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  • Kites on the beach

    Last year we were invited to fly kites at Walmer, but unfortunately nothing came of it. This year, the parish council invited us along to display "kites on the beach" at Walmer. So on Saturday May 28th a crowd descended upon the beach to fly kites. But it wasn't all plain sailing. Due to activity in Dover, several of us were held up in traffic, but ultimately all arrived safely, if a little later than expected.

    The arrangements were that we would sell kites, and the council would run a kite making workshop. Meanwhile we would fly kites on the beach. So we did our best to accommodate the requirements. There was a pretty good turn out given that the advertising for the event had once again missed the mark. So many people commented that the first they know of the event was when they looked out and saw the kites in the distance. that being the case, the kite workshop was busy all day.

    Kite workshop in full flow

    And to top that, apparently we had run out of kites to sell by about 3pm, so clearly the people of Walmer were joining in completely. Certainly the people I spoke to were having a great time and thoroughly enjoying the spectacle.

    Now Kent Kite Flyers are not normally associated with creating a spectacle, but, as mentioned in a recent post, the club has recently acquired a selection of inflatable kites, and most of these were on display throughout the day, along with pieces owned by individual members. Some were better anchored than others, watching a penguin dragging its anchor along the beach was quite amusing!

    Something Fishy


    The day had started out pretty gray, but by about 3pm the sun started to break through and by the end of the day we were bathed in glorious sunshine. Better yet, the wind was along the shore line and consistent all afternoon, which meant that the kites stayed aloft all day long and enjoyed the excellent conditions. As with all these events, by the time we had packed away we were all well and truly tired, but had had a thoroughly enjoyable day, and hope to repeat the experience again. I know there is talk of making it a two day event next year, which I would support, but also talk of moving to a more suitable location, but this one seemed pretty good to me, so I'd leave well alone.

    The reason my lobster was quite so frisky was that I had left its tail unzipped. Note to self - make sure it is ready to fly next time!

  • New kites and a brush with the law

    In what seems like a distant memory, but in reality is only two months ago, at our Annual General Meeting, we charged the committee with sourcing some "medium sized" inflatable kites for members to fly when representing the club at events. The world hasn't stood still since then.

    Whilst we were enjoying the sunshine and breezes in Berck, the committee was in much discussion. As Mike and Linda Howard from Kiteworld were in France with us, we discussed the situation with them, and Mike said he may have some items in his collection he would be willing to part with. Meanwhile Peter Hulcoop was in China at the Weifang Kite Festival and he toured the factory and was able to propose bringing back one of their kites.

    As a result, the club now posesses a collection of inflatable kites,including lines and lifters.The first batch of these were test flown at the weekend at the end of the Collier Street School kite workshop, and the decision was made to buy them all. That just leaves the one kite to come from China, when Peter returns to these shores. Thanks to Mike and Linda for helping out with our acquisition, and of course to the committee for organising everything.

    Meanwhile, over in the west country, kite flyers have been falling foul of the law. We must remember that the Air Navigation Order sets the legal context around the use of UK airspace, and that limits the height at which we can fly kites. The maximum height is 60 metres (200 feet) without getting a special permission from the CAA. This story popped up on the BBC news website following the gloriously sunny May weekend, and clearly caught a lot of attention. UK kite flyer Paul Chapman was flying his kites nearby, and was able to throw some light on the subject, quoting from his Facebook feed...

    "Since it is national news, and I saw what went on, I may as well add a bit to explain. I was aware of the police helicopter before I got to the Downs. Parked up and joined Alan; too windy for me. Alan pointed out a kite well up and alongside the Avon Gorge .. clearly too high, especially with the helicopter around. Then the helicopter came over us so Alan dropped his stuff...and it landed a hundred yards away. Police helicopter. Of course we went over to see and, we were right, it was the kite. Two airborne coppers legged it in the direction of the kite while we admired the helicopter ( not surprisingly since I used to design these airbeaters). Anyway the pilot said they had clocked the kite at 600 ft and not only was that illegal (over 60 metres), the gorge is often used as a light aircraft route (minimum height 500 ft). At the same time the pilot said there was no danger...although there could have been. He was ok about it, other than the kiteflier needed a warning. I explained that generally the Downs are self regulated...we talk to others, mostly people unaware of the regs, and would not recommend flying next to the gorge where the wind is bad anyway. A bit later I spoke to another policeman who told me that the kite was at 1000 ft and that the cable could bring down the helicopter...I questioned the height...he backed down, and the cable (wire or kevlar?) but he did not know. So I then hiked off to see the kiteflier. Nice, friendly man out in the sunshine with his family. He had made a kite for his children like the ones they used to fly in Jamaica....I took some photos...and he had no idea that he was doing wrong. I checked the cable...which turned out to be a cheap poor quality nylon line, probably about 30 lb breaking strain. Yes, too high, but very unlikely to be a threat. I suggested next time they should fly with us as we are well clear of the gorge, as well as being very safety aware. He might..I hope so..but he was clearly shaken by his inadvertent run in with the law. Great pity since we are always delighted and intrigued when people bring kites from far away places....recently from Chile, Sri Lanca, China. So..if you are flying kites on the Downs then please come over and chat with the locals. We know where the best winds can be found, know the do's and dont 's, know where to get kite stuff...bla bla Better than risking an unwanted visit from the law."

    So, as Sargeant Phil Esterhaus used to say at the start of each episode of Hill Street Blues (Yes I really am that old) "Let's be careful out there".

    Next Sunday 15th May is the Streatham Common kite day. I hope the weather is kind and we all get to fly high, but legal.

  • Mayday

    Sunday 1st May saw us interacting with the normal people on the ports ground in Tonbridge. It was a beautiful, sunny and breezy afternoon and there was a good turn out of kite flyers young and not so young.

    It didn't always look so promising though. In the morning, there was very little wind about and it was a bit of a struggle keeping things aloft, though Steve was doing a sterling job with a little fighter. But come the afternoon and come the breeze and we were able to put on a bit of a show for the local citizens, many of whom seemed to enjoy the spectacle. We even met a chap who had moved from Canada and had flown with Ray Bethell in his younger days in Vancouver.

    A few people took a shine to a rather large lobster that spent the afternoon bouncing around in the sky. The wind was a bit fickle, as is often the case in Tonbridge, resulting in kites constantly shifting in the sky, and occasionally shifting towards the ground! But on the whole I think a good time was had by all.

    Of course, being Kent Kite Flyers, full use of deckchairs was made throughout the afternoon.

  • 30th Lotto Kites Festival International

    The weekend of 9th and 10th May saw a team of seven from kent Kite Flyers attend the 30th edition of the Lotto Kites International Festival in Oostende, Belgium. We all arrived in pleasant sunshine on Saturday afternoon. We checked in with the festival and found our hotel that had been arranged for us by the festival organisation. Having found lost keys (thanks Lien) we settled in to sample the local wine and food, preparing ourselves for the start of the festival on Saturday.

    Saturday morning, and winds were howling. If you remember last year, a German group were flying a chair. They achieved the same feat this year too. We tried to fly some flotails in the morning but two shattered spines later, we decided to concede that mother nature new best. So we packed away kites and went to look around the various exhibitions. It seems that Japanese kites are very popular with Dtch and Belgian kite makers and there were some wonderful examples of the kitemakers art on display.

    Samurai warrior at Mount Fuji _1180830

    In the afternoon, we established camp in a bar on the esplanade, whcih became christened "Bar de Bain - Oostende branch". The welcome was firendly, and the beer strong!

    Saturday evening was due to be night flying. So after dinner we headed back to the beach armed with various kites with lights and did battle with the strong winds again - some more successful than others. The most magnificent kite on show was an ostend Bird with a stunning light show. But if you wanted quantity rather than quality, KKF won hands down with 5 kites in the air at various stages. With thanks from the organisers ringing in our ears we headed off to the hotel bar for a nighcap.

    What a difference a good night's sleep makes. Sunday morning was warm with very light breezes. So we headed back to the beach and found a spot in which to set up flotails. The problem now was trying to keep them in the air. Bill flew most of hs "old tarts" and my birds got a brief airing while most of our crew, resplendent in our KKF Yoof Squad polo shirts headed off to participate in the Ostend Bird mega fly. Lunchtime saw us head back to the bar for refreshment. Some headed back to the beach for afternoon light wind flying, at least one of our crew falling asleep holding onto the kite line. Others stayed in the shelter, but only had one more drink - honest!

    And that brought a very enjoyable festival to an end. Perhaps one of the friendliest and most relaxed large festivals we could wish to attend. Of course the glorious weather on the Sunday will always colour our opinions, but I think everyone who attended enjoyed the weekend. A big "thank you" to Lien and her team for organising the event. Must do it all again next year.

    The beach in the morning Flotails

  • May Bank Holiday Weekend

    Well that seemed to be a busy weekend with Kent Kite Flyers distributed far and wide.

    Most of the club had decided to meet at South Road, Hythe on the Sunday. The wind was a bit fickle at times apparently, but it was a warm and pleasant day. Peter H displayed his latest acquisition, a Robert Brassington multi-cell kite. Brassington has got to be one of the best kite builders on the planet and I'm sure everyone was truly envious.

    KKF Hythe and A Frame 25.5.2014 022 

    Members were joined briefly by Jilly Pelham's brother and his wife, who had spotted the kites. Jilly was a kite builder from Hythe who sadly passed away a while ago.

    Meanwhile, not too far away, Mike and Barbara found themselves entertaining the grandchildren at Weald Country Park in Essex. they report that the park is a wonderful site, apart, presumably by the swarm of yacco bees that mike seems to attract.

    Finally, two intrepid explorers found themselves at Margam Country Park in South Wales for the annual kite festival. What a wonderful setting. The weather tried to dampen our spirits, as well as clothing and everything else, but failed completely. The bank holiday Monday supplied sunshine and Testonesque wind, but many kites were flown in the parkland in front of the castle.


    You can see more pictures here.

    Next week we are planning to fly at Woodchurch near Ashford. Hope to see you there.

  • Blimey what a scorcher

    Great day at Brogdale where we were joined by some schoolchildren who had come along to fly kites with us. Shame there wasn't just a little more wind (where have I  heard that before). What a great bunch of Children very attentive and interested  in what we had to say. Extremely polite and seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. it was great to see the field full of children flying kites, now  that is what its all about!

    I am assuming at  least one of the new peeps was Pat W as I found an email when I got home about  10 mins ago saying they had found us on t'internet and were going to come and  find us at Brogdale but didnt know what time we would be there - I haven't  answered as I have assumed it was they who followed Peter around the farm and  joined us for the afternoon.

    Thanks to all who came along especially  those who helped the children with the kites.

    Good turnout, Mike &  Barbara, Gerty, Peter, Steve (Yes he is back only slightly tanned!), Bill &  Matt. Despite the fickle wind we were able to put on a show and yes Barbara  managed to see her tiger properly in flight although somewhat sporadically.

    No decision made yet on where to fly next weekend. A couple of us are heading off to Margam Park Kite Festival in South Wales. You'll have to keep an eye on our forum to find out where we will be playing in Kent.

  • Blown away in Ostend

    Perhaps that should be blown away from Ostend! What a way to mark KKF's first visit to the festival on the sands at Ostend. The forecast had been poor at the start of the week, but slowly improved. But even as we left on Saturday morning, the weather people were still predicting heavy rain followed by showers and high winds, only brightening after we had left. Did they get it right? well kind of.

    Some of us went via the tunnel, and some on ferries. Those of us braving the ferries did so with some trepidation as high winds expected to make the crossing interesting. Still at least it wasn't raining. So after a hearty breakfast, we settled down for the two hour crossing to Dunkirk, being slightly delayed on the way.

    We arrived in Ostend in light rain and managed to park fairly easily, thanks to Janet's disabled badge, and having organised a parking permit with the organisation. Stepping out of the car, we headed to the front where conditions were, shall we say breezy! 

    There were several marquees along the sea wall with assorted exhibitions. My favourite by far was the collection of Japanese kites with intricate applique designs constructed by various Dutch kite builders. The only problem with this display is that it is the kind of thing likely to put you off kite making for life, as I for one could never hope to be that good. If they fly half as well as thye look they will be a sight to behold.

    Back out on the beach, there was an assotment of kites in the sky. We bumped into some old friends whilst there, Clara Kuhn, Robert Valkenburgh and Steve Hoath to name but a few. However many of the kites were struggling in the windy conditions. Then it started to rain, and it turned heavy, so we decided to find a restaurant for lunch. A nice Italian place seemed to be our choice. Whilst enjoying our meal, we could hear the rain battering the glass roof. But as lunch drew to an end, the skies cleared and the sun came out.

    Good time to head back to the beach. But by now the wind had really picked up, and there were very few kites left in the sky. We watched as teams struggled with the conditions to put on displays, and about the only thing that flew really well was a camping chair. If this link works, here is a video of its launch. If not, here is a photo to be going on with.


    Now that possibly gives an idea of the conditions. It was quite warm in the sun, even with the strong wind. But when I say strong wind, it is not that usual to see a hexagon kite being used to lift a string of inflatables! As the afternoon drew on the wind got stronger. At one point a small bol (about 3m I think) flew down the beach complete with its ground anchor. There was sufficient drag that the bol remained inflated and spinning, with its anchor flailing behind it. It then caught on something, before its line finally broke and the bol deflated. Even later, a megasled broke its line and flew down the beach.

    So it came to time for us to leave. the drive back was uneventful. I understand the tunnel party were slightly held up by a collapsed barrier at the tunnel check in. Meanwhile, those of us taking the ferry were subjected to an hours delay. Having boarded, we were advised that the crossing should be OK as we headed down the french coast, but when we turned to cross the channel, the last hour could be uncomfortable. Still the steak pie and mash was lovely, the crossing seemed remarkably smooth, and it gave us the opportunity to "enjoy" the Eurovision Song Contest.

    From the reports I have read, it seems that conditions deteriorated on Sunday, the event finally being cancelled due to the hazardous conditions. It just goes to show the skill of the various teams who kept performing their routines in such extreme conditions with great professionalism. A really good advert for our hobby. Despite the conditions, I enjoyed my day there, and will hope to return for the whole weekend next year.

  • Bank holiday fun

    What a glorious bank holiday weekend. And Kent Kite flyers have been spread to the very extremes of England in pursuit of their hobby.

    Most of us stayed close to home, and took a wander over to St. Mildred's Bay, Margate on Sunday and enjoy the light breezes. It was a glorious day, with plenty of sunshine, as witnessed by the slightly tingling faces on Monday. Unfortunately the wind was best described as "iffy", varying between nothing and about Beaufort 2 (whatever that is in real money). And its direction managed to wander through half the compass. But not to be defeated, a good turn out from KKF kept light wind kites aloft for most of the afternoon.Now, when I say light wind kites, most people would expect rollers, ultralights, iflites, etc. Not this lot. A blooming great Peter Lynn tiger appeared at one point. But as there was not enough wind to hoist a lifter, it was left to some idiot runnign across the field dragging kitty behind him. We hope to see the beast in all its glory at some future weekend. from the comments I've heard everyone enjoyed themselves.

    Meanwhile, our intrepid explorer Gerty has headed off to Blyth in Northumberland to spend the weekend at the kite festival there. She's kept us regularly updated with her experiences and here is her report from the end of day 1

    Well, have just returned to my hotel after an amazing day with the North East Kite Fliers.
    They have more or less given me celebrity status!!!
    Every caravan dweller has offered hot drinks, loo facilities etc.
    I really couldn't have been made more welcome.
    Had a great day of flying with the wind varying from light to almost gale force.
    My cows were very popular with lots of children but not so much with the visiting dogs!!!!
    The site is on a playing field next to the beach and is flat with very few trees, although the Sky Artists managed to fight with one!!!
    What was very interesting is that they have managed to run this event with a height clearance of 200ft due to the proximity of the airport!!!
    I was given a ticket for the evening buffet which was provided by Go-kites and of course I got very carried away at the auction :):):)
    Steve & Sue will be pleased with something I managed to obtain for just £2.00!!!!
    I have also acquired an amazingly unique kite which was made by Josh, the young lad who does the 3 sports kite sessions and the very entertaining Rev routine seen at Bristol...(He has another one which involves clowning around which he is developing and is trying out this weekend).....He has many talents...
    I hope that the weather improves and warms up to help draw the public in although they didn't do bad today.
    I would say that it is close to being very much like Brighton but with just one trader who is sponsoring the event alongside the local and county council.
    There is a very strict rule though, that it is a kite flying and not a camping weekend. There are 23 camping units and they are all fully contributing!!!
    They also had a mass fly by children using the "kite rats" which was a delight to see.
    Two more days to go and Monday is forecast to be bright and warm with wind......
    Just hope I don't have the same problem as this morning with being woken up by the aircraft lining up to take off and then only having cold water!!!!

    and this from day 2

    Today started off very cloudy and wet but much warmer than yesterday as the wind was not coming off the sea, but soon turned into a dry and at times sunny day.
    My cows were being photographed all day and eventually BBC North East turned up and then interviewed me with the cows and ladybirds behind the celebrity status continues!
    Am really looking forward to tomorrow for more in some ways but sorry that the event has to come to an end.
    If it runs next year I will be returning.

    So certainly something to think about for next year then.

    Next weekend is Ostend festival in Belgium. A few of us are making the day trip over, our first venture to this festival. We''l let you know how we got on.

  • Bear bunging at Brogdale (again)

    The spring bank holiday weekend saw us ongain supporting the Brogdale farm Teddy Bears' picnic. This time we were hoping for better weather and more teddies. We had been booked to play on Saturday and Sunday and the weather forecast was favourable, for once.

    Arriving at the site we had a pleasant light breeze and warm sun. The breeze was from the car park, which meant we would be dropping bears across the field rather than it, so a short rig was called for. Already there were kites in the air as several club members had come out to enjoy the pleasant conditions. Having got the rig aloft on a Colours in Motion Pilot kite and test dropped a couple of teddies we headed off for coffee before the rush. On the way back, I popped into the on-site micro brewery to sample their beer, and buy a small supply.

    So we returned to station to await our customers, and it proved to be a long wait. Being a Saturday, it is shopping and chores day rather than going out to play, so children were rather thin on the ground. We did see a couple though, and duly gave their teddies the fright of their lives! Each child gets a certificate, or rather their teddy does. The day passed uneventfully as club members struggled to keep kites aloft.

    Pingu and Pal KKF at BrogdaleTeddy Bears  Picnic May 2013  (3) KKF at BrogdaleTeddy Bears  Picnic May 2013  (2)

    Sunday looked like being a better day. The wind seemed to be slightly better. again blowing from much the same direction we again the short righ on a pilot. The start of the day was much the same, but we were graced with more children, and because the wind was slightly stronger, we did manage to park three bears in the hedge and put one clear over the top into the next field. Now hear's an interesting question. Who gets the most pleasure out of teddy parachuting, the childrenor the parents? Judging by today's antics, I think it is the parents and grandparents.

    KKF at BrogdaleTeddy Bears  Picnic May 2013  (4)

    Eventually it was time to pack away, but having taken the rig off the line, Len decided to attach his camera for some kite aerial photography before we finished. So its bye bye to Brogdale for now. We are next due to be back here in mid-July. Next week we're going to have a fly on the green in Woodchurch. You can find out exactly where that is on our flying sites page

    If you wanto see what the teddy sees, then here's the video for you

    And this is what we see from the ground

    All bears participating were volunteers. No bears were injured in the making of these video (though some may be mentally scarred for life).

  • Safe flying on the beach

    I was contacted the other day by Carrie Dotson who runs a blog for nannies. They've recently posted an article on 12 tips for successfully flying kites on the beach. It contains some really good advice for novice flyers of every age, so follow this link for some solid flying tips

  • Fun in Faversham

    Sunday 19th May saw our first club fly-in at Brogdale Farm in Faversham. We have been given permission to hold our monthly fly-ins at the farm and benefit from the facilities which include a cafe and toilets. We'll also get better interaction with the public we hope, so all looks good.

    Unfortunately the weather forecast was not promising, chilly very windy and rain was the prediction, so it ws quite surprising to turn up in glorious sunshine. Unfortunately our numbers were somewhat diminished as various members had other commitments, but 4 of us enjoyed an afternoon in the gentle breeze and warm sunshine.

    Peter was quite quick to set out an array of pretty kites including various birds, and a delta lifting his small bol and snake. Meanwhile, I settled for a double delta conyne to lift various things, including a large bol and a leek. Yes you did hear me correctly.

    P1170401 P1170402

    Gerty came along and put up a couple of flowtails lifting some tweetie pie birds, and Matt displayed a pair of Premier Rokkakus. So all in all between the 4 of us, we managed to get quite a colourful display of kites during the afternoon.

    Tweety times 2 Premier Roks

    I had brought along my new edo, which needed th ebridle making, so I spent a couple of hours measuring, cutting and fixing bridles. Then it was time for a test flight. Thanks to Peter and Matt for their help in getting me off the ground. The kite flew well in the relatively light wind but I think the bridle needs a little adjustment. I also think the bridle is a bit heavy, so I may replace it with something lighter.

    Charlie Brown Edo

    Enough of this, you can see a video of the edo flying here. You may want to turn the sound down as the wind noise at the beginning is a bit loud. You can see some photos from the afternoon here. Next weekend is the bank holiday and we are back at Brogdale for the teddy bears' picnic. Why not come along and find us.

  • A Brogdale Bank Holiday

    The first of our many scheduled visits to Brogdale took place over the May day bank holiday weekend. We had been invited to fly kites and parachute teddy bears at the teddy bears picnic taking place over the three days. This was to prove easier said than done!

    On the Saturday there was plenty of wind, but it wasn't particularly stable, so kites fidgeted in the sky. A few heavy showers but we were able to parachute a few teddies. A couple of teddies unfortunately landed on the roofs of the buildings. But with a ladder borrowed from Brogdale and a couple of roach poles lashed together, no bears were lost. Unfortunately the lifter did find its way to landing in the carpark.

    Sunday, no wind. Well not strictly true. Too little wind to be of any use, and blowing from all over the place, which made deciding on the best location to set up "intersting". We spent most of the day watching others struggle to fly kites. Then a brief moment of excitement. A dust devil blew through. The first warning was when a sleeve with all laundry attached took off from a pole and flew off into the distance. This was closely followed by all the ultra light wind kites that had been laying on the ground. I think everything was recovered, but at least three kites were broken in the incident, which can't have lasted more than 30 seconds. I've never seen my leaf flying that high! Finally at about 3pm the wind picked up and steadied long enough for us to fling some fauna. The best part of the day was to be after we packed up, when a steady breeze blew.

    Monday. See Sunday, but skip the bit about the dust devil. Again at about 3pm we managed to get a lifter aloft long enough (this was the fourth one we had tried). We bunged some bears, unfortunately Joe Public had already had enough and gone home. Glorious sunny day though so sun tan lotion was applied to exposed bits in good quantities.

    So our first trip to Brogdale of 2013 wasn't entirely successful. Thanks to all who came along to help and fly. We've got a club meeting at Brogdale in two weeks time, then we're teddy parachuting again over the spring bank holiday weekend. Why not pop along to see us.

  • Radnor Park

    We receive the following communication from Gerty...


    Enjoyed today's trip to Folkestone.

    Arrived at Midday to find just Baz & Jan there with very little wind.

    As the afternoon progressed more KKF people and one dog arrived and the wind increased, although extremely variable and surprisingly cold.

    Barabara and Mike introduced us to their Winter project, a Great Cayman Island inflatable parrot which is most impressive, and something to be very proud of.

    All of the Berck kites were returned to their owners with stories told of the Berck trip. The best being that of meeting the TV star goldfish!

    Read more:

    If you want to know more about the TV star goldfish, you'll need to ask one of the Berck posse.