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Bill Lancashire
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Phantom-20th Anniversary:'Original' Benson Phantom (1991-95)

Sat Jun 13, 2009 11:49 pm

From late 1990 Tim was back in Yorkshire working on his Benson Kites range. The obvious change was to 'ramp up' the quality of details such as fittings.

The Phantom was 're-engineered' with the improved fittings and slightly enlarged and re-contoured sail to make use of the full length (82.5cm) of the standard Beman 5.5 'Light' spars used in framing, plus neater, lighter nose and tail reinforcements.

Here is an early example:

Image

The 'Swallowtail' kite was derived from the Phantom. It had somewhat more 'outboard' stand-offs and was noticeably more noisy in flight.

Competition use of the Phantom continued. For example, the following Phantom and Swallowtail kites were used with success in 'Individual' competitions by Romney Johnstone of 'The Decorators'.

Image

Towards the later part of 1991 the Phantom and related kites began to be marketed under the trade name 'Fizz Sport Kites'. The 'Bantam Phantom' was reintroduced towards the end of 1992. I remember seeing the prototype for the Bantam flown at the Autumn 1992 'Old Warden' kite festival. There was a stiff breeze and the kite was flying fast with amazingly crisp square corners.

Throughout this period of manufacture there were minor revisions to the sail, changes to fittings, material, kite label, even kite sleeve materials and construction. This information can be used to identify the period of manufacture of individual kites. I found it convenient to categorise the 'Original' classic design Phantom kites from this era into 3 'Types' which can be broadly distinguished and identified by the fittings used:

Type 1 (~1991/3)
All fabricated fittings from rubber petrol pipe, end-caps and Beman nocks.

Type 2 (~1993/4)
As above except one-piece rubber LE fittings and 'Tradewind Kites' stand-off fittings and nocks used.

Type 3 (~1994/5)
As above except 'Tradewind Kites' LE fittings and centre T-piece used.

For example, here are the differences in Phantom LE fittings, left to right, Types 1, 2 and 3:

Image


Examples of Each Kite 'Type'

The following shows a Type 1 Phantom and Bantam. These two kites actual kites were sold as a matching pair with stacking bridle lines provided:

Image

Here is a Type 1 Swallowtail in super condition (many thanks to Mark [Mark E Mark]):

Image

Type 2 Phantom:

Image

Type 3 Phantom and Bantam:

Image

Production of the 'Original' classic Phantom continued until sometime mid-1995 as the completely revised new model of the Phantom (described in my next FA Thread) was becoming the preferred kite to buy and more suited the style of flying at that time which was becoming more trick orientated.

There's a lot more detail but I will save this for my 'Phantom' website which I hope to put up soon. The site will include some of the more technical stuff including dimensions and loads of much more mundane stuff like kite sleeves, labels etc.. In fact using the progression of changes it is possible to estimate the manufacture date of Phantom to within about 2 years. Until then, if anyone has a used Phantom (or Bantam) they would like dating or need some details for restoring, please email me.

The next (and final) thread in my 'Phantom' series will be about the 'Phantom Elite / UL' which should be more familiar to FA forum people than the earlier models.

Bill.
Last edited by Bill Lancashire on Tue Jun 29, 2010 12:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
 
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Mark E Mark
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Sun Jun 14, 2009 12:21 am

Oh, lovely to see my old swallowtail again Bill - I remember going to buy that :) - very glad it went to you to look after it.
 
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Michel
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Re: Phantom-20th Anniversary:'Original' Benson Phantom (1991

Sun Jun 14, 2009 6:53 am

Very nice story and pictures, thanks Bill ! 8)

Bill Lancashire wrote:
[...] The next (and final) thread in my 'Phantom' series will be about the 'Phantom Elite / UL' which should be more familiar to FA forum people than the earlier models.

And what about the Standard and the Vented version ?
 
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Bill Lancashire
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Re: Phantom-20th Anniversary:'Original' Benson Phantom (1991

Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:50 am

Michel wrote:
--And what about the Standard and the Vented version ?


Yes, I've included all the variants of the later design of Phantom under the name 'Phantom Elite'.

Bill.
 
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Miles F
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Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:23 am

Thanks for taking the time and effort to put this all together Bill! I think my Bantam must date to around 1994 and the custom SUL Phantom a little earlier perhaps. The Phantom needs some TLC so I may be picking your brains later.

The Phantom site sounds like a really good idea, maybe even Benson collectors too? 8)
A NOHD will be published for the DS in due course, till then wear sunnies.
 
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oldflyer
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Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:59 pm

More great stuff Bill - Many thaks for putting all this great info together. You live in a fantastic part of the country - the backdrops in those photos are beautiful.
 
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austro_astra
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Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:06 pm

Great stuff Bill, looking forward to the next installment.

oldflyer wrote:
You live in a fantastic part of the country - the backdrops in those photos are beautiful.


Hmmm! What I'd give for a steady 5 mph sea breeze!
He who dies with the most wins!

A few piccies.
 
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RoyReed
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Sun Jun 14, 2009 11:00 pm

If anyone is interested in buying one of these great antiques from kiting history, SkyBums had two Phantoms (one original for £50 and one Highflyers £40) for sale at Blackheath today.

Image

They also had a Benson Scorcher for £35 - a strange looking small two-line delta with an almost flat sail.

Image

Great thread Bill.
Must fly
Roy
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Bill Lancashire
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Mon Jun 15, 2009 8:38 am

RoyReed wrote:
If anyone is interested in buying one of these great antiques from kiting history.


Many thanks for posting that shot of the kites the Morgans have for sale. I had already been in touch with them but the photos they sent me weren't suitable to post on the Forum.

The 'Benson'-badged Phantom on the left of the image is one of the rare 1998 ones that Tim made before collaborating with Highflyers. It is certainly worth every penny of the £50 asked for it. The Scorcher is very collectable too.

Bill.
 
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Lex B
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Mon Jun 15, 2009 7:14 pm

Yet another SuPeRb Labour of Love [for kites]
Loved reading this and the two previous articles :thumbsup:
remember: amateurs built the ark ..
professionals built the Titanic.

PLEASE......NO TAILS ....
 
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Mon Jun 15, 2009 11:02 pm

Where's your Phantom, Bram?
 
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Thu Jun 18, 2009 9:13 am

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Michel
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Re: Phantom-20th Anniversary:'Original' Benson Phantom (1991

Sat Oct 22, 2011 5:56 pm

Bill Lancashire wrote:
[...] There's a lot more detail but I will save this for my 'Phantom' website which I hope to put up soon. The site will include some of the more technical stuff including dimensions and loads of much more mundane stuff like kite sleeves, labels etc.. In fact using the progression of changes it is possible to estimate the manufacture date of Phantom to within about 2 years. Until then, if anyone has a used Phantom (or Bantam) they would like dating or need some details for restoring, please email me.

Do you have a link for your Phantom website Bill ? Many thanks in advance.

Here a picture of my Benson-Fizz Phantom (type 3) today.

It flies in very light winds. 8)

Image
 
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Bill Lancashire
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Re: Phantom-20th Anniversary:'Original' Benson Phantom (1991

Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:23 pm

Michel wrote:
Do you have a link for your Phantom website Bill ? Many thanks in advance.

Hi Michel,

My planned 'Phantom Website' hasn't happened for various reasons. Maybe it will be possible one day.

I will however update the information in the 'Phantom Threads' on this forum as soon as I can.

Bill.
"You don't need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows." - Bob Dylan.
 
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Bill Lancashire
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Re: Phantom-20th Anniversary:'Original' Benson Phantom (1991-95)

Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:59 am

I have now gathered together the information I posted in this Thread and the others Threads that I started in 2009 about the history of the Phantom Kite. It can be found in the Facebook Group entitled 'Phantom Kites' ( https://www.facebook.com/groups/586380618066242/ ). That Group can now be a place for reference and for people to post photographs of their own Phantoms and anything related to the Phantom kite including any 'Wants' or 'For Sales', flying experiences etc..
"You don't need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows." - Bob Dylan.