April 30
An Old Friend and a New Friend

I'm just back from Galveston and the annual festival organized by Carolyn Weir and Steve Newberry at Kites Unlimited. It was a short trip - in on Friday afternoon and out on Sunday morning. But Saturday was a perfect flying day.

As soon as anchors were set, I pulled a new friend out of one of my big bags. This is a Peter Lynn Caterpillar. It is a fairly new design and this is the first one in the USA. I brought it to Texas for its maiden flight.

Now the first thing you notice about this ground bouncer is the size of it. It is big. I mean REALLY BIG! Think of a school bus parked inside. It stretches 60 feet long and 15 feet tall.

The other thing you quickly discover is that she is designed with nothing for children to grab hold of. If you fly big kites, you know this is significant. In Miami we caught one little darling stabbing one of our pieces with a plastic picnic knife while mom stood about five feet away, oblivious. Childproofing your kites is important.

The New Catapillar

The New Catapillar

I think I'm going to like the Caterpillar. It has a dramatic presence on the field, and costs a lot less than comparable pieces. A giant Fugu has a much smaller mass and goes for $3500. The Caterpillar is just $3100.

So that's the new friend. Now lets talk about an old one. For the first time in years, I flew my big Gecko. You have seen him often in the photo on my index page. This was my first large kite, which I brought home from New Zealand in 1992. He went to live with Jack Rogers for a few years and then came back to me in September.

Catapillar and Gecko

The problem with Geckos is stability. You need a clean, straight launch and to get all 90 feet of body off the ground in order for the tail to keep the head pointed up. They wander about the sky which is part of their charm as they "climb" into the clouds. But they also fall down often and cover a lot of ground in doing so.

Gecko and Lifter

We decided to test the Gecko with a lifter kite. This is a new big-kite technique that involves attaching a "lifter" on fifty feet of line to the larger kite. In this case, it worked like a charm!

We tethered a Sutton 125 into the two lines leading to the head and let it take the Gecko up. It went straight into the air and didn't touch down once all day! If you weren't close enough to see the lighter flying line, you would have had no idea that two kites were involved. The lifter also eliminated the need to use a stabilizing weight on the Gecko tail. I always hated to attach a sandbag there that swung around the sky looking for a head to smack...

Peter is now using Pilots with all of his larger show pieces. They extend the wind range and add stability. When winds drop off and the larger kite settles to the ground, the lifter will take it back up again when the breeze returns. Think of is as an anchor above the kite.

We are now looking at producing the ultra-efficient "Pilots" that Peter is using. They are similar to Bulldogs but use lightweight fabric. They also don't need a drogue. But in the meanwhile, our Sutton 125 worked extremely well.

Our Galveston show was rounded out with two other large pieces in the sky -- the Octopus and the Squid.

It was nice to blow some of the Miami beach dust off them so they would be nice and clean for the trip to Weymouth, England, next week. We leave on Thursday for a week but will be checking phone messages and email.

What a life!!

We are also planning on Grand Haven and Wildwood in May. Come see us and we'll show you how the Gecko flies with a lifter.

Three Big Ones

I always try to add a weekly special for readers that make it to the bottom of the Update. This week we'll take 20% off the price of any of the Three Leg Spinning Drogues we have in stock. And if you want one special-ordered in custom colors, we'll still take off 10%.

These drogues work great behind foils or as line decorations. Stock up on the little three-footers at just $12 each.

Our other news is that we are now producing 15 foot Fuzzy Tails. Brooks Leffler asked us for them and we are delivering! These ultra-efficient tails can be connected together or flown singly. They come on strong webbing in a single solid color with an 18 inch black accent at one end. We've seen a few for $25 in the same size. Our's will sell for $18. Let us know what color Fuzzys you need!

3 Leg Drogues

Fuzzy Tail

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