Quadrifoil in Israel (trip report, may be long and boring)

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David Fiedler

Feb 27, 1992, 3:15:45 PM2/27/92
I just got back from 2 weeks in Israel. Just before leaving, I had (on
recommendation from Gary Huska) gotten a Quadrifoil, which is a quad-line,
totally (no spars) soft stunt kite. As it packs into a neat little bag, I
was determined to take it with me, even though I had only flown it twice
before leaving.

As a brief "kite review", let me say that the Quadrifoil lives up to
whatever hype I've heard about it. The two times I flew it,
coincidentally, were on the same day, and at both ends of the spectrum,
wind-wise: 3 and 25 mph. It will fly in such low winds, although it
won't do anything interesting unless the wind is steady. In winds over
15 mph or so, you *will* be moved around by this kite, but that's half
the fun. I am *very* new to stunt kites, having only previously flown a
Hyperkites Hot Wing (not exactly a good kite to learn on!), but was able
to immediately handle the Quadrifoil. It isn't a very fast moving or
spinning kite, but other than that, is great for beginners, has a wide
wind range, and you can stuff it in a big fanny pack. More info will be
posted or emailed if desired.

At the present time, to my knowledge, it's only available from the
manufacturer (Kite Innovations) and High Fly Kites in NJ. High Fly
discounts it and also sells quad line packages for 50% off with purchase
(get the 135# line at minimum, 200# ball bearing swivels are also

I didn't do anything for a week, because when we got there, Israel was
having the worst winter in 40 to 100 years (depending on who you talked
to): 16" of snow in places that never get snow, torrential rains that
closed roads, etc. The wind was pretty intense too. The first Saturday I
was there, conditions were almost ideal all day, but it was Shabbat and I
didn't want to offend anyone. We had heard stories about ultra-religious
folks throwing rocks at people who drove on Shabbat, but as it turns out,
that's only in a very small part of Jerusalem, and this was Tel Aviv,
which is much less strict in this regard.

Anyway, by Saturday evening I couldn't stand it anymore, so with about a
half-hour to go before sundown, I dragged Susan (my wife) and Scott (my
3-year-old son) out to the beach and set things up real fast. The lines
were a little twisted, but having had "lots" of experience with my
dual-line kite, I knew I could just untwist them in the air (can you
guess what's coming?). I got the thing up in the air, but it was almost
uncontrollable due to the twists, and following Murphy's Law, went right
in the Mediterranean.

At least it was exotic.

Well, the particular kind of sand they have there is very fine, and came
right off after an evening of drying out in our room (it's *very* dry in
Israel; we were all having nose and skin problems and stuff, even during
all this rain). Anyway, I learned an important lesson about quad-line
kites: *never* try to lift off unless the lines are perfect.

By this time, Shula, one of my Israeli cousins, who is just a few years
older than me, started getting very interested in the kite (mainly
because I kept talking about it when there was nothing else to talk
about), so I decided that the next time I would try to fly it would be
the following Thursday, when she was going with us to Masada and the
Dead Sea. The wind was good in Jerusalem, but we were on too tight a
sightseeing schedule there. I knew that we'd stop by the Dead Sea for
awhile to give everyone a chance to go in the water (turns out nobody
did because it was way too cold).

Thursday was the most miserable day of the entire trip, weather-wise. It
started off with 2 1/2 hours of driving through rain, which only cleared
up as we got near the Dead Sea (which is essentially way out in the
desert). I had some harebrained idea about flying the kite on top of
Masada, but a front was passing through at the time, and we found
ourselves on top of this very steep mountain with rain and 30 knots of
wind. Luckily, the cable car didn't react to this, although walking up and
down the wet stone steps that are right on the side of the mountain is not
something I'd like to do again.

We finally got to the Ein Gedi restaurant and kibbutz, on the shores of
the Dead Sea. After a thoroughly poor lunch, I couldn't stand it anymore
and ran outside with Scott to lay out the lines. There was plenty of room
and perfect wind, but big rocks all over to trip on. There was, however,
one little problem: when I had packed up the lines, they hadn't managed to
get untangled by themselves, and now were twisted beyond comprehension.

I sent Susan and Scott away to avoid distractions and sat at one end of
the field, trying desparately to untangle everything before the sun went
down (and that was 90 minutes away). After 10 minutes or so I was
extremely frustrated and about to jump in the water with my clothes on
(though, of course, you can't drown or even sink in the Dead Sea: I may
be nuts but I'm not stupid). As I sat there cursing myself, Carey (who
invented the winder) and even poor Lee Sedgwick (who invented all this
quad-line stuff in the first place), a miracle happened. Susan had
brought my whole family back to help me out! My cousins Shula and Uri
(who were very calm), and my father sat at one end undoing what had
almost become a rope made of Spectra, while I straightened and untangled
the other end and stopped hyperventilating. And in just another 10
minutes or so, I had four separate lines nicely laid out.

My sister, as usual, sat on a rock and kibitzed. "I hope you can get it up
after all this work", she double-entendred at me. And at this point, I
realized I would be lynched if I didn't do *something*. Naturally, Murphy
had struck again, and the wind had *completely* disappeared (which is
actually normal weater for the Dead Sea). I checked all the lines a few
times, waiting for some gust or other. Finally a bit of wind showed up,
but from the wrong direction! I grabbed the handles, Uri picked up the
kite, and we trotted around 90 degrees or so.

By this time, we had quite a crowd. I yanked on the top of the handles for
all the lift I could get, ran back as far as I could without killing
myself on rocks, and the Quadrifoil soared majestically overhead. People
were applauding (not because I was doing great or anything, just because
they could tell this all took a lot of effort).

I could have had a single-line delta up at this point, for all they knew,
so I tried to do something more interesting than just flying. I was able
to make it go up and down and left and right, but there just wasn't
enough wind for propeller spins (it collapsed). Even though I only had
things going well for a few minutes, it was all worth it, as I have now
probably flown the first stunt kite at the Dead Sea. No? Well, almost
surely the first quad-line stunt kite, and DEFINITELY the first
Quadrifoil, since they just came out recently. So what's the big deal?
It's only the lowest point on earth: 400 meters *below* sea level. February
20, 1992, 1600 hours local time. I got witnesses.

Besides, kites are quite unusual in Israel. There's not a single kite
store in the country, as far as I could tell from the national phone book,
and nobody who saw it could figure out what it was, since their impression
of a "kite" is a single-line, paper diamond. Exotica like deltas and
airfoils, let alone stunt kites or quads, seemed to be totally unknown.

Let's face it, these folks have more important things to do most of the
time, not to mention that flying a typical kite at over 200' altitude
would get you in trouble with many of the planes and helicopters that seem
to take that as a maximum altitude. I studied air traffic for days before
I tried flying on the beach at Tel Aviv. Because of the political
situation, I even worried about whether the colors of my particular kite
would be taken for a hostile flag (luckily, the only country that seems to
use black, purple, and chartreuse is Belize). But I still managed to run
afoul of officialdom, even with all my precautions.

After seeing people in sailboats just off the beach in Tel Aviv on the
final Saturday, in about 12 knots wind, I said to myself, "Shabbat or
not, I'm going to do it". After all, I felt I had an obligation to fly
decently just once in Israel, and this was my last day. I laid out the
lines very carefully this time, and poured sand on the trailing edge of
the kite so it wouldn't take off by itself. I even remembered to put the
kite bag and the winder down inside a shower they had on the beach, so
it wouldn't blow away (I've had that happen already). I waited till
everyone was clear, and stretched out the lines as far as I could.
Unfortunately, it was high tide, and I had 100' lines and about 105' of
beach, with the wind coming right off the water, so I got a bit damp.

But the kite flew! I was so excited it took me a while to get it under
complete control, but then I was doing all kinds of neat stuff, and even
managed to untwist the lines in the air after they got twisted on my
first crash (all I can say is, good thing no spars). I actually got it
to do a few of the things I had in mind (as opposed to its own ideas).
Relaunches were a snap by flying in reverse; I think that blew a few
minds too. There was quite a crowd; certainly this kind of thing isn't
seen very often around there. As I found out later, Scott (who was in
the hotel two blocks away on the sixth floor, being watched by my
father) saw the kite from the window, knew it was me, and insisted on
coming down to the beach to watch.

The wind was fairly steady, but kept changing direction 45 degrees at a
time. This caused gusting, and it was sometimes all I could do to hang
on without getting too close to the promenade (I didn't want to crash it
*off* the beach). Then the intensity started increasing in one
direction, and I found myself moving north up the beach about 75 yards.
This took me right across the street from the American Embassy, where I
didn't really want to be (again, trying to be cognizant of security
problems, I didn't want them to think I was attacking them with a
stealth kite or something). Eventually I had to bring it down, because a
couple of kids were getting under it and I didn't know enough Hebrew to
get them to stay away.

So it was time to pack up, and I went to retrieve my kite bag and
winder. There were two security men coming to meet me. One had
plainclothes and a walkie-talkie, the other was in miltary dress with an
M-16. The plainclothes guy jabbered to me in Hebrew (at least I looked
Jewish!) and then English. I couldn't imagine what he wanted (maybe
you're not allowed to fly kites on the beach?), but then got an earful.
It seems I had broken a major rule in Israel: never walk away from a
package in a public place. Even though I knew that, I thought it was OK
if you were in sight of it, which I told him. He wasn't really mad
(actually, he was a bit apologetic), but it seems my unusual behavior
(must have been the spins :-) and proximity to the Embassy, plus the
security flap that was on at that time, meant they were being extra
careful and checking everything out. As an innocent bystander (most of
the time) I thanked him for his thoroughness.

He signaled to someone on the Embassy roof when he was done with me. I
will always wonder whether someone had me in their sights all the time I
was on the beach.

David Fiedler UUCP:{ames,mrspoc,utoday}!infopro!david AIR: N3717R
"Bang-a-Rang!" Internet: da...@infopro.com or fie...@netcom.com
USMail:InfoPro Systems, PO Box 220 Rescue CA 95672 Phone:916/677-5870 FAX:-5873

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