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Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Blade III 8.5m - first flight

I have owned my Flexifoil Blade III 8.5m a couple of months now and only got to fly it for the first time on Sunday and then it nearly didn't happen...

I bought this monster as a low wind kite and because I've always wanted a Blade! It was bought second hand from extreme kites and comes in it's original ruck-sack and stuff sack. Initial inspection of the kite was good, it looks like the bridle is new, though was a bit twisted in places, the sail fabric was immaculate there is just some dried grass over the mesh covers to the cells. The handles and lines look hardly used.

The lines are 30m and when it arrived they were handle wrapped so I spent a great deal of time untwisting them and then re para-packing the kite (see here), I always get in a tangle with handle wrapping! the bags have some dirt but are otherwise huge and I love the fact it comes in it's own stuff sack.

I know the Blades reputation and have seen the videos on You Tube so there were a couple of things that I had some anxiety about before I got to fly this kite...

These are very lifty and powerful kites and have a reputation of biting and the spitting out unfortunate kiters!

Also the Blade III had a issue with bridle stretch that can distort the sail shape and effect flight - this can be corrected through re-tuning the bridle or by buying a bridle adjustment.
I was fairly confident the bridle would be OK as it looks new, but still had some nerves as I didn't want to disappear over the horizon!

Down on the Salt Lake Sunday morning, we had lots of rain the night before so there were large areas with a covering of water. More showers were forecast and with westerly winds increasing through the morning.

I started with the 5m Flow,but that was packed away rapidly as a heavy shower hit! Once that passed I thought now or never!

Staked out the handles then took the long walk, down wind, as the the 30m of lines unfurled from the bag. Unfolded the kite and I had forgotten how big this thing is!

Back to the handles, a quick tug and it sailed gracefully into the air and I was dragged (on my feet) about 10m! Wow - what a powerful kite. My usual technique is to put it through a few turns and figure 8's to get used to the power and speed of the kite - I was not disappointed, the kite held it's shape well, generated lots of power and most surprisingly turned pretty quickly for such a beast!

While the wind was pretty gentle thought I should try it in the buggy, as this is what I bought it for. I had about five minutes of gentle buggying until the wind completely dropped and the blade floated gently down. There were no nasty surprises, the wing tips folded a couple of times and were easily shaken out - this was more due to the very low wind rather than anything else.

Hung around for 10 minutes or so cursing the wind (or lack of it and it must have worked), until a more steady breeze picked up ahead of  some very dark and threatening clouds.

The kite was back in the air and flying (and pulling) happily - back into the buggy and off with some more speed now. The kite was pulling well and the speed increased, keeping it low in the window flipped it 180 degrees and made a perfect turn, with a nice slide thrown in!

A few more runs up and down the length of the lake, with the kite performing brilliantly - no scary moments just great fun, then the wind increased and a few spots of rain started...

The kite powered-up and the speed increased, but I wanted to stop and pack away before another drenching. A down-wind slide to scrub some speed and de-power the kite, as I started to bring it up to the zenith. The kite didn't want to de-power with the wind increasing - full on power-slide, pushed the kite higher into the window, started going backwards and then managed to turn around and stop the bug.

Hard on the brakes and the kite drifted down all sweet and innocent! Packed the kite away and got under shelter before the full force of another shower hit! After that it was back on the 5m and before I Knew it out came the 3m Core!

The blade is an awesome kite - I knew it was going to be powerful, but was pleasantly surprised at the speed of it's turns. Still think I am going to sell it as I have vapors and prodigy's on the brain!

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