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.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

A wee restoration project ...

If I'm basically given an old Peter Powell kite, needing some TLC to get it flying again, I'm not going to say 'no' and condemn the kite to the dustbin, am I?

Here's the kite in question: a ripstop Mk II:


Sail is faded, quite a bit actually, but is generally in pretty good nick; no rips or tears. Cross spreaders are missing, and the spine is broken in two. When I said 'some TLC', I actually mean 'quite a bit' ...

Now it so happens that last year I was given a complete fibreglass frame, and since then, I've acquired some more spars and bits and pieces. Plenty to get this faded orange Mk II back in the air again; watch this space!

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Jamaica

So far, I've only been able to get my hands on three kites from the Caribbean Kite Company: a single Cayman in the older chevron colour pattern, and a pair of Caymans in the later colour pattern. But the company also produced a wide range of dual-line deltas, and even a quad-liner.

Thanks to eBay-US (and a friendly fellow kite flyer who was willing to bid for the kite on my behalf, and ship it to the UK), I've now been able to add the first dual-line delta from the Caribbean Kite Company to my Peter Powell Kites collection: a Jamaica (virtually all their kite models were named after Caribbean islands).


The Jamaica is a relatively small kite: wing span of 1.63m. It has a fibreglass frame and is also quite flat. That flatness really influences its flight behaviour.


The kite needs a decent breeze putting pressure in the sail all the time; it doesn't like the edge of the wind window. Jamaica also tends to oversteer quite a bit. But even though it is not much more than a glorified beach kite, I did manage to axel it! Just about, but still ...


The self-proclaimed ambition of the Caribbean Kite Company was to produce kites of the highest quality, to be the benchmark for top-end sports kites. This Jamaica certainly doesn't tick that box, but it may well have been aimed at the lower end of the market, with the larger models targeting that top-end. Guess I'll find out once I get my hands on them, won't I?

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Another bicolour ripstop Mk II

You know the saying about buses, don't you? Wait for one for ages, and then two pass by. Same with kites sometimes. Recently, I got my hands on a teal/pink ripstop Mk II Peter Powell through eBay, and very shortly afterwards, a very similar one popped up on eBay. This time the colours were green and pink.


Wind was quite variable when we flew it for the first time (as the previous one, with a modern pink tail), so it certainly didn't perform optimally, but flying it did!










Now, having two very similar PPs like this, we had to fly them together, of course.


The wind was quite difficult for flying a pair of PPs properly, but we gave it our best shot.


Incidentally, I just realised that this is my 50th blog post here!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Giant Peter Powell

A standard PP Stunter has a 4' wing span, right? And the US arm of Peter Powell Kites created a 6' version, called 'The Monster'. Do you want to hear about a Peter Powell kite a bit bigger than that? Quite a bit bigger, in fact: we're talking 30' (!!) wing span?

No, this was never a commercial product, but a 30' Peter Powell did fly once, if only very briefly. I don't know exactly when this happened, but I stumbled across the following one day:


If anyone reading this has more information on this unique "Giant" PP, please let me know!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Double Cayman!

We can debate until the cows come home as to whether Cayman kites made by the Caribbean Kite Company are Peter Powells or not. In one sense, they're obviously not, as they don't have a name or label anywhere proclaiming them to be PP kites. But, as I argued earlier, in another sense they are Peter Powells 'in spirit', and, to me, they're very much part of the story.

I already got a Caribbean Kite Company Cayman, in the older chevron colour pattern, and I'm very pleased now to have been able to add a pair of Cayman kites, in the later colour pattern, to the collection! Despite being new and unused, they only cost me $10 each (plus shipping and customs/import charges).










They came with blue tails, but I replaced these with modern green and red tails, to match the central stripe in one kite, and the leading edges in the other.










Obviously, they need to be flown together!



They felt really light and nimble on the lines, and didn't need the same wind strength of a 'normal' PP to fly. Which made me wonder and weigh the kites .... Turned out the weight of one kite (without the tail) is 222 gr. Compare that to the 262 gr for a modern PP with standard fibreglass frame .... That's a 15% weight reduction; do we have an ultralight PP in all but name here? And remember, they only cost me $10 each ... Bargain or what?

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

A teal & pink ripstop Mk II

I've mentioned before that ripstop Mk II Peter Powell Stunters don't pop up for sale often. But eBay is my friend, and I did manage to get my hands on another one, this time with a bi-colour teal/pink sail:


The kite didn't come with a tail, so I got myself a modern pink Peter Powell tail to match the pink half of the sail.


It flew exactly as you would expect a PP Stunter to fly. One issue developed during its maiden flight, though: one of the leading edge spars repeatedly came loose from the nose piece, causing the kite to collapse in mid-flight and the spine to come out as well. Nothing that some TLC (tape-led care) can't deal with, though.

By the way, does anyone know how many different sail patterns were used for ripstop Mk II kites? Obviously, single colour sail, and bi-colour half & half sail, but I don't think I've seen any other patterns on UK-made ripstop Mk II kites (US-made is a different story ...).

Finally, Irma was quite pleased with how her photo of the kite in a tight spin turned out!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Granny up!

If you're UK-based, you may have seen the interview that Mark and Paul gave on BBC Breakfast this Saturday morning.








Very nice interview, touching upon the rise and fall of Peter's kite business in the 70s, 80s and 90s, and the resurrection of the PP Stunter by Mark and Paul, behind Peter's back, in the last couple of years.

The interview was interspersed with some old footage, and, for me, one piece of footage really stood out. You may have read that Peter, in the early days, got his grandmother to let herself being hauled up by a kite. I'd heard the story of course, but wasn't aware there was actual video footage of it!

So here some screen grabs of granny being hauled up, handbag firmly in her hand!






You can hear Peter ask her whether she likes her birthday present, and granny appears to really enjoy the experience!

Credit for the screen grabs: Neil Lover

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Popular Science 1977

While surfing the wwweb for snippets of information on Peter Powell kites, I stumbled across this article from 1977 in the magazine 'Popular Science'. Contains a picture of a triple-stack flown from a boat! I'll just leave you to enjoy this wee window to the early days of Peter Powell Stunters.


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Dutch Mk III

When it comes to modern Peter Powell Mk III Stunters, we have a customised pair for Flying Fish:


And we have a set of five, customised for L-katz:


It recently dawned on me that I don't actually have a basic standard Mk III in the collection. Clearly, that's a situation that just couldn't be tolerated to endure ... Whereas Mk I and Mk II Stunters came in a small number of different colours, modern Mk IIIs give you the option of 10 different colours. If you then take all the permutations (left wing, right wing, large and small mid section) into account, the number of possible colour variations becomes way too much for a collection. Quick back-of-the envelope calculation suggests that of the 100,000 possible combinations, there are more than 65,000 possibilities where each panel is different from the adjacent panel, and 810 of those are symmetrical .... Not going to attempt to collect all of them! So it was to be a single Mk III PP, using the template available in the Peter Powell on-line shop.

But, as I said, with 10 colours to choose from for the various panels, which to pick for each panel? I finally decided on one in the colours of the Dutch national flag, but reflecting the historical 'ranje-blanje-bleu' flag rather than the modern 'red-white-blue' one.


Obviously, the tail had to be orange as well!




Kite was very happy in the gusty 12-28mph wind we first flew it in:


If we're flying as Flying Fish or as L-katz, we'll obviously fly the appropriate PPs customised for pair or team. But if one of us just wants to have fun flying a Peter Powell Mk III Stunter, we now have this 'Dutch' one to use! Any excuse to add to the collection ...

Monday, 20 February 2017

Skyblazer

If you have been following this blog, you will know that the US arm of Peter Powell Kites produced and marketed a range of dual-line deltas. Several of these are already part of my collection: a Wing, Skylite and Skyraker.

One delta which is shown in several ads in KiteLife in 1989 and 1990 is a Skyblazer:


Needless to say I very much wanted to have this kite, with its almost Mondriaanesque sail pattern, in my collection, and I'm happy to say that that quest has finally resulted in success!

Here's my Skyblazer on the ground ...



... and in the air!


I flew it in 2-5mph winds, and it flew fine once the wind went to at least 3-4mph. With those low winds, flight is slow and serene. The official wind range is given as 3-20mph, but I wouldn't want to fly to kite in more than 8-9mph; it looks and feels very much like an ultralight. Generally, the kite responds well to input, but has quite a large turning circle. It really feels like a kite from the late 1980s/early 1990s, but I did manage to squeeze one axel out of it. Yes, just the one ...

The Skyblazer's wing span is 2.44m, and a smaller version (with a wing span of 1.73m) was also produced. This smaller, faster kite is often referred to as the 'Baby Blazer'. I haven't been able to find a picture of this 'Baby Blazer, but did come across this ad, again from KiteLife:


Could this possibly be a 'Baby Blazer'? Guess I don't have to say I want one in the collection, right?

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Peter Powell t-shirt, with double twist

Mk I and Mk II Peter Powell kites pop up on eBay quite regularly, but it's rare to see other PP items listed. So I was surprised, and pleasantly so, to check into eBay not too long ago, and stumble across a listing for a vintage Peter Powell t-shirt.













Even though it's not a kite, it would still make for a very nice addition to the collection, wouldn't it? I decided to have a punt, and as the end time approached, found myself in a bidding war with, what appeared to be, a rather determined person. With just a handful of seconds left, I decided to pull out, as I had already let myself go quite a bit higher than what I had originally decided my max bid would be. The dangers of bidding on eBay!

So I didn't get the t-shirt; win some, loose some! The twist became clear the next day: I had been bidding against Paul Powell! As I told Paul when I found out, if I had known he was the determined bidder, I'd have pulled out immediately. Best place for the shirt is obviously at home, and I was genuinely pleased it went to Paul.

I said 'double twist' in the title of this post, didn't I? Turned out that the seller didn't have one PP t-shirt; he had two.

The second one is now mine ...


... all mine ...


... my preciousssssss ...


Tuesday, 24 January 2017

BP promo

In a recent blog post, I mentioned a BP-branded Peter Powell Stunter, and asked for anyone who knew more about this promotional kite, or even had a picture, to get in touch. And, lo and behold, I received a message from a Philip Smith who had one of these kites, was looking to sell it as BP merchandise, and, while googling for a bit more information, stumbled across my blog.

Here's a picture Philip sent me of his BP promo kite:


The kite in question has a bit of history, as it won prizes! I'll hand over to Philip to tell the story:

I guesstimate that it was about 1976/7 when we holidayed in a B&B in Kingsbridge near Bantham and went to Bantham beach daily. The kite came with us, I think I had bought it about a year or so before.

The lifeguards and locals organised event days for the kids / families such as sand castle building competitions, bucket and spade races - all sorts including kite flying, which was in 4 age groups, 3 for children and 1 for adults. 

I had flown the kite quite a bit and did a lot of manoeuvres but my specialist move was skimming the sands without crashing, they used to put straws in the sand that we had to ‘clip’. Distance judgement being more difficult than height!  Also there was a duration competition and I think I managed the longest at something like 1.5 hours. Bantham had some really amazing winds which were also great for surfing and the odd beach sand yacht. I can’t remember what the prize was, possibly a bucket and spade or stick of rock!

I did go on to own other kites but after divorcing my wife other things took priority. All I have now is a pocket kite that my son bought me 10 years ago to keep in the boot - just in case!


The story of this kite has a further twist ... quite possibly you already saw it coming, but following donations to two of Philip's preferred charities, the kite is now in my possession. It needs a bit of TLC: the tail part of the sail had been repaired and strengthened with silver duct tape a long time ago, and this tape is now losing its adhesive properties. But nothing that some fresh tape can't deal with; watch this space for the BP kite to fly again!

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Round Table PP, again

Some time ago, I posted about a promotional Peter Powell Stunter, created for the Round Table. It appeared on eBay, for a buy-it-now price of £80. That was way too much for my liking, so I didn't bite. The kite was relisted a few times, each time for £80, and then disappeared from eBay. I assumed it had found a buyer.

Turned out that wasn't the case, because after a while, it was relisted, this time for a lower price, though still well above what I was willing to pay. Again, it didn't sell, and was relisted yet again, and again for a slightly lower price. I decided to play a bit of a 'chicken race' game: hold fire until the kite was relisted with a price I was willing to pay. Of course, someone else might well snap it up before the seller had reduced his/her price enough for me to grab it .... The kite was relisted well over half a dozen more times, and the asking price kept creeping down, slowly but surely. Until one morning I saw it was relisted for my max price (£40 if you want to know), and I pounced! Gotcha!

The kite came with a red tail, but I felt a white tail would look much better. I happened to have a white Peter Powell tail which originally came with The Monster (which now has a custom tri-colour tail), so that white tail replaced the red tail. And here is the 'Round Table' PP, in our usual flying field:




It flies exactly as you expect from a polythene PP Stunter: needs a decent breeze to fly and turn properly.



Of course, it being a Peter Powell means that some tail-rolling is involved at the end of a session ...


I have no idea how many were made, but it can't be that many. Maybe this is even a unique one-off? In any case, it's a very nice addition to my Peter Powell kites collection!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Owners Group on Facebook


Earlier today, I created a Peter Powell Kites Owners Group on Facebook. Why? Well, several reasons. In no particular order, to raise interest for these iconic kites; to help Mark and Paul a wee bit, possibly; to get a bit of experience in running a Facebook group; and, let's be honest, it might also help my collection.

Time will tell whether there is enough interest; I'll try and create regular content in the first instance, in the hope that others will join in and the group will fly (pun intended). So we'll see where this goes. If you're interested in joining the group, you know where to click!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Blog post on Peter Powell

On the anniversary of Peter's passing one year ago, a very brief blog post from me this time, just drawing your attention to a very nice post on Peter Powell from another blog (link to the full blog post given below the screenshot).


Click here to go to the full blog post. Peter, hope the winds are good where you are.