The last Flowform I got from Didak was horrible so I have been keen to find out as much as I can about their Explorer before stumping up the cash.
So the last Sutton flowforms have been made and the clock is ticking for those still flying; a combination of UV exposure, seam stretching and the inevitable tumbles into thorn trees will slowly diminish the flying days of Steve Sutton’s marvel.
There will of course be a few custom and self-made examples made but the end of production under licence by Air Affairs of Hatboro PA is a bit of a blow to those who have come to depend on this kite as a workhorse. So it’s place is taken at the KAPshop by the Didak Explorer and I thought I’d do some homework so that when the evil hour comes I’ll know what to replace my trusty ff30 with. The KAP shop has a helpful link and I found a description and review of the kite by Ralf Dietrich..in German. Not being a German speaker I fed the text in to Google translate and pieced the text together in English (or something like it).
So here it is, it’s quite encouraging so I decided to place an order…but they are out of stock* so I will have to wait before I can share Ralf’s excitement: I hope he forgives me for for the language!
Hoch oben! (High Up!) Didak Explorer 2.7 review by Ralf Deitrich for Kite & Friends magazine Nov/Dec 2009
Lifter kites are a dime a dozen. Most manufacturers have one in a soft kite category in their product ranges today. When Belgian kite maker Didakites announcement of two new Lifter kites fluttered into the house, it did not seem to be too exciting. But when the package arrived, our curiosity was aroused. It contained a kite that we really should have prepared for a lot of fun with. But we did not know at this time.
Didakites offers the Explorer in two different versions: 2.7 and 4.8. These numbers indicate the area of the kite. While the Explorer has 2.7 the dimensions of 150 to 180 cm, the 4.8 version comes at the impressive wingspan of 240 cm and a depth of no less impressive 200 cm. In our test: the smaller Explorer 2.7. The kite is supplied in a sturdy, two-coloured spinnaker bag, with the kite name printed on. In addition, on the front of the storage bag there is a data sheet for the Explorer. Much more exciting is inside the bag, because it is where the kites are! And only the kite. No flying line and no flight instructions were included. The kite itself is white with a blue colour and at first sight makes a trustworthy impression. All fabric edges are fitted with a double and triple seam with a zigzag stitch. The only downside at this point is the yarn was joined in the seam, forming some unsightly swellings. Inside the kite, the cell dividers are fixed with a simple stitch, which is nothing unusual in this type of kite. We really liked the fact that Didakites has carefully considered the fabric warp and weft in the panel construction. This is not often seen in lifter kites and, at this price point, it should assert itself as a standard for lifters.
The keels are reinforced in the bridle attachment area with Dacron, sewed into a tab at the towing points. The positive overall impression is reinforced by the detailing of the rounded air outlets at the tail end. These were lined with double-layer tape and triple zigzag stitched. Also at the tail end is a small tab is for attaching wind chimes or trailing tails. Since this loop was stitched only at the hem, this should probably only be used to hang small wind chimes. Overall, the kite is characterized by its good workmanship, raising expectations of good performance.
We tested our expectation when we get to the kite field! Equipped with a 100-DaN line the Explorer was deployed. The wind flows into the four openings and with a jerk, the kite sits stable over our heads. The very large air intakes are a striking feature. At 45cm by 28cm square they are large compared to other lifter kites, but they serve their purpose well: the Explorer fills up quickly and easily with air and is just as fast in the sky. With a little practice, the kite can also be started by one person, but it is easier for two. Just fix on the flying line and there’s nothing to get in the way of flying pleasure. A conspicuous feature of the Explorer 2.7, is that despite a high angle the line has a good pull. Ivo van Olmen, in designing this kite for Didakites, has achieved a very special success: namely, to develop a kite that has bridged the difficult gap between lift and pull. Speaking of flying characteristics – an additional feature of the kite is its stability. The Explorer 2.7 pays positive attention to itself: it is very stable in the sky. It takes even the larger gusts calmly and recovers easily. The example of the Explorer 2.7 shows it to be the perfect lifter kite for all situations: well manufactured, they have mastered the problem of angle and line tension in exemplary fashion. From the viewpoint of the editors, there is therefore a clear “thumbs up” for this Belgian workhorse!
Lift and pull
The problem: The higher the lift, the lower the angle of flight. And vice versa. Flowform kites are generally not steep in the sky. But there are also kites which the master this balancing act – a rare occurrence, but they are there.
For all those who have a collection of line laundry and would like to take it to heaven. The Explorer lifts anything that it’s asked to: no matter whether large or small wind turbine Teddy. KAP equipment should also be safely helped into the sky.
*I got my Explorer 2.7 on 7.03.2012 and flew it back to back with the Sutton ff30. My first flight with it is described here