"Dan, with the thirty foot delta that we discussed a year ago we flew to 14,558 feet above sea level from a field that was 860 feet above sea level setting a new world altitude record by more than 1000 feet. Will send exact data later." - Richard Synergy, 16 August, 2000
The last big delta I was involved with (other than a couple of Skyhooks and R10's) was this 20 foot standard delta designed for our friend Steve Lane. Steve rented a church hall, where he helped me lay it out. I glued the splices, marked it and cut it; Steve did all the sewing and sparring up. It's framed in fiberglass and flies as steady as a rock. It's too much to hang onto in anything other than a nice gentle breeze, but then, that's what deltas are for.
It became clear to me later, when completely inexperienced people asked for such large deltas as their first kite, that some people wanted a kite that matched their ego; this sometimes meant that both the flyer and innocent bystanders were at very real risk. Big kites do all the moves smaller ones do, including dives in gusts. Without sufficient flying skill, a neophyte wouldn't be able to handle this - he'd most likely pull on the line in a panic reaction, just making things worse. I have seen exactly that happen a with a normal-sized Clipper. The flyer yanked the line instead of letting it out and the kite accelerated down, hitting a woman on the collarbone and knocking her down. Luckily there was a registered nurse handy.
High performance kites can be quite a handful in certain situations. (This is a bit of an understatement.) Experienced kite flyers like a kite that allows them to use all their kite flying skills, but beginners might be better off with a more sedate flyer while they develop their kite flying skills. Unfortunately, merely telling people that isn't enough to make them order wisely, so when frame materials became no longer available, I haven't bothered to update these bigger designs. The Skyhook and R10 are the biggest kites in the current catalog. These are still powerful kites, but they're less prone to unpredictable behavioral quirks.
This is my first 16 footer, a scaled-up scalloped 106 degree nose angle design. This kite has no wing reinforcements and a raw trailing edge, but I've heard it's still flying.
In the photo at right, Bev is barely able to hang on as the breeze picks up.
There was a case of a customer losing one of these and being hospitalized after the line cut through leather cloves and then through the skin and tendons of both hands. He was Australian and ordered a replacement the following week.
The next one was the same - raw trailing edges; minimal reinforcements.
These photos show the progression from no reinforcements to a simple strip of binding to multi-layer reinforcements.
Other big deltas with battens are shown elsewhere.
At right is the early 12 foot battened delta mentioned elsewhere; my first fabric kites were made using an ancient hand-crank sewing machine, which sewed nice straight lines and did perfect corners. It went up and over any old thick tapes. Because of the one-handed sewing, the kites were glued together prior to sewing, both sides together, flat on a board. I still do them this way.
The old machine is visible in this photo. The kites are smaller versions of the bigger one below.
These 100 degree nose angle deltas are scaled-up Whirlwinds, a bit over 12ft 8in span; one has 10mm fiberglass wing spars, the other 8mm carbon. Both fly sweetly in a light breeze. I hope to some day acquire some large diameter carbon for spreaders. These kites are big enough to generate plenty of pull; if the wind picks up when big kites are out a long way, it might not be possible to retrieve them single-handedly, and this is about as big as I care to fly for that reason.
This is my scaled-up Trooper, a design for strong, steady breezes. I emphasize "steady" because the wing spars are exceptionally long on this one, which limits the kite's responsiveness in turbulence.
The normal-sized Trooper pulls plenty hard enough in brisk winds.
At first glance these may not look as impressive as the other big kites, but those familiar with the Clipper's pulling power will appreciate that the working part of the wing on this one is about the same size as that of a standard delta in the region of 14 foot span. Unavailability of correct stock sizes for frame parts meant only two or three of these were ever built. With new sizes of carbon tubing that situation may be improving.