A blog detailing our collection of Peter Powell kites, and chronicling our flying of these kites. Plus a bit of PP kite history thrown in. Our collection to date can be seen here. I am keen to expand the collection, so if you have an old Peter Powell kite, whether made in the UK or the US, gathering dust and looking for a new home, why not get in touch? Depending on the kite (does it bring something new or different to my collection?), its condition (is it flyable? how much TLC does it need?), and the price you ask (+ shipping if from outside the UK), we may well be able to do a deal.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

PICAM power kite

PICAM stands for 'Products International Company Advertising and Marketing'. I couldn't find much information on the company, other than that it was based in California, and marketed a range of tools and games in the 1970s, often with the "As seen on tv" slogan. The company doesn't appear to exist anymore.

Why am I mentioning PICAM? Because a 'PICAM Power kite' was listed on eBay in the US. The box proudly proclaims "The latest in aerodynamic design", "The greatest in acrobatic performance" and "Flies in everything from a light breeze to a strong wind!"

Looking closer at the pictures accompanying the listing, whose name and face do we see on the box of this power kite?


But what's actually in the box? There were no pictures of the kite itself on the eBay listing, but there is of course one sure way to find out .... I took the gamble bidding on it and eventually bought the kite for $26; due to the low price, I escaped any import charges or custom duties.

The box states 'Made in England', and gives a copyright year of 1976, but it's not clear what the year refers to. The artwork on the box, maybe? If it referred to the kite, you'd expect a patent, not a copyright. Anyway, I didn't buy an empty box: it did contain a kite. To be more precise, inside the box was a fibreglass-framed Mk I Stunter, indistinguishable from other UK-produced Mk I PP Stunters.

It also flies exactly as you would expect from a Mk I PP.

My guess is that this is a UK-produced PP Stunter, imported to and sold in the US before the American arm of Peter Powell Kites was established to deal with demand there. So even though the kite itself is not anything special, the whole package does have kite-historical value, and adds something unique to my collection. And I'll definitely keep it with its box!

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Pair of 'chevron' PPs

A colour scheme which was quite common in US-produced Peter Powell Stunters was the 'chevron' scheme. As far as I'm aware, PPs with this colour scheme were never produced in the UK, and, obviously, I had to get one for the collection.

Turned out I didn't get one; I got two!

One with a blue-yellow-red sail:

And one with a pink-yellow-black sail:

Being Flying Fish, of course we had to fly them as a pair.

They flew well together, even though the wind was on the light side for them.

Nice to be able to add them to the collection; it was suffering a bit from a chevron-shaped hole ...

Monday, 31 December 2018

End of 2018 - overview of the collection

Another year has passed, another end-of-the-year blog post, taking stock of my Peter Powell collection and what has been added to it this year.

My collection of original UK-produced Stunters has grown from 18 to 21: I added a blue alu-framed Mk I, a red fibreglass-framed Mk I, and a special Poppins-branded Mk I.

I was also able to add three to the collection of US-produced PP kites, going from 11 to 14: a second Skyraker, a ripstop Mk I, and a second Wing. Plus I added a second Skychaser to the one I already had (but that doesn't count as an extra kite, as stacks count as one).

A further three Caribbean Kite Company kites added to the five I had, bringing that section of the collection up to eight: a Little Cayman, a Mustique, and a Tobago.

And, finally, I added one more 'Poppy Powell' to the one we had, bringing the number of modern PPs up to 10.

Adding all this up means that the collection increased by 10 this year, growing from 43 to 53. Not as large an increase as last year, but that's to be expected: as the collection grows, there are fewer and fewer 'new' ones to add.

Which made me ponder what the maximum number of kites in the collection could be. So I did some back-of-the-envelope scribbling .... if I manage to get my hands on at least one example of every model produced in the past, and assuming I'll have more than one of those that came in different version, plus assuming that Mark and Paul will bring out a small handful of new models in the years to come, I come to a figure of just under a hundred. So that appears to roughly be the maximum size of the collection. Which does mean two things: 1) I'm more than halfway there; and 2) there are still a lot of Peter Powell kites to collect for me!

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Mystery CKC delta ...

Seems like I'm starting to get better known as a collector of Peter Powell and associated kites: I was offered an unknown Caribbean Kites Company kite. Was I interested?

Now the kite in question had several issues. First of all, the sail was badly faded; and I mean really badly faded. Secondly, the sail had a large tear near one of the two stand-off connection points. And finally, the kite was lacking an upper spreader. Well, that was not quite true: the kite did have an upper spreader: a length of wooden plant stake.

And on top of all that, its identity was unknown! But as I didn't have that particular Caribbean Kite Company kite in my collection (no matter its actual identity) and the owner of the kite didn't want much for it, I took the gamble.

Obviously, I couldn't do anything about the fading, but the tear in the sail was fixable with some tape, and a fibreglass upper spreader was very quickly cut. But which model was I actually adding to my collection?

Fortunately, I got my hands on a Caribbean Kite Company catalogue some time ago, and that proved to be very helpful. Despite the heavily-faded sail, there was just enough colour left to pin it down as a Tobago, the continuation of the Peter Powell Kites Skychaser. Look at the fourth kite from the left in the bottom left picture: sail colours are the mirror image of my badly-faded kite, and the wing span also matched.

So here's my 'ghostly' Tobago on the ground, following the necessary TLC.

Ghost or not, how does it fly?

Well, not exactly brilliantly, and not nearly as well as its predecessor. It's a rather twitchy kite, which becomes rather difficult to control when it doesn't have constant wind pressure in the sail. But despite it not being the best-flying kite in my PP collection, it's the only Tobago!

Picture credit: Stephen Palmer (detail photos)

Sunday, 11 November 2018

11/11 @ 11am, and a Quadra Dazzle

As you may know, L-katz kite team has a set of four 'Poppy Powells'. And with Armistice Day falling on a Sunday, our usual team practice day, and the wind being well suitable for flying Peter Powells, we made sure to bring our 'Poppy Powells' to Stokes Bay.

At 11am, we had them up in the air, stationary and side-by-side, to commemorate the fallen.

With the wind being pretty much perfect, we were keen to try out a range of different moves and patterns, and especially keen to try and fly a series of moves called "Quadra Dazzle". Difficult to explain in words, so I'm showing a series of diagrams, which will hopefully make clear what the moves and patterns are.

We have flown the "Quadra Dazzle" with the team before, but never using Peter Powells, and never flying tails. It took some practice, especially knowing where the tails are relative to the kites, but we did it! And not just once, through sheer luck; we flew one "Quadra Dazzle" after the other! Don't just take my word for it; watch for yourself. There are four complete "Quadra Dazzles" in the video below, interspersed with other moves (Swiss Rolls, Cascade, Threads, Fountain, etc).

We didn't get them all right, let's be honest. A few attempts ended in the tail of one kite caught in the bridle lines of another. Not realising we had people behind us watching our displays, one of those tail catches was accompanied by a clearly audible "oooooh!" from the public.

Is this the first time ever that a kite team has flown the "Quadra Dazzle" with Peter Powell kites?

Video credit: Piyush Patel

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Star Trek 5-stack

I've been a Trekkie for as long as I can remember. I still recall my father coming into my bed room when I was a kid, carrying me, half-asleep, down the stairs to the living room, telling me I was now old enough. I must have been maybe 6 or so, and I was about to see my very first Star Trek episode. I never looked back ...

Now what does all this have to do with kites in general, or Peter Powell kites specifically? Very little, until I started playing around with ideas for a themed PP stack, and thought having a stack with symbols of several of the key 'powers' in Star Trek could work well. Bit more playing around resulted in designs for a set of five black PP Stunters, with the symbols of the Federation, Vulcans, Romulans, Klingons and the Borg:

Tails would be silver, blue, green, red and white, to match the main colours of the respective symbols. And, ideally, the bridle and stacking arrangement would be fully flexible, so any of the five kites could be used as the lead kite. Time will tell whether this Star Trek 5-stack will ever become reality!

Oh, and in case you're wondering what my first-ever Star Trek episode was ... "Trouble with Tribbles".

Monday, 5 November 2018

Building a Skychaser stack

A little over a year ago, I got my hands on the second-smallest Peter Powell delta: the Skychaser. As I mentioned in that blog post, because Skychasers were very much promoted as a stackable kite, I would keep my eyes open for more Skychasers, with the aim of gradually building up a Skychaser stack.

My eyes had to remain open for quite a while, but eventually they did spot (and got hold of) a second Skychaser, so I now have a 2-stack of them!

As the kites are quite small (1.26m wing span), I made a set of relatively short stacking lines, but the only way to test whether stacking lines are the correct length is of course to fly the stack.

They really flew well stacked, and it appears my choice of stacking line length was pretty much spot-on.

In my earlier blog post, I described the Skychaser as a zippy kite, and that zippiness remains a characteristic when stacked. They respond well to input, without much oversteer. Obviously, small as they are, even as a stack they hardly develop any serious pull.

I will be looking to add more Skychasers to the stack, so my eyes will have to remain open for the foreseeable future. See how far I get!