was time to pack away, and another walk along towards the town centre in the warm evening air.

    As always, you'll find more of my pictures on Flickr

    So that was Bognor Kite Festival, more again next year please Dave. Next week its off to that other bastion of the Sussex Massive - Brighton Kite Festival.


  • Dunstable Downs Kite Festival

    This weekend saw many of our hardy travelling band at Dunstable Kite Festival, at the Dunstable Downs country park, and just above (quite literally) the London Gliding Club. Most travelled up on Friday afternoon or evening, many staying in local hotels, whilst the hardier amongst us camped on site. The less said about Friday the better. Suffice to describe the the weather as abyssmal and the traffic equal to it.

    But Saturday morning dawned, and all those who stayed on site were still there. The wind had eased significantly and the sky had brightened and cleared considerably and the rain had stopped. But there was a distinct chill in the wind, so most stayed well wrapped up. Soon enough, the lightweights who were staying in hotels found their way onto the field, to be joined a little later by the day trippers. We managed to put on a show of ground bouncers - cows and ladybirds, that were very well received by the younger members of the public attending. But we didn't do a great deal of flying in the strong winds. But late afternoon we managed to fly some flowtails and ghosts, and a drum box was in the mix too. All the usual regulars on the circuit were there, including the  newest participants The Flying Fish, who did a great routine flying Peter Powells.


    As the official festival drew to a close and public and flyers drifted away, the conditions improved dramatically. The wind dropped and the cloud cleared, so Peter and I decided to fly our Brasington creations. Peter took a while to put together his train of 6 butterflies, meantime my gothic delta was joined by Mike flying a Yanneke Groen sode. The kites flew beautifully, and well done especially Peter for his inaugural flight.

    Those of us up early on Sunday morning managed to get some flying time in. I had a couple of kites in the air for about an hour, and sat chilling, watching the world go by and chatting to passers by. Then, the first spots of rain arrived, so it was time for me to pack away, just as everyone else started setting up. A few people got some kites in the air in the pouring rain, including a Gill Bloom stack of della portas that had been flying so well on Saturday. However the rain persisted, and while we. along with almost all the other flyers, sat in the visitor centre sampling coffee and cakes, the organisers took the decision to abandon the event.

    Della Porta stack by Gilly Bloom

    So people drifted away, many disappointed that the festival had been cut short, but that's the ritish weather for you. there's always next year. More pictures are available here. A big thanks to the organisers for letting us come and play in your back yard. Next weekend - Jolly Up at Cliddesden.

    Oh, and in case you're not sure - its not all about kites at Dunstable...


  • New Kite Book Published

    John Browning, he of Grumpy Old Gits fame, has recently had a new book published. Called "Kites - the Art of Using Natural Materials" the book is an exposition of Johns work over recent years to create artistic kites using wholly natural materials, leaves, twigs, paper, etc. The book is published by Culicidae Press. Its ISBN is 978-1-941892-05-3 and more details are available here

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  • Brighton Kite Festival

    I'm a bit late with this, so my humble apologies, but sometimes work gets in the way of pleasure. Last weekend was the annual Brighton Kite Festival, organised by Simon and his team at Brighton Kite Flyers. The festival has been running for more years than I can remember (something over 30 I think) and has been at its current location Stanmer Park, for many of those years. Parking is available on site, and they just ask for a donation to help cover the costs of running the festival.

    Now I have to say that I don't think Stanmer Park provides an ideal kite flying location. There is a large hill in the middle of the park. The prevailing wind comes over the bank of trees, and over the hill, so by the time it hits the arena, it can be a bit choppy. That being said, the demonstration teams always put on a good display. This year we were treated to team displays from Team Spectrum and Flying Fish.

    I was only able to attend on the Saturday, and the weather forecast for Sunday, which turned out to be accurate, wasn't particularly good. Saturday though was gloriously warm and sunny with a good breeze, though it was a bit variable at times, which meant teams would suddenly find themselves becalmed. There weren't a great number of "serious" kite flyers playing during the afternoon, but this is probably because the field was packed with public. And it is always great to see hundreds if not thousands of youngsters enjoying the simple pleasure of holding on to a bit of string. I'm pretty sure that most of these had been bought on the day, which would make the traders, some of whom had travelled the length and breadth of Britain to be there, feel their trip was worthwhile.

    The "serious" kite flyers tend to be out early morning and late afternoon, when there is less chance of getting tangled  with the children running around with their kites. The problem is that youngsters tend to enjoy running around, and don't really pay attention to what their kite is doing, so their kite line will cross other kite lines and get in a tangle. This isn't a huge problem, provided you stay calm and follow some basic rules to get them untangled. But youngsters think the best way is to tug on their kite. This causes friction, which melts the string, usually on the bigger kite, because of the different materials used in the "string", which results in an unhappy kiter. So its safer just to stay out of the way until the youngsters are suitably exhausted, then when they clear away, to go into the huge space left by them. This isn't intended as a criticism of anyone, its just a fact of life. It's great to see the youngsters enjoying the fresh air and pleasure of kite flying, but for the more serious kiter, its also a bit of a risk to your lovingly cared for creation! If you want to see it in action, come to Teston in August and witness it for yourself.

    This coming weekend, for those not going to the Hereford Kite Festival at Berrington Hall, we will be having a club fly on the park in Tonbridge. We can usually be found somewhere near the children's play area. Next weekend is Dunstable Downs kite festival and I think we are expecting a good turnout of KKF members there.


  • Dunstable Kite Festival

    Several of our members spent part or all of the weekend at Dunstable kite festival, on the magnificent Dunstable Downs. For some of us it was out first visit and I think everyone was mightily impressed.

    Of course the weather can make or break an event, and this one was blessed with pretty good conditions. Saturday was stiffling hot and Sunday much caller but still plenty warm enough. We could have done with a bit more wind, or a bit more consistency from the wind, but we managed to keep kites flying for most of the time.

    To paint the scene, the National trust site is on top of the downs, with a large visitor centre and a huge open grass space, part of which was fenced off to create a large arena space. At the bottom of the hill is a gliding club, which was very busy on both days, though more so on Saturday. Also parascenders were jumping off the hill at regular intervals through the afternoon.

    Glider Towing by Pitprops on Flickr.ComParaglider by Pitprops on Flickr.Com
























    To the event itself. The event is held over two days and organised by the National trust volunteers, with help from Joe Brown (ex Dunstable Kites) and Steve Hoath (Flying Squad - and KKF honorary life member). As the participants start to arrive on Friday, the event field is already set out ready for them. There is limited camping available. The commentary throughout the weekend was provided by Joe and Steve. Additional attraction this year included a couple of multi-rotor video cameras. These were definitely at the professional rather than toy end of the market. Note that normally RC is not permitted at the Downs, so special permission had to be obtained.

    The orgnisers believe that they broke all records with the crowds this year, and I can well believe it, as the field seemed to be pretty full, and the car parks full to overflowing.

    Festival site
















    International and UK club flyers put on a display of single line kites throughout the day, whilst two and four line displays were put on by Flying Fish, Air Heads, Team Spectrum and Flying Squad. If I've missed anyone out - apologies. Meanwhile Carl Robertshaw seemed intent on water bombing Sebastian. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable event, and one which I hope to be able to return to next year.

  • Frustrated of Faversham

    Possibly not our finest hour, but sometimes the weather just gets in the way. This weekend we were booked to parachute teddy bears at the cherry festival at Brogdale Farm.

    Heavy storms on Friday night meant the team made their way to Faversham full of trepidation. Some were luck to arrive at all as trees brought down in the storms blocked the roads. Fortunately everyone arrived safely and were able to set up before the rain came. Then the sun came out and the weather was sweltering. UNfortunately the wind dropped, but the team managed to bung bears manfully.

    Sunday was much of th same. Complete lack of wind meant the kites stayed stubbornly on the ground for long periods. Kids were entertained throwing parachutes into he sky or dragging a rather large parachute around. FInally the wind swung round again and picked up sufficient to lift the kites off the ground. We managed to drop bears for a while before the rumbling thunder loomed closer and closer and cowerdice won out so we packed everything away and waited for the inevitable downpour.

    Next weekend is Dunstable Kite Festival, hopefully the weather will be a little kinder.

  • Herne Bay Kite Event

    Sorry its taken a while, but sometimes life gets in the way. Anyway, on Sunday 29th June we took part in the first ever Herne Bay Kite Event. Invited participants included Close Encounters Kite Display team, members of the Essex Kite Group and Suffolk Kite Flyers. The event was tinged with sadness, as we had heard that Martin Corrie, ex-chairman of Suffolk Kite Flyers had lost his battle with motor neurone disease on Friday morning.

    So to business. Arriving at the field, th eweather was gloriously sunny and warm. It was the first time I'd been to this particular park. Most of the gras area was taken up with arena space, though there were a couple of small areas for public flying. Unfortunately one side was lined with trees, and another, which just happened to be the direction the wind was coming in from, had blocks of flats. Hey ho what fun.

    When I say wind, I am, of course, exaggerating. There wasn't any. Well none to speak of. While Close Encounters got themselves ready, I took the opportunity to put in some practice on a Trident Lite. It was hard work, but would just about do the job. Meanwhile several people tried, and failed to launch single line kite. Well not really failed. The kites would launch, stay aloft briefly and then come back to earth. It was certainly not a day for pegging kites out, which was a shame as it means we can't put on a display for the public. So during the day, various kites were launched then removed. Unforuntaly Peter's dolphin rok and a dolphin windsock broke free and disappeared to park themselves in a tree on the other side of the lake.

    So to the main entertainment of the day - the PA system. Those of you of a certain age will remember Norman Collier, who based his act on a faulty microphone. I thought Alan Pothecary of Close Encounters did a wonderful impression of him! Alan and Marylyn tried to fly very low wind kites in the morning but it was still a huge struggle for them to complete a routine. There then followed a steady stream of activity in the arena as kites and kite flying of different styles passed through. Interestingly, just as Alan and Marylin finished their routine, the wind picked up, and by the time the trick flyers entered the arena, armed with ultra light kites, it was positively blowing a gale! Imagine the feedback you get through a car steering wheel when driving over a cattle grid. That's what it felt like as you traversed the window.

    We managed to keep a reasonable crowd of people entertained throughout the day, but the day seemed to go so quickly. Some of us had work to do!

    Oh what fun

    Finally we closeed the day with a flight of flotails in memory of Martin Corrie

    Martin Corrie Memorial Flight

    Our thanks go to Malcolm, for organising the event and doing sterling work on the PA throughout the day, at the times the thing was working. All the club members who came along and helped out putting on a display for the public, setting out, taking down or just being there. to all the particpants who came from far and wide to spend the day with us, and not fogetting the public who made it all worthwhile.

    And finally, thanks to the weather gods, who kept the rain at bay until the very lst minute, whent here was an absolute deluge. There were several houses full of wet kites overnight!






  • Hop Farm Fly-in

    Last time we flew at the hop farm it was a country fayre in May 2012. It poured hard on Saturday and Sunday, the field became a pond, no-one came to the event, and we were all thoroughly miserable - well apart from Collin, but you will need to ask him about that.

    Since then, the hop farm has gone bust, and risen from the ashes. It is a wonderful flat site in the flood plain of the river Medway (which runs along the back of the site) and so should make an ideal flying location.

    At last Malcolm had managed to persuade the new owners of the site to allow us to use it as a venue. They have given us three dates this year when we may come and fly, and Sunday 28th July was the first. the weather was bright and sunny, and the wind was brisk, perhaps a bit too brisk, but it looked good for a days flying.

    We had a really good turn out of members for this day. Gerty's white flowtails were visible from the road as I approached, so I knew where to go. Lots of kites in the air, but we had managed to put ourselves in a corner with lots of trees. So I decided to fly a sports kite on a bit of land nearby. I'd forgotten just how much fun a heavily modified Psycho can be. It was an absolute blast on 90 ft liines!

    Lots of line junk and ground displays were taking advantage of the strong, sometimes gusty wind. Even gerty's ladybirds were fully inflated and bouncing around. We even tried an impromptu KAP session on a small rok, but it wasn't successful. Mike needs to check his rig and the settings on the camera, as I don't think CHDK was loading correctly, and I think the rig needs CHDK to control everything.

    All in all a great days flying. Lots of different kites took to the sky during the day, some we've not seen before. Thanks to all who came along to provide some colour, and thanks to those members of the public who came along to try their hand or otherwise showed interest. Big thanks to the hop farm for letting us come along to a wonderful large flying site.

  • More bear bunging

    The weekend saw us attending both days of the Cherry Festival at Brogdale Farm. Primarily there for bear bunging, we were also flying kites and helping anyone who wanted help with kites. The forecast for Saturday wasn't brilliant but Sunday was supposed to be better.

    When we rocked up on Saturday morning, we found we were supposed to be sharing the field with the barrel train. Not a good idea, we felt, as we would have kids running around and having a large powerful quad bike towing a lot of trailers around in the same space seemed an odd idea. After a brief discussion a compromise was reached, and he would run behind us into another area.

    So we continued setting up and started bunging bears as the drizzle started to fall, There was quite a stiff breeze which kept the lifter kite aloft, and with constant tension on the rig we were able to drop bears of any size all day long.

    Sunday was a different story. The day started out dull, much like Saturday, but no drizzle and light winds. After trying a soft kite lifter, Bill soon switched to a mega delta, which stays aloft much easier. Again the rig was aloft and we were ready to go. But keeping everything aloft on Sunday was much more of a challenge. Again we had moments of intense activity and then more relaxed time with few children (or their parents) ready to catch teddies. 

    We did manage to provide the mad March hare with a ride, but unfortunately the Queen of Hearts' crocquet mallet arrived too late, after we had brought the rig down for th efinal time. All in all, not a bad weekend. Plenty of children and parents to keep entertained. No major casualties, though we did have two teddies disappear into the cherry orchard, both of whom were recovered successfully. Thanks to all members who came out to help, it is much appreciated.

  • Teynham Primary School

    Today (Thursday 18th July) we'd been invited along to Teynham Primary School to give a talk about kites, and hopefully demonstrate some kites flying. It was their "Challenge Day" an annual event, where all the children in the school research a topic, then make something related to that topic. This year their theme was kites.

    We were due to arrive at 8:30 to set up a display in the hall ready for assembly at 9. Unfortunately there was an accident on the A2 at Bapchild and the the police had closed the road, so I didn't arrive until 9:15 to find all the children, 180 of them, already assembled in the hall while one of their teachers ad-libbed. I then took to the stage to talk to them for about an hour, before showing a couple of videos. After some questions from the children, they went out to play while we set up some kites to fly. Outside, on their playing field, as playtime came to an end, we launched som kites to show the children. After a little time, they all headed back inside to make their own kites. A very enjoyable morning, and thanks to the head and deputy head for inviting us.