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

Stan Swanson Bee Fighter

Stan Swanson makes very large fighter kites! I obtained one of his Bee fighters with hummer and clear wings a few years ago. The most striking part of the kite is its appearance in the sky, yellow and black [aka bumble bee at 2 o'clock] with clear wings. I never seem to tire of flying this kite, it turns slowly due to being a large kite however, it turns square corners like a bandit. Stronger [read heavier] fighter kite line is required as the kite has a formidable presence in strong winds, yes folks, burn your fingers time!

Oddly this kite seems to favor 5mph winds best. Due to its shape, if you plant it into the ground, recovery can be achieved only when laying flat on the ground.The top of the kite has a substantial kick back which if you happen to catch the flying line on will mean a long walk out to your kite. Happily a few quick tugs will usually free the kite and line and voila we are airborn yet again.

The wings on this kite are a real treat as they are completely clear except for the weaving from the ripstop nylon. Frankly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I do enjoy this kite in bright sunlight as the shimmering effect of the translucent wings is definitely different. People watching the kite always ask the same thing "Can I see it?" They seem genuinely amazed at the mating of materials in this kite.

Stan provides a laminated center spar which unhappily broke during a very intense flying session (I crashed hard!!!). To make a new spar proved to be a bit more difficult due to the upswept portion of the spar (finding the right angle) was a bit tricky but, perserverance paid off.

One feature of this kite not yet mentioned is the hummer. Friends describe it as unique, different and down right rude! ("makes funny noises, mummy!"), anyways, it does work. The split microfilm and plastic fittings were my first experience with a commercially available hummer. Too bad it isn't larger or louder as I'm a wee bit deaf in one ear!!! So hearing this kite, unless your directly under it, is difficult... great to ward off dogs,kids,etc. This too I managed to break....not sure if? its me or the dry climate in Calgary, Canada.

One final point, Stan has set the bridle in the perfect place for winds in his area, feel free to move the bridle around within a 1 inch area and pre-mark the original settings (you will be returning to it quickly) the kite works best within this framework, go too far and it becomes very,very unmanageable...found this out one day when I adjusted the bridle and didn't lock the larks head knot (slap on the wrist for that one).

Construction- fit and finish is perfect for a kite this size, well sewn, no errant seams and after many hours of flight, no signs of the yellow fabric fading.

Well done Stan....a definite winner here folks. If you're looking for something different in your kite bag, then this Bee is the one for you. Flight characteristics besides turning square corners and pulling like a tank, is a pleasant surprise for the dual line crowd. Looooong straight line passes are easy to do [(no dive and weave here folks), dives are a breeze! and recoveries dramatic (read -- not for the faint hearted), the fighter does seem to pick up speed in the dive. The kite will climb and park itself quite happily until an errant fighter is sent up to investigate, then watch out lads, this Bee has a real sting to it!

G.A. Budget fighter-Carlisle Kite works

Funny, a good idea never dies it just gets refined! Carlisle Kite works makes the 12"x12" square fighter kite with what some people say is a stylized bulls horns appliqué or a Indian Sikh symbol (I prefer the Sikh symbol idea) as it is very close. In any event this kite will probably be with me for years to come. Why? It is the ultimate trainer for newbies to fighter kites, strong (heavy center spar) and a interesting fiberglass cross spar. The sewing is good for a inexpensive fighter.

T he GA budget fighter used to sell for 20.00 Canadian dollars a few years ago. Now probably around 28.00 dollars, still a bargain at Canadian exchange rates.

Flight characteristics: this kite will park itself at a very ,very high angle above you and in the right wind overfly you, but no worries here matey, a quick jerk/tug will cause the kite to turn (albeit slowly) and off you go, dives are a snap and recoveries fun, a minimal amount of line needs to be let, up and up she goes again. Due to the heft of the kite, straight line (horizontal) passes are easily mastered by the beginner. In addition, experienced pilots will tinker! Change the bridle, change the spar (lighter), a few other tweaks, and the trainer becomes a terror!

Color: mine is an older version of ripstop (green) and blue appliqué, yellow thread for the outside borders. The crossspar is held into place by a white plasticized material which frankly looks a wee bit like dacron, but it all works.

I can teach the most inept student how to fly fighter kites with a GA budget in a few minutes!

A great introduction to a wonderful sport and an equally wonderful kite, ground launches are very simple and with practice great fun to land the fighter and casually re-launch it as your friends go to help you out (tee hee!)

Brent Johnson
June 12,1998 


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