Looking for stunt kite plans

In article <1992May27.121120.25346@aber.ac.uk> puc@aber.ac.uk (Paul Crowley) writes:

>I was intrigued by your comments on Cotterell's liteflite. Do I take it
>that you're not impressed?

Correct--I'm not impressed.

>In Britain, the original liteflite is reckoned
>to be the best VFM mass-produced light wind kite available.

Hmmm.  This is where things get touchy.  I assume by VFM you mean value
for money.  Obviously, it's all subjective.  If I pay as much as $290 for 
a Phantom and only $170 for a LiteFlite, but fly the Phantom 500 hours/year
and the LiteFlite for maybe 10 hours/year, where have I gotten the best
value for my money?

>I know it's
>not a tremendous performer but it retails at around half the price of a
>shadow phantom.

Either the LiteFlite is a hell of a lot cheaper over there, or the Phantom
is a lot cheaper over here.  Robbie Sugarman, who is the US importer/
distributer for both the Fizz Phantom (not Highfliers) and the LiteFlite
line sells the Phantom for $240 and the LiteFlite S for $170 (the LiteFlite
is $165).  The Phantom is nowhere _near_ twice the price of the LiteFlite.

>In fact it's about the only low wind kite I can afford

Then perhaps it's worth saving up for?  Just a thought...

>( we don't seem to have as wide a choice as you do in the States)

A pity.  Is there some sort of tariff or tax that would cause less importation
of US kites to Europe than European kites to the US?  We see plenty of 
European kites over here.

>  I'd be interested to hear your comments on the liteflite

I got my S back in fall '90 from my parents, who had been to England on a 
vacation.  To my surprise and joy, they'd stopped in at the Kite Store and
talked to one of the folks there for a while.  After learning that I already
had a Phantom (since early July, '90), the guy recommended a LiteFlite S, 
as the cut-out trailing edge gave it a higher wind range. 

Overall, the kite is pretty well made.  The leading edge of mine has some
dropped stitches in the zig-zag which to me implies lazy or cheap sewing--
you often get dropped stitches like this when you don't change your needle
often enough.  Other than that, though, it's very well put together.  The
spars are a 5.5 mm graphite, the same size as is used in the Phantom.  The
spars are _not_ the Beman one finds in the Phantom, and the ones in the
LiteFlite seem more fragile.  I broke both of my bottom spreaders within a 
couple of weeks of receiving the kite.  This was partially due to the
t-fitting, which is made of brass.  My parents told me that they'd been told
that the makers were having trouble with that brass ferrule and were
considering switching to aluminum.  I don't know if the ferrule was ever
changed.  In general, the frame doesn't seem all that solid to me.  You can 
see the leading edges flex during turns even in extremely light winds.   
Bridles are made out of unsleeved Spectra; I'm not sure how I feel about this.
Interestingly, the outhaul is of a much lighter test than the rest of the 
bridle--I believe it's 80, compared to 200.  I have to wonder if there's 
really enough of a weight difference in a ~2' long piece of line to justify 

How does the kite fly?  Moderately well.  It does indeed go up in a breath 
of wind.  The problems occur when you want to do something ridiculously
uncalled for like, say, I dunno, maybe TURNING THE KITE.  The thing lumbers
around turns as if it's got all day, and the turns are _huge_.  You can
snap corners but it's not overly precise.

I suspect I'd like the kite more if the bridles had had an optimum point
_marked_ on them.  As it was, the bridles had no marking, no reference
point to work from.  The kite never feels tuned, and yet all attempts to
adjust the bridle, in any direction, in any increment, seems to make 
things worse.

The kite is also pretty difficult to launch off the leading edge (as compared
to many other kites).  It's doable, but don't expect to get it on the
first try.  ;-)

All is not doom and gloom, though.  My S _does_ fly in extremely light
winds, and it moves along at a nice clip even in those light winds!  It's
very easy to run 360s with it, and it often seems like it takes less work
to keep up than my old, stretched-out Phantom (of course my S, while old,
isn't at all stretched, so this could be part it).  Just don't expect to do
any fancy movement once the kite is in the air.  

Also on the positive side is the way the kite looks.  It's got an 
extraordinarily boring, yet incredible effective graphic--black sail with
big triangles on each wing.  The fabric is Carrington and my kite, black
and orange, looks spectacular when it's turning in the sun--the fabric
lights up and it just looks great.

Would I recommend in a LiteFlite?  Maybe.  If you're in a hurry and don't
have the money for something better, then yes, it's a good kite.  It
flies in very low winds.  If you're not in a hurry, save up for something
better, whether one of Tim Benson's creations, or any of the other
great ultralights out there.  As with any kite though, if there's anyway you
can get a test fly before making a purchase, _do it_.  Nothing will tell you
more about the way a kite flies than getting to fly it yourself.

(the converse is dangerous--try not to fly too many kites that you aren't
willing to buy or build--you'll just frustrate yourself...;-)

>in fact the 
>newsgroup could do with a lot more kite reviews, where else can you get
>unbiased opinions?

Perhaps it's just a matter of people needing to post requests for reviews
of particular kites.  I'm sure there are others out there beside myself
who are willing to write reviews, many of whom are more qualified to write
such reviews!


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