Re: Outerspace

Subject Re: Outerspace
From Ian Newham <>
Date Tue, 14 Jul 1998 14:58:49 +0100
Newsgroups rec.kites
"Carl Moody" <> wrote:
> Anybody got any 'reviews' on this new wonder machine, I need to sort
> out my letter to the big man in red at the North Pole.

Okey Dokey, got a bit of time on my hands so here goes. BTW, If it's not too good I apologise in advance, I'm recovering from food poisoning and my brain is like custard at the moment.

Benson Outer Space

Construction - what to say? As usual for a Benson kite, construction is about as perfect as it gets. The panel layout is a departure from traditional layouts, with attractive curved panels. The seams are flat, held together with adhesive and a 3 stitch zigzag (similar to a serpentine stitch) and the seams are flawless with not a single wrinkle anywhere. There are 6 main panels with the Benson 'b' in the middle. There is Mylar reinforcement along the spine and at the stand-offs. None of this does anything to describe how beautiful the kite looks so if you haven't done so already, I suggest you check out a photograph soon. The Outer Space is framed in Hi-mod, a light, stiff and reasonably robust pultruded carbon. Tradewinds' excellent fittings are used and bungees at the tip and Velcro at the spine hold the sail taut. There are no places where lines snag.

Two interesting construction points are the Andy Wardley designed Active Bridle and Active Trick Line more of which later. I've not measured the kite but would say the Outer Space is a generous 3/4 kite. Most 3/4 kites are reserved for higher winds, with the Outer Space you should forget all your preconceptions about wind ranges and the way a 3/4 kite handles.

The first thing to strike me on flying the Outer Space was the wind range and the way it really does smooth out the bumps, this is achieved mainly through the active bridle. The first time I flew one was at Swindon, a busted up prototype that nevertheless flew controllably in 20mph. Although the kite groaned audibly it had amazingly little pull and smoothed out the gusts. Speed remained constant across the window and through the gusts. My own Outer Space was delivered on a day of about 2~3mph, it still flew quite happily requiring only a moderate amount of moving around, mainly since I felt the kite handled a little better if I kept some tension in the bridle. The window is incredibly wide, with the assistance of a friend we checked this out in about 10mph and found the window as close to 180 deg. as I have ever seen. This isn't completely usable in that on occasion it is possible to over-fly outside the window a little but a half axle is enough to get back into the wind and it certainly isn't a problem.

Precision is good - tracking smooth and straight, with punch and combination turns snappy and clean without over-steer. Despite being a little smaller than the average precision kite it felt solid and stable and quite happy on long lines, though a little quick at times. That said, my long line technique has been developed to match my Sandpipers, playing around with heavier lines and changes in technique will probably sort out the speed. I certainly had no problems completing any figures.

Trick flying is something else. The Outer Space had no problem completing any trick I threw at it, then it would just sit there and wait for more as if to say "OK what now". All the Axle and Flat Spin type tricks were pretty trivial, though Fountains were a little slower than I expected but I think that's just my timing. Flic-Flacs admittedly aren't a match for the Box of Tricks, they're slower but that in itself is a slight advantage; fades are much easier to hold and elevators work well, especially from a Headspring. I had no difficulties getting a Flic-Flac but found it easier to pop the lines just before the kite completely levelled out as it went into a fade-out. The kite's ability to Flat Spin at the slightest provocation meant that this is the first kite I have got a clean Mutex out of. I'm hoping that since it handles multiple Axles and Flat Spins so well I might finally crack a decent corkscrew (a trick that has always eluded me). Anyhow, back to that Active Trick Line. The trick line has about a foot of bungee in the middle which means that in Turtle manoeuvres the line will deflect out of the way, trick lines have traditionally made Lazy Susans difficult, not so with the Outer Space. Once it is well Turtled, keeping a little tension in the lines pulls the trick line down so that the lines stay in place while the Lazy Susan completes. No poblem!

In my humble opinion this is the best all round kite I have come across in that it doesn't make any sacrifices in any particular area to achieve that position. Trick-ability is excellent and whilst I would probably choose something slower and harder pulling for flying pairs and precision the Outer Space is still pretty capable in that area too.

Well I think you get the idea, I personally think that the Outer Space comes very close to the holy grail of kiting.

The usual disclaimers apply: I'm not associated in any way with Tim Benson and if I gush it's probably because I have to pay for my kites so I don't buy them unless I really like them.

Ian Newham