Blue Moon Kites “Mongoose” Review by Ian Newham

First of all we can dispense with commentary on construction – this is a Blue Moon Kite. As a survey a couple of years ago on FA confirmed, a BMK is as good as it gets, Ken is a master of his art. Enough said. So how does it fly?

I admit I’ve been a gushing BMK fanboy for the past few years, early in my flying career the Air FX was one of the first kites to really impress me, I loved the Mantis and the Exile seemed to sync with my flying style instantly.

After the anticipation of a new BMK and experience of old ones I really expected the Mongoose to be love at first flight but it wasn’t. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, quite the opposite but it took a little getting used to and it feels like there’s more to come. This kite makes a refreshing change and offers a different feel to the numerous Nirvana influenced designs.

Take a few steps back in kite history: After the Tracer and the first axels the style of kite that followed was the High A/R Trick kite, the Stranger, Box of Tricks, Sonic etc. That was followed by the backspin pioneers like the Gemini, Area 51 etc. which took us up to the end of the 90s. Around the end of the 90’s we saw some French influence. Before the Nirvana came along in 2003 there were some kites with widely-spaced standoffs but which were very pitchy and which were the pioneers of many tricks we see today. Examples that spring to my mind because I own them are Pascal L’Surger’s Krazy Kite, Stefan Furter’s Challenge, the BMK Mamba ( though Ken might disagree with me putting it in this group) and to a less extreme extent the Opium. The Opium as far as I can deduce morphed into the Nirvana (hold one over the other they are so close but you can see where a few tweaks made all the difference). The STX and Nirvana went on to spawn the generation of kites familiar today.

Just lets suppose however that the previous generation had carried on and evolved further; now that’s the kind of feel I get from the Mongoose. It reminds me of the Challenge and Mamba with post Nirvana influences rolled into one.

Before people wail and complain that the Challenge was awful and how dare I reproach a BMK, I did say imagine if that style of kite were perfected (and believe me if you can get grips with the Challenge flies it can produce some truly satisfying stuff…).

So the Mongoose can be incredibly rewarding and do some nice stuff but expect to adapt your flying style a little if you’re accustomed to post Nirvana kites or the big sweeping moves and loads of slack you’d need for a Mantis. The Mongoose seems to work best for me with punchy moves and not too much slack.

This liking for snappy pops and controlled slack has the added benefit that it is a fantastic kite for people who tend to be very dominant with one hand; e.g while I can comete in both directions I’m definitely stronger anticlockwise. The mongoose is a piece of cake to comete in my ‘weak’ direction. It doesn’t end there the Mongoose has to be the easiest kite to trick with you weakest hand I’ve ever flown, other tricks tend to be equally easy to do in both directions.

Much has been said about the Mongooses ability to tackle strong winds and its true it is very effective. The Mongoose uses a design trick visible in other kites from the Psycho to the Fearless: The keel is big but steeply angled and the wing tips are cut away at the trailing edge. As the wind pick up you can feel the pull increase some but the speed remains remarkably constant. This however does have a slight trade off that at the bottom end in that it sometimes feels like it has an on off switch flicking from coasting to driving. Changing to a set of lighter lines didn’t improve this either but its not a problem. I was pleasantly surprised with how comfortable it was on the light lines when the wind picked up.

Just flying around the kite is very precise. It tracks straight, turns without oversteer and has a good window. The fact that it needs smaller inputs meant I over controlled it to begin with, too much time on the Mantis and heavy handed kites I guess but I soon got back into flying a more responsive kite.

Turns and spins are much tighter than we have become accustomed to over the past few years, turning well inside the wingtip, This also meant that tight spin stalls and the tricks you can link from them are back on the menu. It does buzz a little on tight spins when the wind picks up and tightening the leech line more didn’t get rid of it but its only on tight turns and its not intrusive.

Going through a few tricks:

  • Stalls aren’t quite in the same league as the Mamba in fact they were a bit of  mixed bag in the turbulent wind on my local park – sometimes the kite would sink backwards, sometimes it wouldn’t stay put but I’d put that down to bad conditions. Certainly slides were good
  • Moving on from stalls stabs are fine but be careful not to over control or you’ll put the kite on its back. I couldn’t get anything approaching a black hole, the kite is just too sensitive for a brute force move like that but a fast dive to a spin stall to stab works well.
  • Axels are flat and harken back to the kind of thing we’d see on a Mamba, half axles are very clean, punchy and lose no height. Rolling/Spin axles are a little fussy about timing and you need to pop slightly later than you might expect but the result is nice and flat. Cascades are clean and fountains rise consistently.
  • Tip stands, coin tosses and ollies are all clean along with throwing in things like fades in between.
  • On moves initiated from a downward turn e.g. insane or moebius if your timing isn’t right the kite is quite keen to roll its back toward you or even roll itself up. You don’t get that solid locked in feel that some kites give in an insane.
  • Flatspins can be very flat or can hang tail low depending on input an the Mongoose will also wait for you when you pancake it for a flatspin. Slot machines are nice at all angles. Taz’s are fine, though lose a little height and they’re are also easy to turn into combinations.
  • Lazy susans and variations like snap/rolling susans are all there. It will also do a reversing lazy susan, in my hands too slow and not snappy enough to call it a cynique but maybe with work…
  • Backspins aren’t so good, definitely a barrel roll rather than a flat backspin (appologies J.C. For disagreeing but now its in my hands you were right). However its fine for Jacob’s Ladders though Jacob’s Ladders need a little less slack to keep them tidy.
  • The Mongoose has a slight dead spot in a pancake which means that for flic-flacs you need to pop back a little before the kite levels out. Not a problem once you’re aware of it and on the plus side it does make the kite very good at the mutex. This dead spot also kept tempting me to reverse flatspins but I kept flipping the kite because its so pitchy, something to keep plugging away at in lighter winds.
  • You can tune the pancake dead spot out by setting bridle a little lighter but it compromises the kite in other areas so I like it just the way it is.
  • The kite is very pitchy, far more than you’d expect for it size, another benefit of the slimmed wingtips. Some people may be happier with a little less weight (it only has 3 weights total compared to 5 on the Exile and Mantis) but you soon get accustomed to it, I tried just 2 but preferred 3.
  • Straight forward rollups popped from a barrell roll are snappy and the kite flies around happily enough rolled up. I forgot to try 2-pop roll ups, though I don’t anticipate that being a problem. Popping the kite then letting it roll backwards also works flying upward but I could never get the Mongoose to do it flying downwards.
  • Surprisingly for such a big kite its quite willing to pitch forward so crazy copters are doable but I did struggle to get a Yofade to go all the way, it ran out of steam  180 degree short of the wrapped fade (I’m more inclined to put this down to my poor technique). Wap-do-waps are a piece of cake on the Mongoose since it spins so willingly.

All in all the Mongoose is a very nice kite, maybe not love at first sight, maybe a little different but definitely a grower and something that keeps encouraging me to try new things and usually rewarding experimentation. I hope people buy it with an open mind rather than dismiss after a first flight when it doesn’t hit a triple wrapped comete cascade 6ft into their first flight because its got a lot to offer and if you’re jaded with the same old Nirvana clones then its a breath of fresh air.