February 2004

February 2004
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February 2004

February was pretty miserable in this part of the World, and I was too busy with other things to get much flying or filming done. Nevertheless, this clip shows nice tricks including multi backspins, lazy susan, Jacob's ladders and the trick of the month - the Backspin Mutex.


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February was pretty miserable in Guildford, but I was fortunate enough to spend a long weekend at a kite party in Huntington Beach, California. Of course Tim Benson and I were having too much fun flying to think about too much video, and in reality it was a little too crowded for that anwyay. And then being away for a long weekend meant that I work on TT3 to catch up on and didn't get to do much more flying or filming. But I did catch a few nice tricks with a standard Gemini in blustery cold-porridge winds, on a rather grey day, punctuated only by the occassional ray of sunshine. A far cry from the perfect winds and weather of California, to be sure.

The trick to watch out for this month is the Backspin Mutex. The original mutex (another fiendish creation of yours truly) is a combination of flic-flac interspered with 360 flat spins, throw in when the kite is flared out with the nose away from you, of course. The backspin mutex is the flic-flac combined with a backspin, added when the kite is flared up in the fade position. If you put all three together (i.e. flare out, flat-spin, fade up, backspin, and repeat) then it's a Full Mutex, but I haven't yet caught one on video so you'll have to use your imagination for now.

The secret with the mutex is to flic-flac with more pressure coming from one hand more than the other in order to set the kite ready for the flat or back spin. For an original flat spin mutex, you end the flic-flac by flaring the kite out with an emphasis on the hand that you're about to pop for the flat spin. This primes the kites by setting it at a slight angle, making it more receptive to the pop that will send the kite into the spin. So if you're going to pop a right hand flat spin, then pull more on the right hand than the left when you make the flic-flac transition from the fade into the flare. This should set the nose of the kite pointing slightly left, with the right wing (also on the left as you look at it - the kite's upside down don't forget) slightly towards you ready to be popped.

For the backspin mutex, you emphasis the opposite hand to the one you're going to pop, as you bring it up into the fade for the backspin. So if you're planning to backspin with the right hand, then emphasise the left hand when you bring it up. This will also set the nose point left slightly, but now the right wing (also on the left - the kite is still upside down) is further away from you, primed ready for the backspin.

As is always the case, extra kudos and bonus credit points are gained for alternating these kind of tricks between left and right hands. That means being able to hit flat or backspins reliably with both hands, and also being to figure out the whole flic-flac line emphasis thing, at the same time, and again, with both hands. It's not easy, but that's why it never fails to impress. It also opens up the door to more variations when you can combine single or multiple flat, back, or lazy spins with changes on direction.

The last scene of the movie ends with a classic example of just such a trick, the Jacob's Ladder. From a fade, this is half a backspin or barrel roll, followed by a back flip, half a lazy susan, then flip up back into the fade for the next back spin or barrel roll. For it to be a real, proper Jacob's Ladder, you absolutely have to go both ways. Otherwise it's just a multiple half-ladder, which is still pretty impressive, but not the whole thing.

Jacob's Ladder

Incidentally, this trick was invented by Tim Benson around 1999, although others claim to have independently invented it (as is often the case). I was watching him doing it at the 1999 kite festival on Weston Super-Mare beach and was instantly reminded of the toy called the Jacob's Ladder made of blocks of wood that always appear to be tumbling down but never actually going anywhere. So that's where the name came from, and although others may have come up with the same idea, that was when the Jacob's Ladder was born. Tim gave birth to it and I named it. A Jacob's Ladder is also the name for the cool lightning machines you see in old Frankenstein-type films where sparks of electricity rise up between two wires. Either way, it's a cool name. Now get out there and practice it!

The music for this is something I knocked up in GarageBand, a part of Apple's very cool iLife suite. In fact the whole thing was done using iLife: GarageBand for the music, iMovie for editing the film, and iDVD for preparing and burning the high-quality DVD version of these clips that just might be available later in the year.


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00.00 Credits
00.13 Starting flared out belly-down on the ground, pop-up into a barrel roll and then backflip into a turtle. Drop down a little and then half a lazy susan, flip up into a fade and barrel roll out.
00.21 Axel take-off from wing tips, then fractured axel back the other way into a fade, 540 backspin, back flip out and land.
00.29 Flapjack: take off, lazy susan, land.
00.32 Pop up into a quad backspin and fly out.
00.38 A sequence of eight or so backspins across the window from right to left.
00.43 Here's the backspin mutex. First a left handed backspin, flic-flac, then right backspin, flic-flac, left backspin and out. A cheeky little axel to follow. 00.53 Quad backspin (right hand) flipped out into a double lazy susan (left), acid drop out and fly away.
01.01 Same multi backspin and lazy susan combo, this time dropping out to a landing. Axel take off popped up into a barrel roll out.
01.10 Take off, rock, double lazy susan to land.
01.18 Another backspin mutex sequence.
01.26 Yet another backspin mutex, but this time with double backspins.
01.33 Triple flapjack.
01.37 Axel take-off, then another axel fractured into a fade, and then a rung or two of a rather messy Jacob's ladder. By the third or fourth rung I've lost it so throw it into a backflip and a triple lazy susan down to a wingtip landing.
01.48 Axel take-off, fly up to the left and double corkscrew down. A fractured axel brings it into the fade and then flic-flac. The fourth beat converts into a backspin mutex for a couple more beats, followed by a backflip to lazy and land. Then a double axel take-off out to the right edge.
02.07 Rising fade ("elevator") across the window from left to right, ending in a flic-fade at the right edge.
02.18 The split screen sequence. Dropping down in a lazy from the top of the window, then a fractured axel into a fade and then flic-flac down. Half a barrel roll at the bottom and fly back up to top for a double corkscrew down into a fade. A backspin mutex brings the kite(s) back into the middle where I backflip into a 540 lazy and land switch stance with the kite facing away from me and lines under the trailing edge. Then I lay the kite back and pop it up into a fade, then half barrel and fly out.
02.41 Fly in from left to right, fractured axel into fade, half barrel, then backflip and lazy susan to land. Take off, fly up and out.
02.50 Acid drop to land. Axel take-off and up.
02.54 Enter from left, axel and a half, fracture into fade. Three and a half backspins, then backflip into lazy susan and tip stab. Wingtip axel take-off and fly out.
03.03 Enter from left, carve up into rolling axel down, another axel the same way, then pop back the other way and up into a fade. A slack barrel roll followed by a handful of dirty axels finally brings us into a Jacob's Ladder sequence, then fly up and out.
03.22 End credits
03.30 Safety meeting :-)