Thanks to Colin Douthwaite for the wonderful
suggestion of asking the fighters who are on rec.kites to participate in
this survey. The survey responses I received ranged from the beginning
fighter kite flier to the advanced; from fliers who enjoy the thrill of
competition to the ones who just enjoy flying. It was really quite interesting
to read all of the answers, and I'm sure that you will enjoy the information
provided below too. So read on!!
[ 13 ] - Have NOT... Yet!
Recently saw a nice kite by Kai Griebenow. Orange and blue orchid on
a black background. The most interesting part was the back and how the
spar clipped into the spine. Very nice! Didn't get to fly it though, wished
Perhaps the prettiest fighters I've seen are made by Spencer Chun. They
also have the tightest and fastest spin, without losing altitude, of any
fighter I've flown. However it was reluctant to fly in a straight line
for any great distance. Perhaps a bridle tweak would have improved that,
but I didn't get the opportunity to try it. As a fighter kite they are
probably a little overpriced. As a piece of art they are a little under
priced, so it all averages out in the end. It would be nice to see Spencer
come out with a graphic design that emphasizes the kite's spinning abilities.
One of the most interesting kites seen at this years post KTA public
showing, in conjunction with Buggy Boogie Thang II, was an indoor fighter
kite by Peter Lee. This kite was so well balanced that it was STABLE! The
kite was hot cut .5 oz. polyester with a Grand Master spine and a VERY
STIFF spar. Surprising, just the opposite of what you'd expect for an indoor
fighter. It flew beautiful straight lines across the entire wind window.
However, instead of spinning it had what might be characterized as a slow
turn. This was Peter's "keeper." I'm not sure if all his kites feel this
Speaking of stable fighters, the boys from Brazil, Hans and Yves, have
introduced San Diego to inverse fighters. Their small, bowed, paper and
bamboo kites resemble a topless rokkaku. They are inherently stable and
need to be coaxed into the acrobatics one normally expects from a fighter.
Very different, requires almost the opposite techniques to get the desired
results. Lots of fun, and delightful kites."
Build your own kite and see what changes have what impacts: add weight
to the nose (slows spin), add weight to the tail (increase spin), make
the bridle longer, make it shorter, make the bow stronger, softer.....
In short, experiment with your kite to understand what makes it tick.
A fighter pilot needs more kites than a golfer needs clubs. The difference
between the best fighter kite in the world and what you can make is less
than a few hours of work.
For "cutting" competitions, I have said this hundreds of times, that
it is "some skill" and "some luck", but it is important to have a good
slicing angle and lots of tension on the line. However, if both fliers
used the same manjha and were equally skillful, then someone has to lose.
There is no magic or formula, or it would be very boring! I flew fanatically
as a child, until I left India at the age of 18. I was known as the mad
kite boy in the city of Lucknow, India. Most of the fights in India are
called "Tangles", and are flown at distances of 50 - 1000 mtrs., sometimes
even more. In India, distance is a statement of prestige as it says how
much you are prepared to lose (kite and manjha).
Now I am known as the mad kite flier in the village where I live because
no one around me flies kites, but the whole village knows who is flying
the kite which is around 900 mtrs. away, going down behind the pub, or
the cricket club, and rising up majestically. My most recent trip was to
Weifang, China, where I caused quite a stir with my kites and was awarded
a prize. I flew my kite around the arena at the opening ceremony, spinning
it over the heads of the crowd as we paraded around the arena to marching
I like Indian fighters because I haven't flown anything better. I get
mine from Stafford Wallace, and I also sell kites for Stafford. The quality
control on these kites is excellent and the kites seem to be consistently
good. I'd like more people to try these kites!
I've been designing and building for 10+ years. I haven't yet got what
I think is the ultimate in performance. Competition keeps pushing me to
achieve better performance, and I think that the winners of most of the
competitions now build their own, the level of design having gotten to
the point where the commercial designs aren't competitive anymore. This
is gratifying for we few builders, but hard on those who must depend on
the commercial kites.
Come and Join us in the Manjha Club International. Everybody is welcome!
Several years ago, at WSIKF, I met Ed (and Matthew) Alden, and fortunately,
I was able to trade one of my handmade fighters for one of Ed's fighters.
I really respect the work that Ed has put into designing his kites (see
the article he wrote about his "Family" of fighters in KiteLines Magazine,
Spring 1993). It's definitely one of my "special" kites.
Over the years I've tried to collect fighter kites from all different
kite makers. Each kite is unique, some, mainly for looks, others for their
excellent flying characteristics, and still others for the new innovative
materials used in the construction. The latest kite I just received is
the Mighty Mite; I'm still playing around with all the adjustments...(grin)
A fighter is much more fun if you tune it very carefully.