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April 2005 - It never blows but then it blows, blows & blows. Splice, splice - a nice splice would be nice.
With us for this series was Michael Richards, Roger Martin, Greg Moore and Hugh Moore. In April we encountered hot, dry conditions with mostly light variable winds. Our best altitude was 4,200 ft. This time I brought the black DT Delta and the 165 sq. metre DT delta. There were a few other kites to fly time permitting. I always bring a medium test delta just sample conditions up to 2,000 ft. This time it's the green and yellow delta which is built for strong winds but was an exceptional flyer in all conditions. It flew to 3,500 ft which if scaled up equivalent to 120 sq. ft. is 14,000 ft above ground level. For the first 3 days we were frustrated but a soft layer between 3 & 5,000 ft. It was hot and exhausting work repeatedly trying to work the kite higher or return the kite to ground to adjust the bridle then relaunch. While we don't physically have to wrestle with the line for hour after hour, we do have to stand operating the winch with the neck strained looking into the sky. Observing the kite and watching the computer monitor and constantly monitoring the winch, reel and line is mentally draining. We rotate between roles to reduce fatigue but at the same time we need to be mindful of keeping up hydration and monitoring my sugar levels as I am diabetic. We all have to protect ourselves with hats and sun screen. Aside from those practical issues, the record attempts are a matter of patience, concentration and making the correct decisions. Lose concentration and bad things can and do happen, like loss of control of the winch or failure to take full advantage of changing conditions and the kite is lost at worst and time is lost at best.
This wind profile shows the difficulty of flying the kite through "soft" layers. The green trace indicates a 2,500 ft. thick zone from 2,500 to 5,000 ft. Also from 6,000 ft. to 10,000 ft. the wind speed remains at 14 knots. In effect this is a 13% decrease in wind energy as the air density drops with altitude. There is also an increase in line weight and drag so the kite would probably struggle until 11,000 ft even if it could get through the 2,500 - 5,000 ft. zone which it couldn't as shown by the Garmin GPS logged flight graph above right. The 1,600 ft. or so above ground level was achieved with a lot of effort through counter winching and line release. We learned in later attempts about the futility of trying on some days but as I have written in other areas, we travel 750 km and plan for months for these flights so we have to try something.
On this day the kite was not going to go very high at all. We gave up after it reached about 700 ft above ground level and we achieved that with launching on 400 metres of line. The wind was a very light breeze of 5 knots from ground to 6,800 ft. the kite needs 6 knots to stay aloft up to 2,000 ft then it needs about1 knot extra for every thousand feet to compensate for reduced air density and increasing line weight and drag.
April 2005 was a very forgettable series of attempts at flying a 12 sq metre kite high. It made me think about changing or attempts to another month but then doldrums exist at any time of the year. The weather data shows there are better months on the average but winds in an inland area can be unpredictable especially in the middle of long periods of drought when high pressure systems dominate for weeks on end with out any strong frontal systems coming from the Southern Ocean to stir things up.
James 5 and Andrew 7 with the big black beast on the top of Rooty Hill in Western Sydney, NSW, Australia. This kite was built in early 2004 by Mike Richards of Kite Magic and a team member on the quest for the world altitude record. This kite a 12.34 sq. metre DT delta, was made from 12.5 and 15 mm fibreglass tube spars and 1.5 WT rip stop Nylon cloth. It was lost permanently in rugged bushland in October 2005. See the story further on.
This kite about 1,000 ft. over Cable Downs. By the time it gets to 6,000 ft. it is becoming difficult to spot with the naked eye unless you know where to look exactly. By 8,000 ft. it requires big binoculars or a telescope. The black kite is easiest to see against a blue background but can get a bit lost if there is some dark clouds above. The white kite with a black stripe was good as well but I haven't come to any conclusion as to whether any particular colour is much better than others.
Kite Altitude World Record