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.
How to run the sport's "obstacle course" between you & WindDancing fun
The "kite culture" has erected an obstacle course of six major barriers between the general public and easy high-performance fun-FLYING. Why? To prevent growth of the sport and success for the trade? Well, it sure is working!!!
Dual-line kite FLYING is so beautiful and enjoyable! At first sight, in 1989, it lured us in!
After we really got into it, to our dismay and disappointment we accidentally discovered a dark side. Beneath the sport-&-trade's smiling surface lurks an insular "kite culture" that prevents many people from having loads of fun.
In the early '90s, members of the Pacific Northwest kiting community cheered us on as they witnessed our developing WindDance parafoils FLY better and better and better. One enthusiastic flyer exclaimed, "You're going to make millions!"
That never materialized. And it never will. Because the kiting community -- the "kite culture" -- substantially changed in the '90s.
In 1997 here in the Pacific Northwest, when we began showing our high-quality mass-produced WindDances on flying fields and during kite festivals, our WindDancing attracted new and casual flyers and members of general public. But not many members of the "kite culture."
Bystanders, aircraft pilots especially, remarked how WindDances had far more-exciting and superior FLYING performance -- acceleration, speed, turning, aerobatic agility -- than all the other dual-line kites in the air. We received few such compliments from members of the "kite culture."We went on to find out how the "kite culture" does not care for WindDancing. Or for any of its components either:
- Parafoil sport kites that FLY really well.
- Flying a sport kite just for the pure joy of it.
- High-performance sport-kite FLYING.
- Basic FLYING skills.
- Good dual-line kiting exercise.
- Ergonomically-correct FLYING handles that enhance the sport-kiting experience.
That's right. We accidentally discovered how the "kite culture" doesn't like any of these things.
All of this came as a shock. We had assumed that the "kite culture" loved kite flying in all its forms, and was genuinely interested in fostering kiting enjoyment and safety. We were wrong. It still shocks us.
The "kite culture" shapes and controls the sport. How? Through kiting's festivals, competitions, celebrities, associations, clubs, magazines, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. By imposing the types of gear and skills and flying preferred by the kite culture. And by imposing the kite-culture's styles and beliefs and values.
Kite shops serve as the major portals through which new flyers are indoctrinated into the kite culture.
Most kite retailers sell only what the kite culture likes. Which can be different from what the general public likes. For example, the kite-culture has two favorite types of dual-line-kiting. 1) Trick/competition sport kiting which offers relatively low performance and little exercise from difficult skills with kites that feel "strange" to new flyers. 2) Get-dragged-&-lifted power flying which scares most people and provides low-quality exercise in spite of being strenuous. Those two kite-culture favorites do not appeal to the general public.
Ever been to kite festivals? Kite shops? Other kite web sites? See how only those two kinds of dual-line kiting are promoted?
Why can't the kite culture also promote and sell something the public would really like -- such as easy high-performance fun-recreational sport-kiting that provides safe excitement and good exercise? With safer and virtually indestructible kites? That require only natural basic skills for fast learning and hot performance? The kite culture doesn't seem to want to do that, and has erected barriers to such a fun way of flying.
In the Fall-98 issue of "TRADEWINDS", the journal of the Kite Trade Association International (KTAI), we learned how the kite-culture's insularity is supported by trade-association policy: "Historically, [the] KTAI has decided to market our industry "internally" -- that is, to help members do business with each other. We have chosen not to address the larger task of trying to find more retail customers and help the industry grow." (Italics and underline ours.)
As the kite culture evolved in relative isolation from the general public, it became very different from mainstream sport & recreation. A few signs:
Normally, competition breeds a sport's highest levels of performance. But in sport kiting, competition skill and competition gear generate the sport's lowest levels of FLYING performance in terms of acceleration, speed, aerobatic agility, and turning power.
In other sports, advanced skills are smoother, more-graceful, more-powerful versions of the sport's natural basic skills, and are performance-enhancing: they make you go fast. For example, elite-class bicyclists pedal the same way casual riders do, only faster and more powerfully and very smoothly. But in sport kiting, advanced skills are abrupt & jerky, they're the opposite of kiting's natural basic skills, and they're performance-depressing: those slacken-your-kite-line skills make your kite slow down and/or stop FLYING.
Normally, what's "hot" is powerful and fast. But in sport kiting, 'hot' kites and 'hot' flying are rather powerless and slow. 'Hot' kites are designed to be "killed" and not flown. During the 'hottest' performance of all, there's no pull at all in the flying lines -- because the kite is tumbling or hanging in the air or tumbling or standing on the ground. It certainly isn't about FLYING a kite anymore.
On flying fields and at kite festivals, expert 'performance' flyers -- expertly doing their thing -- have been mistaken as beginners in need of help, and their 'performance' trick kites as defective, because from the way the kites flipped & fell in the air flipped & flopped on the ground it sure looked like neither could fly.
Among the sport-kiting elite and wannabees, the preferred kites have relatively low FLYING performance, and the preferred skills generate low-to-zero FLYING performance. Among the power-kiting elite and wannabees, the preferred kites strain the body hard without providing good exercise. The preferred control handle is a type that prevents good feel & control of the kite and causes discomfort & pain as well as permanent hand/wrist injury to some flyers -- because they tend to strangle your hands like a noose. The kite-culture imposes those elite tastes on all of dual-line kiting. No other sport deliberately inflicts low performance and discomfort.
Good exercise comes from exertion with body motion such as when walking/running, bicycling, weight training, or cross-country skiing. Force x motion = energy burned = weight lost. But when flying modern delta sport kites, you reduce and eliminate pull to turn and do tricks, which is poor exercise: arm motion with little-to-no force. When power flying, your arms are stretched straight like when holding onto a weight that's much too heavy to lift, which is low-quality exercise: high force with little-to-no arm motion like playing tug-of-war with a rope. When you attach your power or traction kite to your body using a harness, the exercise value drops to nil. Most sport kites and power kites are designed so that the pull drops when you move your arms to turn, so you can't get really good exercise even if you want to.
A big part of normal sport & recreation? You do it because the gear, the medium, and the activity FEEL good. But in dual-line kiting, good feel is being bred out. Dual-line kiting is evolving toward flying by sight only and away from flying by feel. The usual sport kites and power kites -- including entry-level, step-up, and elite models -- feel relatively soft and mushy through your control lines, and powerless when you turn them. Steering and turning feedback is poor. You don't feel the lively texture of the wind. The recommended control handles -- wrist straps -- are designed to be held by the backs of your hands, which causes discomfort and loss of feel & control, rather than in the normal way: by the sensitive palm side of your hands and fingers. The wrist strap pulls on and squeezes your hand like a noose. Even the wide, padded, and contoured models do it. No other sports use such senseless, potentially harmful & dangerous handles. But organized kiting recommends them as the very best; the Kite Trade Association International (KTAI) has even given them "Best New Product" awards.
In the public mainstream, our vehicles, gear, and activities -- such as driving, bicycling, skiing, surfing, running, flying an airplane -- all have a natural steering-&-turning feel: the forces rise when we steer & turn for easy learning and positive control. But in dual-line kiting, the forces drop when you steer & turn which feels unnatural, makes learning and control more difficult, and deprives you of considerable excitement & exercise.
A couple of years ago, indoor flying began. When the winds rise to 10-15 mph, many delta-sport-kite flyers quit flying and want to go indoors to fly.
As other sports evolve toward high performance and good exercise from natural skills with gear that has a natural feel, dual-line kiting evolves toward low performance and poor exercise from difficult unnatural skills with gear that has an unnatural feel.
You can see most of this at any kite festival in the USA, perhaps even an indoor-flying presentation on a warm and sunny windy day. The kite culture stubbornly pushes dual-line kiting away from mainstream sport & recreation -- damaging kiting's appeal to the public as well as kite-industry growth and revenue -- despite warnings from enthusiasts about the adverse consequences. Including warnings from others before we introduced WindDances and put up this web site.
Most of kiting's associations, clubs, flyers, festivals, competitions, magazines, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers all worked together to accomplish the above. And to put up their six major "barriers to fun" below.
The kite culture promotes and sells mainly to itself. The kite culture imposes what the kite culture likes onto others, and doesn't offer what the general public likes. The kite culture satisfies itself, but turns off and turns away the public. A perfect way to prevent growth of the sport and success for the trade.
The first step toward sport-kiting enjoyment is education. But quality education by the kite culture is virtually nonexistent. The kite culture doesn't even teach the ABC: A) How to assess a sport kite for FLYING worthiness: the three essential FLYING qualities to look for. B) How the hottest sport-kite FLYING performance is generated by basic skills, not by advanced skills. C) How easy it is: if your sport kite has the three basic FLYING qualities, you can quickly become a hot FLYER if you use basic skills as simple in principle as those used by children to FLY single-line kites. Wow! How to choose a good kite! Fast learning and hot performance from easy natural skill! The public sure would find this appealing!
But the kite culture is either suppressing this extremely-basic knowledge. Or is not even aware of it anymore. Or may never have gotten that far in the first place.
How is the kite culture affecting the sport? On Seattle's Kite Hill, a delta-sport-kite flyer -- a trick flyer -- asked us what WindDance sport kites are for. "They're for sport-kite FLYING," we explained. "An interesting new concept," he replied. Remarked another, "WindDances are OK if you like excitement." Here in the Pacific Northwest, fewer people seem to be FLYING dual-line kites. And kite-festival attendance, by flyers and the public, is dropping.
What does the general public think of the forms of dual-line kiting the kite culture is so fond of?
During the 1998 Kite Trade Association International (KTAI) show, a few kite retailers from various parts of the USA told us. Here's their composite story about 'advanced' sport kiting: A novice flyer, and an expert trick flyer, were flying dual-line deltas. The novice was smoothly and gracefully FLYING his kite. The expert was doing un-flying and non-flying tricks: flipping his kite in the air and tumbling it on the ground using abrupt and jerky technique. A bystander -- unaware of who was the expert and who was the novice -- after watching both for hours walked over to the novice (thinking he was the expert), complimented him on how wonderfully he flew, and thanked him for putting on such a beautiful kite-FLYING show. "By the way," said the bystander to the novice, "that fellow over there is having lots of trouble. All this time he hasn't been able to get his kite to FLY. He must be doing something wrong. Or there must be something wrong with his kite. You should walk over and give him some help."
During the 1999 KTAI Trade Show, a British kite retailer told us a similar story: During a UK kite festival, a delta-sport-kite prima donna was performing tricks. A passerby, thinking he was a beginner because his kite was flipping and thrashing on and near the ground all the time and was not FLYING, asked him, "May I help you launch your kite?" The retailer also told us how attendance at UK kite festivals has declined like in the USA because of the switch in emphasis from easy sport-kite FLYING, which the public likes, to the new advanced and difficult un-flying and non-flying forms of flying, which the public doesn't care for.
Delta-kite stunt competition, unlike all other sports, is characterized by low performance. Low acceleration. Low speed. When the winds rise, competitors add airbrakes to reduce speed or they switch to slower kites. No matter what the wind is, the kites always fly at about the same speed. During sharp turns, the kites slow down and partially fly backwards. All rather dull. As evidenced by what you see in TV commercials/programs, movies, and in most sports, the public prefers something with more speed-&-turning zest.
The latest kite-culture rage is to fly indoors: pump it up 20 feet to the gymnasium ceiling and do tricks as it floats down, even on warm and sunny windy days. Here in the Pacific Northwest, when the wind rises to 10-15 mph on perfect days, serious delta-kite flyers quit flying and want to go indoors to fly. "Downright unnatural," is a typical response from the general public.
Power kiting -- getting dragged along and lifted off the ground, straining your body but receiving poor exercise -- scares most people. "Fun to watch, but I'm sure not going to DO it," is a typical comment.
Traction kiting: Doing it on land -- your three-wheeled beach buggy pulled along by a power kite typically attached directly to your body with a not-so-quick safety release -- can be dangerous and expensive. Another variation, advertised by manufacturers and sold by kite retailers, is power kiting while on in-line skates. Ever had clothing and flesh torn off your body from falling onto pavement at 30-40 mph? I have, and don't wish it on anyone. Small land yachts, sailing rigs on three wheels, perform better and are safer. Traction kiting on water -- pulled along while on water skis, a surfboard, or similar craft -- is more expensive and less reliable than windsurfing: if you crash your kite, there's a good chance you won't be able to relaunch and will be stranded in open water. None of this is the public's cup of tea.
Theoretically, well-engineered kite-powered land and water vessels could shatter all existing wind-powered world speed records. 100+ mph on land or water is quite feasible. The engineering fundamentals shout how to accomplish it but nobody seems to be listening. Wipeouts would be grim, however.
WindDancing -- easy, fun-recreational, healthful-exercise, high-performance sport-kite FLYING, all from simple basic skill -- is a very sensible form of sport kiting the general public would like! We thought organized kiting would embrace a new state-of-the-the-art that brings higher levels of performance, exercise, and fun. We were proven wrong.
At kite festivals and on flying fields here in the Pacific Northwest, kite-culture flyers generally have given us the cold shoulder ever since early '97. Ever since they saw the first production WindDances smoothly and gracefully zipping through the sky at high speed, carving sharp & fast turns with incredible precision and agility, and performing a few FLYING maneuvers that are difficult-to-impossible for most dual-line deltas.
Why the rejection? Here's what we discovered: To the kite culture, parafoil kites aren't supposed to have hot performance. Only delta kites are supposed to have hot performance. WindDance parafoils FLY better in many exciting ways than the deltas hyped by the kite culture as the world's hottest sport kites, a big no-no.
During a friendly May-'97 demo fly on Seattle's Kite Hill, a delta-kite celebrity deliberately flew a WindDance poorly: he expertly made it look like a terrible kite that no one would want to buy.
Response from the general public has been totally different. At the same festivals and fields, non-flyers and experienced flyers not in the kite culture (aircraft pilots especially) really liked how well WindDances FLY!
When they see wonderful parafoil sport kites speeding & turning through the air -- and their flyers having great fun -- kite people and regular people react very differently.
KTAI Trade Show attendance is declining. That's not surprising. During the 1999 show, fewer than 150 retailers from North America and around the world came to see the wares. Virtually all the exhibited dual-line-kiting products were strictly for the kite culture, the very products preferred by nearly all kite retailers, the very products not preferred by the public. Which is why kite retailers lose kite sales and are forced to sell non-kite products or go out of business. And why the trade-show attendance keeps dropping and why the number of exhibitors of non-kite products keeps rising. USA kite magazines skip more and more issues. Kite festival attendance keeps declining. As fewer kites are sold. Self-perpetuated self-destruction.
Kite retailers offer two dual-line-kiting tracks, complete with smaller less-expensive look-alike "entry-level" and "step-up" versions: 1) Difficult relatively-low-FLYING-performance sport-kiting -- trick flying, competition flying, indoor flying -- that doesn't interest the public much. 2) Potentially-dangerous power flying that strains the body but supplies poor exercise and is scary to many. But most kite retailers will not also offer easy, fun-recreational, healthful-exercise, high-performance, sport-kite FLYING, an appealing mainstream-recreation type of kiting that would help generate growth and success for the kite industry.
Kite retailers offer lackluster-performance dual-line parafoils the kite culture likes, including new lackluster-performance models. But most kite retailers, under pressure from the kite culture, will not also offer high-performance dual-line parafoils the general public would like. In order to be accepted by most kite people and kite retailers, dual-line parafoils must have less than delta-kite performance -- less than state-of-the-art parafoil performance which is now higher than delta-kite performance. Regular folks see this as pretty strange.
As one retailer interested in selling to the public put it, and this expresses the sentiments of others we talked with at the trade show, "The kite industry is slowly and stubbornly committing suicide."
It doesn't have to be that way. Instead of operating like a chain of specialty shops that offer only one choice -- kite-culture dogma and paraphernalia -- kite retailers could easily do what most retailers do for success: also offer choices the general public would find appealing.
In the Fall-98 issue of "TRADEWINDS", we did see a ray of hope: "Recently, [the KTAI President] wrote to your Board [of Directors], asking them to reconsider the "internal only" policy. If we do not work together to help kiting grow, [the KTAI President] asked, who will?" We agree. For kiting to grow, in addition to offering what the tiny kite culture wants, the sport & trade must also offer what the huge general public wants.
As a first step, the kite culture must remove its "barriers to fun."
Until that happens, here's what they are and how you can get around them:
- The sport & trade perceive and promote parafoil sport kites as inferiorin a prejudiced, stereotyped, inaccurate way: "Parafoils have relatively low performance, and are good only as compact kites and power kites. Delta kites are for performance flying, for elite sport-kiting." "If you want PULL, you need a parafoil. If you want PERFORMANCE, or to be among the elite, you need a delta. It will always be that way, period." The kite culture has placed deltas on the highest pedestal, merit doesn't matter, and prefers to keep them there.
The "parafoils are inferior" stereotype -- a religious-like belief within the kite culture -- is directly at odds with the reality of WindDance parafoils: WindDances FLY better than deltas in several exciting ways; as a WindDance owner put it, "It's so obvious anybody can see that!"; during the 1999 KTAI Trade Show, one of our dealers, who also sells many brands and models of deltas, wholeheartedly agreed. But to keep WindDance parafoils in their stereotyped low place, many prejudiced flyers and kite retailers demean WindDances in word, by flying them poorly by not using basic pull-on-your-kite-line skills, by not precision-tuning them, by not encouraging their customers to tune their WindDances for peak speed & turning performance, and by presenting WindDances only as compact kites or power kites. They portray WindDances as less that what they are, other kites as more than what they are.
How strong is the prejudice?
Elite delta-kite flyers have called parafoils "slow and sloppy-handling" while they watched WindDances fly faster, turn faster, turn as sharply, and track better than all the deltas in the air.
That's nothing. Most of our WindDance dealers don't tell customers about the state-of-the-art performance-&-handling and exercise qualities. Or how speed & turning performance is easily maximized to spectacular high levels through the simple process of precision-tuning with two bridle adjusters. Or how one peak-performance bridle setting provides best performance for all wind speeds, which is what makes WindDances good light-wind kites and good strong-wind kites. Or how easy it is to maintain that peak tuning. Or that only simple basic skills are needed for very-hot FLYING performance. Most of our WindDance dealers don't want their customers to perceive WindDances as high-performance sport kites because "high performance" has been reserved for deltas. If customers want "high performance," most of our dealers sell them deltas with less performance than WindDances. In this manner, most of our dealers make their customers believe that WindDance parafoils do not fly as advertised.
Which violates their KTAI (Kite Trade Association International) Retailer Code of Ethics: "Represent products and services fairly and honestly."
Some of our dealers do tell people how WindDances fly faster and turn better than the kites promoted as the 'world's fastest' -- which are a type of parafoil.
But very few of our dealers mention what's far more obvious: how WindDances turn as tightly, track better, fly faster, and turn faster than deltas of the same size -- which are well known to be lots slower than the 'world's fastest' kites.
This particular prejudice -- against a product that performs better than it is supposed to -- like all prejudice is unethical and difficult to stop. But this prejudice exists only within the small insular kite culture, not within the general public. It can't be eradicated and doesn't have to be. It merely has to be diluted by an infusion of new people into the sport, by new people who can somehow bypass the kite-culture's indoctrination of performance-&-fun-robbing prejudices.
In July 1998, we sent our first WindDance video to all kite retailers in the USA and Canada. Up to that time, even after seeing our ads and reading our literature for a period of one-and-a-half years, even after flying WindDances, most retailers still perceived WindDances as typical parafoils -- as compact kites or power kites -- not as the special high-performance fun-&-exercise machines they really are. When kite retailers finally saw in our video how superbly WindDances FLY, including better than the deltas they sell, most responded by immediately boycotting us; in peak season, most of our kite-retailer accounts suddenly stopped ordering WindDances from us. The clear message? They don't want parafoils to fly that well. They don't want people to have that much fun.
Do sports-equipment and computer-industry retailers reject products for being too fast, too easy, too crashproof, too much fun?
After it happened, we recalled how we had been forewarned. In early 1997 our first WindDance dealer, who has been in the kite trade for many years and who is heavily into selling delta trick kites for the slack-line "no pull = no speed = no FLYING" way of sport kiting, gave us this advice: Regarding what WindDances do best, don't call it "FLYING." And don't promote how well WindDances fly. That is, don't let anybody know what the product is about, or how good it is. We considered the advice really strange, and ignored it. But he proved to be right.
Our kite-magazine ads and this web site direct flyers to kite retailers to purchase WindDances. Several times we mass-mailed dealer & product info to kite retailers including about our friendly terms, low shipping costs, fast service, and outstanding guarantee and product support. And we sent all of them a WindDance video. Flyers responding to our advertising, to their disappointment, report how many of those shops say they never heard of WindDances or received the video, won't order them, and try to sell them something else.
Refusing to sell people what they want = less business income. Either kite-shop owners desire less income, or simply cannot see all the way to the right side of the equal sign. Prejudice blinds.
For decades now the kite culture has promoted the delta as being the ultimate type of sport kite. And the kite culture resists parafoils that fly really well. That's why producers can't develop and market new parafoil sport kites that fly better than the deltas they manufacture and sell. Interestingly, in spite of WindDances being in the marketplace for almost two years -- and in spite of WindDances flying circles around deltas on flying fields -- the newest dual-line parafoils at the 1999 KTAI Trade Show were sub-delta, and sub-WindDance, in FLYING performance.
Members of the kite culture -- especially those near the top of the hierarchy -- will buy low-performance parafoil sport kites, but not state-of-the-art high-performance ones that fly lots better than their deltas. One of our best dealers, who is well aware of the prejudice against good parafoils, suggested that we reduce WindDance speed & turning performance in order to boost sales to delta-kite flyers.
The kite culture steers people away from high-performance parafoils. A serious barrier to fun.
Want the hottest sport-kite FLYING machine around (with performance that can be tamed when necessary)? Be assured that WindDance parafoils, when correctly tuned and flown with basic skills, do FLY as advertised. If you can't get a high-performance WindDance parafoil from your nearest or favorite kite retailer, buy directly from us here at Seattle AirGear.
The sport & trade have little interest in "easy high-performance fun-flying."Picture this: Easy, fun-recreational, high-performance sport-kite FLYING. With a natural steering-&-turning feel that feels like all the other vehicles and gear and activities in your life for easy learning and positive control. With plenty of speed-&-turning thrill if you want it. With high-quality exercise if you want it. With kites so versatile they fly wonderfully in light and strong winds. So easy and worry free that beginners can learn fast. So easy and worry free that couples and family members can fly high-speed fast-&-tight-turning aerobatics side-by-side together in the same airspace. Of such high performance it's more spectacular than trick/competition and power flying. So much fun you may feel light-headed or hurt yourself from laughing too hard. All from easy & natural pull-on-your-kite-line skills that are a small step up from childhood single-line-kite skills. With kites that are long-lasting and virtually-indestructible. This form of flying is very real. It's called WindDancing! The public would certainly like it.
But the sport & trade are reluctant to offer it. Instead, for those who want more than a dual-line diamond kite, the sport & trade steer everyone toward what the kite culture likes: trick/competition sport kiting (with delta kites) or power flying (with parafoil kites). The sport & trade steer you first into entry-level kites and then several stepping-stone and increasingly specialized models of 1) what competition judges like to see in trick/competition sport kiting, or of 2) what thrillseekers want in power flying.
Except for diamond kites, virtually all dual-line kites, even low-price entry-level models, are styled and categorized into the two basic kinds of kite-culture flying. Entry-level delta kites look like small versions of full-size trick/competition deltas. Entry-level parafoils look like small versions of full-size power parafoils (not the case with WindDances). Then, flyers progressively 'step up' to more-expensive 'bigger-is-better' and 'specialized' models of the same thing: 1) to additional delta kites that do tricks better and FLY less well and require more-difficult increasingly-unnatural cut-power-to-your-kite skills, 2) to additional parafoil kites that pull more strongly.
The public, however, doesn't particularly care for trick/competition sport-kiting due to the low FLYING performance, the unnatural "feel" of the kites, the poor exercise, the difficult and unnatural skills, and because it isn't about FLYING a kite. And the public doesn't particularly care for power flying either: it provides good pull but not good FLYING performance, strains the body but offers poor exercise, and scares most people.
People don't normally buy a kite to make it stop flying. Or to get dangerously pulled and lifted by it. People don't normally buy a kite to please competition judges. Or to engage in low-performance more-difficult-is-better, more-expensive-is-better one-upmanship with other flyers. Or to compete with the power of nature. The public prefers to FLY dual-line kites, for the fun of it, and they seek the highest performance and the best exercise from the easiest of skills.
If the sport also promoted easy healthy-exercise high-performance fun-flying with versatile and durable and safe kites that need only simple and natural skills, it would help the sport grow and the trade to be more prosperous. But the sport & trade, held back by their insular kite culture, do not seem interested.
The kite culture changed dual-line kiting during the 1990s. It isn't about "kite FLYING" or light-hearted fun anymore. The kite culture has made it serious and combative. Fine handling qualities and good FLYING performance no longer matter. In their clubs and during festivals, they steer even young children in that direction. Do battle with others: trick/competition flying with delta kites. Do battle with the wind: power flying with parafoil kites.
Birds fly for fun! Children fly for fun! Why can't grownups fly for fun?
Isn't high-performance aerobatic sport-kite FLYING for the pure joy of it, including side-by-side with a friend, a worthy use of a product the government classifies as a "toy?"
Isn't there room for a third type of dual-line flying, one that follows the original spirit of the sport, one that would appeal to far more people: easy high-performance fun-FLYING? Isn't there room for WindDancing?
As we WindDanced side-by-side, our WindDances loudly colliding once in a while, some flyers have asked, "Who's winning?" As we WindDanced in delicious brisk winds, the speed & pull sharply rising during gusts and turns, some flyers have asked, "How goes the battle with the wind?" Those kite-culture-educated flyers simply could not see that we were flying for fun.
In a good kite shop, this should happen: As you walk in, a friendly attentive salesperson asks without being pushy in the least, "Want loads of pure fun?" As you answer, "Why YES!" he clicks on the "WindDance 1 at play in 10 mph wind" video clip. "Look!" he points. "No other sport kites come close in acceleration, straight-line speed, turning speed, and agility as this 5-oz handful of ripstop and string! Wow! See that fast-and-snappy carved hairpin turn? Like cracking a whip! It zips around all over the envelope like it's everywhere at once! Edge-to-edge passes take no time at all! See those snappy down-turns at the edge? Most deltas can't do 'em! Those bounce-'n'-flies either! Hey, no broken spars! And this is only 10 mph wind! In 15, it's 50% faster and pulls twice as hard! Nothing else we have FLIES as well! Or has such a wide high-performance wind range! Or feels so pulsing and alive through your control handles whenever you turn and hit bumps in the wind! Or feels so much like an exercise machine! Or takes so little skill! WindDances are FUN MACHINES!"
But most of our dealers don't tell customers how much fun it is.
The kite culture steers people away from easy high-performance fun-flying. A serious barrier to fun.
Want "easy high-performance fun-flying?" Be assured that WindDancing is very real! If you can't get a state-of-the-art WindDance fun-machine from your nearest or favorite kite retailer, buy directly from us here at Seattle AirGear.
The sport & trade have little interest in high performance sport-kite FLYING.Since 1990 the focus has been on un-flying and non-flying trick performance, and on competition-style low FLYING performance (low-to-moderate steady speed in all winds, slowing down in turns), all hyped up as elite flying and 'hot' performance. In stunt competition you must fly rather slowly, and you must frequently un-fly and perform non-flying aerial and ground tricks. In kite magazines, sport kites have been judged more by how well they tumble on the ground than by how well they FLY. The more and the hotter a stunt-kite competitor FLIES during a routine, and the better the kite's FLYING performance, the lower the score from the judges. Sport-kiting competition has driven sport-kite performance downward, the opposite of what competition does to other sports. As you step up to more-advanced sport-kite models from entry-level delta kites, what you generally get is less FLYING performance from the required more-difficult and more-unnatural skills.
Many flyers and kite retailers these days don't seem to understand the concept of sport-kite "FLYING", and don't seem to have a clue about what to do with a sport kite that's aeronautically-engineered for high-speed fast/tight/powerful-turning aerobatic FLYING, such as a WindDance. When testing such a kite, they make it stop flying, they do non-flying tricks, and they don't even attempt to FLY it to its maximum speed & turning potential. Before our eyes, even world-class stunt competitors tested WindDances that way -- they were like race-car testers who did not know about or did not care to stomp on the gas.
At kite festivals here in the Pacific Northwest, those not immersed in the kite culture -- mainly bystanders and new flyers -- love high-performance sport-kiting! But kite-culture flyers typically exhibit near-zero interest in high-speed fast-&-tight-turning aerobatic sport-kite FLYING. It's as if they are brain-dead to the excitement of high performance, brain-dead to the excitement of FLYING.
Can you imagine anyone in the car culture, commencing a test drive with a hot new sports car on an empty winding road, not knowing what to do and not feeling any urge to go for it?
As with sports cars, sport kites have fundamental performance & handling qualities to look for:
- Superb response to pull-on-your-kite-line FLYING skills, including fast, tight, and powerful turns & spins when you pull strongly on one line.
- Hot edge to power-zone acceleration with high power-zone speed, and hot acceleration when the wind kicks in. If a kite can do that, it's a good light-wind kite and a good strong-wind kite (it's a versatile kite), and one bridle setting is the optimum peak-performance setting for light winds through strong winds (adjusting the bridle for different winds is not necessary). That versatility, and always being in tune even in fluctuating wind, comes in handy. If the wind suddenly rises to 20 mph while flying a WindDance in 5 mph wind, the WindDance suddenly changes from a superb light-wind kite to a rather exciting strong-wind kite flying 4-times faster and pulling 16-times harder. These fun qualities are achieved, to a large extent, by engineering the kite so it stays rigid like an airplane wing as the wind, speed, and pull rise.
- A natural "increasing-resistance" steering-&-turning feel (the pull rises when you turn) for easy learning, positive control, and powerful turning.
But kiting's experts, books & magazines, and retailers do not inform you about these three important qualities. Why? They are qualities the general public would like. The kite culture doesn't care for them. The sport & trade are interested in selling only what the kite culture likes:
- To the kite culture, sport kites are required to respond well to "take-your-foot-off-the-gas" skills to turn, un-fly, and do tricks. Such kites respond poorly to the "stomp-on-the-gas" skills needed for high performance and aerobatic excitement.
- Hot edge to power-zone acceleration and exciting responsiveness to the wind are bred out of trick/competition delta kites to achieve the required low-to-moderate steady speed over the flight envelope in all winds, and to make un-flying and doing tricks easier. Low responsiveness to the wind -- that is, little to no acceleration -- is required for trick & competition flying. Check delta-kite ads: see how "steady speed" (zero acceleration, zero wind-responsiveness) is promoted as desirable? Other product weaknesses -- narrow wind range and low versatility so customers have to buy several different specialized kites, kites that inconveniently require different bridle-settings for different winds -- are promoted as product strengths. What happens when wind speed fluctuates so fast you can't keep up with the required kite-model changes or bridle-setting changes? The kites don't fly so well, they often shake and flap, and you have to pack up and leave. What happens when the wind suddenly rises to 20 mph when you're flying an ultra-light-wind delta in 5 mph wind? The kite self-destructs in midair. Things the general public would not like -- the need to have many different specialized kites, the kite being out-of-tune and flying poorly most of the time in fluctuating winds and while flying across the flight envelope in steady winds, and having to carry spare parts in case the kite goes beyond its wind range -- are preferred by the kite culture. The low-performance FLYING characteristics desired by the kite culture are achieved, in part, by making the kites so they distort way out of shape and lose huge amounts of performance as the wind, speed, and pull increase.
- With virtually all trick/competition and power kites, the pull drops when you turn which makes turning less exciting and powerful, and learning and accurate control more difficult.
Kite-culture sport-kite flyers pay premium prices for 'hot' sport kites with little acceleration and little speed. Do sports-car buyers pay extra to get sluggish performance?
Check out all the dual-line kiting information on the internet and in kite shops and see for yourself. It's all about trick/competition flying where superb FLYING performance is a competitive disadvantage, or about power-flying where the only thing that matters is strong pull. There's next to nothing about high-performance FLYING or its easy skills, or about the fine performance & handling qualities the public would like.
During this decade the kite culture became apathetic to high performance and its excitement, apathetic to sport-kite FLYING. Suppose what happened to sport-kiting also happened to the rest of the world. The hottest windsurfing sails would have mesh panels for slower speed. Wax for the hottest snow skis would have sand in it for slower speed. The hottest bicycles would not accelerate well when you thrust on the pedals and would be slow coasting downhill. The hottest young male automobile drivers, if given opportunity to drive an AC Cobra to its limits, wouldn't know about or be skilled at or be interested in stomping on the gas. Madison Avenue and Hollywood would no longer pander to the excitement of hot speed and turning. What a dull world that would be.
But the kite culture is a relatively tiny number of people. Why not go with a bigger flow, a flow where people do get excited by high speed and hot turning. Within the mainstream public and within mainstream sport & recreation, people certainly do like high-performance and its excitement! And they certainly do know what to do with high-performance gear -- including high-performance airgear such as WindDance parafoils!
The kite culture steers people away from high-performance sport-kite FLYING. A serious barrier to fun.
Want hot FLYING performance? Such as high speed? Fast, tight, powerful turns & spins? Hot edge to power-zone acceleration? Hot acceleration when the wind kicks in? Lively, exciting pull that sharply rises with speed and wind and whenever you turn? Superb response and tracking? Be assured that WindDances are all about high-performance sport-kite FLYING like this!
Care to see stunning examples of "easy high-performance fun-FLYING?" At your nearest kite retailer (USA and Canada), view the WindDance 1 clips in the WindDance video!
To get the most FLYING performance and fun out of your WindDance, simply heed the precision-tuning and FLYING-skill info in the user's manual, on this web site, and in the video.
The sport & trade have little interest in basic FLYING skills."Stunt kites require line tension to FLY; no tension, no FLYING." We learned that in the first book about stunt kites we ever read in 1989. It's different now. Rather than teaching the basics -- the old simple and easy pull-on-your-kite-line-skills and how they generate sport-kiting's highest-possible levels of speed & turning performance -- for almost a decade so far the sport & trade have promoted difficult and unnatural advanced skills that generate un-flying and non-flying types of performance (including how to expertly tumble your kite on the ground) and low FLYING performance (such as making your kite slow way down as you turn).
Beginner-level pull-on-your-line skills generate the highest speed & turning performance; "pull = speed = FLYING." Advanced-level slacken-your-line skills generate the lowest speed & turning performance; "no pull = no speed = no FLYING." This is basic sport-kiting knowledge. How many elite flyers and kite shops teach it? Virtually none.
A major reason why the basics have fallen from favor? Delta sport kites have changed. In 1989, we learned how to dual-line fly with delta kites that responded well to basic pull-on-your-kite-line FLYING skills. A little later we designed, aeronautically-engineered, and made delta sport kites that responded to those skills about as well as WindDances do. Others, primarily hobbyists, also made deltas like those. But most deltas now respond poorly to basic pull-on-your-kite-line skills, the very skills required to make a sport kite FLY well.
As we WindDance on Seattle's Kite Hill, pulling on our lines to generate hot speed & turning, sometimes trick/competition instructors shout "Slacken your lines! Slacken your lines!" to nearby delta-kite newbies to get them to un-fly and do the non-flying tricks required to be considered a 'hot' flyer within today's kite culture.
Sport-kite flyers who use slacken-your-kite-line skills exclusively can become handicapped, as we have witnessed many times -- such as expert sport-kiters, including kite retailers and top competitors, unable to FLY WindDances as well as beginners can. Exactly how do so many advanced/expert delta-kite flyers mess up when they try to FLY? Instead of pulling on their lines to generate speed & fast/tight/powerful turning, they push on and slacken their lines which works like this: take your foot off the gas to make a hot car go fast.
That handicap is not permanent. A two-step recovery program cures it:
- Rekindle desire. The kite-culture's slack-line-flying indoctrination drains from your soul your natural desire to FLY a sport kite. It numbs you to the beauty and excitement of high-performance aerobatic FLYING. As one of our WindDance dealers put it, that indoctrination "messes up" flyers. On flying fields and at festivals here in the Pacific Northwest, we've seen hundreds of advanced sport-kite flyers so afflicted. To FLY well again, deprogram yourself. The easiest way to get started? Take a hint from mainstream sport & recreation: hot performance is great fun! You must learn to become excited again by hot FLYING performance, to become thrilled again by the sensations of high speed and fast powerful turning, to become alive again! In TV commercials, see how people get turned on by hot sports-car performance? To become turned on by hot sport-kite performance, first you must break free of the kite culture. Escape from difficult dullness to easy excitement!
- Restore skills. Slack-line indoctrination, and excessive use of slack-line skills, purges you of your innate FLYING skills. Which is what causes you to push on your lines or do nothing when you should pull on them. After the normal FLYING desire returns, and after the normal thrill response to hot performance returns, quickly relearn how to FLY simply by practicing the basic skills that sport-kiting cast aside a decade ago: pull on your line(s) to make it FLY. It's the same concept and skill that young children use to launch and fly their single-line kites. Of course, you need a sport kite that responds well to those skills, including yank-on-one-line skill. Most sport kites don't. WindDances do. You also need good control handles. The most-popular handles (wrist straps) dull your feel of the wind, dull your feel of the kite, and prevent best-possible control. Choose the ergonomically-correct T-handles that have finally become available (see below).
Although the kite culture has continuously damaged the sport for a decade so far by heavily promoting skills that do the opposite of kite-FLYING skills, the damage is not permanent: basic FLYING skills are natural. All newbies have those innate skills deep inside them. Flyers handicapped by excessive slack-line flying can quickly relearn them if they deprogram and put their minds to it. And we have the flying machines and instructional materials to develop those skills and put them to play!
The kite culture steers people away from sport-kiting's easiest and highest-performance FLYING skills. A serious barrier to fun.
Want really hot speed & turning from skill as straightforward as stomping on the gas to get maximum acceleration & speed out of a car? Buy a WindDance! We aeronautically-engineered them to respond wonderfully with hot speed & turning to sport-kiting's old basic skills!
Build upon your childhood single-line kite-flying skills: Internalize basic kite FLYING theory -- "pull = speed = FLYING". Learn how to pull on your kite lines -- swing your arm(s) from front to back as you step back. As you fly, feel for pull, maintain at least a few ounces of pull to keep it flying, and go for pull to get highest speed, hottest turning, and the most exercise! This simplest & easiest way has always been the hottest way to FLY a dual-line kite! Practice accelerating/decelerating and turning in various ways -- including pulling vigorously on one line -- and you'll achieve speed & turning performance that's vastly more spectacular than the elite flying featured at kite festivals and competitions! The WindDance user's manual, this web site, and the WindDance video explain how! High-performance FLYING is soooo simple and easy: Pull to make it FLY!
The sport & trade do not promote any kind of dual-line kiting that provides good exercise.Trick/competition-style delta-kiting certainly doesn't: the pull drops when you turn especially when you punch-turn, and you slacken your lines (zero pull) to un-fly and do tricks. Losing pull whenever you turn, and flying with zero pull as often as possible, is poor exercise.
The sport & trade teach that power flying -- resisting strong sustained pull, being dragged, getting lifted off the ground -- is good exercise. It is not. Power flying is like playing tug-of-war: your arms stretch, your leaned body functions as an anchor post, and you hardly move as you strain your body. All you do is dig in and hang on, and when you do turn the pull drops. The exercise quality is similar to working out with a weight that's way too heavy: you lift it off the floor and stand with your arms pulled straight, you can't lift it any higher, and you hang onto it as long as you can. Strenuous effort with little arm, body, or leg motion, plus the pull dropping when you turn, is poor exercise.
Now here's what the sport & trade should be promoting: Good exercise comes from moving your body as you work it, like when weight training, running, bicycling, cross-country skiing, and WindDancing!
The kite culture steers people away from high-quality dual-line-kiting exercise. A serious barrier to fun.
Want good exercise? Energetically FLY a WindDance! The WindDancing Workout is different from the exercise you get from other kites: You swing your arms (just like when you walk) as you pull on your line(s) to accelerate & turn! It feels sort of like the poling action while cross-country skiing, and you do that a lot because the fun makes you do it! You move around as necessary to strengthen or lessen or sustain speed & pull! And the pull rises when you turn! The faster and more-powerfully you turn, and the more often you turn, the better your workout! You can make your body burn even by WindDancing with a smaller model in light wind! During a good fly, you can do hundreds of reps of pumping air!
The most-popular dual-line control handles -- wrist-straps -- are the worst for your hands and your FLYING.
NOTE: The best control handles are readily available: ergonomically-correct T-handles manufactured by Eclipse Product Technologies. We strongly recommend them, and we sell them. All kite retailers could sell them.
Feedback from a WindDance owner: "The ergonomic handles are so good I'm glad I bought two pairs. I have never had so much control over my kites before - tried them on my [delta stunt kite] and again I was amazed by the control I had ... wonder why everybody has not used them all along???"
More feedback: "I finally bought some straps for my [delta trick kite] because I thought I ought to have some. Boy, was THAT a mistake. Not only do they kill your hands, they're the sloppiest control handles I've ever used. Going to give them away!"
Since wrist-strap handles are the most popular, they must be the best, right? So we tried wrist-straps. And quickly discovered the loss of good feel of the wind, loss of good feel of the kite, discomfort, pain, numbness, and control loss. Whenever we pulled hard to turn & spin fast, or flew into the power zone in brisk wind, or encountered a strong gust, the level of discomfort and pain rose. That's when we figured out why so many wrist-strap users fly so briefly, why their flying is frequently interrupted by periods of inactivity: they have to take rest stops to let their hands recover, to allow the pain and numbness to subside. To us, wrist-straps felt more like instruments of torture than like intelligently-designed sports gear. Especially at the beach as the straps ground sand into the backs of our hands. One day as we flew with a WindDance 2 flyer, a strong young male, he had to quit after only ten minutes of WindDancing because of the pain inflicted by his wrist-strap handles. That was the last straw. The next day we added the wrist-strap-handle warning to our WindDance TECH flier. Even wide, soft, padded wrist-straps -- sold as 'comfortable' wrist-straps -- apply pressure, squeeze & strangle, and cause discomfort and pain to many flyers. Shortly after we began flying sport kites, we listened to a flyer complain of the pain being caused by her heavily-padded wrist straps. Besides taking much of the fun out of our FLYING, we found wrist-straps difficult to use: you can't just "grab" them, you have to "put them on." In spite of all these shortcomings, such handles are by far the most favorite within the kite culture and have won "best-product" awards within the kite industry.
Why do wrist-straps function so poorly? The human hand is designed to hold and feel things from the palm side, not the back side. Wrist-straps utilize the human anatomy in a very unnatural way: they pull on the backs and sides of your hands, where they lack toughness and the nerve density to feel sensitively, and they press and squeeze -- causing discomfort and control loss. When you wear them high in the normal way, they press on and squeeze your skin, flesh, bones, nerves, and blood vessels, and they adversely stress your hand/wrist joints. In some advertising photos you can see good wrist straps digging into human flesh. When you wear them low around your fingers they squeeze your fingers together, and when doing vigorous pull-turns it feels like your fingers are about to be torn off your hands. Even padded wrist-straps squeeze and strangle like a noose. That's why no other sports use wrist-strap handles. Everybody else on Planet Earth knows better.
A word about "pull." Power & traction kites are made to deliver intense, relentless pull equaling your body weight or stronger -- and little else. High-performance recreational kites ("organized kiting" won't sell them, but we certainly do!) are very different: as you actively zip & turn on the flight envelope at speeds much higher than competition and power/traction flying, the pull is usually way less but can briefly peak that high in strong wind -- and the pull is far more lively. In addition, when you actively turn hard, the pull goes up and all of it ends up in one hand -- due to the fun, you might do it once a second -- and the workout feels like poling while cross-country skiing. What if the pull accidentally becomes too strong? Let go instantly!
So to have the most fun, at the very least you want comfortable handles you can release instantly.
First, have a look at wrist-straps.
Perform this comfort test: Anchor your wrist-strap handles to the top of a doorway, slip your hands into them, then lift your feet off the floor and hang there. This simulates pull equaling your body weight. Want to simulate stronger pull? Add more weight: have someone hug-and-hold onto you as the two of you hang from your one pair of hands. Since water skiers can briefly take 500 pounds of pull, so can you, right? So ask more friends to hug-and-hold on! While the three or four of you hang from your one pair of hands, see how your 'comfortable' wrist-straps painfully strangle your hands like a noose, turning them cold and blue? See how your hands feel like you're on the rack, a medieval instrument of torture? No matter what style or brand of wrist-straps, and no matter how you wear them, see how that pain still happens? WARNING: be sure to stop this comfort test before permanent injury results.
The "kite culture" has been fully aware of the problem for years. "Wrist straps first appeared in about 1983, and were hailed as a major advance in kite flying. Then flyers who regularly used wrist straps began complaining of numb fingers and pain in their hands.....when they weren't flying. Several eventually sought medical attention, and found that they had acquired Carpel Tunnel Syndrome." That's in a stunt kiting book we bought in 1989.
See why so few people in the world use wrist-straps? For example, ever see 'em used as suitcase handles, and see how they're even disappearing from dog leashes?
After your hands recover, anchor a strong one-inch diameter bar to the top of the doorway (it approximates the new T-handles), grasp it with both hands, and hang there for the same period of time with the same simulated pull. If you've been well-educated by "organized kiting" you might stubbornly insist, "I can't possibly hold on with my hands. I need help. I need wrist-straps that harness to my hands so I don't have to grip anything. I need a power harness so I don't have to hold on with my hands." Consider this: Children on a playground jungle-gym, as they swing from bar to bar like Tarzan, hang by one hand at a time. While gripping a bar, they support their entire weight with one hand -- it simulates traction-kite pull that's twice their body weight. See how easy it is for kids to grip things? Also consider this: Since water skiers and kite flyers have the same kind of hands -- and since water skiers can strongly grip a tow handle (the "pull" is about 500 lbs just before crossing the wake in slalom competition) -- why can't you grip it too? Do water skiers need to harness their tow lines to their hands with wrist-straps? Imagine how much fun the wipeouts would be, not being able to let go instantly, if at all. So ignore the intense "kite-culture" hype that you can't possibly grip like a normal human being. They peer-pressured and cleverly duped you into thinking you can't do it. So grab the one-inch diameter test bar and play Tarzan. Feel the huge difference in comfort between wrist-straps and normal grips?
Although the people in "organized kiting" insist that wrist-straps are the best -- even when they feel the pain and watch their hands turn blue from strangulation, even though their hands may not slip free in an emergency -- do YOUR hands and brain say wrist-straps are the best?
Of course it's OK for "kite culture" flyers to prefer handles like that. But is it OK for them to gang up and brainwash that preference into all flyers?
Normally, the leadership of a sport will allow other choices, especially sensible choices the general public would like. But "organized kiting" won't: although we at Seattle AirGear proudly sell great handles like these, try to buy 'em from any other kite retailer on Planet Earth.
For the full story about land-style control handles, CLICK HERE.
For info about using a control-bar -- the water-style handle usually tethered to the flyer's body harness -- CLICK HERE.
The classic kite-culture defense of wrist-straps is this: "Kite flyers don't have the strength to hold onto bar handles." But look at how water skiers are able to hold onto a tow bar -- it looks like a long kite handle -- and in slalom competition, just before crossing the center of the wake (their "power zone"), the pull reaches about 500 pounds. If the kite culture is correct, then kite flyers as a group have weaker hands than everybody else in the world. They may be correct: excessive use of wrist-strap handles may have injured and weakened the hands of a many thousands of kite flyers.
When you develop a dual-line kite handle, first you look around to see how the rest of the world solved the problem of what's the best way for the human hand to hold and feel things. You design "smart" to take maximum advantage of human anatomy, like how violins are designed so players use the ultra-sensitive palm side of their fingertips rather than the backs of their fingers, like how suitcases are designed so travelers lift and carry using the palm side of their hands and fingers rather than the backs of their hands. A responsible product developer and manufacturer carefully looks way ahead to foresee problems and then eliminates them beforehand out of respect for their future customers. If you foresee a problem, such as a wrist-strap handle possibly causing discomfort or pain or injury, you perform a simple engineering analysis of the forces the product applies to the flyer's hand, a medical analysis of the effects of those forces, and an analysis of the product's effects on the flyer's comfort and ability to feel and control the sport kite. If you discover a fundamental problem, you eliminate that basic design and develop something that works better.
Obviously, the developers and makers of wrist-strap handles never did any of that, never looked around to see how the rest of humankind solved the problem of how to best hold onto things, and have steadfastly been oblivious to negative feedback from wrist-strap users. If manufacturers and sellers of control handles cared about flyers and cared about FLYING, wrist-strap handles simply would not exist.
Although wrist-straps thwart use of basic skill and degrade FLYING performance and exercise, they are good for trick and competition flying: when you punch on one line to turn and when you slacken both lines to do tricks, the pull and discomfort subside. That "positive reinforcement" -- a momentary reduction of discomfort and pain -- encourages you to slacken your lines to eliminate pull as often as possible.
What about the other kinds of handles? Grip-handles with "V"-bridles: As you swing your arm from front to back during a long pull-turn, only the lower cord in the "V" bridle pulls on the handle. It feels unnatural and strains your wrist. And the cord may cut into the side of your little finger, and dig into backs of all four fingers. To prevent all that, you must twist your hands to knuckles-forward or knuckles-back to be able to pull-turn or accelerate -- which is unnatural. When you swing your arms naturally -- as while walking, cross-country skiing, pull-turning a sport kite when using ergonomically-correct T-handles -- your knuckles are to the side. That type of handle is designed for moving your hands back-and-forth at chest level, which provides limited control movement -- and limited fun and limited exercise. Cheap molded-plastic handle/winders: Same problems as the above handles, except there are no cords to contact your fingers. Grip-handles with a cord coming out of the middle: The cord cuts into the side of your second finger, painfully and bloodily in our experience, and into the backs of your second and first fingers, when doing vigorous swing-your-arm pull-turns. Providers of those handles recognize the problem, and tell flyers to keep their forearms aligned with their kite lines to prevent that cutting action. They want you to turn, not by swinging your arms for maximum control movement, but by moving your hands back-and-forth at chest level. But restricting your control movement that much cuts your turning ability -- and your fun and exercise -- in half. Replace that center cord with webbing and you have the sensible, comfortable, ergonomically-correct, T-handle we've been recommending to flyers since 1989.
The kite culture steers people away from the common-sense, comfortable dual-line handles that enable maximal control, performance, and exercise. A serious barrier to fun.
When we began dual-line kiting in 1989, we saw only pure fun! The FLYING of sport kites was far more popular than it is today! We had no idea of the underlying kite culture. Or how the kite culture was just beginning to erase FLYING, basic skills, and much of the fun and public-appeal from sport kiting.
We would like nothing better than for the kite culture to wake up and see the light -- that's why we wrote this stuff -- and return to its roots of kite FLYING. 1) To change course and evolve back toward mainstream sport & recreation. 2) To also embrace the general public, parafoils, common-sense control handles, FLYING, basic skills, and easy high-performance fun-flying that's good exercise. 3) To replace all the misleading and deceptive hype with comprehensive and accurate education about the sport and its skills and gear.
How? By actually living up to the commendable goals the kite culture wrote long ago.
Why? So that people could make wise choices. So that more people would have more fun. So that the sport would grow. So that the trade would become more prosperous. And so that we here at Seattle AirGear would have to eat every critical word on this web site.
What a relief that would be! We could focus only on fun stuff! Which is why we got into this business in the first place.
Right now there's only one way: The kite culture way of sport kiting.
Why can't there be two ways: The kite culture way. AND an easy fun-recreational healthful-exercise high-performance way for the general public?
Kite shops could sell to both markets: to the small kite culture, AND to the huge general public. Kite retailers could continue to sell difficult, low-performance, poor-exercise, sometimes-painful, and less-safe dual-line kiting to the kite culture -- while ALSO selling easy, high-performance, healthful-exercise, comfortable, and safer dual-line kiting to the general public.
A few kite retailers already do it. All kite retailers could do it.
Availability of sensible mainstream gear could upset some in the kite culture. Enlightened kite shops might console them like this: "Do smokers get mad at supermarkets for selling healthy stuff? No way. That's why I'm selling deltas and parafoils with higher performance than deltas. That's why I'm selling wrist straps and safe comfortable ergonomic T-handles that significantly enhance the FLYING experience. If you don't like us giving other people the safe versatile easy-to-use high-performance products they want, get over it!"
Kite shops are the major portals into the sport. If kite retailers also serve the huge general public in addition to serving the small kite culture, the kite culture itself would become more and more mainstream, dual-line kiting would become more popular, and the trade would become more successful.
But that will take time.
In the meantime, WindDances do exist, do perform as we claim on this web site, and are available from a few enlightened kite retailers. If your nearest or favorite kite retailer does not enthusiastically represent WindDances as everything they are, or won't order a WindDance for you, or tries to steer you to something else, then by all means buy directly from us here at Seattle AirGear. We will bend over backwards to serve you well!
Accessories -- Spectra flying-line kits, card winders, ergo T-handles -- are available, too, from all kite retailers. And from Seattle AirGear if your nearest or favorite kite retailer lets you down.
The best groundstake/windwand? Make your own: sharpen a wooden stick or fiberglass/graphite rod -- 24"-long for a grassy field or 30"-long for the beach -- and tie a length of brightly-colored yarn to the blunt end. You need it for securing your handles to the ground during setup/takedown and while precision-tuning the bridle, and for telling wind direction.
If you have not been damaged by excessive slack-line sport kiting, your innate "pull-to-make-it-FLY" skills are intact and ready to provide you with hot performance and loads of fun.
If your natural FLYING skills have been damaged by the new low-performance cut-speed-&-power way of sport kiting, merely heed the "Rekindle & Restore" and "Build upon your childhood skill" advice above. A few hours of fun practice with a WindDance -- applying "pull=speed=FLYING" theory with "pull-to-make-it-FLY" skill just like young children do with single-line kites -- will have you very excited and FLYING well!
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 May-5-1999