The Tracer was designed around the end of 1991 by Mike Simmons of Skyward Kites, down in Florida. The design was wildly successful and was eventually licensed to Skynasaur, an old-time stunt kite manufacturer which needed some new blood in their line. This design helped bring about a trend toward lower aspect ratios, deeper sails, and the use of cross bridles.
The Tracer is known for tight, precise turns with little or no oversteer, ease of performing axels, turtles (and recoveries!), and other popular tricks.
While I rarely ever fly a full-scale Tracer anymore, it's a rare windy day that I don't pull out one of my custon 3/4 scale kites.
In the summer of 1992, I was able to borrow a Tracer and make a full-size template by tracing the sail. My first version was made entirely of scrap fabric, pieced together. I was rather fond of the looks of the kite, and prefer "Calico Tracer" to referring to it as a "trashcan kite". It didn't age too gracefully, and was experimentally vented a couple of years ago. (25K)
The starstruck tracer was my second and last full-sized kite. Constructed of Carrington on a variety of different frames over the years, it's currently sticked in .2400 pultrude with a .2540 upper spreader. With all that mass and the upper center of gravity, it axels very quickly. (28K)
Having enjoyed the Tracer design so much, I got to wondering how a 3/4 version would perform -- this was well before the Tracker and Trixter were put on the market. Not long after I built the startstruck tracer, I scaled down my template to an exact 3/4 scale and built the klingon tracer, so named by a trekker friend of mine. I've since found that this graphic really has little to do with the klingon emblem, but the name has stuck.
My true 3/4 tracers remain, after several years, my favorite 3/4 sized kite. It's more radical than a Tracker, but more precise than a Trixter. To be honest, I've never understood why Skyward/Skynasaur never produced this kite commercially. (29K)
Carrington really does amazing things in sunlight. One would never guess this kite was a nice, light blue! (48K)
One advantage to a kite that needs to break in is that they tend to last a while -- the sail stretches into shape, rather than stretching out of shape. So my original 3/4 Tracer, with hundreds of hours of air time over the last few years, still flies great. But having just one of these kites wasn't enough for me, so I pieced through the Carrington I had left over from other projects and put together this kite. You can see the results of the scrap scrounging in the irregular panels at the wing tips. The applique is sewn of trilon, a clear mylar with dacron threads sandwiched inside. (58K)
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