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Flying Wings Utopia 
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Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2003 7:43 pm
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Location: Vihtavuori, Finland
Post Flying Wings Utopia
Following on from thisI have spent most of my flying time since then mainly concentrating on the Utopia, trying to learn to fly it and love it.

Neither have happened to any great extent. :(

Let's start with a little history:- the Utopia was introduced at the KTAI in 1999 and received the only change that I know of (a change from T8 to T10 lower spreaders) in 2000. It seems that it remains for sale in the Far East but it's been donkey's years since I heard of a new one for sale in the West and it's no longer on Flying Wings' own website. It was designed by Martin Schob (aka Jam Design) who gave us the TrickTail, which in retrospect looks like a gateway drug to the full-on, Class A Utopia experience.

Upon introduction it quickly gained a reputation for being an absolute bugger to fly and for plenty of breakages. Despite or perhaps because of its reputation it did develop a fiercely loyal, if small, fanbase. Front and centre of this was Brian Todd with his website "Trick the Wind", long since dead and even beyond the powers of The Wayback Machine, although some parts remain for download here.

Anyhooooo...... what's it like ?

Firstly you will need to read and understand the manual to put it together properly. It's more than possible to put it all together such that it looks OK but it's really not. There are soooooo many adjustments and alternatives that you can even put the kite together properly and it still not fly. It isn't a kite you whip out and fly. You work your way up to that special event.

But when it has been put together and setup, well.... it's not immediately obvious why you'd want to fly this kite. Given its shape and design it is amazing that it does fly but it's very light on the lines, needs microscopic hand movements and pivots rather than turns. Axels are not, as some might have you believe, impossible but need a very definite technique. Lazy Susans might well be impossible though. Anyone who can yoyo it deserves an award. Fades do lock in but only after a little porpoising before it settles down - every time, without fail - just watch the video for an example.

Frankly I could try to run through a list of tricks but in all cases it's the same - your action will need to change and the window of opportunity to perform any trick is so narrow as to almost disappear. Get it right and you're rewarded with a nice move. Get it wrong and frankly anything could happen. I found trying to string moves together especially frustrating. I just couldn't get it to flow. At all.

And this really is the nail in the coffin. All the time I was trying to learn The Way of the Utopia I was thinking that I could just pull out a kite, any kite from my bag and be having a lot more fun. I don't have an infinite amount of time to fly kites and I want to enjoy myself straight away, not labour over basics.

I am mightily impressed with the fact of the Utopia - it's amazing that it flies at all - but the experience is not as impressive. It simply is not a very good kite. Even when I did manage to pull off a move it wasn't so transcendent that I could overlook all the frustration that accompanied it. It'll be moving along in my next sell off although I've probably just done a bang-up job of reducing its value if anyone has been bothered to read all of this.

Mike.


Wed Oct 31, 2007 8:15 pm
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Post 
thanks Mike :cry:

Your review brought back some memories I thought were long forgotten, the hours of adjustment for the fleeting seconds of achievment ](*,)

You never really own a kite like this, just looking after it for the next person to try to tame :?


Thu Nov 01, 2007 1:05 am
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Post 
I have a orig. Martin Schob Handmade Utopia.
This are one of the greatest Kites if we talk about Inovations in Kitebuilding Technology i ever saw.

i know Martin very well and can say that every Kite he has build are a treasure for the Owner.

tomorrow i load up some Pics from the Kite.

BR
Rainer


Thu Nov 01, 2007 1:21 am
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Post 
Craig wrote:
the hours of adjustment for the fleeting seconds of achievement ](*,)

Combined with the many other hours wondering if you're really just a crap flyer. The Utopia really hammered my self belief.

Kenzo wrote:
This are one of the greatest Kites if we talk about Innovations in Kitebuilding Technology i ever saw.

Absolutely :thumbsup: It's at least a match for the stuff that comes out of Guildworks in terms of design and execution. But as a kite that I'd want to fly.... seriously I'll take anything else in my bag. I wish this wasn't so but it is. :(

Mike.


Thu Nov 01, 2007 6:06 am
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One of, if not the main problem with the utopia is its fragility, almost every time I have flown mine something has broken, the bottom spars I replaced with Skyshark (cant remember which one ) and it appears to be much stronger,and Ive lost count of the number of standoffs that have snapped. I suppose that in many ways its like a Stranger L7 in that you either love it ,or loathe it
Bob

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Thu Nov 01, 2007 8:42 am
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Bobthekite wrote:
One of, if not the main problem with the utopia is its fragility

I'm not sure if that's totally deserved, although it certainly is the reputation of the kite but it might be that the Dynamic spars just weren't up to the job. Mine has the later T10 spreaders (as far as I can determine) and nothing has broken.

However... if I did try to fly it like a more conventional kite I have no doubt that it would snap like a twig. But you're not supposed to fly it like a normal kite. Which really is what I think is the problem.

Mike.


Thu Nov 01, 2007 9:49 am
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here are my Utopia:

Image

It's possible to frame the Utopia complete with Skyshark PT3


Thu Nov 01, 2007 10:30 am
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Post 
Zippy8 wrote:
... It simply is not a very good kite...


It definately was a very great kite the time it has been released/produced.

Yes, this kite is very, very different. When we were flying TTs and Utopia the top tricks were flat axel cascades, steady fades, true 540 flat spins and slotmachines (starting the rotation from the pancake position and with a flat 540 rotation!). And the Utopia can do multiple falt spins with ease. So this kite was capable of the tricks at its time. This kite is not ment for the modern tricks, though - and this might be the problem.

Nowadays I would not want to fly a Utopia to not destroy the great moments I had with her!
It is unique, so is the flying. Brian Todd was able to backspin and corksrew the kite.

BTW I only broke a lower spreader once. We did not yank & spank our kites in the early days... ;-)

Two weeks ago I flew a classic Illusion: it was my first state-of the-art kite in 1997. I had the full range, with that kite I started trick flying - and loved it. The recent reunion lasted 5min: kiting evolved (or changed): the behavior of old-school kites is so different, I am not used to any more.
May be that is the problem when reviewing old kite models?

BTW the tuning concept on the Utopia was quite easy IIRC. The stronger the wind, the shorter the ACL and main sail tension line.

You may want to check the Utopia videos:

In this video Martin Schob flies my custom colored Utopia at a kite festival

You might also want to check Brian Todd with the Utopia as well.

Bye
Malte

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Thu Nov 01, 2007 11:24 am
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Sonnenwind wrote:
It definitely was a very great kite the time it has been released/produced.

I'd dispute that. As I suspect would many people who purchased it on the sheer look of the thing and found it really needs a completely different way of flying.

This isn't the first time I've flown a Utopia - I flew them a bit when they were new. The owners seemed very anxious to let other people fly them. :-k

Quote:
And the Utopia can do multiple flat spins with ease.

Can do them - yes. And bloody flat too.
With ease - no.

Quote:
It is unique, so is the flying. Brian Todd was able to backspin and corksrew the kite.

I agree with unique but even I could Backspin it now so....

Quote:
BTW the tuning concept on the Utopia was quite easy IIRC. The stronger the wind, the shorter the ACL and main sail tension line.

That's without getting into the Competition Tuning for the spreader position, bridle length, standoff length and position..... probably a few more I've forgotten.

My opinion (and it's only that) is that for the right person in the right frame of mind this kite will be magical, even today. When the kite and I were on the same wavelength it was nice and doing things that I'd struggle to do with any other kite. But (and it's a big but) those times were frustratingly few and when it went wrong it went really wrong.

I can understand why some would like it.
I can understand why most will loathe it.

Mike.


Thu Nov 01, 2007 11:39 am
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Post Re: Flying Wings Utopia
Zippy8 wrote:
It'll be moving along in my next sell off although I've probably just done a bang-up job of reducing its value if anyone has been bothered to read all of this.
Mike.

(Not even) $5 ?

Or better yet - donate as the prize of VF9. :lol:

-Frazer


Thu Nov 01, 2007 12:09 pm
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Hey I'm planning on winning that competition! :evil:

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Thu Nov 01, 2007 9:38 pm
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Post 
It can by a trying kite I realize, but I have several & always enjoy them when I get them out. It takes a different mindset & flying style to enjoy them. They also actually do quite well in lower winds. The Utopia & SL7 have to be flown their way & cannot be spanked into submission. I guess that's a polite way to put it.

Enjoyed the review & discussion.

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Fri Nov 02, 2007 3:50 pm
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Post 
Sonnenwind wrote:
You might also want to check Brian Todd with the Utopia as well.

I'd like to but I am..... DENIED !!!! :-(

wicastawakan wrote:
It takes a different mindset & flying style to enjoy them.

I'm certainly in agreement with this. What I think is that very few people really want to bother with this when more conventional kites are so much more accessible.

I can't escape the thought that there is a measure of "different for difference's sake" about the kite, no matter how much I genuinely appreciate someone not just knocking out another same-y design.

The cult lives on :-)

Mike.


Fri Nov 02, 2007 4:04 pm
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Post 
Zippy8 wrote:
Sonnenwind wrote:
You might also want to check Brian Todd with the Utopia as well.

I'd like to but I am..... DENIED !!!! :-(

No longer denied. :-D

This certainly is worth a look for anyone who's never seen a Utopia being flown before. Remember that Brian Todd (the flyer) was regarded as one of the foremost members of The Cult™.

Mike.


Sun Nov 04, 2007 3:38 pm
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Post 
Yes, Mike, I had to correct the URL - sorry for that.
And again: yes, indeed, one needs to get used to the Utopia. Best is to solely fly it for a long period of time. ;-)

Nevertheless as you can see in the videos one can fly and trick a Utopia. ;-)

Malte

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Sun Nov 04, 2007 6:17 pm
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