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.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Little Cayman

When the American arm of Peter Powell Kites came into being, they initially marketed Stunters with the same 4' wing span as those produced in the UK. But not long after, they started to develop a smaller (3') version as well as a larger (6') 'Monster'. Later on, they also produced the Twister, which had a wing span in-between 3' and 4' (1.05m, to be precise).

When the American Peter Powell Kites company became independent, and changed into the Caribbean Kite Company, they started using the names of Caribbean islands for (almost) all their models; the name of the classic Stunter was changed to Cayman. They also continued producing larger and smaller versions, which were imaginatively called 'Grand Cayman' and 'Little Cayman'. And it's the latter, with a wing span of 1.05m (so equivalent to the Peter Powell Twister), which I managed to get my hands on.

First flight was in very un-Caribbean circumstances, but the kite didn't seem to mind. It didn't come with a tail, so I added a plastic ribbon tail (I felt a normal tube tail was a bit too much for this smaller kite).

Flight characteristics are as you would expect from a smaller version of a PP Stunter: bit more skittish than the standard 4'.

Need to find a Grand Cayman as well now, of course!

Friday, 2 March 2018

Peter Powell kite stickers - a possible timeline

If you're familiar with Peter Powell Stunters, you will be familiar with the stickers that adorn the sails of the Mk I Stunters. But what you may not realise is that there were several versions of these stickers over time ...

Curious how many versions actually existed, and whether you could use them to 'date' PP Stunters, I set about gathering pictures of these stickers, from my own collection, and from photos of PP Stunters available on the internet. Focusing purely on UK-produced Mk I Stunters, I have so far been able to find six different versions. Not saying more don't exist, but these are the six I've been able to find so far:

So is there any way to order these six chronologically, from earliest to latest, as that would offer a way to date Mk I Stunters, at least relatively? Well, none of the stickers has a date on them, so that doesn't work; we'll need to use a bit more subtle detective work ...

First of all, two of the six stickers I have seen only on aluminium-framed Stunters, and we know that aluminium frames predated fibreglass frames. So those two must have been used in the early days. But which is the older of the two? As I said, they don't carry dates, but I think I've found a clue to help me order these two, as well as the other four, chronologically.

I'll tell you what that clue is a bit later, but let me first show you what I think is the older of the two stickers on aluminium-framed sails (and therefore, the oldest sticker I'm aware of):

And the, in my opinion, younger of the two stickers on aluminium-framed sails:

So that then brings me to the stickers from fibreglass-framed sails. And to revealing the clue I've been focusing on: telephone numbers. The phone numbers on these two early stickers are 0242 30922 and 0242 88411. Only one of these numbers also appears on two of the stickers from fibreglass-framed kites: 0242 30922. On the assumption that Peter didn't change his telephone number back and forth, I concluded that the sticker with the 0242 88411 number must be the older one. 

As I said, two stickers with the 0242 30922 number, and I struggled with relative dating of these two, but here's my best guess. Older of the two, I think, is:

and the younger of these two, I think, is:

My reason for thinking this the younger of the two is that it is more similar in design to the next one, which has two clues to it being later:

So what are these two clues? First of all, the phone number has changed, to 0242 43222. And, secondly, it has added the 'toy of the year award'. And that allows us to pin this one down to 1976. So the stickers up to this one must date prior to that award.

Which leaves me with one final sticker, and my reason for thinking this the latest of the six is, once again, the phone number:

Design is quite different from the others, gone is the 4-stack with tails and the 'toy of the year award', but look at the phone number: 0242 862650. One digit more than the others, which suggest that this must have come when phone numbers in the UK were updated to include an extra digit, in order to increase capacity.

My timeline is mostly based on phone numbers, with a bit of gut feeling thrown in. So I may well be barking up a completely wrong tree. If that is the case, and anyone has any information to improve or outright reject this timeline, please let me know, so we can update this post and firm up the timeline. And if anyone is aware of additional versions of stickers on UK-produced Mk I Stunters, please get in touch.

Monday, 26 February 2018

American ripstop Mk I

Even though I keep a close eye on both the UK and US eBay sites, the number of UK Peter Powell Stunters I see listed far outstrips the number of US-produced ones. Guess that could be a consequence of more PP Stunters produced in the UK compared to the US; or maybe Americans don't like to let their PP kites go! My gut feeling is that it is indeed due to production numbers.

But irrespective of the cause, the effect on my collection is that I have very few US-produced Stunters: one polythene Mk I and one ripstop Mk II. And that means I was very glad to be able to add a ripstop Mk I, in very good condition, to the collection!

Orange sail and, unusually, a purple tail. Original as far as I can tell, and the first purple PP tail I've come across.

Kite flies as you would from a vintage PP, as you can see in the video of its maiden flight (or, to be more precise, its maiden flight as part of my collection). Struggling a bit whenever the wind dropped, but mostly happily flying around, dragging its shiny purple tail (which, for some reason, refused to inflate):

Video credit: Piyush Patel

Friday, 16 February 2018

Black fibreglass spars

At some point in their 'evolution', Mk I Stunters' frames changed from aluminium to fibreglass, and this spar material continued in the Mk II Stunters (and right up to the current Mk III Stunters).

In all the Mk I Stunters I've got in my collection, as well as in all I've seen, the fibreglass used is white. Same goes for the modern Mk III Stunters. And for most of the Mk II Stunters ...

I do have a single Mk II Stunter, with polythene sail, which has a black fibreglass frame, including a black nose and black spar connectors.

When I first saw it on eBay, I thought it might have been a home reframe, but I've since seen pictures of others like this. And recently, another black-framed Mk II Stunter appeared on eBay:

So what's going on here? Interestingly, all the ripstop Mk II Stunters I have and have seen use the 'normal' white fibreglass, so it isn't a simple case of the black fibreglass spars being superior to the white ones and replacing them at some point in time. Was there a period in which Peter couldn't source his normal white spars and had to find an alternative source? Or were these a 'special' version, produced in more limited numbers? If so, what was special about the black frame? Questions which need answers ...

Monday, 5 February 2018

A Field of Poppies!

Last year, Mark and Paul created a special PP kite in support of the annual Poppy Appeal, and of course we had to have one.

Twisted Bridle, our sister pair within the L-katz team, got two of these 'Poppy Powells', and we had a lot of fun flying both their kites:

Obviously, we now had to get a second one as well!

And that means we can now fly three or four 'Poppy Powells' together!

Lisa, from Twisted Bridle, made a set of four green satin tails, with the aim of extending the wind rage a bit (as they're lighter than the standard plastic tube tails).

Anyone wanting to join our Field of Poppies, they can be ordered directly from Peter Powell.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Second Skyraker

Some time ago, I got my hands on a Skyraker. This early Peter Powell dual-line delta came in several versions, and the one I added to the collection was a 3-panel Skyraker. Obviously, the hunt continued for other versions ....

Took some time, but I was finally successful in catching an 11-panel Skyraker!

First flight showed the kite to handle very much the same as my earlier one: needs a decent amount of wind (double figures, please), and needs some space to turn (certainly doesn't turn on a dime!).

Now we have a pair of them, we obviously had to fly them together .... pop over to our Flying Fish blog for a report on that.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

A poster with classic kites ...

Some time ago, a scan of a Japanese poster featuring classic kites was posted on FB:

Look at the top three rows, and what do you see? Yes, almost exclusively US-produced Peter Powell kites! Unfortunately, the scan resolution was too low to read the details, but since then I have received higher-resolution scans of the PPs on the poster (thanks, Mike!)

So what's on this poster in terms of American PP kites?

First of all, the poster states that the earliest polythene Stunters were called Mark Zero rather than Mark I. If true, that's completely new to me; I've never come across a mentioning of a Mk 0 PP.

Poster then continues with further Mk Is (singles and trains):

Mk II and Mk III Stunters:

And, finally, The Monster:

We then move away from the diamond Stunters, and first see a Skychaser:

And then we come to a series of Skyrakers. This includes the single-panel version, referred to on the poster as 'Skyraker Original':

What follows is the 3-panel version ('Skyraker Basic'), the Illusion version (also referred to as 'Basic') and the 11-panel version ('Skyraker Team'):

Final Skyrakers shown are the Stars 'n' Stripes and Jolly Roger version, also referred to as 'Skyraker Team':

Next pair of kites are Wings, in two different colour schemes:

Followed by Skyblazers, again in two different colours:

And, last but not least, the two PP quads, Double Diamond and Omni:

What did I learn that I didn't know already?

As mentioned above, the earliest Stunters are referred to as Mk 0, which is new to me. But I'd like to see some independent confirmation of this before I relabel my polythene US Mk I. I was aware of single-panel Skyrakers, so it's nice to see some of the colours they came in. Also nice to get conformation of the existence of a Jolly Roger Skyraker. I was aware that the Wing also came in a 'lightning' colour scheme (which isn't yet part of my collection, I hasten to add!). The poster doesn't mention a 'Baby Blazer', so it's not clear whether the two colours shown for the Skyblazer are indeed both for the full-size kite. And, finally, the poster confirms that the Omni came in different colours, and that the two different sides of the kite didn't always use the same colours. Lack of different colours for the Double Diamond on the poster doesn't mean necessarily it didn't come in more colours, even though my kite is identical to the one on the poster, and I've never seen a photo of it in any other colour.

Bottom line is that there is no PP kite on the poster I wasn't aware of, so my mental picture of the variety of US-produced PP kites seems pretty complete!