Small is beautiful: the Didak Explorer 16 at work.

I had an hilarious session yesterday. The cloud lifted and I decided to see what I could do with the diminutive Explorer 16 and Tims new rig with the S95 as a trail run for what Kevin Lajolie calls a ‘ninja’ KAP session where I can pack small, launch quick and fly light.

It didn’t work out. The little kite took an age to get aloft involving running upwind to get it clear of wind shadow so the ‘rapid’ launch was a fail. Nothing discrete about a full grown man running across a field waving a kite in the air behind him. After 2 or 3 goes it flew well but needed a great deal of sky to find the steady flow. Next: the lightweight rig. I’m finding its small size and relative lightness something of a confidence boost- I have the feeling it will go up even though the pull was not so great- maybe 2-5kg on the line in around 7mph wind speed.

_DSC0019I’d brought everything I need, except charged batteries!

I practice my carefully rehearsed start up sequence on the camera. Something is wrong. The battery is flat. The spare is at home. Bah. Despite the Alpinist approach I have 3 cameras with me. I pull out the old favourite  Ixus 7 and hope I have the card with the scripts on it in there. Power on…nothing…another flat battery. Profanity uttered, how could I be so slack as to let this happen?

The last throw of the dice on this game before I return home, charge batteries and kick myself for being so stupid is the EosM: a heavy weight. The extra space on the rig for the S95 USB connector is just enough to allow the lovely EosM to fit nicely and fortunately I’d left its GentLED cable hanging off it, I’d failed on ‘light weight’ now:


Getting it off the deck took a lot of space but oh so slowly it limps upward. As the kite rises it finds more lift and I begin to imagine the shots it’s taking. This is fly and forget KAP but the camera needs to be placed with a view to a decent shot or two. I work around my subject, it’s a pretty big thing and my confidence in the outcome builds…

_MG_2548 _MG_2621 _MG_2657

Fly and forget? well I’d forgotten quite a bit on this session but I’m pleased with the spread of shots I captured and found some that satisfied my photographers eye, so as well as lifting my spirits with the joy of the kite in the sky, I’d proved to myself the little Didak Explorer is a very handy kite even if it is an undignified thing to launch..


About billboyheritagesurvey

Heritage worker
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7 Responses to Small is beautiful: the Didak Explorer 16 at work.

  1. Renaud says:

    Thank you for your very interesting blog I recently discovered.

    May I ask you a question/advice ? I too bought an Explorer 1.6. This is my first soft kite (I also own a Little Bear, a DC Alpine, a PFK Kiwi..). I wanted to pack all I need for a session in a bag I can take on my bike or in my boat.
    That said, though I find it a nice kite, I find the explorer’s wind range a little narrow, especially on the light winds side.
    I live In Nice, where the winds are not very predictable, tricky because of the hills, moutains..and often very light.
    What would you recommand as a very light winds soft kite ? Peter Lynn’s pilot ? KapFoil ? Other ?

    Thank you.

  2. Thanks for taking a look Renaud,

    Light wind is not the 1.6 Explorers forte.The bigger 2.7 helps but light winds are the most difficult for ‘soft’ kites: you cannot ‘work’ them into a higher flow like you sometimes can with a delta or a rokkaku.

    Of all the soft kites you can get I’d say Ralf Beutnagel’s KAPfoil is the most refined for KAP …but if you are going to pack small you have to accept you will not be able to work with the lightest winds.


    • Renaud says:

      Thanks for your quick answer ! Would a KapFoil take off in a light Bft 2 with a GoPro attached ?

      • Maybe…for Bft2 I’d use a framed kite, it is the worst of winds to work with! The GoPro at 70g is not a problem for almost any kite if you are happy with the bugeyed view,

        I have had foils collapse in Bft 2 so I wouldn’t risk it unless it was a stable (seaside) flow.


      • Renaud says:

        OK, very helpful, thank you. A last question then : would a Fled do a better job in these conditions than a little Bear ?

  3. Ah, can’t help you there- I have neither! My light wind lifter is an 8’Jones rokkaku.

    Depends a bit on the size of the Fled.They have a great reputation and a large one with carbon spars might give you a result- the Little Bear, being a delta, would be easier to assemble, launch and is more ‘pointable’.

    Good luck,


    • Renaud says:

      I also have a Rok, that I like very much -it was my first kite 2 years ago- , that I use when in holidays, in large grasslands. I should use it more often maybe : I was seeing it more as a medium winds kite.


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