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Modesty Blaise meets Miss Honey (HQ Hypnotic Quad)

Thu Jul 27, 2006 3:45 pm

I acquired the kite second hand off eBay. It is a ventex and mylar sail with a 6mm and 8mm carbon tube frame. Lines come on plywood handles that double as winders. There were no instructions.

HQ hawk the kite as one good for beginners to learn on. OTOH it does not seem to feature in any lists I have seen as a recommended quad-line. I have never previously flown quad-line kite. This morning, with the wind oscillating between 3 mph and 8mph, I decided to try it out. Assembly of the kite is simple and intuitive. The assembled kite looks a bit like conjoined-twin Malays. The previous owner had left the lines attached to the kite, and I unwound them, only to find that the result was a very elongated cat's cradle. 20 minutes later I had four independent lines.

Launching was "interesting". Even pulling on the upper lines only, I was unable to get the kite to lean sufficiently far forward to generate any lift. If I tugged, the kite merely bounced along on it's spines. I recalled reading somewhere that the bridle was designed to make the kite very slow (and hence good for beginners), but could easily be modded. The upper line of each side attaches to a 4-point bridle. The lower leg goes to the bottom of the spine, and it was this that prevented the kite attaining an appropriate angle of attack. I removed this line. I tried launching again. The kite rose about 6 feet into the air, gaining speed, rotated rapidly anticlockwise and did a perfect double-spined lawn-dart. I reset the kite and tried again, this time making sure that I put more pull on the right hand line, hoping to compensate. The kite rose up, side-sliding to the right whilst gaining speed and cartwheeling anticlockwise again, rotating the right-hand spar rapidly into the ground. Inspection: no apparent damage.

Time to try to figure out how this thing works at close quarters. Flew it from the upper bridle attachments. Pulling on one side merely makes it slide, not turn -- once I'd seen this, it seemed blatantly obvious why. Then I had to figure out how to get it to turn. Presumably one pulls the lower line to stall the side that is inside the turn. Tried it on the next launch. It works. A tightening of the lower right line results in an extremely rapid clockwise rotation shortly before the kite crashes again. And again. And again. I don't know how many "agains", but I eventually got the thing high enough to feel as though I'd actually launched it. Got it to the top of the window and foolishly glanced behind me to see how close I was to the thistles and nettles I knew I was backing into. In the glimpse of an eye, the kite had crashed. Wind was dropping and I couldn't re-launch it, so I tied a second knot in each of the upper pigtails of the handle, and problem was solved.

There is some "Modesty Blaise" shiterature that I read (in an act of desperation on a long train journey!) decades ago in which the bad guys are represented in an arena combat by a vicious conjoined twin. I began to feel how Ms Blaise must have felt. After about another hour of feeling that I might be fighting a losing battle, I began to feel that I was starting to exercise something akin to "control". Tried backward and forward flight, up and down (easy) and sideways (generated curves). Side slides were easy horizontally, but less so vertically -- again, curves resulted. Landings were very graceful. With practice, I could drop it repeatedly on the same thistle, from either side and from straight up above. And upside down. It was then that I learned that baclward launches are easier than the right way around. So are sideways launches. The kite has a slight anticlockwise bias: must check the line lengths. This was beginning to get enjoyable, even with the horrendous oversteer that contrived to combat my attempts at graceful flight around the wind window. It is very twitchy indeed. It struck me that this kite could be great fun (rather like the Psycho is) if I can ever learn to control it intuitively.

I certainly gained a great deal of respect for those who precision-display Revs -- that James(?) Robertshaw video from Brighton 2005 now seems absolutely incredible!

A more stable incarnation of a quad-liner might more relaxing. I may well end up getting a Rev SLE, as there is undoubtedly a very good reason that it is the most popular of the quad-liners, despite its price, but I do really dislike it's various sail patterns. Can anyone recommend a different quad that is more stable and graceful and somewhat less hideous in the air? With the potential for trickability as well? (I am a recreational flier only and wish to enjoy what I am looking at as well as to enjoy flying it.) I think I might have to scrounge flights on a few other kites first, but this HQ will probably keep me amused until I am able to make a liesurely decision.

Oh, and Miss Honey was my (aptly-named, I thought) kindergarten teacher who taught me how to do (and undo) cat's cradles half a century ago.
Andy S
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Thu Jul 27, 2006 9:06 pm

:lol: A fun read Stephen.
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Thu Jul 27, 2006 10:59 pm

:-D :-D So.... fun then? :-D :-D
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