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.

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 a 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 ...

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Sail colour of the original prototype was ???

Small snippet of information on the early history of the Peter Powell Stunter. If you had asked me a few months ago what the original sail colour of the Peter Powell Stunter was, I would have said black, without hesitation. I had always been under the impression that in the early days the sail only came in black, and that later, blue, red, yellow and green sails became an option. Found out recently (with thanks to Paul and Emma at Peter Powell Kites) that prior to the black sail, the prototype for the Stunter had a clear sail, but these clear-sailed kites never went into production.

Unfortunately, none of these clear-sailed prototypes seem to have survived, and I couldn't find a picture of one through googling. So I can't post a picture, but in the absence of the real thing, you can easily imagine what it could have looked like against a blue sky, right?


Saturday, 25 June 2016

Skyraker!

In a recent post, I tried to shake the tree to see if a Skyraker fell out. Well, I didn't have long to wait! A fellow kite flyer contacted me, saying he had a Skyraker that he wouldn't mind letting go. We quickly agreed on a price, and a few days later, my Skyraker was in an airplane crossing the Atlantic.

So here it is!


As far as I'm aware, this was the first dual-line delta produced by the American arm of Peter Powell Kites. To me, it really does look like a (small) diamond Stunter, to which a pair of wings is added.

Next question is, of course, how does it fly? First flight was in 7-14mph wind, and that shows that the Skyraker really needs a bit of wind pressure on the sail; it was happiest when the wind speed went into double figures.


Reasonably responsive, but not overly quick to react to input. Also a rather large turning circle for its size. I tried to axel it, but only succeeded once (and then only if you really squinted and sort of looked the other way ...). Essentially, it flies as you would expect a small-ish dual-line delta from the 1980s to fly.

I say small-ish: its wing span is 1.70m. Now that's interesting, because the ads from when it was marketed talk about a 76" = 1.93m wing span .... did the Skyraker come in different sizes? If anyone knows more about this, please get in touch!

And I mentioned in my earlier post that the Skyraker came with several different sails: 3-panel, 11-panel, and with 'Illusion' graphics. The one I got my hands on is the 3-panel version, and my bag is always open to an 11-panel and 'Illusion' Skyraker joining the collection ...

Monday, 13 June 2016

Caribbean Kite Company

Around 1994, the US arm of Peter Powell Kites became independent and changed its name to Caribbean Kite Company. This morphing of Peter Powell Kites into Caribbean Kite Company, based on Jamaica, and with distribution centred in Florida, is nicely shown in the magazine Kite Lines: up to 1993, it carried ads for Peter Powell Kites, whereas by 1995, these had disappeared and ads for Caribbean Kite Company started to appear. Initially, these ads made clear the company was formerly known as Peter Powell Kites.

The Caribbean Kite Company continued production of a small number of Peter Powell kites, and introduced a range of kites themselves. At that stage, they were quite ambitious, and were aiming for 'Caribbean kite' to become a worldwide badge of the highest quality. All their kites carried names of islands in the Caribbean (well, to be perfectly honest, all but one, but that's for a later blog post). So, for instance, the traditional Stunter was renamed Cayman, the Skychaser was rebadged as Tobago, the Skylite was produced under the name Mustique, and the Omni was relabelled Caicos. The front page of their web-site gives a nice overview of the range of dual-line kites they sold (with thanks to the Wayback Machine!).


Keep in mind that over the years more kites than these were produced and marketed. They also had a range of single-line kites, by the way. The Caribbean Kite Company didn't last for very long: in 2000, it was put up for sale; not much was heard of it since, but I'm not sure exactly when they went out of business (anyone?).

Even though technically kites produced by the Caribbean Kite Company aren't Peter Powell kites, some of them do contain the DNA of Peter Powell Kites. And the Cayman is a Peter Powell kite in all but name. So, for me, kites produced by the Caribbean Kite Company definitely represent a chapter in the story of Peter Powell kites. You may agree with me or not, but I will definitely be looking to add Caribbean Kite Company kites to my collection of Peter Powell kites!