I had the good fortune to win one of Dan Leighs deltas at auction. The Trooper is a high speed wind kite and took a bit of getting used to. There, in sharpie, is the signature of the legendary Kensington Park flier …. I flew the kite as soon as I got hold of it and discovered it’s a right handful. It sweeps across the sky in a series of wide turns and is near impossible to land with out planting its nose in the dirt. Not nice. I thought I’d help it by replacing the spreader with a softer one, the original is a rock-hard chunk of carbon that seemed to give the kite a drum-skin tight aspect to the wind, maybe a softer spar would help. It didn’t. Try as I might in a blustery 15-20mph wind I couldn’t get the thing to sit still. I read around and found a telling quote from Dan:
“Depending on the ground winds, there may never be a solution to handling the Trooper; it’s a mule. It barely lifts and is on the edge for flyability; it’s purely a workhorse-type kite. They’re for when all else fails, delta-wise. A good bet would be to knock up a tail of some sort. A length of 1/4 inch polypropylene rope with the 3 strands un-raveled, a bundle of surveyors’ tape 40 feet long, strips of rag knotted together. May or may not work, but that’s the general idea. Tails aren’t just for drag; there needs ideally to be some weight as well. In fact the fringe or strips on traditional kite tails are there to stop it from whipping as much as to add some drag. I avoid drogues, those little parachutes; they only add drag and tend to lift the tail end of the kite, which can throw it off balance.”
To fly with a tail is contrary to what I’m trying to do: yards of wind weed in the sky puts the kite a greater risk from snagging, trees, fences, livestock etc. than without- it increases the space needed to work in.
My local common has a height restriction of 30m so I headed out to a wide open space to try a deep sky approach and see what happens…and I discovered the secret of the Trooper. The problem is the short line characteristic of the kite is horrible. What I didn’t know is that short line for this kite is something like 150′ (50m). Dump enough line at it and it behaves, it’s not like the ‘hurl it and forget it’ of Fokken’s Levitation at all. Feeding line gently is not a good thing, it has to get the line length to escape the pendulum effect before it flies…and boy how it flies! The great thing about the Trooper is the miracle of lift without pull on the line. It can be flown without gloves or anchor in wind-speeds which other kites need an industrial approach to handling. This is the joy of it. It does swing about but always returns to sit on the wind, it will even turn right over but recover quickly with little loss of height, once it’s clear of the short line behavior it will lift a rig happily and gently on a near slack line. In 15-20mph the Trooper makes swallow like moves but barely pulls on the line. The kite can be managed easily with out putting fingers at risk in a way no other kite I have flown can. As a Bft 5 flier it’s remarkable, compared to the ‘smashy’ PFK it’s a kite I want to fly in the fresher breezes, all I have to do now is learn to land it, the short line swinging has only ended with nose plants in the dirt so far!