Hotter speed and turning than competition kites. Higher-quality exercise and livelier pull than power kites.
WindDances are "airgear," a new concept. They fly better and feel more exciting than typical stunt kites.
Our other advancements: Ergo T-handles that boost feel, control, exercise. Natural active FLY-a-kite skill.
What is "trick" & "advanced" flying?
The traditional dual-line delta kite (visualize flying a horizontal pass from right to left) is like the sail rig of boat, or better yet, like the sweptback sail rig of a sailboard (visualize sailing from right to left): the kite's right leading-edge-spar is the sail's mast, the kite's spine is the sail's boom, the kite's trailing-edge is the sail's leech. When not FLYING or sailing, the sail hangs loose and limp.
When a sailor incorrectly trims the sail so that it's too-closely aligned with the wind, or when the flyer of a traditional dual-line delta loses flying-line tension, both sails "luff" and lose lift. The vessel stops. The kite falls out of the sky: no tension, no FLYING.
Like good sailors, good FLYERS were good at luff prevention: at maintaining flying-line tension and their kite's state of FLYING.
Around 1990, the "standoff" appeared in dual-line deltas. Standoffs, short thin rods that push the sail's trailing-edge away from the spreaders and apply tension to the entire sail, make the sail "rigid" so that it doesn't luff.
This enabled flyers to recover from accidental "no tension, no FLYING" situations in midair, and to self-relaunch after crashes and landings.
Flyers quickly saw new things happening. After suddenly cutting flying-line tension in various ways and letting the kite fly on its own -- and after making new kinds of flying mistakes -- flyers saw how the kite noses up like a model glider with too much weight in the tail and spins and flips in various ways. These were the first "tricks." Groundwork, tricks on the ground, quickly followed. The delta's new standoff-enabled free-flight and ground-handling characteristics have become well exploited, and greatly accentuated, with new trick-flying skills and new trick-kite designs. After a couple of years, this became "advanced" flying.
Around 1990, adding two tiny fiberglass rods to the delta kite accidentally triggered a whole new way to fly.
The of nature trick & advanced flying
In dual-line trick & advanced flying, either the kite is flying in a low-performance way or the kite is not FLYING. Trick, advanced, and competitive flyers:
Use tension-eliminating skills to destroy the kite's aerodynamic lift, speed, and pull -- and therefore the kite's state of FLYING.
Turn the kite in a manner that reduces its speed & pull. For example, when you perform a sharp punch-turn to the right, the left half of the kite has no pull in its bridle lines and the right half flies backwards -- and the kite's speed drops greatly, so much so that when the turn is completed the kite must re-accelerate from a near-dead stop. During such a turn there's little or no pull, and therefore little or no aerodynamic lift or FLYING.
Stop the kite in midair. When stopped in the power zone near the ground, air flows directly at the underside of the kite (rather than directly at the leading-edge as when it's FLYING), and the airflow is along the flying lines where they attach to the kite (rather than perpendicular to the lines as when the kite is FLYING). That aerodynamic state is like an airplane suddenly losing all forward speed and then dropping vertically downward through the air toward the ground while remaining horizontal as during normal flight, the air flowing directly at the underside of the airplane. The passengers, at least, would not consider that a fun way to fly.
Do air tricks: Float, slide, twirl, flip, toss, spin, or tumble the kite in midair. There are dozens of different aerial tricks, all with different names, and the long list is growing. Kites are designed specifically to do those tricks well. The skill one-upmanship, and the kite-design one-upmanship, are intense. And it is not about attaining higher and higher FLYING performance. Since the flying lines are slack during those tricks -- low to zero tension -- there's little or no aerodynamic lift, pull, speed, or "kite-FLYING" involved.
Do ground tricks: Before launching or after landing, stand, rock, slide, twirl, flip, or cartwheel the kite on the ground. There are numerous different ground tricks, all with different names, and the list is growing longer. Kites are designed specifically to do those tricks well. The skill one-upmanship, and the kite-design one-upmanship, are intense. And it is not about attaining higher and higher FLYING performance. Since the kite is on the ground during those tricks, it is not "FLYING."
Those low-performance, un-flying, and non-flying forms of kite flying are pursued by a relatively small number of trick and competition dual-line delta-kite flyers -- a tiny percentage of all dual-line flyers when you include flyers of all experience levels.
The advanced-flying minority, however, has strong influence and is promoting their way -- and the unnatural and difficult skills required -- as advanced flying: "advanced" levels of flying to which dual-line flyers should aspire.
The skill required -- abruptly punch and/or jerk to make your flying lines go slack -- is not instinctive or natural. As everybody knows, kites FLY best when their lines are pulled on rather than slackened. Beginners must be programmed to go against and override their natural pulling skills in order to become advanced flyers.
The effect of trick & advanced flying on the sport
Due to advanced-flying's strong influence in the upper levels of the sport's hierarchy, and due to its marketing promotion, many new dual-line flyers today are going directly to tension-eliminating skills using kites that respond well to those skills but often poorly to basic "kite-FLYING" skills -- pretty much bypassing "kite-FLYING" and its required tension-generating-&-maintaining skills altogether.
In "kite-FLYING," aerodynamic lift and the resulting good speed & pull including while turning is the normal state that flyers generate and maintain. In advanced flying, low-to-zero aerodynamic lift and the resulting low-to-zero speed & pull including while turning is the normal state advanced flyers try to attain as frequently as possible.
Here in Seattle's advanced-flying climate, the contrast is striking: In great winds, kite-FLYERS FLY their kites with dazzling high speed & sharp turning. But advanced flyers continuously un-fly and do tricks, their kites barely moving except when they FLY at moderate speed from trick to trick.
Kite-FLYING is based on pulling on your lines. Advanced flying is based on slackening your lines.
In effect, advanced flying is the opposite of "kite-FLYING."
Many dual-line delta flyers who entered the sport since 1990 while under advanced-flying's influence have not learn how to FLY a kite using basic pulling skills. When given opportunity to FLY kites that respond well to basic pulling skills, many advanced flyers have difficulty because they've been programmed to eliminate flying-line tension and to accept zero pull as the normal state, the exact opposite of what's needed to FLY a kite. They have little or no knowledge of or experience at generating pull to make a kite FLY well -- including to turn or spin it fast & powerfully -- or at maintaining pull to keep a kite FLYING.
Here in Seattle, and at local and international Pacific Northwest kite festivals, we see an awfully lot of this: advanced-delta flyers, even highly-experienced flyers, who simply cannot FLY a WindDance as well as novices can until we coach them in the most basic of basics that all flyers used before 1990: how to feel for and go for pull in your flying lines. (These flyers would have the same difficulties with other parafoils, and with deltas without standoffs, too.) Once they catch on to the benefits of pulling-on-your-lines, however, many can then FLY WindDances far better than we can!
New flyers -- and flyers not strongly under advanced-flying's influence -- have not had their natural & instinctive FLYING skills programmed out of them by advanced flying. They have a much easier time of it. Like children using single-line kites for the first time, they naturally and instinctively generate & maintain the pull needed to FLY a WindDance well.
The mistakes made by advanced flyers are very different from those made by novice flyers:
The typical beginner mistake is to pull too hard or too far on one flying line (which causes a WindDance to turn or spin) because pulling-on-a-kite-line movement is natural. Beginners don't accidentally push on or abruptly punch & jerk on their kite lines because those movements are not instinctive or natural.
The typical advanced-flyer mistake is to abruptly push on a flying line to make it and the bridle lines go limp or to just stand there and let the flying lines and bridle lines go limp. That causes a parafoil such as a WindDance to fold or collapse, and a delta without standoffs to luff and fall out of the sky. Their natural "feel for pull" and "go for pull" inclinations having been programmed out of them by advanced flying, "go for no pull" has become their way to fly.
The other advanced-flyer mistake is to abruptly punch & jerk on the lines, which causes low performance and collapse, rather than to use smooth FLYING skill.
Genuine experts, usually those who were superb "kite FLYERS" before advanced delta flying was born around 1990, are very familiar with the sport's basic pulling skills and they know how to use the power of those skills. Genuine experts make none of the FLYING mistakes that advanced flyers do. We have watched in awe as real experts made our WindDances do wonders!
Pulling on your flying lines to make a dual-line kite go or turn faster is like pressing on the accelerator pedal to make a car go faster. Press hard for more speed & power. Press longer to make the speed & power last longer. An extremely simple concept. If what's happening in advanced dual-line flying were to happen to the entire automobile world, 1) drivers wouldn't know about or develop the skill to step on the gas and wouldn't care to anyway, and 2) cars would have weaker engines and deflated tires, preventing those drivers desiring to and skilled at using the gas pedal from going fast.
The influence of the advanced-flying minority, which began soon after 1990, is causing the dual-line-kite sport to veer away from "kite-FLYING," to veer away from kites with good FLYING performance, to veer away from the teaching and learning of basic kite-FLYING skills, and to veer away from the traditional ease and fun of kite flying -- to the point where dual-line kiting has become strangely different from other sports.
Those under trick & advanced flying's spell may not see any of this happening.
WindDance dual-line parafoil stunt kites/sport kites are developed, sold, and backed by Seattle AirGear.
WindDance, WindDancing, Seattle AirGear, and AirGear are trademarks of Seattle AirGear.
Copyright © 1995-2017 Seattle AirGear.
This page last revised Jan-1-1998