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The original Jabberwocky Sport Kite.American Kite Magazine vol.6 no.2

Wingspan: 92 in.
Weight: 8.5 oz.
Frame: 2 wrap graphite
Wind Range: 2-25 mph
Rec. Lines: 80-150#
Purchase: Retired

There's nothing fancy about the Jabberwocky except the way it flies. No vents, extra standoffs or tricky bridle hookups have been added for the gizmo fan, just the best materials assembled with great care according an elegant plan. The simple approach - and some sophisticated aero-engineering - extract a lot from a little wind.

The kite's lack of fussiness is apparent in its straight line behavior: no wobbles or wiggles distort the track. You want straight? This kite flies a line cleaner than Billy Graham's rap sheet. At the end of a ground pass, it'll turn straight up. Tugging on the lines with the kite's nose pointed toward heaven is like switching on God's own afterburners.

In the manner of a great automobile, the Jabberwocky compensates for bad driving, taking out the kinks a mediocre helmsman puts in. Average flyers become good; good flyers turn into well, I wouldn't know. Give this kite an "A" in the pleasantness department. Even the little noise it makes is a friendly hum.

After 30 minutes in the straps, my wife, who flies phantoms and Flexis, said the Jabberwocky was her favorite sport kite. She's a pushover for smooth and gentle, two characteristics that define the Jabberwocky's character. Small changes in wind velocity and direction have no effect on this kite; it just sails on.

With some high performance pieces, the new pilot worries about crashing or pulling out at the wrong instant. The Jabberwocky eases those fears, substituting fun. It will spin fast enough to blur the lines of its pattern, but it hangs in the sky as if nailed there, never losing altitude or control in the very tight spins it is capable of. Its forward progress is sedate. Nothing about the kite's behavior is extreme.

An interesting characteristic is its tendency to land - kerplunk - square and hard, with a little bounce. The kite doesn't pull severely and will sit down even in a stiff breeze. Maybe the appearance it gives of carrying a lot of sail is overemphasized by the finely drawn wingtips that bear a minimum of nylon.

Two elements distinguish the design. 1) The panel arrangement is unusual, taking advantage of the stretch properties of the Carrington fabric to form the wing's shape into an airfoil that adjusts to suit the wind. It dumps high wind along the leading edge and off the wingtips without ever accepting its full force. Bob Childs, who designed the kite, calls this his Natural Camber Adjustment System(TM). 2) The deep tunnels created by unusually long standoffs provide another advantage. The standoffs hold the sail back 10 inches from the lower spreader. Out at the edge of the wind, that depth adds stability. Combined with fine balance, its pronounced W shape makes the Jabberwocky among the best of all edge performers.

I was impressed with how far around the wind the kite will fly. Casual measurements showed it flying a full 180 degrees. Despite many manufacturers' claims, that's unusual in real world conditions. Once it gets out past the edge, it has a tendency to just give up and die, but the pilot quickly learns the point at which to start his turn - somewhere just before the point of no return.

The way the standoffs book up is novel. Insert the bare end through a grommet in the sail until a fixed ring stops its travel. Then slip a little vinyl cover onto the standoff's tip, locking it in place against the sail. A tension adjustment at the tail takes up stretch, and the ends of the wing rods neatly accept plastic caps that are drilled to take the bungy from the wing. Tidy!

Clean hardware and light components make the Jabberwocky capable of flight in extra-light wind. It performed in as little air as any kite I've flown, even though its not quite as big as some others. At the upper end of the wind range, the advantage rods don't flex under the stress of a stiff breeze, perhaps partly because the innovative wing mechanics reduce the strain the must bear.

All of this performance comes in a beautiful package. An unsolicited opinion from a flying buddy said the Jabberwocky's 15 panels in four colors make as pretty a kite as there is in the sky. The sail is sewn of Carrington nylon, with its dense weave, characteristic sheen and colors as saturated as Mark Spitz's Speedo. The bridle came adjusted correctly, and I haven't moved the clips yet, wind velocity aside. I suspect that, again, the design is responsible.

If you're ready to clip this kind of money to the end of your lines and can appreciate the Jabberwocky's motto - Gadgetless Wing Mechanics(TM) - go ahead. Whoever named the kite contributed the only note of discord to this smooth, capable package. This kite is no dragon, as Lewis Carroll's creation was. Its not nonsense, and its certainly not  "slithy" or "mimsy"!

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