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#72357 A Make-Weight’s View of the Mega Grid.

Posted by bartman on 22 August 2010 - 05:49 AM

Day 6: Only 60 today and light winds that played havoic with it all. A few people commented that they felt a lot of flyers gave up before it even started just knowing it would be hard to keep it together.

We did keep it in the air for a minute or two and we moved it together more - kites and bodies which gave a nice tight picture as well as a chance to sneak a peek out of the corner of one's eye... impressive!

The first, and I think only one, horizontal thread seemed to start taking it apart as kites on the edge started dropping like flys. I was taken out at this stage, but was cleared quick and did manage to scoot back up in time for two ball bursts.

he landing was a little less than picture perfect however considering the alternative of falling out of the sky it was great!
It is unfortunate that on the "big day" we couldn't have the wind we did on the first and second days as we did have more of the crowd in attendance, but them's the breaks. We all knew what we did and even the light wind grid was a major feat.

All done now, no more mega-grids tomorrow. I'll sum up this week when it's all been digested.


#72347 A Make-Weight’s View of the Mega Grid.

Posted by bartman on 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!


#72312 A Make-Weight’s View of the Mega Grid.

Posted by bartman on 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.


#72298 A Make-Weight’s View of the Mega Grid.

Posted by bartman on 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.


#72257 A Make-Weight’s View of the Mega Grid.

Posted by bartman on 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!


#72213 A Make-Weight’s View of the Mega Grid.

Posted by bartman on 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.


#70812 Buyer's remorse? :(

Posted by bartman on 06 July 2010 - 01:36 PM

I will pick on one of your points regarding when you launch and the kite will sometimes go to the left or the right. I assume when that happens it does turn right around coming back to the ground with a thud? Sort of like flying an upside down "U"?

I saw this a lot when I got back into things three years ago and it happened with the B-Series as well so if you had any ideas that maybe it was kite related between the B and your SLE kite this should be just another example of why it is not.

What you are describing, and what I had to learn as well, is this problem is almost always a control problem. Too much control to be exact. Basically while it may seem like you are doing an even pull, on both handles, to launch you're not. One or the other is getting too much so it steers in one direction or the other. I found I would favor one direction of that upside down "U" over the other which I think relates to if you are left or right handed.

So to correct this, your local kite guy is right. Work on going up and backing straight back down trying to keep a straight line. So you ask, how the heck do I keep the straight line if I'm over controlling the thing in the first place?

My answer is to do it over and over and each time think about your thumbs and how much you are going to move them. Put your wrists together and keep them like that. Up, down, up, down and focus on how little it takes with the thumbs to make that turn happen. Make small adjustments with your thumbs until the line gets straighter. By adjustments I mean when you see the kite veer left using a very little forward tap of your right thumb to steer it back. TAP that thumb just a bit, don't push the thumb forward and hold it there. Tap like you are giving somone a little tap on the shoulder. Soon you will do those taps without even thinking about it and the kite will fly straighter and straighter as you make subconscience steering adjustments on the way up.

Don't feel you need to go from the ground to the top of the window straight either. Go up 10 or 20 feet before backing down. When you get that straight then go up higher and higher.

I do not have a memory of when my straight up became straight up, but it did happen and one day I did say to myself, "hey, it is straight!". It will take practice each time you go out. Right now, though, you just want to straighten out the "U" as much as you can.

It is not going to be fun going up and backing down for an hour at time so I say you also need to work on going left/right in there too. Use little thumb taps to do that and try to turn up as opposed to down to start with. Some may disagree on that, but to me that is a better way to learn and stay off the ground. With doing a down turn before you can be sure to bring it all the way around you risk hitting the ground at an angle which is worse than hitting it straight on for breaking things. The negative part of the up turn is you will lose a bit of power fighting gravity so you may need to step back as you do it for a little extra power.

Now you can do up/down/left/right practice which starts to give you the basics. Soon you will be ready for more.

My last piece of advice is to come back here for inspiration and enouragement as often as you need it. I would have given up had it not been for the folks here who would feed me tips and advise whenever I couldn't think through a road block. Really, no one will mind helping you out and cheering you on!