Levitation Light-- dive-happy in turbulent winds?

As an urban kite flier in a city in a valley, (Portland, OR) I expect a lot of trouble in the first few hundred feet of turbulent wind. For several years the Levitation was my favorite kite for just such conditions, but I left it in an airplane overhead bin in early 2013, and just recently replaced it with a Levitation Light.

My first two flights have been nail-biters. I'm no stranger to cross-wind driven dives and overflights when the wind drops, but I expect those to be exceptional events, not regular behaviors. The Levitation Light just kept flying straight up over my head, circling, and occasionally diving. On my first flight I dunked it in the Willamette when it flipped over about 60 feet up.

I've tried adjusting the cross spar, placing it in the center, top, and bottom of the pockets, but that doesn't seem to change the behavior. Tails also didn't reduce the flying angle.

Here it is circling overhead with three tails in otherwise constant 8-10mph winds.

image

Comments

  • Levitation too-light? My 9' levitation gets a little agitated above 8 mph. ITW says the Levitation Light is good up to 18mph, but it shouldn't dance that much with three tails, I would think.
  • Mathew,

    I wonder if your kite tails are a bit short? I use a 9 - 10 metre fuzzy tail in the middle with good results.

    Al
  • edited July 2016
    I think 3 tails is too many, the wing tip vortex might be amplified by them. I'm no fan of tails but Skysnaps suggestion to add more is sound.

    ITW are, like many manufacturers', optimistic with the stated upper wind speed for their kites (I think these wind speeds are for beach flying in smooth laminar flows- not 'real world') flying in dirty wind will always be tricky, the first thing they said to me when I queried their wind range was that I was flying in the wrong kind of wind...

    The Levitation is not as tough as it looks I have flown one to the point where the sail has stretched and I believe this has revealed a weakness in the design over, for example, the Dan Leigh R8 which has just 3 seams. Christoph Fokken's sail design has many seams and the fabric weave is not laid symmetrically. This is OK until it begins to stretch at the seams: the kite becomes unbalanced in stronger (Bft4) winds. Because of this I believe they may not all be made the same, you may be unlucky and have a sail shipped with an asymmetric sail.

    An ITW quality control issue?

    B
  • SkySnaps99 might be right about using a fuzzy tail-- i didnt have mine put with me that day.

    I guess it really is a light wind only kite, which is a bit disappointing-- i was hoping for light-medium coverage with a very collapsible travel kite.
  • Would a dynamic spreader help?

    At KAPiCA, Michael L flew his ITW with one in an odd wind ranging from 10 to 20+mph without any issues that I saw. Admittedly, this flight was in a totally open, flat space, so geographical or man-made turbulence was off the menu.

    Just a thought.
  • The Levitation Light delta is an excellent kite and can be flow easily up to 15-18 knots. Add a dynamic spreader and you can fly in winds up to 25 knots with no issues. No need for any tails.

    There have been a few reports, including a one of mine where the delta flies off center (in my case to the right). There can be many causes (uneven spars, bent ferrules, other). I returned a new Levitation Light to Into the Wind (I happen to be be in Boulder, CO). We tried all the standard tricks (switching spars, ....) but no luck. This was a new kite.

    The replacement kite few fine and continues to perform well in winds close to 30 knots with a dynamic spreader.

    WW
  • edited July 2016
    Jim, it looks like the Levi on the Ha was a dud sail..confirms my suspicion on the vulnerability of all those seams. What did ITW say about it? Swapping the kite is not going to solve the problem if they have quality control issues.

    B
  • ok, well i'll give it a few more flights and may end up returning it for a replacement, glad to know that's an option. I loved my earlier Levitation and was surprised by this one.
  • mathewL,

    Looking at the picture with the kite in the air....and your comments of circling in the air above...

    Recommend the following:

    - Check for thermals - will definitely throw all kite into a tizzy
    - Check for ground turbulence - in the picture the kite looks low (in ground turbulence zone unless on the beach with the breeze coming in off the water). Recommend add 200 feet in altitude. Then assess the flight stability.

    Bill, No major issues with ITTW. I did talk with them for about 30 minutes in the Boulder, CO store. We hand inspected all the seams, spars and ferrules but did not see any obvious flaws. I reviewed in detail all the adjustments (sliding the spars up and back in the pockets, changing spars, ...) I had made in an attempt to correct the flight. They agreed to do the exchange (I had the receipt). Note: I have purchased about 5 Levi lights and 4 standard Levis over the past years. Love the kite.

    WW
  • Wind Watcher,

    In that picture the Levitation is definitely in a turbulent zone circling above a thermal. In this spot I expect 200-400 feet of rough flying before i hit steady winds. The issue I encountered was an inability to get the Levitation to climb through these winds. Each overflight loses 20-80' of altitude, and they happen with such frequency the kite just inches upwards at an agonizingly slow pace. The overflights also made me lose confidence in my fairly confined drop zone, exacerbated by having dunked the kite in my extended riverine drop zone the day prior.

    Both flight locations are familiar to me and I regularly fly a Dazzle delta there, and previously my older Levitation
  • SueSue
    edited July 2016
    My Levi Light also flies too high and needs a tail. It was flying to one side and I found that one of the side spar ferrules was bent. They now seem to press the ferrules in something like a vice to keep them attached instead of the normal way of having a well fitted ferrule and glueing it in. My supplier here in UK sent me some more spars and ferrules and I think he had informed the maker as well.
    It now has 6mm spars and is no longer a "Light" levitation :-((

    Try to Fly High

    Sue
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