At the Cervia Kite Festival in 2009, I was ceremonially presented me with a Tee shirt by Klaus from Luxemburg labeling me, not entirely unfairly, as the “Master of Disaster”; see accompanying photo.

I wore it with pride at every kite event after that for more than a year while offering it to other fliers who, by their virtuosity in precipitating various kite incidents, had shown themselves to be deserving. Strangely, none ever accepted. Perhaps they were just too modest- or perhaps I should have washed it at some stage.

Anyway, getting desperate for a change of clothing, eventually a cunning plan evolved:

At Cervia in 2010, I gave it for the auction, then, contrived to be absent when it came up for sale so that the auctioneer (Paul Reynolds) couldn’t knock it down to me again – and winkle away my life’s savings in the process – ‘cos he would have.

I think Klaus was a bit hurt by this – perhaps he felt it was not quite right for me to give away his gift – or maybe he sees it as his duty to put up signs to protect kite fliers, rather like having “Road Works”, “Deer Crossing”, “Accident Ahead” or the like on roadways.

Actually, I shouldn’t have said that – now he’ll probably present me with an “Accident Ahead” Tee shirt.

But Klaus, the sale raised $50 for a good cause, and the general idea was so good I think I’ll copy it (no, I’m not aware of any Chinese ancestry, my surname is Lynn not Lin.)- and copying is the only sincere flattery.*

How about expanding Klaus’s idea a bit:

Master of Disaster tee

And what about a few other themed Tee shirts like:


And another one:

But I don’t really mean this last one, really I don’t, and here is one way I can help to fix your kite:

Judging by how some of them fly at kite events, it seems that almost nobody out there (or at the PL Kite Factory for that matter!) yet knows how to tune Pilot kites. I’ve attempted to describe the process in previous Newsletters but clearly haven’t connected.

This is my fault entirely; I’ve been explaining it too technically, using too many words, and trying to cover too many exceptions.

It’s easy, and even the why of it is simple:

Here’s the essential:

To pull a Pilot kite to the right, shorten “B” bridle on the right. – End of story!

A’s are the set of bridles along the leading edge, B’s are the next set and C’s are the ones nearest the trailing edge. (on later model 8 bridle Pilots there’s no C in the centre span.)

OK so I’ve lied a little, not quite the entire story: the kite will be sensitive to this adjustment to within a few millimetres, but only when the B bridle length is already nearly correct. Often it will be necessary to pull in 50mm or so before it gets into this critical range. I think this is why it’s so confusing. If you shorten a side B by 50mm and nothing seems to have happened, then it’s completely reasonable to expect that another 10mm won’t make any difference either. And if you then shorten it another 50mm and that side of the kite folds in half and won’t even stay inflated, then the conclusion might reasonably be that changing B lengths doesn’t work at all as a tuning system. But it does. You just have to find the critical length range within which it works. Somewhere in the middle between the extremes will be a +/-25mm length range that will enable any Pilot I’ve met so far to be centralised.

But isn’t this rather a brave statement of the ‘Bring me your sick and dying and I will heal them’ sort? Well yes, I am a bit nervous, can imagine really needing that last Tee shirt while at kite events from now on.

Realistically I expect there are some Pilots out there that are so asymmetric (from angled weft, manufacturing inaccuracies, asymmetrical stretch or a combination of these things) as to be beyond help. But for some years now I’ve been taking the Pilots that have been rejected as un-flyable/unsalable by Peter Lynn Kites Ltd, fixing them by the above (and below) techniques and using them at events,- and haven’t yet had a failure.

But what about stability?

What to do when your Pilot starts weaving around all over the sky then crashes out in a series of loops (taking other kites in the vicinity along for the ride, and earning you a Tee shirt number two). This cure is also easy:

To stop Pilot kites zooming around, shorten the centre span B bridle. End of story.

But by how much should you shorten centre B?

By just enough to stabilise the kite, because too much will eat in to light wind performance.

And the reasons for why these techniques work? This really is simple:

The more lift (upwards force) that a kite generates, the less stable it will be, but the more drag it creates horizontal force), the more stable it will be.

Shortening any B bridle reduces the camber (lift creating curvature) of that section of the kite, which decreases the amount of lift and increases the drag generated there.

When B bridle on the right side of a Pilot kite is shortened it reduces the lift and increases the drag from that side of the kite, allowing the left hand side of the kite to dominate and push the kite to the right.

When the centre span B bridle is shortened, the camber in the centre of the kite is reduced so the amount of lift generated is reduced and the drag increased, so the kite becomes more stable.

Sure there are forms of instability that this adjustment won’t cure, but the zooming around sort is by far the most common, and this is a complete fix for it.

These techniques work for every size and every model of Pilot kite produced by Peter Lynn Kites Ltd so far.

For the next (probably 6 bridle, but not yet finalised) models, rather than changing bridle lengths, there is to be an internal adjustment that accomplishes the same effect. This is neater, more predictable in effect and even simpler to do. It can even be retro-fitted to earlier 8 and 9 bridle Pilots if you have a mind to.

Peter Lynn, Ashburton, June 30 2010

* So does this mean that the Chinese are really showing how much they admire us when ripping us off?
Judging by the increasingly blatant activities of Weifang New Sky Kites I think I’d rather be reviled – and no doubt will be when PL Kites Ltd finally loses patience with polite requests and starts jumping on their Western customers for copyright infringement in a big and expensive way.