What money cannot buy

4 minute read

My First Arc

I first flew an Arc on St. Augusine, Florida. My family and I were camping at the beach where I ran into dean, Tim and Ruth. dean had this strange yellow kite that stood at attention nearly motionless directly above him. He told me I had to fly it. So I put on my harness and hooked in. dean’s final instructions were to touch none of the fiddly controls above or below the bar. I did as I was told and zoomed away under the power of the first kite I had ever flown via a bar. The experience was magical. I came back talking of the magic sky hook that towed me down the beach.

An F-Arc 1200 flying tethered from a very simple bar at Cresent Beach, FL, December 2011

It hadn’t flown a lot in the previous 7 years. I married Susan and shortly after there was Katie and then Thomas. Time disappeared as it often does when you have kids and the kites filled the closet more than they filled the skies. Yet what I wanted to do with my spare time had not changed.

A few years after my encounter with Yellow Kite, I was finally able to carve out a little time and knew what I needed to do. I bought my first Arc in May of 2009. It was a 16 meter Scorpion. I was in heaven, but I was also scared to death. It was three times the size of kites I usually flew. I had trouble reconciling a depowerable 16m kite with the 5m bridled foil that was up until then my go-to-kite.

What’s more, the pilot’s end of the rig was mysterious to me. The bar had features that made no sense to me. I read the instructions carefully in a fruitless attempt to understand. I could tell it was not rigged according to the manual, but I couldn’t tell if that was OK or not. I didn’t understand why anything was the way it was. So out of fear I re-rigged it to match the users manual exactly.

My first day out with the Scorpion was at first frustrating with the usual inflation problems that plague the new Scorpion owner, but after I got it inflated the ride was exhilarating. I had so much more power than I needed. I could feel the lightness under my seat as I flew down the beach. In all of my fear about the giant kite the bar became the least of my worries.

More Arcs

That Scorpion was hardly the last Arc I bought. In October of that year I bought a 10 meter Scorpion. In March of 2011, I bought a 15 meter Phantom. The following September I bought a 13m Scorpion.

A Peter Lynn '07 bar and a 10 meter Scorpion tied off during a break at Jekyll Island, Ga

Everything I bought I bought used. I figured why buy new when I wasn’t sure what I wanted. Cash was limited as well, so used kites meant I got to try more kites. Some kites came with bars and lines but others were sold as the kite only. The bars I got varied. Some where Peter Lynn ‘07 bars with strap trim, while others were cobbled together from parts of Peter Lynn ‘04 bars.

I didn’t like having to move bars between kites. It was tedious to run out lines and attach. So I would leave the bar attached when I rolled up the kite. If I was lucky I could remember which kite had the bars rolled up inside. If I wasn’t so lucky I had to unroll the old kite to transfer the lines.

To address this I decided to make a bar for every kite. So I started building bars from the parts I had and buying more used bars to get more parts.

New and shiny could still be better

In June of 2012 I bought a 15 meter Phantom II. It was ready-to-fly with a Navigator bar. I had been coveting both the kite and the bar since they were released. The videos of the bar showed a safety system unlike anything I had ever used and I wanted to try it.

A Peter Lynn Navigator bar

Yet in practice, the bar was not everything I had hoped. Some aspects of the safety system didn’t work as I thought they should. What aggravated me more though was that parts of the bar were designed to do things I didn’t want to do and would never do. Those features meant the bar couldn’t do things I wanted it to do. I had thought in getting something modern I would be relieved of the problems I had in my old bars and hacked together creations, but it didn’t work out that way.

The bar was designed for someone else, not me. Landing kiting is a small market. Kite buggying probably smaller. Kite buggiers who fly depower kites was smaller still though that seems to be a growing market these days. I realized no one was likely to build what I wanted at any price so I had to make it myself.