Didak Explorer 16 overblown at Bft 6

Packing small. I have been working with the flowforms as kites to bike with. Getting the deltas on the bike is do-able but awkward. I ended up with a fairly badly loaded bike:


This works but gets awkward under low hanging trees, and I constantly fear snapping spars if I twang a passing car.


For me the obvious crossbar option didn’t work, the brain to knee connection couldn’t adapt to the ‘foreign body’ on the bike and I endured a couple of days of dreadful knee pain as a result.

So I have settled on a set of 3 soft kites, HQ 2.0, and 2 Didak Explorers a 2.7 and a 1.6.


which gives me a nicely balanced load without the sticks to worry about. In theory the 3 sizes should let me fly in a variety of wind speeds.

Compared to the deltas these are powerful kites with a low flying angle and need a lot of open space to work in (light wind pin-point positioning is not really what they do: that is the forte of the deltas) the Didak Explorer 16 is the ‘high speed’ option.

Off I pedal onto the great Fen to see what I can do with this neat set up. I ride the banks of the Cam till I’m stopped by signage:


So this is far as I can go: with no clues as to who to write to I give up….time to fly, here there is space, wind and sunlight so I launched the 16 into the buffeting breeze that had pushed the bike gently along the towpath. Big mistake.

I found just how much wind the little foil can take, paying out the line the camera rose handsomely as it takes its place in the sky..with tremendous pull on the line: this is where a handy fence post is needed… In a few short moments I had constructed a nightmare aerial assembly of wildly lurching camera, kite and piano wire tight line.

Wind speed 19072015_02

Overblown. The Explorers are very stable but have a tendency to track across the wind window …and heel over when faced with their upper wind speed.  Unlike some flowforms they rarely spin out of control, Ivo van Olmen has designed a real bulldog of a lifter even at the small ’16’ size the Bft 4 capacity is  a useful 800g. As the wind speed reaches something like 20mph, the heel begins, the kite turning onto its side as the line angle drops toward the horizon. As gust force approaches Bft 6 the heel eventually ends up with the kite blown into the ground or trees, fences, overhead lines, angry farmers etc etc. _MG_9031

I had downwind space, not too much in the way of trees, buildings animals etc. and an upwind line of fence posts in good condition without hedgerow..good. I had about 100m x60m of clear ground to work in.

Flying on the edge. This is a horrible thing to handle, especially if you have a camera on the line, at 20mph the line tension is almost too much to hold onto, as it heels all that will save the kite is to pay out more line to release the tension..pull on the line and the heel will only increase …and as more line is paid out the bigger the recovery problem gets. All that can be done is to try work with the wind,

  • wait for the gust to abate,
  • tie off,
  • gingerly walk down the line with one eye on the kite and
  • haul in as much line as possible before the heel begins,
  • release the tension if needed by keeping the line short but walking (or running as things get desperate) towards the kite…
  • as it recovers haul in as much line as possible hoping there is enough slack to let you walk ( or run) towards the kite
  • release from the next heel it and hopefully allow a little more line to be taken in, tied off and then the next bight can be taken in.

moving the anchor point upwind releases the heel so having space to move is key.

The gimme back my camera sequence looks something like this:

Tie off walk down & release in gust

All the while as the kite lurched ever closer to the horizon the camera was dutifully clicking away…bouncing around on a razor tight line one minute, swinging ground-wards the next:


The smart thing to do would be to avoid this sort of thing…I have kites that can cope with this but not on the bike…


About billboyheritagesurvey

Heritage worker
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2 Responses to Didak Explorer 16 overblown at Bft 6

  1. BKT says:

    My adventure with KAP, started with flowform. I briefly say definitely this type of kite, it is for the young and athletic. Maybe transport deltas and rokkakus, it is not very comfortable on the bike, but the reward is comfortable session with camera. In the area of low and medium wind, using flowforms it is often the torment. They just need a good quality wind, and that only happens in a zone close to the sea. 🙂



    • Piotr,
      I agree but I like it when they work, a real something for nothing experience: a flowform is a free ride for the camera, light weight, small, no sticks and easy to launch… but I really missed the little Trooper once I realised how much trouble I’d got into.


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