Sport, Trick and Freestyle Kite Flying Forum

Moderators: Craig, Andy S

 
User avatar
Bill Lancashire
FA Supporter
FA Supporter
Topic Author
Posts: 352
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2005 11:57 am
Location: Bassaleg, NEWPORT, Wales

Phantom - 20th Anniversary: The Highflyers Era (1990-1992)

Wed Jun 10, 2009 4:29 pm

Benson Kites was taking increasing orders for Phantoms during mid-1989 and Tim liaised with Steve Walton of Highflyers with a view to collaborating on marketing and increasing production of the kite.

Early 1990 saw Highflyers marketing Phantoms in the UK and also venturing out across the Atlantic.

Initially, Tim produced the sails at his home in Yorkshire and shipped them to Highflyers in Polzeath, Cornwall to be framed.

These initial kites had either the original 'Classic' graphics as on the Benson Kites ones or a variation called the 'Custom'. The specification was the same as the original design apart from a few minor modifications such as bungee LE tensioners and more robust LE ripstop material. Fabric was Carrington K42 nylon ripstop and framing was Beman 5.5mm 'Light'. These kites can be identified by the black labels with gold lettering which were currently being used on the Highflyers range of single-line kites. Here is an example of each type:

Classic Graphics:

Image

Custom Graphics:

Image

After a few weeks, Tim went to Cornwall to set up and train for full production of Phantoms at Highflyers. The kite specification was essentially the same as previously (apart from a few lapses in QC!). An exception was that a few of the kites sold in the USA were framed in AFC 0.22inches pultruded carbon instead of the usual Beman 5.5mm as were some of the early 1990 Bantams.

Kites of the early Highflyers production phase that were fully manufactured in Polzeath are identified by blue/orange/black labels. Here are early 1990 examples of a Phantom and Bantam Phantom:

Image

Here is another early 1990 Phantom. Yes rainbow and asymmetrical kites started way back then :lol: :

Image

Vast quantities of Phantoms were sold in the UK and abroad during 1990 and 1991 and they were one of the kites of choice in individual, pairs and team events. This is evident when scanning through kite journals of the day such as 'Stunt kite Quarterly'. Production moved to larger premises in Wadebridge during 1990.

During this time (at Bristol 1990) The Decorators obtained a set of Highflyers Phantoms made in the same team colours as the earlier Benson Kites ones. An extra panel on each side was added by splitting the outer panels. However, these kites definitely had the Phantom size sail and should not be confused with the 'Phantom Shadow' described below. Here is a Highflyers publicity photo of the team with these kites taken at Vienna in 1991:

Image

These kites were obviously flown extensively, but I managed to restore one of them:

Image

At some time around September 1990 a variant was produced called the 'Phantom Shadow'. This kite had a slightly larger sail area and had 12 panels instead of the original 10. This period coincided with the introduction of a new 'blue/white' label which was to remain in use until the end of the 1992 season. An additional 'blue/white/red' label also exists but I have only ever seen this one on kite sleeves, handles and other accessories and never on a kite. The following photograph shows examples of two such kites. The Phantom on the left is my very first Phantom (a late 1990/early1991 model) bought in August 1992 from the Highflyers store in Trebetherick. It was a display model and I was told it was the last 10-panel Phantom they were ever to sell. The other kite is a Phantom Shadow which has never been flown:

Image

Another variation in construction (in 1990 only) was the use of a blue-coloured material for the LE tape. I've never been able to find out why it was used as it seems and looks inferior to the 'normal' black ripstop material.

Here are such examples of a 'late' 1990 Phantom Shadow and an 'early' 1990 Bantam:

Image

The Decorators had a third and final set of Highflyers Phantoms produced in Malaysia Airlines colours for their trip to the far East. These kites were donated to the local Malaysian kite team during the visit to Malaysia for them to compete with in the world Cup held at Bristol later in 1991:

Image

The 1990 and 1991 Highflyers sales brochures also listed some minor variants of the Phantoms. There was a 'Sport Phantom' with simpler 6-panel sail (framed with 5.9mm Beman in the UK and AFC 0.22inches in the USA) and also one rigged as a 4-line kite called the 'Pro Phantom' and once referred to as the 'Quantom'. I saw one of the latter being flown on Polzeath beach in 1992. It flew very strangely indeed and I saw why it never caught on!.

Highflyers ceased production of the original 10-panel Phantom in early 1991. For the 1992 season they added two more panels to the sail and called the kite 'Shadow Phantom 2'. I've not been able to find an example of this kite but Roy Ashton (Fungus) kindly allowed me to post a photograph of his kite which he has re-framed with more modern fittings:

Image

After 1992 Highflyers used a heavier (non-Carrington brand) ripstop fabric, Dacron LE tape and lower quality spars for their kites and to my mind they had 'lost the plot'.

If there are any nice Highflyers Phantoms/Bantams out there, how about adding a photo to this thread. Just Highflyers for now though. Keep Fizz, Benson Kites, Phantom Elites/ULs for a later thread.


Bill.
Last edited by Bill Lancashire on Tue Jun 29, 2010 12:34 pm, edited 9 times in total.
 
User avatar
oldflyer
FA Supporter
FA Supporter
Posts: 960
Joined: Wed May 25, 2005 1:33 pm
Location: Bristol, England

Wed Jun 10, 2009 5:43 pm

Bill

Another great write up - very interesting - many thanks!

My first Phantom was a Highflyers model and the quality control was very poor - I still loved the kite though.

Just one question if I may be so bold - how many Phantoms do you own? Judging by your photos you must have enough to set up a mega team fly - I would like to see that at one of the festivals this year!

:D
 
User avatar
jaydub
Posts: 1187
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:32 am

Wed Jun 10, 2009 5:56 pm

oldflyer wrote:
Just one question if I may be so bold - how many Phantoms do you own?

More than enough for us all to spot what a 'labour of love' this is. :)

I'm blown over by the detail of these threads and can't even begin to estimate how much time Bill has spent pulling this collection together.

Nice one, Bill. :thumbsup:
 
User avatar
Bill Lancashire
FA Supporter
FA Supporter
Topic Author
Posts: 352
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2005 11:57 am
Location: Bassaleg, NEWPORT, Wales

Wed Jun 10, 2009 6:32 pm

oldflyer wrote:
Just one question if I may be so bold - how many Phantoms do you own? ----


Thanks Nigel.

I can't give you a figure off the top of my head, but you might be able to guess when we get to the final one of my Threads (unless you've all got really bored by then.

Threads to come:

Phantom - 20th Anniversary: The Benson 'Original' Phantom (1991-1995),
Phantom - 20th Anniversary: The Phantom Elite/UL (1996 - Present).

Bill.
Last edited by Bill Lancashire on Sat Jun 13, 2009 9:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
User avatar
Bill Lancashire
FA Supporter
FA Supporter
Topic Author
Posts: 352
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2005 11:57 am
Location: Bassaleg, NEWPORT, Wales

Wed Jun 10, 2009 6:38 pm

jaydub wrote:
I'm blown over by the detail of these threads and can't even begin to estimate how much time Bill has spent pulling this collection together.


Yes, I must confess it got a bit obsessive at times :lol:

Bill.
 
User avatar
Michel
Posts: 303
Joined: Sun Oct 24, 2004 1:10 am
Location: France

Re: Phantom - 20th Anniversary: The Highflyers Era (1990-199

Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:37 pm

Nice thread again, thanks Bill !

Bill Lancashire wrote:
Vast quantities of Phantoms were sold in the UK and abroad during 1990 and 1991 and they were one of the kites of choice in individual, pairs and team events.

Do you know how many Highflyers Phantom where built ?

Here is my Shadow Highflyers Phantom (but it's not me on the picture).

Image

Image
 
User avatar
Bill Lancashire
FA Supporter
FA Supporter
Topic Author
Posts: 352
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2005 11:57 am
Location: Bassaleg, NEWPORT, Wales

Re: Phantom - 20th Anniversary: The Highflyers Era (1990-199

Thu Jun 11, 2009 12:11 am

Michel wrote:
Do you know how many Highflyers Phantom where built ?

No I don't. I'm not sure if any records were kept. I'm still trying to track down anyone who might know such things.

Nice 'Phantom Shadow' by the way. Thanks for posting the photograph.

Bill.
 
User avatar
kareloh
Posts: 1169
Joined: Thu Aug 03, 2006 1:27 pm
Location: Rotterdam, Holland.
Contact:

Thu Jun 11, 2009 8:16 am

This is so nice to read, can't wait for the rest of the threads.
 
User avatar
Miles F
Posts: 548
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Here, as defined by WGS84.

Sat Jun 13, 2009 8:48 am

Wonderful stuff :D looking forward to see where my Bantam and Phantom SUL (purchased from FA's Sales Pages) fit into the saga. Perhaps we ought to have a Benson collections thread for pics!
A NOHD will be published for the DS in due course, till then wear sunnies.
 
aphelps
FA Supporter
FA Supporter
Posts: 2057
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2003 6:21 pm
Location: Southern UK<br>The Flying Squad

Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:51 pm

Can someone name the flyer second from the left in the black/white decorators line up?
:?
Andy
 
User avatar
Bill Lancashire
FA Supporter
FA Supporter
Topic Author
Posts: 352
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2005 11:57 am
Location: Bassaleg, NEWPORT, Wales

Thu Jun 18, 2009 12:22 am

aphelps wrote:
Can someone name the flyer second from the left in the black/white decorators line up?
:?


Isn't it Tim Paget?

Bill.
 
User avatar
Visage
Posts: 52
Joined: Fri Aug 15, 2008 5:57 pm
Location: East Sussex, UK

Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:08 am

Highflyer Shadow

Image

Bought this at the Blackheath festival in the early 90’s it was my second kite (the first being a 6’ Fexyifoil stacker) cost about £85 if I remember right. It was sold to me as a Shadow but I’ve no idea if it’s a 1 or 2, The fittings are cheap and cheerful with a double elastic band affair holding the lower spreader across the centre T,:shock:

No Highflyer label but the printed instructions were Highflyer (haven’t a clue where they are now) and when I had to send for a new lower spreader the one Highflyer sent matched with all the glued fittings attached so it must be authentic.

Tracks well but when I had the opportunity to do a side by side comparison with a Phantom the Phantom had a much snappier input.
Member of BKF & KKF
aka – fair weather flyer
 
User avatar
Bill Lancashire
FA Supporter
FA Supporter
Topic Author
Posts: 352
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2005 11:57 am
Location: Bassaleg, NEWPORT, Wales

Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:31 am

Visage wrote:
Highflyer Shadow

Bought this at the Blackheath festival in the early 90’s it was my second kite (the first being a 6’ Fexyifoil stacker) cost about £85 if I remember right. It was sold to me as a Shadow but I’ve no idea if it’s a 1 or 2, The fittings are cheap and cheerful with a double elastic band affair holding the lower spreader across the centre T,:shock:

No Highflyer label but the printed instructions were Highflyer (haven’t a clue where they are now) and when I had to send for a new lower spreader the one Highflyer sent matched with all the glued fittings attached so it must be authentic.

Tracks well but when I had the opportunity to do a side by side comparison with a Phantom the Phantom had a much snappier input.


That's an interesting Phantom. I don't immediately recognise it. It doesn't seem to be from the 1990-1992 era. It has the 14 panels of the 'Phantom Shadow 2' and a tensioner at base of spine. Perhaps it was from 1993 onwards - a period that I haven't studied at all (yet!).

Bill.
 
User avatar
Scotty
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:18 pm
Location: Scotland

Re: Phantom - 20th Anniversary: The Highflyers Era (1990-1992)

Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:12 pm

Image

As far as I remember, I bought this kite new from "Wind Things" kite shop in Edinburgh. Rainbows were fashionable at the time... I though that was in 1989 but it must have been a bit later...

It is in original condition. I'm guessing the frame would be Beman and the sail Carrington.

There is a small tear on the leading edge where the joint has come apart some time. I can't remember doing that...

I still fly this kite from time to time...it feels like a stately galleon. I imagine the latest Benson version would feel a whole lot slicker.

I also had a Buzz Phantom during the early 90's (since sold). It always felt as if this kite was ever so slightly smaller?...maybe it was just a colour thing...

I'm glad the picture is in the right location now... :oops:
 
User avatar
Scotty
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:18 pm
Location: Scotland

Re: Phantom - 20th Anniversary: The Highflyers Era (1990-1992)

Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:35 pm

) and also one rigged as a 4-line kite called the 'Pro Phantom' and once referred to as the 'Quantom'. I saw one of the latter being flown on Polzeath beach in 1992. It flew very strangely indeed and I saw why it never caught on!.


I rigged my Fizz Phantom up as a "quantom" for a while. It was great fun flying it around like a normal stunt kite and then stopping it dead or spinning it...of course nobody would look twice nowadays but back then these things didn't really happen!
Last edited by Scotty on Sat Nov 20, 2010 7:53 am, edited 1 time in total.