I built my first parafoil derivative, the 8 square foot NeXTform, in January of '93. It was a belated Christmas present for a friend who's not much on kites, but is rather fond of the NEXTSTEP operating system and NeXT computer hardware.
Since then I've built a number of 'foils, virtually all of which fall under the subcategory of FlowForm.
The FlowForm was originally designed by Steve Sutton as a parachute. The design was never particularly popular as a 'chute, but has proven very popular with kiters. Commercially, FlowForms are available from the company Air Affairs, in sizes ranging from 4 to 252 square feet. Easy to fly, more stable, and with less pull than comparably sized parafoils, FlowForms are popular for lifting line toys, pulling sea kayaks, and other fun things.
The pattern I have used for my 8^2' kites was taken from Margaret Gregor's Kites for Everyone, and was published with permission by Air Affairs. My 16^2' design is based loosely on the Air Affairs T-16, though I have modified the aspect ratio (both length and width) to make the kite more square.
The NeXTform. I was still rather new to applique, not to mention sewing soft kites, but the kite flies well, so I was pretty happy. So's the friend I made it for. (29K)
The NeXTform, flying over my head. Strangely, this image made it onto a NEXTSTEP CD-ROM magazine in Germany a few years ago! (30K)
The Orchidform was my second attempt at a soft kite, as well as my next step in upping the complexity of my applique. My younger sister had asked me to make her a kite, and I managed to get a very good deal on green and white ripstop. While the applique is rather interesting at close range, I found that it fades into a big white lump very quickly as the kite's altitude increases.
Still, the kite couldn't be too bad -- it earned a medal for best parafoil/soft kite (non-Master's category) at the 1993 Smithsonian Kite Festival. (41K)
A detail of the Orchidform's applique. Perhaps someday I'll come up with a better picture of this to scan. (31K)
This T-16 was a Father's Day present for my dad, from my siblings and me. They donated the money, I donated the labor. My dad is a sailor who owns a Bristol 29.9 (yes, that's the logo in the center), sail number 152. On nice weekend evenings, he can be found somewhere on Chesapeake Bay, his boat anchored, and this kite flying off the stern. The kite is all the rage at Chesapeake Bristol Club events, and has even been flown down in the British Virgin Islands. (36K)
Sometime in the early summer of 1994, Tim Wolfe told me he wanted a T-16 FlowForm with the biohazard emblem appliqued on it. It was a pretty simple deal...Tim paid for the cost of the materials, and he also traded me a Greens Cody II. The actual execution of the kite and graphic was left up to me. I finally settled on a white kite with a stained-glass applique in rainbow colors, and built the kite in early September of that year, rushing to get it done before the school semester had me too busy for sewing. One aspect of which I'm rather fond is the mirroring of the black outlines of the stained glass emblem in the use of black edge binding on the kite. A similar technique was also used on the NeXTform, but without quite as good an effect (too much black in the logo...)
The resulting kite won grand champion at the 1994 Kensington Kite Festival (a small local event), and then took best parafoil/soft kite (again, non-master's...though apparently it's now time to move up!) at the 1995 Smithsonian Kite Festival. Kinda makes me wish the kite were actually part of my own collection.
In this view, I'm sitting in fron the Kite Loft, in Ocean City, Maryland, during SunFest '94, with the owner's girlfriend, Sharon Huie. We've got the kite spread on our laps. (48K)
Martian's Legs is my homage to Martin Lester's "Legs" kite. It's also a terrible pun. This is another kite of which I'd like to get a better scan. For now, I've taken what I have and made it rather surreal -- rather befitting the landscape where this monster belongs. (48K)
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