Windstruck, literally

46 posts in this topic

Well my friends, I've got to say I'm very glad to be writing this, because it means I'm writing anything. I was out kite skating yesterday on some grass fields under my 9m Frenzy and having a grand old time. Winds were transitioning from moderate to strong as the afternoon progressed. While I was setting up I had spied a good sized dirt devil on a nearby baseball diamond so there were definitely some rogue gusts in the area.  As per usual I was covered head to toe with body armor including a decent ski helmet though not the full motorcycle helmet I sometimes wear but avoided yesterday because of the heat. 

What I'm writing next is based on witness accounts, not my own memory.  A fellow Kiter said a rogue gust came through and picked me up like a paper doll, swung me up and out like a pendulum with me about 30 feet in the air and then slammed me to the ground.  I was supposedly out cold for 4-5 minutes. I have a ghost memory of the kite powering up a lot but then absolutely nothing. 

He supposedly got me to give my wife's phone number and he reached her. The field is actually within sight of our local hospital and I was able to walk to his car and he and his girlfriend drove me to the ER. I was completely out of it and barely remember the ride much less what sort of car it was.

Got me into the ER and out of all my gear but I don't remember them taking it all off. I do remember them telling me that all my gear might have saved my life.  All CT scans and X-rays were negative, but man, I feel like I've been in a car wreck. Slept in a home theater chair last night because it hurt too much to lie down. 

I must have slammed to the ground on my right side because my right hip and right shoulder are badly contused. I might have seperated my shoulder at the AC joint but a follow up with my orthopedic surgeon will give me more on that later. My rib cage and sternum hurt quite a bit, probably what somebody would feel like when they get flung to the ground from 30 ft in the air. 

My wife has the guys number that helped me initially and I want to thank him and set him up with some good local whiskey (he mentioned High West). A friend of mine and new member of PKF, Shawn Weiss (can't remember his PKF name right now) also helped out by gathering up my gear that was left at the field. Thanks Shawn!

My wife was scared out of her mind and broke down crying several times which made me feel like dog crap. She further had to cancel a trip to her brother today to watch her neice compete in swimming in North Carolina which further sucks. Now she gets to stay home and care for her idiot 55 year old husband. 

I guess if there is a moral to this story it is to really, really respect the nature of these activities and stay protected. All my safety gear did likely play a role in me still being alive and my helmet certainly did. I wish to heck I had been flying one of my Peak-2s yesterday (it would have been the 9m P2 based on conditions). I'm sure I would have been lofted and slammed to the ground but I bet I would have only gone half as high. 

The worst part about all this is on my discharge papers from the ER I am described as a 55 year old man, non-athlete. The age, heck, just a number, but the descriptor? Ouch. 

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Wow, Steve.  That's epic in a really scary and bad way.  Very glad you are still in one piece.    I wish you a speedy recovery from your bruises.

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50 minutes ago, jhn.holgate said:

 

Wow, Steve

 

ditto mate, shame there's no footage, at 55 the healing takes longer, try using an internal alcohol rub.

Now your avatar name suits you.

I'd like to like your entry but it gives me the willies.

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Wow @windstruck, close call! Hopefully the recovery doesn't take too long.

We see them on the claypan now and again on hot hot days in Kingston, i try and keep my kite as low as possible for as much of the session as possible on those days as I have in the back of my mind @Icarus (Lee Pailing) being lofted at Flexi Wollop back in 2004.  There's always times you end up needing to raise the kite above you, but those days i just seem to be more aware and I always feel sketchy doing an upwind turn out there on those hot days.

It's an old video, uploaded a few years after the lofting Icarus experienced.

 

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On 10 July 2016 at 9:32 PM, windstruck said:

 Winds were transitioning from moderate to strong as the afternoon progressed. While I was setting up I had spied a good sized dirt devil on a nearby baseball diamond so there were definitely some rogue gusts in the area.  

Edited by Spartan
If I was telling the story I would've left the underlined comment out

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OUCH!  That does sound like a close one man. I think you are right, You safety equipment saved you.

I have a couple of questions. Do you usually jump at height? How is your jumping technique? Can you easily re-direct the kite for a smooth landing in normal conditions?

What was the forecasted and actual wind for the day?

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27 minutes ago, plummet said:

OUCH!  That does sound like a close one man. I think you are right, You safety equipment saved you.

I have a couple of questions. Do you usually jump at height? How is your jumping technique? Can you easily re-direct the kite for a smooth landing in normal conditions?

What was the forecasted and actual wind for the day?

Hi Plummet,

Thanks for the well wishes.  I'm doing much better today, now 48 hours after my lofting.  I don't usually jump at all, and certainly not in the style that people do on purpose where re-direction of the kite and other graceful moves would apply.  As such I am sort of a plow back and forth type, whether I am on skis, skates, or in a buggy.  The wind was foretasted to be around 15-20 mph and I'd say it was faithful to that.  When kite skating with my 200x50mm wheels of doom setup I've found that I've got to size up a kite pretty much to overcome the resistance of the wheels in the plush grass of the fields I fly on.  I live at elevation in a mountain valley and my riding surface was at around 7000 ft above see level.  The mountains around me are between 9000 and 12,500 ft.  Winds in my area are typically what some refer to as "janky" with the occasional punchy gust and swirling devils.  Despite Spartan's comment I would bet it was a devil that got me as the base winds were such that I felt borderline UNDER POWERED on the 20 or so laps I had taken back and forth across the athletic field before the "pluck and smash" incident took place.  The fall to earth part might have been exacerbated by me being at altitude as the air itself would have offered less lofting for the kite.

Short of one fractional memory of being really powered up I have zero recall of the lofting or the not so fun part about coming back to earth.  My wife has since related to me the eyewitness account of three people that saw me (I must have had an audience but I hadn't noticed).  Heights varied between 30 and 40 feet in the various reports but all said some variation of how I (mind you I am about 100 kg) was plucked up like a paper doll, got swung up 30-40 feet off the ground and then smashed down to the ground faster than simple falling (sort of a sling shot effect if you will).  I went through my gear today and sure enough my helmet was completely fractured on the right side.  I also "discovered" a good size abrasion on the back of my right shoulder this morning along with some sizable bruising of my right elbow, but neither of those spots really feel bad.  What does still feel bad is my sternum and various places around my rib cage, all consistent with me smashing down from some height on my right side while wearing body armor.

I posted for sale today on PKF three kites; my "almost widow maker" 9m Ozone Frenzy V10, 12m Ozone Summit V3, and 15m Ozone Summit V3, viz., my "lofty' kites.  I'm keeping my full quiver of Flysurfer Peak-2s along with my 4m and 6m Ozone Access V6s, my "non-lofty" kites.  Yes, all kites can be "lofty" but the Frenzy and Summits are actually designed to do this while the Peaks and Access kites really are more "beginner" kites with far lower A.R.s and tend to be the safer bet.

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Glad you are ok Windy, Sounds like the plastic saved you from some serious damage.

get well soon mate. 

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Hmmmmm. I think you should reconsider selling the higher lift kites. Here's why. 

A gust strong enough to loft a 100kg man 30ft high on a 9m kite must be in excess of 35 knots! Had you been flying a low lift access or peak of similar power you would still have been lofted. Perhaps not as high. Maybe 20 foot?

without the skill to fly and redirect the kite while in the air you can only rely on the kites lift to get you down safely. The feature That saved your life is the lift the frenzy has. 

The downside to low lift kites is that they drop you like a bag of shit when you are in the air. Had you been lofted on a peek or access you might very well be dead right now. 

The answer for improved safety is not to sell the lofty kites. It is to learn to safely jump and redirect your kite at the right time for a soft landing.

then if you do get lofted you simply fly the kite and redirect to a soft landing. A lofting then becomes a supercool jump. 

Without the skill to jump you become a "dead sailor" no reacting to the situation or like a "deer in the headlights" freeze up and hope for the best. 

So get out there on some soft terrain,maybe some powdery snow, embrace the fear and learn to jump. You will actually become a far better Kiter and be a lot safer and less likely to seriously injure yourself.

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All good advice @plummet and you are far more experienced than I, but don't you do most of your flying on the beach?  Like @windstruck I fly inland and have to deal with some huge swings in wind. My only experience is fixed bridle (will jerk you off the ground before you know what happened), and depowers 13m venom (much better than fixed bridle at handling gusts but can still get in trouble), and lastly peaks. The peaks work so well at keeping you grounded because when you let the bar out they lose their shape and flutter. This immediately slows it down instead of speeding up like a normal depower. Well, it actually speeds up a tad half way out then slows way down fully sheeted out. Speed equals power and with a peak, you can slow it down while dumping power at the same time. For this reason, I believe it would at minimum give you the opportunity to hit the release before going airborn. This only works when you practice using you release and commit to using it when needed.. I could be wrong, but I feel 100% safer under my peak in gusty wind than my old venom that is considered to be faster and more lofty than a peak. 

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Don't get me wrong. I am not advocating to not fly the peeks and access's. What I am saying is the answer to improve safety is to improve your jumping technique.

When a lofting occurs it occurs instantly and violently. There is ZERO chance of pulling the safety when the as the lofting is occurring. Even with  the huge aoa of the peak given Windstrucls description I doubt it would of made much difference at all. My little 6m reo has an insane range and huge aoa also. Its sweet and safe up to 45knots. Yet I have still been violently lofted on that kite with a gust in excess of 50 knots!!!.. So any kite if it is flown outside its wind range has the power to loft you.

Once in the air you stand a much better chance of survival if you have a solid jump technique.

Yes you are right I don't fly inland. But I do fly cross/cross off  conditions with wind coming straight off the land with huge gusts, wind shifts and lulls. I can and do go out in conditions swinging 20+knots. EG15-35 knots.

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, plummet said:

Don't get me wrong. I am not advocating to not fly the peeks and access's. What I am saying is the answer to improve safety is to improve your jumping technique.

When a lofting occurs it occurs instantly and violently. There is ZERO chance of pulling the safety when the as the lofting is occurring. Even with  the huge aoa of the peak given Windstrucls description I doubt it would of made much difference at all. My little 6m reo has an insane range and huge aoa also. Its sweet and safe up to 45knots. Yet I have still been violently lofted on that kite with a gust in excess of 50 knots!!!.. So any kite if it is flown outside its wind range has the power to loft you.

Once in the air you stand a much better chance of survival if you have a solid jump technique.

Yes you are right I don't fly inland. But I do fly cross/cross off  conditions with wind coming straight off the land with huge gusts, wind shifts and lulls. I can and do go out in conditions swinging 20+knots. EG15-35 knots.

 

 

 

@plummet - your comments are spot on and I couldn't agree with you more. If some crazy devil comes sneaking up to me again I will get lofted again no question about it. I had planned on practicing little baby lofts with my low A.R., low A.O.A. kites for the express purpose you describe. Like so many things in life, our kiting activities lead us to "when" not "if" moments of extreme importance for personal survival.

I've not yet spoken to the snowkiter that witnessed me get hucked but my wife has his number and I'll get a drink with him sooner than later and hear what happened because I still don't remember a darn thing of relevance. I'd sure like to know if I did anything right up in the air; I like to think I would have. 

Thank you for your well intended comments; I think they are on the mark. 

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17 hours ago, ssayre said:

For this reason, I believe it would at minimum give you the opportunity to hit the release before going airborn. This only works when you practice using you release and commit to using it when needed.. I could be wrong,  

I beg to differ.

There is no way I'd be tempted to pull the QR once in the air.

Any kite is going to be better than no kite at all to lessen the impact with the ground.

The QR should also be re-named, to "The Ouch Strap". By the time you realise you need it, it's too late.  

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1 hour ago, nigel said:

I beg to differ.

There is no way I'd be tempted to pull the QR once in the air.

Any kite is going to be better than no kite at all to lessen the impact with the ground.

The QR should also be re-named, to "The Ouch Strap". By the time you realise you need it, it's too late.  

I've got to agree.  I did note that my QR was not pulled when I sorted out my gear.  While I have zero memory of the event itself I'd hope that I did some sensible thinking and attempts at kite re-direction while I was soaring around up there.

I've used the QR to good effect post OBE while I was getting dragged on the ground and I've used it snow kiting preemptively when things were going South (North for you Down Under guys?) in a hurry.

If I was truly snatched up in an instant as I suspect I was I probably had no chance to pull the QR before it might have been worse to do so than just leave that alone.  I'm going to meet up eventually with a guy who saw it (a snow kiter himself so he should be able to describe things in a way relevant to us) so maybe I'll learn a little bit then.

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I agree completely with @plummet and @nigel on everything they've said as it pertains to the freak gust that's 20-30mph above base and that may very well have saved @windstruck, however, almost every lofting I have ever read about is with a high ar kite.  Why?  I don't know is my answer but maybe in general the rider who buys aggressive kites likes to fly more aggressively?  I'm not blaming the rider in this case, but just something to think about.  Mostly I think it's just bad luck.  Freak accidents can happen whether your walking, driving, or in this case, kiting.

My point is I would argue that you don't buy a high ar kite that will punish (read injure) for a pilot error in your normal gusty wind conditions just to gain more float for the once in a lifetime gust.  However, you may only get one shot so my logic may be flawed.

So let's say you are going to plan for the freak lofting, I don't think I would want a frenzy.  I would be inclined for something like a Speed?  What say you kite elders?

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This is a good discussion.

4 hours ago, ssayre said:

I agree completely with @plummet and @nigel on everything they've said as it pertains to the freak gust that's 20-30mph above base and that may very well have saved @windstruck, however, almost every lofting I have ever read about is with a high ar kite.  Why?  I don't know is my answer but maybe in general the rider who buys aggressive kites likes to fly more aggressively?  I'm not blaming the rider in this case, but just something to think about.  Mostly I think it's just bad luck.  Freak accidents can happen whether your walking, driving, or in this case, kiting.

My point is I would argue that you don't buy a high ar kite that will punish (read injure) for a pilot error in your normal gusty wind conditions just to gain more float for the once in a lifetime gust.  However, you may only get one shot so my logic may be flawed.

So let's say you are going to plan for the freak lofting, I don't think I would want a frenzy.  I would be inclined for something like a Speed?  What say you kite elders?

I'll have to beg to differ Ssayre, The majority of loftings don't occur with high aspect kites. They occur with any type of kite being flown outside its wind range.  Now if I was going to choose a kite to be lofted on I would choose my highest aspect kite the Chrono. Why? that kite has crazy glide and float. I know that I can land that kite soft as superman landing on a windowsill every time. The kite I would not like to be lofted on is my safest lowest aspect kite the Reo. That kite needs a scalpel precise redirect for a soft landing!......

However if I am going out in crazy weather. EG Gusts past 40 knots . I reach for the 6m reo. Why Because I know that I wont  be lofted until 50+ knots.

So the key in preventing a lofting is not the type of kite you fly. But selecting a kite whose wind range is capable of taking the biggest gust of the day!

 

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42 minutes ago, plummet said:

 

So the key in preventing a lofting is not the type of kite you fly. But selecting a kite whose wind range is capable of taking the biggest gust of the day!

 

Agreed, this is a good discussion. I take issue, however, with the statement quoted above, even though it makes sense when first read. In janky wind conditions I've found that sizing a kite to keep it in a safe wind range during peak gusts tends to leave me woefully underpowered for 90% of my session.  As @ssayre and I have commented on in other related discussions on PKF, this is one of the several things we both like about mobile kiting with Flysurfer Peaks. With either a Peak or a Peak2 (especially with a P2 which additionally has a clam cleat adjustment) it is possible to pretty much completely sheet out the kite by letting the bar all the way out. The kite will flap like a furious bird but it will dump a HUGE amount of power.  Do this with the clam cleat cord pulled all the way in and the sheeted out kite is almost powerless.  That's a tall task with a lot of DP kites and even more FB models. 

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Hum! most of the times I've been lofted its been at speed, low altitude long distance due to a tad of the over power (or not enough pies), this can and will happen with any ar. as for lofting to a decent altitude its only happened to me when I've been stationary or near. The worst of these was after an exhilaratingly fast run on a stack of Flexis (high ar?), preparing to stop I'd parked them High and slid to a stop, instead of climbing out, I was levitated out, by the time my feet were about 10' of the ground I,d worked out: I was still going up; the kites were still almost directly over head(still lifting); there was a lot of traffic on the road down wind of me.So I let go (landing very close to the buggy), rolled and ran to get the kites before they hit the river.

Now as I see it there are 2 morals to this tail 1 don't slow down and 2 the quickest quick relees is your hands.

p.s. no safety gear, I've only just started to wear a helmet all the time (when I remember)

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Ahhhh. We are saying the same thing. You are saying you like the peak because you can dump a huge amount of power and ride through  a wider range of conditions. Good you are using a kite with within its wind range. That kite happens to have a wider range than other kites. 

But even a peak will have a top end where  the aoa at the bar will not save you. Let's say you took a 9m out in 60 knots. You are outside the wind range of the kite.  Then you are unsafe.

My call still remains the same use a kite that can handle the max gust of the day. 

Then also learn to jump and fly the kite while you are in the air. If you do those 2 things you will be a lot safer. And when you do choose the wrong kite (one too big for max gust) then when you do get lifted you can fly the kite actively to and hopefully land the lofting safely.

I have been 30ft in the air by accident many times. Most often I go for a small jump then get hit by a gust and boom. I'm looking down at the tops of buildings. But I fly the kite as I would for a normal jump. I do the things that need to be done to land safely. So far so good. 

 

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Windstruck, glad you made at to tell the tail. I agree with Plummet, learn how to jump and steer the kite and your self while you are up there. I guess I have been lucky enough to first learn how to jump on the water which is usually more forgiving of mistakes. I then use what I have learnt there on the land. It can be the small kites in big winds that can catch you out, they go up quick and come down quick.

As for your wind devils, perhaps it was possible that you encountered a very concentrated column of uplift, it took you up high, you then drifted off the edge of the column of lift and with a small kite and perhaps some bad luck with a pendulum swing you struck the ground. I remember reading in the FlySurfer kite manuals, saying if you get lofted, keep the kite steady and directly above you and gradually let out the bar, when you meet with terafirma again, then pull the safety.

Getting lofted and doing a pendulum swing at the same time has caught a number of people out, suspect this is what happened to the poor fellow at Altona years ago. He ended up in hospital with a coma.

Some times the conditions are just too gusty and it is time to go home, had a lot of those days upon Trugania Park hill when the inland gusty Northerlies came.

All the best with your recovery Windstruck.

Regards,

Norman

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16 minutes ago, SoutherlyBuster said:

Windstruck, glad you made at to tell the tail. I agree with Plummet, learn how to jump and steer the kite and your self while you are up there. I guess I have been lucky enough to first learn how to jump on the water which is usually more forgiving of mistakes. I then use what I have learnt there on the land. It can be the small kites in big winds that can catch you out, they go up quick and come down quick.

As for your wind devils, perhaps it was possible that you encountered a very concentrated column of uplift, it took you up high, you then drifted off the edge of the column of lift and with a small kite and perhaps some bad luck with a pendulum swing you struck the ground. I remember reading in the FlySurfer kite manuals, saying if you get lofted, keep the kite steady and directly above you and gradually let out the bar, when you meet with terafirma again, then pull the safety.

Getting lofted and doing a pendulum swing at the same time has caught a number of people out, suspect this is what happened to the poor fellow at Altona years ago. He ended up in hospital with a coma.

Some times the conditions are just too gusty and it is time to go home, had a lot of those days upon Trugania Park hill when the inland gusty Northerlies came.

All the best with your recovery Windstruck.

Regards,

Norman

Thanks Norman. I'm about a week out. Shoulder and hip almost better again. I've got a quite painful issue going on in my rib cage when I must have some torn cartlege or something that still has me sleeping in a home theater chair. Hard to complain really. 

I wish to heck I could remember any of the events in the air but I'm a complete blank. I'd like to think I did something right, but I suspect things went along the lines of what you said. I'm completely planning on "getting back on the horse" as soon as I'm fully recovered. 

Continued thanks to all with the outpouring of well wishes and well intended advice. 

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@Windstruck,  glad you're OK.
Some good advice about learning to control the kite in the air from @Plummet and @Southerlybuster but I don't know that that would have helped in your situation. A devil isn't just a wind gust that you can choose a kite size for. A 9m Frenzy may not be the biggest canopy but it's plenty to get you safely back to earth if you do get up higher than intended - if you're able to.  Devils can be inclined rather than vertical and if it grabbed the kite you would be catapulted "over the falls" and straight into the ground. A pity you there was no footage of your accident so you could see exactly what happened but if it was a devil I think you would have been hurt regardless of what kite you were using. I think @Southerlybuster's advice to just avoid flying in sketchy conditions is probably the best advice you can get.

I see your Summits have gone to new homes and that may be good thing for you but I'd urge you to keep the Frenzy if it hasn't already gone. It's a really versatile kite with a very good wind range and it can easily handle (normal) gusty conditions. Mine is a few years older than yours but it's definitely my favorite.

Hope you're back on your skates/skis soon

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42 minutes ago, Mfwetu said:

@Windstruck,  glad you're OK.
Some good advice about learning to control the kite in the air from @Plummet and @Southerlybuster but I don't know that that would have helped in your situation. A devil isn't just a wind gust that you can choose a kite size for. A 9m Frenzy may not be the biggest canopy but it's plenty to get you safely back to earth if you do get up higher than intended - if you're able to.  Devils can be inclined rather than vertical and if it grabbed the kite you would be catapulted "over the falls" and straight into the ground. A pity you there was no footage of your accident so you could see exactly what happened but if it was a devil I think you would have been hurt regardless of what kite you were using. I think @Southerlybuster's advice to just avoid flying in sketchy conditions is probably the best advice you can get.

I see your Summits have gone to new homes and that may be good thing for you but I'd urge you to keep the Frenzy if it hasn't already gone. It's a really versatile kite with a very good wind range and it can easily handle (normal) gusty conditions. Mine is a few years older than yours but it's definitely my favorite.

Hope you're back on your skates/skis soon

Thanks my Down Under friend!  Frenzy got sold this AM as a matter of fact.  Went to the same guy as bought my 15m Summit.  He claims it is for a friend, but that friend remained unnamed and he had it sent to his address and he personally paid me through PayPal.  Things that make you go hmmmmm....

First step in working through an addiction is to admit that you even have it, right?  Reminds me of when somebody would leave the dining commons in College with a half dozen donuts, claiming with downcast eyes that "They're for my roommate...."  Sure they were.

Agreed with everything you said BTW and also greatly appreciated the well intended (and on point) advice from @plummet and @SoutherlyBuster.  By the eyewitness account i bet I was caught in a slanting devil as you described because I was supposedly scooped up like a rag doll (mind you, I weigh about 100 kg) whipped up about 30-40 feet off the ground and pendulum-ed before getting slammed to the ground.  I'd like to think I did some smart things in the air (no memories whatsoever) but I may just have been along for Toad's Wild Ride.

Your logic is of course on target about holding onto the Frenzy.  I know you are on PKF too and something Jeff (BigKid) wrote there hit home with me.  He said I was flying the kite I wanted to be flying that day.  He's right about that!  Thing is, the Frenzy is now no longer a kite I ever want to fly again, so out the door it went, despite any logic to the contrary.  I instead picked up a 10m Access V6 in a trade for my 12m Summit (again not logical with the $400 list price differential but it was the deal I wanted) and I'll likely buy an 8m Access V6 from Chris at Hardwater so I'll have the 9m Frenzy's wind range covered.  Not sure what I'm going to do for lighter winds, but I do own and love a 12m Peak2 which in its own right is a superb snow kite so I'm covered there too.  The 12m Access V6 is calling my name of course, but I just don't know if I want that kite as it may just be too dead in bed.  Time enough to figure all that out; we're in the middle of summer!

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On 16/07/2016 at 5:26 PM, windstruck said:

thanks to all with the outpouring of well wishes

it's just part of the price of flying big kites, just l;ike riding a motor bike you have to expect some frackhead to pull out, or a rock to slip on a climb.

THAT WAS f r a c Khead

no f-u-c-k-

shit now the moderator will get me

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