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.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Early American PP Stunter

When the American Peter Powell Kites company was set up in order to deal with the demand for PP Stunters in the US, they initially produced kites that were basically identical to the UK-produced Mk I Stunters. Although my collection of US-produced Peter Powell kites has gradually been expanding, it didn't contain one of those early American PP Stunters. Until now, that is; frequent checking of ebay.com paid off!


Polythene sail, fibreglass frame, 3-point bridle, tube tail; all looks very familiar.


And in terms of flight characteristics, it handles no differently from the UK-produced Stunters I'm familiar with.


I did say 'basically identical', didn't I? There is one sure way to tell such an early American Mk I from a British Mk I. Look carefully at the 'Peter Powell Sky Stunter' sticker on the kite: it carries a Fort Lauderdale address as opposed to a Cheltenham one ...


Saturday, 11 November 2017

'Poppy Powell'

Currently, Paul and Mark will make you a Stunter with any custom design, provided it's technically and financially feasible. Obviously, there will be an infinite number of possibilities to customise a Peter Powell kite, so I'm not going to attempt to collect them all ....

I do however make an exception for custom-designed PP Stunters which are officially for sale on the PP web-site. And the first of these to add to my collection is the 'Poppy Powell', made in support of the annual Poppy Appeal. So when that kite was announced, I pounced ...


The kite looks very nice and, just to be clear: the poppy is sown on the kite, not printed. Time to fly it!


We managed to fly the kite for the first time on Nov 11, at 11am.


Don't think I need to expand on its flying characteristics, which are identical to those of other Mk III Stunters.


The kite looks really great in the sky, and the green tail is the perfect colour choice.


Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Jolly Roger

The Skyraker was the first of the dual-line delta kites produced by the US arm of Peter Powell Kites. It came in a range of versions, depending on the number of panels in the sail: 1, 3 or 11. The 11-panel also came in a special Stars 'n' Stripes version. On top of that, there was also a version with an 'Illusion' graphics sail. Incidentally, I have a 3-panel Skyraker in the collection.

Recently, I stumbled across a mention of a 'Jolly Roger' version of the Skyraker, but without any picture. Now look at this photo from SKQ 3-1 (spring 1991), showing Bill Baker (of Peter Powell Kites) with Billy Jones (then of the Kite Loft, later also part of Peter Powell Kites).


First of all, you can see part of the familiar Peter Powell logo. To the left is a bit of the typical chequerboard pattern of an 'Illusion' Skyraker. Look at the kite above that. It definitely has a Jolly Roger graphic, and what I can see of the shape and configuration of the kite is consistent with it being a Skyraker.

Do I need to spell out that I want a Jolly Roger Skyraker in my collection??

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Junior Stunter

Look at PP Stunters, whether they're Mk I, II or III, whether they're produced in the UK or the US, and you'll see the same basic design: central spine, leading edges coming together with the spine at the nose of the kite, and cross spars in front of the sail. Of course, there are minor variations in the materials used for the frame (wood, aluminium, fibreglass, or carbon) and for the sail (polythene or ripstop), and in the number of bridle line attachment points (3 vs 5). There are variations in size, with both smaller and larger versions being produced. And the US Mk II and Monster have an extra cross spar at the back of the kite. But despite these variations, all PP Stunters have the same basic design.

Bar one ...

This odd one out is called the Junior, a smaller Stunter produced in the UK. There is very little information on this particular version on the internet. Sleuthing by a member of the Peter Powell Kites Owners Group on Facebook unearthed announcements for prize draws in two comics magazines from 1976 where 500 Peter Powell Junior Stunters could be won.

One in Cheeky Weekly:


and one in Crazy Comics:


The drawings of the Junior Stunter in these two announcements suggest a fundamentally different design for this PP Stunter: no leading edges, upper bridle lines connected to the cross spars, and cross spars behind the sail. 

With thanks to Paul Powell, who alerted me to a Junior offered for sale on Gumtree, I managed to get my hands on this 'odd' Stunter! Wing span is around 3' (92cm), compared to the 4' wing span of a standard PP Stunter. And indeed, the kite does not have leading edges as well as cross spars. A single pair of spars performs both functions, is situated behind the sail, and the upper bridle lines connect to it through a circular hole in the sail.


Time to fly it to see how it behaves in the air. At some point in the past, Mark or Paul mentioned to me that Peter didn't particularly like the Junior; curious as to why ...


Of course, we did fly it with original lines and handles.


The Junior handled well in very blustery wind (mostly 14-27mph). It's faster than a standard-sized PP Stunter, turns quicker, and generally feels nimbler on the lines. 

I honestly can't think of why Peter didn't like the Junior based on its flying characteristics. And I'm very pleased to have been able to add a Junior Stunter to my collection. Thanks again, Paul!

Monday, 16 October 2017

Skychaser

The US arm of Peter Powell Kites produced a range of dual-line deltas, ranging in size from the 2.47m wing span Skylite to the 0.86m wing span Skytoy. So far, I've not been able to get my hands on this smallest of Peter Powell deltas, but I did manage to snap up the second-smallest PP delta, a 1.26m wing span Skychaser!


In flight, the Skychaser proved itself to be a fast and zippy kite, and a much better-tracking kite than you would expect from its size. And even axels and half-axels can be coaxed out of it.


In the ads of the day, the Skychaser was promoted as very suitable for flying in stacks.









So I'll keep my eyes open for further Skychasers, with the aim of gradually building up a bit of a Skychaser stack.

Watch this space!

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Peter Powell Kites Adoption Agency

I seem to have acquired a bit of a reputation for being interested in Peter Powell kites. Three times this past festival season I was given a vintage PP Stunter by someone who clearly knew about my collection, and said he had this old PP, it was damaged or missing bits and pieces, they were going to throw it away, but if I wanted it ... here it is!

Throwing away a PP? No way!!! If there's any way to get it flying again, I will do my best. So I guess the Peter Powell Kites Adoption Agency was launched ...

So here is the first of these adopted PP Stunters: a blue Mk I, fibreglass frame. This was the kite that required the least amount of reconstruction. The t-piece was broken, but that was easy to replace. It had a few tears in the sail, but nothing that a bit of tape couldn't fix. And some glue dealt with the sticker having come off the sail. It didn't come with a tail, but I've got plenty of PP tails to hook on to it.

First of the Peter Powell Kites Adoption Agency kites, moments before take-off:


And back in the air again!


As I mentioned earlier, there are two more to follow, which need a bit more work (certainly one of them does). And if anyone reading this is ready to throw an old PP in the bin, please think again and contact the PPKAA ... If I can make it fly again, fly again it will!

Monday, 25 September 2017

Mk II 3-stack

First, take a badly damaged orange Mk II Stunter: missing cross spars, broken spine, but at least the ripstop sail shows no damage:


Add to that a pair of yellow and red Mk II Stunters, obtained at a very reasonable price (thanks Josh!):


Stir in a set of bridle and stacking lines (thanks, Graham!):


That then gives you a stack of three ripstop MkII Stunters:


Finally, mix in three custom-made banded tails (thanks Paul!):


And all that will then result in a flyable Mk II 3-stack!


Wind was perfect to try them out, 8-12mph most of the time. So they took off without any problem!


As you would expect, the pull from a triple stack is considerably more than from a single kite, but nothing we couldn't handle. With higher winds, this will definitely require stronger lines than the 100daN we flew them on, though.


The banded tails really look great, and add a bit extra to the spectacle, given that the kites are single-colour.


I love it when a plan comes together ...

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Trinidad

Besides PP-esque diamond kites, the Caribbean Kite Company also produced a wide range of dual-line deltas after it severed its links with the Peter Powell name. A few months ago, I managed to get my hands on one of these, a Jamaica. And now I've been able to add a second one to my collection: a Trinidad.


The Trinidad has a wing span of 1.78m and if you look closer, you'll see that it's quite an unusual kite. For instance, it doesn't have a spine:


This means that there is no t-piece for the lower spreader to fit into, and instead of via a t-piece, the lower spreader is attached to the sail through a bungee:


I said 'lower spreader', as if the kite also has an upper spreader, but it doesn't and the upper outhauls of the bridle are both connected to the nose, sort of similar to the configuration of a Speedwing:


Design details aside, how does it fly?


The wind range is officially given as 5-25mph, but it really needs at least 8mph to fly halfway decent. The Trinidad has a tendency to oversteer, and it doesn't like the edge of the window; it needs constant wind pressure in the sail. I sort of managed to axel and half-axel the kite, but it doesn't do these tricks gladly (although that might of course say something about my own abilities, or lack thereof).


To be honest, I'm not overly impressed with this kite, as I wasn't with the Jamaica. For a company that was explicitly aiming to be at the top of the market, the two dual-line deltas I've flown so far certainly don't match that ambition. Maybe others do? Such as their 2+m wing span flagship models Mustique and Martinique? The search continues!

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Early tail attachment

It's always good fun to stumble across another piece of the Peter Powell puzzle. This particular piece came from Martin Fisher (thanks!) who posted a scan of the original instruction sheet of aluminium-framed PP Stunters on the Peter Powell Kites Owners Group on Facebook:


What was interesting to me about these instructions was how the tail was to be attached on these early Peter Powells: not at the bottom end of the sail, as I was used to, but on the cross struts!

When I got my alu-framed PP, it did not come with the original instructions, so I had added a tail in the usual way, on the spine at the bottom end of the sail.

Obviously, I had to try this out! I did not have a PP tail with two holes, so added two holes to an existing later tail. And this is what it looks like once fitted:


I have to admit that my first impression wasn't very positive. It looked and felt rather clunky. And it looked odd, but that's of course simply because I'm not used seeing a tail on a PP attached that high up ...


Clunky or not, odd or not, the proof is in the pudding. Or rather, in the air, so up went the kite!



I have to admit, seen from the other side of 40m lines, it didn't look bad at all! And certainly different from having the tail come off the spine. I was a bit worried that the tail would become entangled in the bridle, but that didn't happen at all. The tail nicely hung between the two sides of the bridle, and never seemed at risk of tangling.


Now that I know that this was the official way to attach the tail to an alu-framed Peter Powell Stunter, I will of course fly alu-framed PPs with the tail attached to the cross struts from now on. Gotta maintain historical accuracy for as much as possible!

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Bag expansion

Last year, I blogged about the acquisition of a pair of HQ Proline kite bags to house the Peter Powell collection. Well, since that time, the collection has grown significantly, to the point where it doesn't fit in two bag any more ...

Solution to this conundrum is pretty easy: get another HQ Proline bag, a green one this time, and again sourced from Kiteworld.


This new green bag, the smaller of the two versions available, will house the modern Mk III PP Stunters, leaving the smaller blue bag for the older UK PPs and the larger blue bag for the US kites.


Something tells me it won't be the last bag for the collection ...

Friday, 11 August 2017

US Mk II Stunter

When it comes to American PP Stunters, I've got in my collection a triple-stack of the 3' Stunter, a smaller version of the basic Stunter, and I've got the The Monster, a 6-foot version. But up to now, I hadn't managed to get my hands on a 'standard' American Stunter. That's changed now, with the addition of an American Mk II to the collection!


It's similar to UK-produced Stunters in most way, but it does feature an extra spar at the back of the kite, similar to the extra spar of The Monster:


The Mk II feels quite heavy on the lines, and is relatively sluggish response to input. This is definitely different compared to UK Stunters. I'm not sure what the cause of this is, although the extra spar of course increases the weight of the kite.


You may have noticed something missing: a tail. I must admit it was quite strange to fly a PP Stunter without a tail!


Now the kite didn't come with a tail, but that in itself is easily remedied. However, according to the 1991 catalogue, the "kite is flown without a tail".


Well, who am I to disagree with a PP catalogue?

Thursday, 3 August 2017

BP Stunter

Earlier this year, I wrote about me getting my hands on a BP promo Peter Powell. It needed some TLC: the tail part had been fixed with duct tape, but this had lost its adhesiveness over the years.










Rather than simply replace the strip of tape, I decided to make the repair a bit more thorough, and use green duct tape to keep within the colour scheme of the kite. After all, it also came with a green tail!










So here's the BP kite, ready for take-off at our primary flying field!


Personally, I'm very happy with how the repair came out. Even though it's not original, it certainly looks like it could be.

And it looks very good in the sky, with its green tail.


I have no idea how many BP Peter Powells were produced, but whether one or a hundred, it's a very nice addition to my collection!