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A Make-Weight’s View of the Mega Grid.


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#21 HedgeWarden

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 05:50 PM

What I have learned from the experience.
<snip - Hey read the original!>

Remember, we may all be amateurs, but we need to act like professionals. I have already said it takes a while to build the grid in the arena. If we behave professionally, remember the chain of command, and do as we are asked, setting up becomes part of the show. If we don't things go wrong, we will look like a bunch of amateurs and Joe and Josephine Public will get bored.

<snip - The core for my reply is now isolated.>


Bob,

A fantastic post, especially since I will be taking a clinic with JB and crew next month, hopefully to become ready to take a minor part in the next WSIKF mega-fly.

Just one comment (not really a criticism):

A "professional" is one who is paid to do a job.
An "amateur" (from Latin amator, "lover") is one who performs for the love of the craft.

As an exemplar of amateur in the highest sense, you have helped provide great joy to the viewers of the mega-fly, and great inspiration to some of us less qualified amateurs. :P

(OK, yes JB and the iQuad crew are both professionals, and amateurs, meaning "lovers", of kite flying. That is what makes them so great.)
-Howard
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#22 monkey

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 07:04 PM

Thanks Monkey, I did suspect as much, but it does feel good to have you admit it. :)


You know, having flown with a simply ridiculous amount of different flyers over the past 4 years, I can say this with complete confidence.

"Every dog has their day"
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#23 Wayne

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Posted 10 February 2010 - 09:26 AM

Bob,

Great posts! I really enjoyed reliving my experience with last year's Wildwood Mega-Fly. As a novice to team flying, I agree the grid was easier once started. I am blown away by the complexity of some of the moves performed at Portsmouth with around twice as many flyers than we had. I found communication was difficult in the noisy environment. I hope that radio use can help next time if it can be used in a group like this. Would we need everyone on radios in order to use them, or could there be some mixed approach in a Mega-Fly? I used one last year at an event and found it much better when I could clearly hear the calls, whether or not I had the skills to carry them out gracefully. In preparation for 2010 I got a second headset to go with my pair of radios, so I will have one to share.

Wayne Reed
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#24 Stone in Shoe Bob

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Posted 10 February 2010 - 09:29 AM

Howard

Many thanks for your comments and yes I was aware or the origins of the word “amateur” and like you it niggles me when people use it as a derogatory term. I remember the point being particularly well made in one of those overly sentimental films on TV one Christmas Eve, back in the early 80’s. A run down New York Church was struggling to put on a performance of Handel's Messiah to raise the funds to refurbish their organ and save the Church. The choir master (the old Jewish music teacher from Fame) uses it as a putdown when a soprano throws a wobbly because he gives the solo part to someone else.

I did spend quite a bit of time writing and re writing the offending paragraph but in the end decided to betray my principles in the interests of brevity and readability.

Another point that fell victim to the editors blue pencil was the story of the recording of Band Aid’s Do they know its Christmas. Apparently there bin outside the studio for everyone to leave there ego’s in. At Portsmouth there was a black bag hanging from the arena rope, and though most people complied, I think there may have been one or two that didn’t. Needles to say thet all those that had earned the right to big egos were happy to leave them outside the arena.
Stone in Shoe Bob

It's Good to Share the Joy.

#25 Stone in Shoe Bob

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Posted 10 February 2010 - 10:39 AM

Wayne.

You are right communication can be a big problem, that was the reason we had problems at my local festival. Not only was the music loud but the compare was talking over it, it was imposable to hear the calls even with a very small grid.

I believe it was resolved at Portsmouth by somebody holding the PA mike for Stephen but it is obviously not ideal. Several possible solutions are being considered but they are not cheap.

I started to compose a more detailed reply but knocked it on the head as I was in danger of taking my own thread off its original topic. More to the point I think we may be jumping the gun a bit here. JB did talk of setting up an IROR section on the forum. Once TWM have sorted out the entry criteria and if we are invited to join (I am making no assumptions here) then may be a better time to start discussing the hows, the whens and the whys.
Stone in Shoe Bob

It's Good to Share the Joy.

#26 Felix Mottram

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Posted 10 February 2010 - 12:20 PM

<snip>
I started to compose a more detailed reply but knocked it on the head as I was in danger of taking my own thread off its original topic. More to the point I think we may be jumping the gun a bit here. JB did talk of setting up an IROR section on the forum. Once TWM have sorted out the entry criteria and if we are invited to join (I am making no assumptions here) then may be a better time to start discussing the hows, the whens and the whys.


I suspect that JB is sorting this out as we speak...

Felix

#27 Stone in Shoe Bob

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Posted 10 February 2010 - 01:56 PM

If a job's worth doing it's worth doing properly and I suspect there is a lot to do, for you three guys in deciding how to take this idea forward and on the technical side for John.
Stone in Shoe Bob

It's Good to Share the Joy.

#28 Felix Mottram

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Posted 10 February 2010 - 02:41 PM

If a job's worth doing it's worth doing properly and I suspect there is a lot to do, for you three guys in deciding how to take this idea forward and on the technical side for John.


Happily it is not too complicated chat wise and the technical stuff is in place already.

I am looking forward to the ensuing conversations.

Felix

#29 bartman

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 06:49 PM

Day 1 - WSIKF 2010 - 16 kite grid practice.

Four practice attempts available to those that wanted to give it a try. I think most people would each have got a mininum of two in as there were probably 20-25 wanting to try. I got in on three of them. One run by JB and two by David from the Decorators.

My thoughts:

1) very hard on the nerves. It may be technically "easy" but holding upright hovers is hard for me. Funny as I never used to say that. My preference would be to always see veritical hovers, but I realize it won't be as nice to look at doing just that.

2) very hard on the shoulders. I was flying with my arms around my ears again. Goes back to the first point on the nerves.

3) what did it look like? I really have no idea. I worked hard on focus for me and being aware of the four kites around me.

4) I preferred being on an outside edge as it required mostly a vertical hover. Easier on the nerves so number 2 was easier on the body.

5) scaling it up? I can see a 5 x 5 grid. I guess, again in theory. you can take it up to 6 x 6, 8 x 8 and 10 x 10. Maybe a 5 x 5 on day two.

6) true, nothing was beyond basic moves, just keeping in a tight airspace and not bounce around. We pulled the grid tighter on my attempt 3 and room for error was about 2 feet to a side. Very scary.

7) I don't know if I can describe it as fun yet. It was more work. Fun for a lot of people who knew what they were doing or maybe boring for them?

8) Personally I am not sold on being part of the 100 yet. We'll see how the nerves progress.

Bart



#30 Stone in Shoe Bob

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 10:45 AM

. . . . .

7) I don't know if I can describe it as fun yet. It was more work. Fun for a lot of people who knew what they were doing or maybe boring for them?
. . . . .

No but I'll bet you're glad you've done it. B)

Congratulations my friend.

One Cherry well and truly POPPED.
Stone in Shoe Bob

It's Good to Share the Joy.

#31 bartman

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 06:36 PM

Day 2 - WSIKF 2010 - 25 kite grid practice.

There was a 16 kite grid earlier, but for the most part nothing more to report on that. I can say that the 16 grid went smoother from my perspective. I felt far more comfortable in it so long as I was in the bottom or second row from the bottom position. JB, Felix, You guys hearing this??

Near the top I had a very hard time looking up at my kite that high. Hard on the neck and I really felt I was fighting the kite to keep it in position. Some panic in there too, no real good escape route.

As I see it, the biggest problem was not sitting in the grid itself, but getting up to the grid and back down. The formation on the ground is hard to get into. We've had the leader start by positioning the next person up and so on and today the experts weaved in and out to position people which I personally think worked out best. Let the excellent flyers come up to the top last after they get their columns into form.

Why is it hard to form up on the ground? Speaking for myself again, I can't focus on keeping in a spot in the sky if I need to watch where the guy ahead of me needs to move to. Quite literally I am so focused on my kite that I don't even notice people around me anymore unless they move into my "zone" too close to be interfering with me.

I didn't think going from 16 to 25 would be a big jump but it is. A 56% increase in the number and already filling a big portion of the sky. Wow, no wonder my hand were up to my shoulders again!

My other problem was lighter winds. A couple other flyers at my skill level expressed the same concerns. It is one thing to mess around in low wind but quite another when low wind is not a speciality so you deal with a battle there as well as focusing on not making mistakes. So, need more wind.

Both grids had some take downs today. I was rubbed out when a kite from another row and column far removed from me managed to scream across, thread me and pull us both out of the sky. Thankfully no one else got in the way, but it did prevent me from getting into the big ball bursts and the concentric circles.

For attempt two I gave up my spot for Paul to take a try and took some photos. I will say that it looked impressive and the few public that were there were blown away with what they saw especially the crowd pleasing circles and bursts.

Tomorrow we will have more people again. Possibly 36? That will be a small jump in percentage and still nothing compared to even what was done last year. For me going from a 11 kite mega fly at Windscape to 16 and now 25 is a big step!

And to answer Bob's question. Yes, I am glad I did it. I've had so many kites so close to me in the last couple of days that it is becoming standard in the space here!

More tomorrow!

Bart

#32 bartman

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 10:06 PM

Day 3: 32 in the mega-grid.

Clearly this thing is growing now and for the most part it is holding together. The idea of building the grid during the week was the right way to go. It is sort of "sneaking up" on us now.

I still prefer the bottom row. I am convinced I do not belong anywhere but the bottom row now. I already have evaluated my ability in this regard. I am many times more relaxed knowing I have an avenue out of a potential problem I may have caused or may be involved in whether I want to or not. This row is not without its own issues such as a bit less wind and keeping low enough so the top guys aren't getting stiff necks looking up so high.

The experienced flyers are busy telling people to "breath" and "relax". I'm sure I held my breath for 10 minutes. I wish I could hold the main inverted hovers better without starting to wobble and I wish my reverse flight could be smoother. I needed my escape route once during concentric circle moves when we went more than three places around the circle. By the last I was almost on top and felt like I was holding a truck up in the air.

I was told today that with the very high humidity and the sand sticking to everything that the kites are much heavier than normal. I didn't consider this and it may explain why I feel the kite "isn't right" and why today felt the worst in that regard. It has been the wettest day to date.

I try to make sure I am in the big practice grids, but have had to start taking breaks and going to the other end of the beach to take in some of the actual festival. I am starting to feel overwhelmed by it and physically tired trying to do my part.
There is a lot of pressure building to make this work and whether it is admitted or not. I'm feeling that pressure. Other less experienced flyers have expressed the same thing to me that we are getting into something so big and important to so many people we are afraid of screwing it up.

To be sure it feels good to go into these big grids and survive and the experience cannot be learned any other way, but there is also that mounting feeling of failure is not an option to be dealt with too.

Bart

Edited by bartman, 18 August 2010 - 10:10 PM.


#33 andelscott

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 01:38 AM

Day 3: 32 in the mega-grid.


Thanks for the updates Bart - please keep 'em coming - this could always be stripped out for a blog later!! :kid_content:

I'll agree completely that the grid in light winds conditions freaks me out too - but the fear of dropping out of the grid (and taking others at the same time) is probably greater than the likelihood in most cases. The callers are experienced fliers and we rely on them to call it a day if the conditions are bad or to have a tactful word if there is a participant who really needs some specific practice before engaging with the display.
Andy

#34 REVflyer

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 02:31 AM

I am enjoying this thread immensely, only wish I could be there too!

#35 Wayne

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 05:41 AM

Bart,

I am also appreciating your accounts of the Mega Fly experiences. I have participated in grid flights of up to 25 and straight-line flights up to around 28, and I understand your stress. Sometimes accomplishing something this special requires working through the nerves. I can't imagine the pressure on Connor at AGT and how he focused to do such smooth performances. The good news is that my experience was that my confidence and skills improved with each Mega Fly in ways that just can't be done by flying alone. I appreciated the patience showed by the experts since large numbers flying together requires including less skilled flyers; and since I believe that this is really the best way to train tomorrow's experts (or in my case, future average flyers).

I really wish I could be there, joining in the scary exhilaration that you and the others are creating (instead of sitting at a desk making a living at the other side of the continent).

Hang in there, and thanks for the photos you posted,

Wayne Reed
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#36 Murph

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 01:16 PM

Bart,

Great bit of reporting/viewpoint of a day(s)/week in the life of a Rev Megaflyer.

Hopefully you'll have made some flyers who believed they couldn't maybe to think again and give it a go in the future. Yeah its a BIG thing to get your head around but as you've sooo succinctly put it 'the experience cannot be learned any other way' and of course remembering to breath now and again helps too :kid_content:

Heres to vicariously experiencing this years WSIKF....for all you can't make it.

Keep them coming my friend....great stuff.

Chris

#37 bartman

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 08:56 PM

Well, that sort of snuck up on everyone....

Day 4:

56 kites in a stable grid for an extended period of time.

The record is now broken so everything else now is all gravy folks!!!!

So that bit of news is out of the way how did it get there?

We started out the day with two grids. One of 25 and one of 16. Just more working on the basics, but today there were a few people who hadn't been in a practice grid yet. All this work in the little grids is starting to pay off. You can see it in the stablility of the grid and everyone is feeling good about their performance. There are still a few crash and burn guys in there, but 95% of the flyers are stable enough to hold it. We're also seeing a lot of flyers who had initial problems with the grids improving to the point they can remain in formation with very minimal movement.

For myself I've noticed my hands have went from my ears to my waist where I normally fly so that tells me I'm getting more relaxed. Not so relaxed that I think I am above this practice, but relaxed to the point I can focus better and remember to breath.

There was a second practice about an hour later with 25 kites and that one I sat out of so a few others could now get some last minute help. Hopefully some photos/video to share later on, but it looked good and I had the chance to be in a position to hear some of the crowd. Basically, if it was a grid and moved even in a minimal plane (left/right threads, simple balls, etc) they were in awe. That told me that complex moves are not required to make this work and the K.I.S.S. method is he way to go. Better to keep it simple and neat then make it complex and crash it.

When the "big moment" arrived 56 kites got in a line quite quickly all considered and after making some small adjustments to keep those of us a little unsure of where we could fit in this a very organized launch happened that I think we picture perfect and very stress free. Basically the better pilots were on the top so in turn each row went from LE down to LE up to fly into the grid. This gave everyone time to ensure they were turned up and clear of most lines as it built and little chance of an inverted lauch going sour and taking out a few parked kites.

The formation was stable, the moves were simple and slow and the landing also went well with everyone back in a line across the field.

Everyone breath and burst into cheers. Hand shakes and hugs all around!

So how did this one feel? In a word, calm. The record was broke and the pressure was off. Anything on Friday and Saturday is now gravy.

We had perfect winds for it today and since the sun was shining it was dry and we weren't flying a bunch of sand around as well. Crossing our fingers for more of the same for the rest of the festival.

Am I happy I did it now? You bet! A mountain of fears have been washed away now. I say again that setting up specific times for actual practice to built this was brilliant and had that not happened this grid would never have worked out the way it did and how well it did. Kudos to those that have planned this for the past year or more!

It will take me a while to properly articulate how it all felt.

Bart

Edited by bartman, 19 August 2010 - 09:45 PM.


#38 Wayne

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 06:30 AM

Congratulations all around!Posted Image

Thank you Bart for your detailed account. It is the closest I can get to experiencing it. Well done JB and Felix and the others who organized this.

Now on to 80 or 100! (Make sure there is ample photographic or video coverage for the rest of us not there in person, please)

Wayne Reed
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#39 bartman

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 10:18 PM

Day 5:

64 down! Not sure how many more are now possible. Maybe 72?
It's come down to just the math now. Everyone that has been flying all week is pretty much set in where they are comfortable in the grid so adding more people has become a matter of adding another row and/or column and some minor shuffling depending on the level of experience of the new people. I'd say from first launch to set down has been roughly 15 minute. The staging is still around 45 based on the iPod video I short from start to finish. This time staging involved a back row of 32 and a front row of 32.

The front, (downwind row), launched first then the back, upwind, row launched and came in over top. It worked well and looked great!
I wouldn't want to say everyone has become complacent with the whole grid, but with each grid that goes up it gets easier and easier to do, but since the record was broke it is more anti-climatic. Still lots of handshakes, high fives and hugs though to be sure! My issue was having the wrong kite for the fly. Needed a full vent for myself, and my skill level but had my mid and had some twitchy flying going on especially on my weakest skill which is the reverse flight. I had to resort to cheating and fly in forwards and just spin around when need be.

Still feels great!

Bart

Edited by bartman, 21 August 2010 - 10:20 PM.


#40 Kitelife

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 11:45 PM

"Super 16" in 3-4 mph...

iQuad X6, Decorators X4, Mark & Jeanette Lummas (Too Much Fun), Stephen & Susan Hoath (Flying Squad), Scott Weider (Rev Riders), Spence Watson and Willow Robin (Island Quad).


John Barresi

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