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.
News & commentary, 1998-99
At last! A break in the constant rainy weather! Had to go fly!
The wind? 20 mph and a bit blustery. Sue and I both chose the WindDance 1, 75 ft 150 lb Spectra lines, and the old ergonomically-correct T-handles we made in 1989. Considering the gusts and the way we keep our WindDances well-tuned (it's so easy!), the WindDance 2 would have been insanely too powerful at times.
When we fly side-by-side, Sue likes to bounce her WindDance 1 off my "landing zone" after I walk to my landed kite and then bend over to tweak the bridle. But certainly not in that wind (she does it only in light wind)! And besides, the bumps in the wind, which frequently yanked us off balance, would have messed up her aim!
The WindDancing Workout is not about running and pumping to keep your WindDance airborne. Although sometimes you do have to do it when the wind weakens or stops, and when the pull dies when at the edge due to a wind shift or vortex that blows at the top of your kite.
In strong wind, if you always fly with your arms pulled straight -- like while being dragged by a big power kite -- your workout is zero: strong force x no muscle motion = a zero workout. Like when you hang onto a set of weights that's too heavy, unable to lift it.
In lighter wind or with a smaller kite, if you move your arms and body as you exert yourself to pull on both lines to accelerate, or on one line to turn or spin tightly & fast -- and if you do it frequently such as once per second for an hour or more -- you can feel the burn. And you can feel it later, too, because your body may ache for days. Compared to the usual "power flying" (holding onto a too-heavy barbell with both arms), it's like using a smaller pair of weights so you can lift each one many times -- one arm at a time -- for an excellent one-hour to eight-hour workout.
With a WindDance the pull increases every time you turn, and during a full-bore turn all that pull transfers into one arm! The harder you pull-turn, the higher the turning speed! Every turn is a rep of "pumping air!" The hot-FLYING-performance thrill makes you do it!
Sue lasted an hour. I flew for two.
I felt the burn. My body ached for five days. From flying the smallest WindDance model.
Edge-to-edge passes took about two seconds! Power-zone to edge, and vice versa, took about one second! So I had to do a fast-&-tight energetic turn every half-second or so when I wasn't resting it near the edge! In the "WindDance 1 at play" video clip, when my WD1 was flying half as fast because the wind was 10 mph, I averaged one turn per second (count 'em). So during my two hour fun-fly in 20 mph wind, if I didn't rest at all and kept turning twice per second, I would have completed 14,400 reps of pumping air! 7200 reps with my left arm and left side of my body! And 7200 reps with my right arm and right side of my body! With lots of body action and speedy stepping around as necessary to generate and sustain that hot speed-&-turning pull! It was a great WindDancing Workout, even though I had to edge-rest about half the time! The incredible speed-&-turning fun made me do it!
Of course, we could have put on pairs of big tails to slow them down and reduce pull, and we could have flown more sedately and leisurely. No way! Due to the awful weather, this was the first time in weeks!
See how WindDancing is exciting high-quality outdoor recreation, enjoyed solo or side-by-side with a friend?
See why we categorize WindDances as "airgear?"
Aug 18-23, '98, Long Beach, WA, international kite festival
During prime outdoor flying time -- sunny, warm, and windy late afternoons -- the festival presented indoor kite flying.
Outdoors, in the loud-speakered roped-off beach area farthest from the water and adjacent to the grass-covered dunes -- in the loud area, in the area with the lowest-quality wind -- the festival presented all remaining aspects of kite flying.
All aspects except for one: easy fun-recreational high-performance sport-kite FLYING, using pull-on-your-kite-line skills with sport kites that respond well to those basic skills, an easy-to-learn type of outdoor recreation the general public would like.
Seattle AirGear presented it, though. Each day we set up on the high-tide line between the presentation area and the Pacific Ocean. We WindDanced there 8-10 hours a day! How we love the smoothness and power of that wind! How we love the sound of the sea!
Like the previous year, WindDances were without question the best-FLYING dual-line kites at the festival in terms of response to pull-on-your-kite-line skill, edge to power-zone acceleration, speed response to the wind, quality of steering-&-turning feel, straight-line speed, turning speed, turning power, and width of the high-performance wind range for a single bridle setting.
One morning, when the winds were gusting to 2-3 mph, the WindDance 3 was the only dual-line kite that would stay aloft without pumping it along!
In the smooth 6 mph and stronger winds, our precision-tuned WindDances flew, turned, and darted about noticeably faster than all other dual-line kites that we saw!
As usual, like at other festivals and like on Seattle's Kite Hill, when the wind grew strong and unsteady most delta-kite flyers stopped flying. Today's delta sport kites flex way too much and don't fly or handle well in such winds. WindDance parafoils, however, kept their shapes -- and their high performance and fine handling -- like rigid airplane wings! In those pulsating 8-14 mph winds, WindDances were pure exciting joy and felt alive!
With a WindDance, you have more speed-&-turning fun because of the superior speed-&-turning performance! You fly more often, longer, and in a wider range of winds! Besides getting more exercise overall, you get more exercise per minute -- and higher-quality exercise -- because you use swing-your-arm pull-turns (rather than short punch-turns) and the pull rises when you turn (rather than drops when you turn)!
Were our demo WindDances carefully prepped, new, or special in any way? No. The newest began flying and crashing and colliding several months before the festival. The rest were flown during last year's festival. Two of those had been crashed hundreds of times, while laden with saltwater and sand, before last year's festival!
WindDances last! Occasionally rinse clean, maintain peak-tuning as it undergoes wear-and-tear -- and a well-used WindDance keeps looking like new and FLYING as advertised!
Flyers noticed. And came by.
Those heavily into trick & competition delta-kite flying had difficulty with our WindDances: they pushed on the lines when they should have pulled, they did not pull on the lines a few ounces when necessary to keep it flying, and they did not pull strongly or far on the lines to achieve hot turning performance. Why? In trick & competition flying, the important skills are the opposite of kite-FLYING skills. You slacken your lines to achieve what's considered hot sport-kite performance in eyes of the trick-&-competition community. Those slacken-your-kite-line and failure-to-pull habits can handicap you when you try to FLY a kite that responds with hot speed & turning to pull-on-your-kite-line skills.
Delta-kite flyers not heavily into competition & tricks, however, flew our WindDances wonderfully and just loved the hot speed and fast turning and the way they felt and handled!
Single-liners flying dual-line for the first time, and other beginners, had little difficulty FLYING our WindDances (and their new WindDances) because the required pull-on-your-kite-line skills come naturally! An eight-year-old quickly learned to fly our WindDance 1 very skillfully!
Many beginners at the festival purchased dual-line deltas from Long Beach kite stores. We witnessed the difficulties they had trying to fly them, difficulties due to design/engineering flaws: poor kite response to basic pull-on-one-line skill. When they pulled too far or too hard on one line, the kites fell out of the sky and crashed.
One day we watched a beginner having difficulty trying to fly her new dual-line delta. The next day she purchased a WindDance, and had no difficulty flying it! With her WindDance, speed & turning performance and exercise quality were far higher, too!
Although beginners at the festival concentrated on FLYING their new delta kites, nearly all experienced dual-line-delta flyers were doing something very different with their kites. They were trick-flying, using punch-&-jerk slacken-your-kite-line skills to un-fly their sport kites and do various non-flying aerial and ground tricks. We pointed this out to one of the very few delta-kite FLYERS at the festival. "Strange, isn't it," he remarked -- he, too, had seen sport-kiting veer sharply away from FLYING during this decade, and how flyers rarely feel their kites and the wind through their lines anymore.
People from outside of the kiting community, drawn to our side-by-side WindDancing, stopped to talk with us. Several said they were not interested in the trick way of flying. They were interested in the FLYING way of flying -- like what we were doing.
While WindDancing side-by-side with one of these "general-public" flyers, I mused out loud, "Kite flying has become much too serious" because seriousness & competition within the sport-kiting community have driven skill difficulty up and FLYING performance down. "How can anyone take such a fun activity as kiting so seriously!" he replied.
On the Monday after the festival, while our bodies were entering the pain-&-stiffness stage of our WindDancing recovery, we received a call from one of our Southern California dealers. They needed more WindDances. We told them how we met many people at the festival who were interested in FLYING sport kites, how the festival downplayed the FLYING of sport kites, and how the sport-&-trade as a whole simply does not offer sport-kite FLYING or educate about the ease & power of pull-on-your-kite-line skills anymore. The dealer totally agreed how the strong focus on trick-&-competitive sport-kiting and the devaluating of FLYING has damaged the sport, and reminisced about how there were more people dual-line kiting a decade ago than today -- and about how much fun they all had FLYING their kites.
At the festival we noticed a decline in the number of people attending: a decline from the previous year, a decline from the first year we came to this festival in 1990. Perhaps one way to boost attendance would be for the sport-&-trade to once again focus on the sport's tradition: the whole point of kite flying is kite FLYING! Outdoors!
Jan 15, '98, Seattle's Kite Hill
Although the wind looked light and the upwind sky like it might soon get wet, Sue and I had to get out and fly.
As we flew together, two others came to Kite Hill to fly. Instead of setting up to fly their deltas, they watched us fly our WindDances and came over to ask about them. We explained how WindDances are intended for FLYING, and how they need and respond with hot speed & turning to pull-on-your-kite-line skills, especially in these light winds. One flew one of our WindDances, and loved it. "This, a kite for FLYING, is what we really wanted when we bought our deltas," she said, "but instead they sold us kites for doing tricks."
Jan 7-10, '98, KTAI show (Kite Trade Association International)
Seattle AirGear was there. Our video showed WindDances performing as advertised. Flying fast, spinning fast, and doing square-cornered turns, turns and spins in both directions at the side edge, and tail-down spin landings -- all in near-zero wind. Three-second edge-to-edge passes, extremely-fast on-a-wingtip spins, breathtaking extremely-snappy hairpins, incredibly-fast accelerations when gusts hit, and several bounce-'n'-flies in a row -- all in strong winds. Our video showed some "kite FLYING" that no other dual-line kites at the show are capable of.
Several retailers told us about their bad experiences with strap-loop flying handles, how they caused pain and injury to themselves and to their customers.
The KTAI 1998 award for best new product at the show? A variation on the strap-loop handle. The award for best video at the show? One about trick flying.
The trade honored a harmful product, and it honored a type of kite flying the public doesn't particularly care for -- and thereby continued to shoot itself in the foot, celebrating itself as it did so.
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.
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This page last revised Mar-5-1999