The two fighter reviews on this page were written by Brent Johnson of Calgary, Alberta Canada.

Introduction

Having flown several ripstop fighter kites [admitted passion for which Johnny Hsiung can't fathom] I recently had a friend, Peter Dawson of [whkf@compuserve.com] White Horse Kite flyers Club, U.K., send me some much needed new blood. The addition of the MAC fighter and the Martyn Lawrence-GEM has indeed revitalized my rather odd collection of fighter kites.

MAC FIGHTER- Indian style (traditional) fighter

The advertisement from MAC reads: PRECISION MADE FIGHTER KITES
Your fighter kite has been designed to fly in light to moderate winds. Made and tested by M W Mcleod.

MAC FIGHTER KITES
3 Pump Lane
Horndean
Hants po8 9ts
tel/faz 01705 591171
Made in England

This kite is an official just got to have one in your fighter kite bag. I have indeed flown traditional indian paper fighters.This, ladies and gentlemen, is one ripstop version which in my opinion actually duplicates the treasured indian paper fighter. It spins very easily in either direction. Dives and recoveries are a snap! Construction is top notch.16 inches by 21.5 inches across. Somewhat squat in appearance. It is so lightweight that one must keep on the line while doing horizontal sweeps, otherwise it simply runs out of steam! This is not an indication of a dislike, more of an observation about the kite's performance. Also, I believe it gives us a unique insight into Mr.McLeods fighting style....i.e., he simply doesn't rest.

This kite is quick and turns on a dime. The center spar is wood [sanded] into an elliptical shape. The cross spar is fiberglass. I believe most of the construction to be hotknifed and bonded, each kite is signed by MAC and seems to be testflown before shipping [the bridle setting is perfect right out of the bag]. The color of my kite is bright florescent green with a black diamond shape on the bottom tail. In fact I'm considering contacting the manufacturer in order to obtain more of his kites. Too bad they aren't available from a local supplier in Canada. I think that if more people were exposed to this level of affordable, quality fighter kites the sport might grow much faster than it presently is in North America.

Yes! I do like this kite.


The GEM

MERLIN KITES
MARTYN LAWRENCE
3 Britannia St.Rachub
Bethesda.Gwynedd LL57 3EW
Wales. U.K.
tel. 0248-602600

22 inches across x 17 inches tall. The GEM is an unusal fighter kite. Initally, I thought it was over sparred for a fighter, after reading the directions [oops?] I discovered that Martyn Lawrence is a man of many talents. Anticipating that fighter kite enthusiasts fly in all kinds of conditions, he thoughtfully provided a kite with two spars, three individual ways to tune your kite for prevailing winds! WOW!!!

MERLIN kites are in fact well known around fighter kite circles. Until now I had never flown one or observed the workmanship put into this kite.The Kite is in fact double sparred, one short stiff spar, and one slightly longer fiberglass spar. Remove one and the kite's performance changes markedly. What Merlin kites did to solve the age old problem of .."gee whiz the wind changed", and is remarkable, the kite has two spar pockets. Select the longer spar for light winds, shorter for higher wind. You can however, fly the kite with both spars in place [extremely high winds here please!]

The kite has a V cut into the tail, this seems to aid the kite in stability as well as turn-ability. Also, the kite is signed by the mfg-Martyn Lawrence. In addition, the GEM features a ribbon to tie the cross spars into place, depending on the local prevailing wind conditions...changing the performance/speed of the kite is exceptionally easy.

This kite is well made, purple/orange-red/teal in color it is easily picked out in the sky. My children were impressed by the blend of shape and color. To describe the kite's appearance in writing simply doesn't work.You have to see it! It works!!

As for flight characteristics of the GEM... This is one fast fighter, it requires a practiced hand depending on which of the several adjustments available with the fighter are chosen. High winds no problem, low to intermeadiate... no problem. If I had to have one fighter kite in my bag this is it. The interesting part of the kite is the V tail . In order to stiffen the kite's tail, Merlin Kites reinforced the V shape by mirroring it with two pieces of fiberglass placed into a piece of clear plastic tubing. Very different, haven't ever seen this in a ripstop fighter [somewhat atypical of stunt kites]. The GEM keeps its name sake in flight as well, spinning left or right easily, dives and straight line passes are all easily accomplished. It also does something which will endear it to beginners...you can park it a very high angle and wait for some poor unsuspecting kite flyer to wander to close...sheep-in-wolf's-clothing...that is what the GEM can be in the hands of a practiced flyer. In fact it is one of the few kites that I have a hard time putting back into my kite bag. I just keep on fiddling with the different options avialable to match the wind conditions.

One small complaint....it [GEM] seems to be difficult to re-launch from a grounded postion, but, admittedly it might not be the kites fault.....I was test flying it on New Year's day, + 8 degrees c outside and at least one foot of soft, wet slushy snow...contributed to unfavorable launching conditions.....hmmmm maybe I should wait until summer....

Brent Johnson
07 Feb 1998


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