Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holy good god, it's been how long? Thinking about design, i'm always inspired by what is obvious/not obvious. I have a wheel chair. I use it to haul stuff. Today, i modified it. The potential of a machine capable of easily handling 350 lbs of flesh, stands up and does a split with 50 lb. It laughs at the challenge. Other advantages are: turning radius. Width(doors!). Light Weight. Strong. Looks Weird. Aoxomoxoa~!~ Meanwhile, the challenge and struggle continue!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Delta Experiment in Progress

I've been wanting to get back to the roots and now i have an excuse, which is this fascinating story of falcon training.

I'm off my mark with the color, but i think this kite is on it's way towards what i'm looking for with it's ability to climb high, hang out, and lift a weight.

It is not finished, as i'm not completely satisfied yet, so not ready for sale yet, but getting there. This is a peek at what's been going on.

I had occasion to drive south to drop my Mom off at the Sanford Airport, and go meet Bruce Flora from Kiteman Productions recently at Malcolm Jones Wallaby Ranch where Bruce does a lot of testing. Winds were very low which is what i've been trying to find to test this kite, and it didn't disappoint. I'd still like it to hang up there a little longer, and to that end maybe trying to kick the nose up a bit.

The problem with designing a kite that works really well these days is to do it without copying someone else's ideas. Tim Elverston has solved a lot of these problems and would license his inventions to me, but i'm stubborn and want to re-invent the wheel. It's possible, right!?

Anyway, here we go. Photos by Bruce Flora!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Custom Printed Delta

Well i've neglected this for to long, discipline, discipline!

I got a referral from Bruce Flora last week, a customer needed a custom delta could i help them out?


We exchanged email, then got on the phone.

customer: 'Yes, we need a three color kite for a photo shoot.'

" No problem, what three colors?"

'They'd have to be these pantone colors, I'll send them to you in email.'

"Okay, well fabric does not come in these colors, and the only colors i have that come close are red, orange, and yellow."

'Nope, they have to match the clothing'

"Ah, right, well there is one way we could do it, but it would double or triple the cost of the kite"

'How much?'

We agreed on a price, talked some more, and i got to thinking, "who will fly the kite?"

'....................uh, well, I'm not sure'

"Because if you are thinking of shooting the kite, while it is flying, with a model in the picture, that usually takes a professional kite flyer to help you get the shot. I mean, you could spend all day and not get it, and usually, when it's an outdoor shoot, they only have like an hour to get the shot, usually in the evening or early morning."

'uh, right, well I'm just the stylist, I'm not sure who will fly the kite. . .'

"Well i fly kites for living, and would be happy to show up with a van full of them, i'm sure out of all the kites i have, one would fit the bill, and we could set it up so the model was flying it, etc"

'We don't really have the budget for that...'

"No problem, i'm happy to make the kite for you, let me get your info, and we'll process this order!"

So another kite sold, and maybe, just maybe they will get lucky, and some how, some way, actually get the kite to be where they want it to be in the shot, with the model, the light just right, and all the elements the art director has in mind, right there for all to see and love.

Only, most likely, after this, when the word 'kite' comes up, anyone associated with this shoot will roll their eyes, and it will generally be known after this that the mere mention of 'kite' will cost you your job.

No one in the business would hire a horse, a motorcycle driven, or gun shot, a balloon inflated, or any of a zillion other things to be shot, in action, as a prop, without a handler, but every time 'kite' is mentioned, no one thinks that you need any knowledge for that, since, well, kites are just toys aren't they?

My fear, is that we get a bad name. I want them to get the shot. I want them to succeed! I live for seeing that shot, in print, on tv, on the interweb, wherever, whenever, i will bend over backwards to help them get the shot, but they have to actually ask me to do it.

Yes, i do build kites. It's a good one, fly's great, has twin 30' tails. It's color matched to the pantone colors picked by the art director. I just seriously hope it's not the last time this group of people want to do something with a kite.

You do what you can!


Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Millennium are now available!

This is a blatant commercial plug, but you've been asking, and though i had to be able to work on this for awhile, to make sure i got it right, i think we may be on to something.

I've not been able to fly these as much as i'd like, but they still fly sweet. They are a tiny bit heavier than the original ones due to difference in fittings and rods, but you know what!? I think it makes them fly better! They sure have no trouble flying in no wind, that's for sure! But in light wind, oh boy!

Now i'm not a Dodd Gross school of kite flying flyer, or Andy Wardley, but i do like to play, and for my old school sensibilities, this is pretty great stuff, though your milage may very. If you do get one, i'd love to hear all about it, warts and all!

I've known Corey Jensen since 1988 believe it or not, and he's been to my house and slept on my couch. He likes my stuff and has been asking me to work with him for ahwile. I made him a couple of Airforms recently, but i've really been itching to go back to my roots, and he was excited to help me out. I've entered into a very limited exclusivity deal with him for a very small number of kites. We'll see if there is any interest. (...so contact him to get these! Linked by clicking on title!)
I can tell you that no two are alike, though i may make a few similar to these first three. The way i make them though is, one at a time. It is not efficient, and takes way to much time, but they look pretty good, and you can be assured that you have that rare something not available much anymore, a handmade thing, high tech/low tech, classic touches and for sure some aoxomoxoa built right in!

The name of the kites are this, at the top is the Tomoe, in the middle is the Razor, and here at the bottom is Black Fire. They are signed and numbered by me, and come in a unique bag. They have Sky Shark II's in them, with apa fittings, spectra bridle, along with the original tip tensioning system we first introduced to the sport kite world, as well as the closed leading edge, integrated wing tube system.

These kites are made not just to look at but to fly, and yes they are somewhat fragile, you can't step on them or fly them in high wind, but they are for sure not toys, they are high performance sporting equipment and as such demand to be flown!

Monday, July 6, 2009

New Millennium

So way back in the day, maybe 91 i was contacted by CNN Science and Technology, and even though i thought it was a joke, called them back, at which time i got into a very long conversation with a very nice gentleman that wanted to know about kite buggying. During the course of this conversation, and after we'd agreed to some filming, i mentioned that we also flew kites indoors. There was a long pause on the other end, and the whole thing started again. . .
A film crew did come, and i was shown on CNN buggying, but something that came out of the whole deal, the night before they came was i had to invent a new sport kite i'd been thinking about ever since i heard David Brittain had set his indoor record of having a kite aloft for four hours and four minutes. So, i went to work, and managed to come up with what would later be called the X-1 named after an old time radio show.

It flew great, and never mind that the first time i ever flew it was mic'd up at one of the University of Florida's gyms with the CNN camera's rolling. They would have never known either if they hadn't of asked me that one stupid question. "How often do you fly indoors?" uh, 'this is the first time, actually...'.

I digress. Somewhere along the line, i became aquatinted with Herb Weldon who was a fan, and really liked the kite, but thought it aught to have a different bridle. Herb began bridle development in earnest and sent us all kinds of cool hand made fittings and strange and exotic new bridles, but all the time, urged for a new design that he could fly sitting down in his wheel chair. It seems Herb had a crippling disease and couldn't stand for long periods of time, but dearly loved to fly his kites.

Thus was the Sierra project started, and on September the 16th, 1994 the first kite, named Luna C, or the Clone was made. The name was quickly changed to the Millennium thanks to my friend Dave Arnold of Arlington, Virginia, and a legend was born.

The kite was built using Avia G-Force Skinny's and weighed just over four(4) ounces! It had an 8.5' wing span, and an extremely cambered Leading Edge, with very deep wings and a very shallow nose. It's integrated wing tubes with closed LE windows for the rods was a first for a production kite, and it also had our patented tip tensioning system and a leach line, thanks to Tim Elverston.

Now it's back!

In it's current incarnation it weighs 5.5 oz. due to different fittings, and different rods. I'm going to be playing around with the weight but in general one of the things we learned(and other designers have concurred)is that you can for sure go to light. This New Millennium seems to fly really great. It turns really well, does flat spins so naturally and axles and of course i'm so old school i don't even know what any of the tricks are called.

I don't care, i still love to fly Ultra Light Kites and probably always will. I love to build them, i love to fly them, and i especially love that other people love them. If i can make a few more folks happy about some of my kites, it will really make all this stuff worthwhile.

Since i travel alot and always break my kites down to fly(on planes)i made the bags for these collapse as well. I hope that is something people will use, i'm already using mine!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Extreme Kites redux

Our new friend April, sent me a couple more pictures from the maiden flight on June 28th, 2009. Also, Rob Autrey sent the one long one down there, and promises to send more!

I'm ashamed to say that i've owed Daryl Drown the owner of Extreme Kites in St. Augustine this kite since January, and for one reason or another just have not had a chance to get it out to him. It's done now and i was able to fly it, and what a beauty! I was only able to call about two people before folks started showing up to ask about the kite!

The tails, the tails! Probably that was the biggest attention getter on this kite. What's strange is that the signature look of Jordan AirForms was born of my frustration with putting tails on kites i'd spent so much time on, only to have passer byes gush all over the tails. Rather than fight that trend, i decided to embrace it and go tail crazy, which is how i came up with the patented twin tapered tail design on these kites. There may have been a few long tails before mine, but they were usually one at a time, and for sure not tapered.

The tails on this kite are custom with the wave theme repeated just after the leading edge of the opening in black over white swelling into a significant bulge with three fins on each bulge, then continuing white towards the tip, and then in a progression turning back black again at the end. Each tail is just over 100'.

The kite itself has Daryl's low key logo on the bottom in white on a black background. I free hand drew this as my overhead projector has gone missing(whoever borrowed it, bring it back!). The flairs and side ribs have swoops appliqued on them to further the wave motif. Inside all the ribs are red with a leading edge of black to keep continuity. The red ribs makes a nice glow when back lit.

As usual there are little construction techniques all over the place that set this kite apart and of course with the horrible wind we often get here, we really saw how well the kite performed on Sunday. The wind was gusty and wild, but once the kite was above the trees(and 13th street)she was flying very stable and sweet with the tails dancing all over the place!
It's always such a joy to fly in public, as you never know who you are going to meet. We met up with April, who is a free lance photographer this fine day, and she managed to get a picture of us flying in the Alligator the local student newspaper here. Thanks April!

Finally, here it is, ready to go!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's been over 150 days, what's up?

I'm just going on the record here as being in complete agreement on this issue.

The fact that Barack Obama is continuing the policy's of George Bush should ring alarm bells across the land. Please honor your pledge Mr. President and return us to a true 'rule of law' nation.