Ultralight Manta Ray project
Last year, we managed to get hold of a very special pilot from Craig. It was bright Orange and made from a very lightweight, soft fabric. It flew in the lightest wind. Unfortunately, it got cut free at Bedford and lodged 20m up a tree. We tried very hard but never got it down again. So I contacted New Zealand and asked them to make me a replacement. But they couldn't. It was made from a sample that their supplier had given them. There was enough fabric to make two pilots. Both are now lost. the minimum order is 1000m per colour. And the fabric is expensive. The fibres are so fine that the loom produces it at only half the rate that it makes regular fabric - and time is money...
But I really wanted some kites made out of that stuff, so I called on a few friends. "Would you like an Ultralight Manta Ray?" Calls went out to the Europe, USA, Middle East, Far East and the antipodes. Would you be willing to spend a premium price to get an Ultralight Manta? There would be no choice of colour scheme. There would be no chance to see one flying before hand. But enough people said "Yes" that the project went ahead. Craig negotiated with the manufacturer and persuaded them to do 2 colour (white and dark blue) within the 1000m run in return for delaying production of the fabric till there was a lull at the factory.
The result is spectacular. Instead of 12kg, the Manta weighs about 7.5kg. It packs up really small - it may well fit in hand baggage. Here is Kathleen struggling to hold on to one when everything else has fallen from the sky:
The fabric has a wonderful gossamer appearance. The sun shines through it. Under a floodlight at night, you get a lovely pattern of reflections. An ultralight kite is a happy kite...
The one made for the Al-Farsi team is fitted to take a lighting kit. It makes for a spectacular night fly.