Just back from Europe.
Where I got lost (maybe kidnapped would be a better description), read all about it:-
Andrew Beattie very kindly offered to drive over to Holland and take me back to England for the Portsmouth and Bristol festivals.
Except for not being able to get any refund on my tickets from Schipol via Frankfurt to Heathrow (cunningly organised to get 96kgms plus two carry-ons as opposed to the 20 + one for Schipol to Southhampton direct), this seemed like a generally good idea- company, not having to pack so tight, avoiding Heathrow, and all that.
As it happened, he didn’t give me much choice as he’d rung NZ and had Elwyn cancel my tickets before I could.
So, there we were talking ninety to the dozen, catching up on kite gossip while barreling down the highway out of Den Hague heading for the Calais Chunnel portal,- or at least that’s what we thought.
After an hour or few I noticed a road sign saying, wait for it, AUSFAHRT.
No language specialist, this still struck me as not particularly likely to be in Holland, nor in Belgium and especially not in France where I would expect it to read Le Ausfahrt at the very least.
We turned back just before Oberhausen which is in the Ruhr district of Germany and about the width of France away from our intended destination- and had a pleasant if meandering drive through many small towns in Germany, Southern Holland and Belgium that I expect never to see again, finally arriving in Portsmouth after an elapsed journey time of 12 hours or so.
Probably this is about the time I would have waited in Heathrow for my bags to catch up anyway, so, with the sightseeing and all, not such a bad trip.
In a butterfly effect, Christchurch (NZ) property prices might eventually even edge upwards a bit as a consequence of this journey, a pleasant contemplation for Elwyn and I as house owners there- but this is a completely ‘nother story which you could get to hear about in months to come.
So what’s new?
Well for one thing, we now have more staff here in Ashburton than ever before in our 30 something year business history in kitemaking- not at all what I expected as we moved more and more to licensing and offshore production from 1997 on (and which is in full song). The kite market is thumping.
And, this is well before the full impact of our latest design (last month’s newsletter) will hit.
What exactly is this new design?
It’s a Flag kite- single line and an end (?) result of the development that started with the quilts- but now much higher aspect ratio (that is wider than long) and specifically for displaying national and local flags, pictures, logo’s, advertising messages- and patchwork designs also of course.
It has just two rectangular skins connected by thru cords and will generally use a spinner on a Y bridle or tube tails for extra stabilisation and visual effect (but can be designed to fly without).
Flying?- already by the best of any soft kite bar the pilot (and not always even that) I’ve ever designed. Its stability across a very wide wind range is impressive.
Large (greater than 4m span) open leading edge versions do currently sometimes have a problem in very light or very turbulent winds; if they lose inflation momentarily while flying (as open leading edge kites can in such conditions) then they will not generally re-inflate before falling. One solution is to use a pilot above them in such conditions. Another will be to build in leading edge valves to hold inflation through lulls. There are a few other remedies I can try, but even with no improvement, it’s only the larger sizes that are so effected, and then only occasionally and in conditions that are marginal for any soft kite anyway so this kite is already a winner.
Attached are photos of NZ, UK and US flag versions. The largest we’ve built so far is an 8m Union Jack (which, inadvertently, is conventionally orientated when viewed from the back rather than from the fliers perspective) and there’s a 10m US flag (guess where I’m going next) being built now along with various one-off’s for customers who ordered after seeing them flying during the last month. I don’t see any particular size limit.
A patent application was filed for this design on 7 August: NZ 527, 454. International filings will follow as per the required timetable. This is a for a full patent, not the much narrower “design patent” or “design registration”. I expect the application to be successful and to protect us against copiers because it is for significant features not trivial or subsidiary elements.
David Gomberg (Gomberg Kite Productions) will be the master licensee for this design in the US, Vlieger Op for the Europe and they will each also be the primary sources in these countries for one-off designs. Vlieger Op are currently negotiating a sub-license with Lutz Treczocks in Germany for this purpose.
Larger sizes and one-offs will also be available ex NZ directly, to order, for anywhere in the world.
I expect that various volume kite manufacturers will take up licenses for small sizes( 1.5m span and under), but haven’t checked up on how these negotiations are progressing for 2 weeks- and the opportunity was only made known 4 weeks ago. Probably nothing is yet settled.
To enable individual kitemakers to avail themselves of this design, we will be offering numbered license stickers for sale at nominal or modest price- but only one per user per time. I’m intending to make dimensions, thru cord and bridling information available with each sticker purchased but won’t get this organised for some months as I’m sure the design is not yet optimal.
See also the “Three quilts at Norderney” photo attached- now that the flag patent application has been filed we can also offer patchwork designs in rectangular form as well.
Ashburton, 3 Sept ’03.