A tale of two “16”s


Left: Didak Explorer 16.Right HQ KAPfoil 1.6

The wind was so big the birds were flying sideways but none the less I thought I needed to fly….


Bft 6 challenge. Small, tailess foil kites don’t do so well in strong winds but I have great faith in the Didak Explorer and when it’s blustery the little 16 seems to do well without overpowering. Up she went into the bluster and took a camera upward. I fed more line and as it rose the kite faced bigger and bigger wind pressure until it hit its limit at Bft6, it’s easy to tell when it’s had enough as it heels over and gradually drops to the horizon- never a good thing as the camera swings towards the ground…feeding line and gently walking it down I realised this was a job for the KAPfoil 1.6.

My subject was briefly under the camera before I brought it down..and then they wandered off:


Once it’s tail is untangled the KAPfoil is great in these sort of conditions, it is powerful and very stable, the only concession it makes to the turbulent flow is a slow sway across the wind window.

Sweet 16.  Didak used ’16’ as a tag to place the Explorer side by side with the Sutton flowform 16 which has been a firm favourite with kappers for years. The ’16’ refers to its size in square feet, it is 1.46m2 . It’s quite different to the Sutton but produces similar lift and stability but at a lower flying angle. Modified to take a Y line for a tail or drogue it’s a good kite in Bft 3 to 5, it out flies the ITW ‘Ultrafoil’ easily. Curiously Didak went metric with the bigger ‘2.7’ version (2.7 m equates to  30 square feet, also a popular size used by Sutton). The HQ KAPfoil  1.6 m2 is one of the smaller sizes of the design available, Ralf Beutnagel developed the design on an 8m2 prototype. The more manageable  1.6m2 pulls like a horse but, with care, it can be walked across wind from a harness anchor. It’s a solid flier and now replaces the Didak Explorer 16 in my flight bag. The down sides of a tail and seriously strong pull are outweighed by the stability. After a heart stopping lurch between tree tops with the Explorer 16 I flew the KAPfoil with confidence. Bft 5 or 6 is no problem for it:


Keeping a slack line with the KAPfoil is difficult as the pull on the line is so strong, it will drag my bike easily in Bft4 so it is a kite that has to be treated with respect. Unlike many kites the KAPfoil will fly in its advertised upper wind range of  Bft6.




About billboyheritagesurvey

Heritage worker
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5 Responses to A tale of two “16”s

  1. Renaud says:

    Nice pictures, great light.. Which camera/ring did you use ? The quality is very good. RX1 ? GRII ?

    I own both of these kites. I agree with the ‘confidence’ factor. Though I sometimes think useful that the Explorer flies so low/far. It allows me to be closer to a distant subject.

    • Thanks for taking a look Renaud,
      I used 2 cameras, first I flew a Canon EosM to snap the cows and when I’d had enough of the bucketing from the Explorer I got it back and found its tilt servo had worked loose so next it was the Ricoh GR at work under the Kapfoil.

      Both were on pan and tilt rigs controlled by clickPan Pro.

      • Renaud says:

        Thank you. The GRII definitely seems to be a great camera !
        I plan to buy one…
        Do you own the 21mm converter, and if so, what are your thoughts about it’s quality and it’s use for KAP ?

  2. The GR 11 is an excelent camera for its weight. Equal to the Leica X1 but with faster AF and higher ISO.

    I have the 21mm converter, it works fine but it’s heavy so the rig has to be balanced for it. It woud be good for close-up work. I was lucky and got it in a bundle with the camera on eBay.

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