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Jam Session (HQ)

Jam Session (HQ)

Specifications  
Manufacturer
Model
Height
Weight
Sail
Wind range
Rec. Lines
HQ Kites (Germany)
Jam Session
3' 6" x 7'
11.5 oz / 295 g
Ventex
3 - 24 mph
80 -150lb

A reviewer begins to form an impression of this kite before he even sees it. The bag it comes in is zippered and made with a pocket to hold accessories - one of a kind. The video that accompanies it shows co-designer (and legendary flyer) Dodd Gross actually smiling and having fun as he pilots it - unprecedented.

So expectations are high, but the Jam Session meets or exceeds them. It's a beautiful object, with gracefully curved lines, a balanced appearance and a sail sewn from 14 pieces of spectrum-bright nylon. All seams are lapped and beautifully finished. The airframe is made of Avia carbon rods with a very smooth finish' the rods slip into molded fittings of the highest quality.

There's plenty of innovation incorporated in the Jam Session, much of it derived from the philosophy that form follows function. The standoffs- three per side to guarantee a firm shape for the sail - clip to the fabric in a way that makes them absolutely secure and also includes small tips on the back of the kite that help protect the said when it slides on the ground. A premounted bowline ensures hassle-free setup, and the hook-and-loop fastener at the tail of the spine is said to be designed to pop loose in the event of a nose-down crash. If it works, that should protect valuable rods.

The location of the stand-offs is permanently established, and the two innermost whiskers on each side serve as mounts for the mesh airbrakes that are included to make the kite more controllable in high winds. It's a very clever design. Where the top spreader crosses the spine, the manufacturers have solved the problem of rubbing by cutting away the fabric and reinforcing the hold - just as they have around the center T. The junction of the two rods is then reinforced with a rubber O ring. These are little things, but very thoughtful and much appreciated.

Unusual pockets are formed at the wingtips by doubled material that's left open at the top - it could be that they're designed to catch air and hold the tips more securely in the sky, but their purpose is no explained anywhere. The bridle is a simple affair, with two tow points established. One is for so-called "beginners", and the other moves the tow points farther outboard for more radical behavior. That adjustment and the traditional change of angle of attach are claimed to make the kite suitable for all levels of experience.

The Jam Session comes pretty close; it's a well balanced kite with many capabilities. Stable, steady and precise in straight-line flight, it is relatively slow. It exerts on a light pull, considering its relatively large sail. Turns are deliberate and precise as well.

Only when the pilot calls for a spin does the kite exhibit another side of its nature. In just a single spin, the Jam Session releases a large percentage of its air. Repeated spins are tricky,since the kite loses its urge to fly and drops a lot of altitude with each rotation. This behavior is a result of its ability as a tricks kite, which is substantial if not outstanding. It's a big wing, with a certain heft and reluctance to it, but it drifts across the wind beautifully and recovers from a turtle exceptionally well. More difficult for the Jam Session are the axles, despite its radically curved and cambered leading edge. (All my testing was done at the "beginner" setting, so the more radical configuration might make more advanced tricks easier.)

On the ground, it behaves beautifully, except for an occasional tendency to fall toward the flyer. Pulling it up onto one wingtip before flying away is easy and fun. Landings are slick, with only a slight wobble apparent in a final decent that's less than perfectly nailed.

The jam Session's wind window is huge, and it is predictable at the edge. No ultralight, the kite can go a little wobbly in light air. I was surprised to lose control a few times and find my kite both on the ground and out of shape.

But overall, the beautiful kite has almost no bad habits and a wide assortment of capabilities. A flyer of Dodd Gross' abilities can make it do almost all of what any kite can do. With practice and tuning experience, the Jam Session will let most flyers look better and do more.

 



This review was taken from
American Kite Magazine - Summer 98

 

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