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, 17 September 2016

Junior Triple-stack

Some time ago, I posted on our new Skyraker, which we managed to get from the US. Well, this kite didn't cross the pond on its own; there was something more in the package ...

But let me first give you a bit of background. In the UK, Peter Powell Stunters all came in the same size: with a 4' wing span. In the US, this was also the case originally, but then the US arm of Peter Powell Kites started producing larger and smaller versions. The larger 6' version was called 'The Monster' and we have one in our collection. The smaller 3' (82cm) version was called 'Junior', and that's the kite that accompanied the Skyraker in its voyage to the UK. Or, to be more precise, three kites linked together: a Junior Triple-stack.

The stack came without original tails, and I thought we'd just try to fly it like that. Big mistake ... Highly unstable, extremely twitchy and almost impossible to fly. We didn't bring any official Peter Powell tails with us, but we did have several Premier transition tails in the team bag. To see whether that made a difference, we first attached a single 50' tail to the lead kite of the stack. That definitely made a difference, and when we then attached two further 25' tails to the other two kites, we had a stack that was actually flyable!

The Premier tails weren't made for these kites, but they do match well, and the two different tail lengths create a nice unusual visual effect.

Even though the tails most certainly tamed the kites, they remain more difficult to fly than 4' Stunters, whether old or modern. I seem to remember Paul or Mark saying something along the lines of Juniors not exactly being the best kites ever produced under the Peter Powell name. I may have found out why, but nevertheless, they're a welcome addition to our Peter Powell Kites collection.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Round Table PP

Not long after a Queen promo Stunter appeared on eBay, another branded Peter Powell popped up. This time it was a white one, featuring a Round Table logo.

Paul was not aware of the existence of this particular branded Peter Powell kite, but he did mention Peter being an invited speaker for the Round Table, so the kite may well be connected to such an event. The kite was listed with a buy-it-now price of £80, which was just too high for me to bite. The kite didn't sell in its first listing, and was relisted a few times, after which it disappeared from eBay. So I assume someone did feel it was worth it!

There were definitely more branded PP Stunters around in those days. Paul remembered a green-and-yellow one made for BP. If I ever come across this BP kite, or at least a picture of one, or of any other branded Peter Powell kite, you can be sure I'll post a bit about it here. And obviously, if any of you reading this has more information on this Round Table kite, the BP kite, or any other branded Peter Powell, please get in touch!

Sunday, 4 September 2016

New PP routine music

The 2016 festival season for Flying Fish has come to an end. Although we have a pair of custom-made Peter Powell Stunters to fly displays with, it wasn't until our final kite festival, Exmouth, that the conditions were such that we could think of flying them in the arena. On Sunday morning, after a Saturday with very light winds, the wind had picked up enough for us to get the PP Stunters ready (with Keith and Vee of the Airheads team acting as ground crew).

Previously, we had always flown our Peter Powells to 'Adiemus', but for this festival season, we had decided to change the music for our Peter Powell routine to 'Heart of Courage'. We felt the way PP Stunters fly through the air match this piece of music really well; have a listen, and see whether you agree.

As we launched (me first, with Irma joining me about 15 seconds later), the wind was still strong enough to fly the Stunters.

Unfortunately, however, the wind gradually started to drop, causing us to struggle more and more. Despite frantically walking backwards, the kites dropped out of the sky about 30 seconds from the end ....

So sadly, we couldn't complete the official debut of the new Peter Powell routine music all the way through. Still, there's always next year!

Picture credits: Marian Linford & Valerie Hancorn

Friday, 12 August 2016

Peter Powell Kites catalogue

This will be a rather unusual post for this blog, as it's not about a kite, but about a kite catalogue! Thanks to Charly Whitaker of Kite Classifieds for giving me first dibs on a 1991 catalogue from Peter Powell Kites in the US.

The catalogue consists of 22 pages, and came with a few inserts. It covers the range of Peter Powell kites available in 1991, from the classic diamond Stunters to several of the early dual-line deltas (Skyraker and Wing) and the Double Diamond quad kite.

Also included in the catalogue are a range of lines, straps and handles, as well as a page on single-liners.

A very interesting insert is the retail price list, including kites, spares, and accessories!

A standard diamond Stunter with plastic sail cost $29 back then, one with a tri-color ripstop sail cost $53.40, whereas the 6' Monster would have set you back $144. Skyrakers varied from $62 to $145, depending on sail and frame, and for the Wing you had to pay $135. The most expensive single kite on the list was a Skyblazer (shown on the cover of the catalogue): $195. But if you really wanted to splash out, you could order a 6-stack of tri-color ripstop diamond Stunters for $302.40.

What did the catalogue tell me about US Peter Powell kites that I didn't already know from other sources? Few things. First of all, I wasn't aware that Peter Powell also made single-liners in the US. Secondly, there was an American Mk III Stunter, which was an ultralight version, with a carbon frame, of the ripstop Mk II. And finally, The Skyraker came in more sail versions than I was aware of. I knew it came with 3-panel, 11-panel, and 'Illusion' graphics sails, but the price list also lists a 1-panel sail. The 'Stars & Stripes' version I showed in an earlier blog post was actually a separate version of the 11-panel sail, costing an extra $5 on top of the $85.

Fun bit of PP history! And if anyone reading this is looking for specific information from this catalogue; you know where to find me ...

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Skylite (and looking for a Mustique)

Two American-produced Peter Powell deltas are already part of our collection: a Wing and a Skyraker. And I'm pleased that we have now been able to add a third one to the collection: a Skylite!

This PP delta appears to have come on the market in 1992, based on the ads in the Kite Lines magazine. It's essentially an ultralight kite, with a wingspan of 2.47m.

The Skylite tracks very well, no oversteer at all. It does need a bit more input than a more modern delta, but would make a pretty decent team kite.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, when the Caribbean Kite Company took over the American arm of Peter Powell Kites, they retained some of the existing PP models under a different name. The Skylite was renamed Mustique, and, judging from a Caribbean Kite Company catalogue, it appears nothing much was changed in the specs of the kite.

Now you may well have seen this coming, but does anyone have a Mustique they'd be willing to part with? Colour not important. Would be fun for Flying Fish to have a Skylite - Mustique pair in their quiver!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

'The Monster'

The American arm of Peter Powell Kites started out with producing diamond Stunters very similar to those produced in the UK, but quickly diversified their product range. As well as deltas (of which the Skyraker was the first), they also started creating smaller and larger versions of the standard diamond Stunter. Meet the 6' version of the classic diamond Stunter, called 'The Monster'!

We first got to fly this large PP at the Leominster & Hereford Kite Festival at Berrington Hall. The wind was quite variable, mostly 3-15mph. In these conditions, 'The Monster' took to the air slowly and gracefully, and proved itself to be easy to handle and steer, though obviously needing more air space to fly loops and circles.

Pull was firm, but nothing that couldn't be handled. However, the official wind range of this kite is 5-40mph, and I can well imagine that the kite will become a serious handful when the wind goes above ~20mph. An indication of that is the fact that the kite has an extra cross spar behind the sail, strengthening the frame and preventing the leading edges from collapsing in high winds ...

First flight of 'The Monster' was with an all-white tail, but I'm going to see if I can get a tri-colour blue-pink-white tail for this kite. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

PP Stunter - aluminium frame & vintage lines

The first Peter Powell Stunters in the UK had a wooden frame. This was quickly replaced by aluminium, in several different configurations, and later again by fibreglass. In the job lot of Peter Powell Stunters that basically kickstarted my collection were four with an aluminium spine and leading edges, but fibreglass cross spars. In other words, I did not have a Stunter with a fully aluminium frame in my collection ...

Cue the interconnectedness of kite flyers, and the presence of this blog: I was offered a PP Stunter with complete aluminium frame for a very decent price. Specifically, the price for the kite was "a pint next time we meet in a pub". Good deal or what?

As I said above, the configuration of the aluminium frame went through several versions, and the picture below shows the configuration of this particular kite. a bent metal rod goes through the tube on the spine, and two aluminium cross spars slide over the metal rod.

So how does the oldest PP Stunter in my collection fly? I first had the chance to try it out at the Leominster & Hereford Kite Festival. And it flies exactly as you would expect a 1970s Peter Powell to fly: it needs decent wind pressure on the sail and doesn't like it when that pressure falls away. But with enough wind pressure, it flies and steers well.

Now the kite also came with the original lines and handles, and I felt it would be fun to fly it on those lines rather than our modern Climax Protec.

Flying the kite on these vintage lines is ... let's just say 'interesting'. It really felt like I had two long elastic strings connecting me to the kite. Clearly, lines have come a long way in 40 years ...