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.
Any kite with two or more flying lines -- a kite that can be maneuvered at will by the flyer -- is a "stunt kite."
Single-line kites cannot be maneuvered by the flyer. Except for "fighter kites." By pulling and releasing the single line with subtle control and precise timing, the flyer can maneuver the kite in truly amazing ways -- but it isn't at will because the flyer has to wait for the exactly-right instant each time. Thus fighter kites are not stunt kites.
A stunt kite needs two or more control lines (flying lines).
With two flying lines, the flyer controls the kite's flight direction only. With three or four lines, in addition to controlling flight direction the flyer can also make the kite fly sideways, fly backwards, stop in midair, or spin like a propeller.
Of the three types of stunt kites -- 2-line, 3-line, 4-line -- dual-line stunt kites provide the highest speed, fastest aerobatics including spinning like a one-bladed propeller, most aircraft-like flight performance, strongest pull for their size, the best whole-body exercise, and the highest levels of visual and physical excitement. Dual-line stunt kites are also the easiest to fly, and are by far the most popular. They come in all sizes: from tiny low-power stunt kites for safe family play, to huge high-power stunt kites for extreme kite surfing thrill.
When stunt kiting in the usual way, or when using your kite to drag you downwind, the flight envelope is in front of you and rotates like a weathervane as the wind shifts.
When beach buggying, kite surfing, or ice sailing at high speed on a beam reach (on a course perpendicular to the true wind), the flight envelope is behind you.
When descending from a high kite-surfing lift, the flight envelope can be above you.
Around 1990, some in the kite industry began calling dual-line stunt kites "sport kites." But that new name has not become standard. Many others still call them "stunt kites." Sometimes, the same dual-line stunt kite is called a "sport kite" and "stunt kite" in the same paragraph. Confusing.
Single-line, dual-line, tri-line, and quad-line kites are all used for sport -- recreation or competition -- and are therefore sport kites. But only dual-line kites were initially selected for "sport kite" designation.
Not all dual-line kites, though. Only small through full-size dual-line kites were chosen to be called "sport kites." Larger dual-line kites were excluded and called "power kites."
The public, and obviously many in the kite industry also, clearly realize that all kites flown for sport are sport kites. Different kinds of kites are called "sport kites." Dual-line delta kites. Dual-line parafoil kites. Quad-line kites with frames. Quad-line kites without frames. Some single-line kites, too. But when a kite is described as a "sport kite," what kind of kite is it?
ANY kite used for sport -- recreation or competition -- is a "sport kite." ALL kites sold to consumers are "sport kites."
When different stunt kites are flown in the same wind, and are flying at the same location on the flight envelope, in general the larger the stunt kite the more powerful the pull.
Some large stunt kites are marketed as "power kites." Stacks of diamond or delta or sparred-parafoil kites are sometimes promoted as "power stacks." Want more pull? Add more kites. Typically, these "power kites" have relatively even pull across the flight envelope, and are intended to drag or lift the flyer while playing tug-of-war with the wind.
But a stunt kite does not have to be large to be a power kite. A small kite flown in strong wind can generate stronger pull than a large kite flown in light wind!
Powerful pull at the moment is what defines a kite as a power kite. The amount of pull generated at any given instant depends on the kite, the wind, and where on the flight envelope the kite happens to be flying.
Any stunt kite in the process of generating powerful pull happens to be a "power kite."
Typical "power kites," due to the way they distort out of shape like typical kites do when subjected to the forces of flight, have relatively steady and even pull as they fly from the edge to the powerzone and back to the edge. You don't experience the awesome jolts of powerzone pull that true "airgear" delivers.
That performance-robbing distortion also softens and deadens the exciting pull changes that frisky wind provides. With "airgear," wild wind is much more fun: your kite feels like a powerful animal instead of a heavy dead weight.
Due to wing-shape distortion, you miss out the awesome acceleration & speed -- both straight-flight and turning -- that "airgear" delivers.
The pull decreases when you turn, primarily because the wing loses shape when you bank it to turn it. That is, you lose power when you turn. The sharper you turn, the more you lose. What a bummer. With "airgear," the opposite happens: you feel a power boost when you turn, like when you carve a turn on surfboard, and the harder you turn the more the boost.
"Power kite" pull always stays even in both control lines -- including when you turn it. If you try to pull hard on one line to do a fast, tight, powerful turn -- hey, that's basic kite-FLYING skill and fun -- the kite won't let you do it: the wing loses shape and may collapse. That bland feel, same pull in both arms, is as exciting and exercising as always keeping the same pressure on both pedals of a bike. Actually, it's blander because the pull wimps away when you turn. Not with "airgear," however: turning hard once a second feels like hammering up a hill on your bike -- except you hammer your arms one at a time -- which also rips the large upper-body muscles involved in that fun effort.
What about the quality of "power kite" exercise? You move your arms very little because they're always being pulled straight -- the pull is so strong you can't bend your arms or swing them down and back to actively maneuver your kite. Your right arm always feels the same pull as your left arm (it's similar to what you feel in your legs when standing still wearing a heavy backpack), which is very different from all other sport-&-recreation activity. When you do move your arms to turn, the pull drops. Is that great exercise or what.
"Stacking" is connecting two or more kites, one on top of the other a few feet apart to form an aerial ladder of kites, and flying them all on the same pair of flying lines.
Power flyers stack kites to experience intense, relentless pull. But due to the physics and aerodynamics of kite-stacking, considerable speed & pull are lost in the process -- because the speed & pull of a kite when it's stacked is less, often way less, than when it's flown singly.
Stacking accentuates all the above single "power-kite" performance, handling, and exercising deficiencies.
The pull of a stack, although strong, is steady, dead-feeling, and lacking in liveliness -- similar to the speed & turning. It is the monotonous feel of playing tug-of-war with the wind. You can experience the same feel by tying a long, stretchy rope to a telephone pole, attaching your control handles to the end of the rope, and pulling hard for a long time. Or perhaps by tying it to the back of a car and then being dragged, like barefoot water skiing but on sand instead.
More about "power-kite" exercise. Especially with a stack, your arms are pulled straight so strongly you can't bend or swing them to sharply turn with basic kite-FLYING skill. Which is probably OK because your kite loses power and may collapse in response to that fun skill. Although playing tug-of-war with the wind can strain your body, the exercise is similar to what you get when weight training with far too heavy a weight: all you can do is hang onto it, unable to bend your arms to lift it. A terrible workout. For a good workout, you need exertion with movement. Whether the exercise is power-kite pull in your arm, or a work-out weight in your hand, it must be light enough so you can do many reps, including with one arm at a time. "Power kites," especially stacks, don't provide good exercise like that.
"Organized kiting," as you may have noticed, conceals all the above performance & handling and exercising deficiencies. They also conceal how their "power kites" (and "performance kites," too) lack the bridle-system components required for good handling and good exercising: CLICK HERE.
They also conceal this. The stacking system built into a parafoil kite that's been promoted as the "best stunt foil yet" is so fundamentally unsound for maneuvering flight we discarded the idea long before it became "new" and "brilliant!" How well does it perform? Try a sustained hard turn using basic skill, and the entire stack collapses and comes down, verifying what our simple engineering analysis told us years earlier! We never dreamed anyone would actually produce and sell parafoils like that! Such a stack is OK for flying straight and turning gently, though.
Flying a power kite, or a stack of them, is as much fun as driving a heavily-loaded truck with big-sedan power steering and under-inflated tires -- and it provides a low-quality workout. In comparison, flying a WindDance is like driving a supercharged Ferrari -- and it provides a great workout!
WindDances are very different from typical "power kites" -- because a WindDance is "airgear," not a typical "kite." Since a WindDance hardly deforms under the forces of flight, the pull changes dramatically as you fly from the edge to the powerzone and back to the edge, and ditto for the response to wind-strength changes. Since the WindDance Wing deforms very little when banked, and due to our very-carefully-engineered WindDance Bridle system, the pull increases when you turn. That is, a WindDance gains power when turned -- similar to the mindblowing cornering power of a Ferrari. Also, the more tightly you turn it, the more the pull transfers into one of your arms -- which exercises many large body muscles not used when "power flying." In short, a WindDance's pull is as lively as its acceleration & speed & agility, the turning power is awesome, and it works out your body like no "power kite" can!
Sometimes, when the pull spikes so high your arms yank straight, a WindDance does become like a normal "power kite." A WindDance 1 can momentarily be a "power kite" in strong winds. A WindDance 3, for a smaller flyer, can momentarily be a "power kite" in lighter winds.
So. If you want lots of pull and lots of thrill and a dynamite full-body strength & aerobic workout (see our calories burned per hour curves) -- fly one WindDance 3 in strong unsteady winds! You get strong lively pull up to 167 lb (the Rated Pull Strength) which is plenty for most flyers (actually, some fly theirs at 250 lb). As you fly from the edge to the powerzone, the pull increases about 16-fold -- and since it happens in less than a second in strong wind, that's quite a jolt! Gusts and turbulence can spike the pull: a sudden 50% increase in wind speed boosts the pull 125%! Unless you brace yourself before every hard turn, you'll get yanked off your feet -- by one arm, your pull-turning arm! You also experience the thrill of flying a very-fast tight-turning stunt kite! If you do a hard turn every second -- it just happens when you're really having fun in stiff wind -- in an hour that's 1800 reps of "pumping air" with each side of your body, 3600 reps total! Since it flogs many large body muscles in addition to your arms, you'll ache all over for days! No "power kite" is this much fun! It's possible only with true "airgear!"
To learn more about why we never intended WindDances to be stackable -- and more about stackable parafoils -- CLICK & SCROLL
To learn more about how WindDances provide power & exercise that's way more fun than what you get from the usual power/traction kites including quads, CLICK & SCROLL.
The basic types of dual-line stunt kites
Dual-line stunt kites come in four basic varieties: Diamond kites. Delta kites. Parafoil kites. Hybrids such as delta kites with parafoil cells, and parafoils with foam or spar inserts.
Diamond kites are popular because of their very-low prices. Purchased primarily by beginners, they are not particularly forgiving or easy to learn with. Diamonds generally have the lowest flight performance.
Delta kites are popular because they fly better than most diamonds, standard-technology parafoils, and hybrids. Prices and models range from inexpensive small kites for beginners to extremely-expensive specialized models for experts.
Standard-technology parafoil kites range from small "pocket kites" to huge "power kites." Generally having lackluster flying performance and high prices compared to deltas and sparred-parafoil hybrids, relatively few are sold.
WindDance-technology parafoil kites have exceptional flying performance and relatively low prices. They sell well.
Except for sparred-parafoil hybrids featuring good flying speed, relatively few hybrids are sold.
The traditional dual-line delta kite, invented in the 1940s, has a loose sail and is similar to a sailing rig with a sweptback mast. Visualize the kite flying a horizontal pass from right to left, the vessel 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 kite-line tension, no FLYING.
Like good sailors, good FLYERS were good at luff prevention: at maintaining kite-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 trailing-edge away from the spreaders and apply to tension 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 killing flying-line tension in various ways and letting the kite fly on its own -- and after making new kinds of mistakes while flying -- they saw how the kite noses up like a model glider with too much weight in the tail, and how the kite flips and tumbles through the air in different ways. Those were the first "tricks." Groundwork, tricks on the ground, quickly followed. Organized kiting's delta-kite development herded off in that direction, and seemingly hundreds of new trick-kite designs and trick-flying skills appeared. This became "trick" or "advanced" flying, and tricks became required in stunt competition.
A review in the Spring 1999 issue of Kite Lines magazine gave top billing to new trick kite designed to be "killed," not flown, and it flew poorly. Kite festivals today feature trick-flying "shootouts." Kite-club newsletters and kiting newsgroups discuss the "slow kill" and "fast kill."
Around 1990, adding two tiny fiberglass rods to the delta kite accidentally triggered a whole new way to fly.
The nature of trick flying
Trick flying is a relatively new type of dual-line stunt flying done mostly by competition-oriented delta-kite flyers. Using punch-&-jerk slacken-your-kite-line skills, you suddenly force the kite to stop flying -- and then you float, slide, twirl, flip, toss, spin, or tumble the kite in midair (radical air tricks). You land the kite -- and then you stand, rock, slide, twirl, flip, or cartwheel the kite on the ground (radical ground tricks). For doing such tricks, nothing works better than a trick delta. Top experts can force a kite to stop flying and do all those tricks in the powerzone, even in strong winds.
The growth of trick flying seemed concurrent with the rising spectatorship of competitive ice figure skating. Some stunt-kite tricks are named after figure-skating jumps.
During air tricks, especially after you suddenly stop the kite in midair as the prelude to a trick which is a trick in itself, the kite flies at low speed. During ground tricks, the kite flies at zero speed.
Because the kite is barely flying during air tricks -- and is not flying at all during ground tricks -- pull is nil during tricks.
Speed and pull and FLYING all go hand in hand. For pull to exist, the kite must have airspeed. No pull means no airspeed. No airspeed means the kite is not FLYING. During tricks, bridle lines and flying lines go slack, clear evidence of no pull, no airspeed, and no FLYING. In fact, trick flying is sometimes called "slack-line" flying.
In spite of the zero-to-low speeds during tricks, trick flying is promoted as the hot, advanced, high-performance way to fly.
Kite speeds during fun-recreational flying, as while doing high-speed tight-turning aerobatics for the pure joy of it, are typically several to tens of times faster than the hottest trick-flying kite speeds in the same wind. Pull is much higher, too. Compared to trick flying, normal recreational flying is the hotter and higher-performance way to fly.
In trick flying, advanced power-killing skills that are the opposite of basic skills are required. In recreational flying, only the basic power-producing skills are needed.
In trick flying, the main goal is to cut power to your kite. In recreational flying, the main goal is to generate and maintain power to your kite.
Trick kites are specifically designed to un-fly well and to perform well when they are not flying. Recreational kites are specifically designed to FLY well.
Good trick capability comes at a price. Dual-line delta kites optimized for superb trick performance suffer from reduced FLYING performance, the obvious consequence of the trick-performance vs. FLYING-performance tradeoff.
Look around. Overall, only a small percentage of all dual-line flyers -- novices through experts, casual through serious -- are heavily into doing tricks. The vast majority are into FLYING their kites, including flyers who wanted kites for FLYING but were pressured by kite shops into buying trick kites instead.
Competitive vs. recreational flying
Due to the way "organized kiting" evolved, competition dual-line delta kites -- and hot trick kites -- are about the slowest kites you can buy.
How low is the performance compared to other things that fly? CLICK HERE!!!
How low is the performance compared other sports? The public has mistaken expert flyers as beginners in need of help, and their advanced high-tech kites as defective -- CLICK HERE!!!
The delta kite was invented in the 1940s, the parafoil kite in the 1960s.
Dual-line stunt kite competition evolved almost exclusively around the characteristics of the delta kite. In particular, around the low aerodynamic performance. The performance is low even when the wind and pull are light. Then, as it flies from the edge to the powerzone and as the wind increases, the wing progressively distorts out of its original shape -- the spars bend more & more out of shape and the sail billows more & more deeply -- which causes the wing to progressively lose aerodynamic efficiency. This distortion-induced performance loss is necessary for stunt competition: it enables a competition delta to fly at a steady, even low-to-moderate speed over much of the flight envelope. Distortion-induced performance loss is a basis of the "kite culture's" particular style -- a slow style of precision, ballet, and pairs/team competition flying.
When we WindDance, which is recreational flying, we do "precision," "ballet," and "pairs/team" flying -- just for the pure fun of -- 2-4 times faster than competition speed! The speed & pull vary like crazy! And the turning sharpness, speed, & power can be mindblowing!
Competition dual-line delta kites are deliberately made to be slow -- in order to achieve the necessary low responsiveness to the wind and low edge-to-powerzone acceleration, which is what the rules were written for and what the judges want to see.
Precision (pattern flying) dual-line events require low to moderate kite speed which doesn't vary much as you fly all over the flight envelope or as the wind changes. During very-sharp corners, one side of the wing must be made to fly backwards as the kite rotates about its center. Some contest patterns require the kite to momentarily stop flying in midair, or to stop flying and land.
Ballet dual-line events -- during which you fly artistically to music -- require you to wind dance using the widest-possible ranges of tempo and style: from slow to fast, from choppy to flowing. Of all competition events, ballet is closest to the way people fly recreationally.
Innovative/freestyle dual-line events focus on trick flying. Similar to figure skating, the kites fly from trick to trick.
During a Pacific Northwest kite festival that featured competition, a seasoned flyer told us that a goal of his was to win a competition with skillful and artistic FLYING only -- without doing a single trick. We mentioned this to other competitors. They laughed in ridicule at the implausibility. Tricks have become required. If you don't do tricks, you're penalized. Wondrous FLYING is no longer enough.
When two people fly side-by-side in competition, it is called pairs flying, another term borrowed from competitive figure skating; for three or more flyers it is called team flying, another competitive-sports term. When people fly side-by-side recreationally, we prefer to call it side-by-side flying. This term implies uncompetitive companionship and fun, and is descriptive for any number of friends or family members flying side-by-side together.
In nearly all sports -- including bicycling, skiing, windsurfing -- the fastest and most responsive equipment is competition gear. One might think this is true for all sports.
But in most dual-line kite competition, high-speed flight, exciting edge-to-powerzone acceleration, exciting responsiveness to the wind, and tendency for a kite to keep flying during attempts to force it to stop flying are competitive disadvantages. To score well in flying contests, those high-performance FLYING qualities are kept out of most competition kites; intentionally, the kites progressively deform and lose aerodynamic efficiency as they get closer to the powerzone and as the wind rises. For stronger winds, drag-inducing accessories, as well as special kites with flow-through mesh panels, further dull speed and responsiveness to the wind. Designing in more and more of the required trick-flying capability has reduced speed and wind-responsiveness also. Such is the current nature and state of evolution of competition flying. That's why the fastest and most wind-responsive dual-line kites today are recreational kites.
In what other sports are high-performance gear, and speed, competitive disadvantages?
Can you imagine competitive windsurfers purchasing special low-performance sails for the purpose of going slower? Can you imagine competitive windsurfers not wanting their rigs go faster when the wind picks up?
With a good competition or trick kite, you are stuck with unexceptional FLYING performance which cannot be tuned upward if you want more fun and excitement in the form of thrilling responsiveness to the wind, thrilling acceleration into the powerzone, or thrilling high-speed aerobatics. With a good fun-recreational kite, all that thrilling performance is there if you want it.
Competition focuses more and more on acrobatics. Recreational flying is happy with aerobatics. There is a huge difference between the two. During acrobatics, such as tumbling the kite in the air or tumbling the kite on the ground, the kite is not flying. During high-speed tight-turning aerobatics, the kite is FLYING.
In most kite competition, what's considered "hot" is actually slow -- a kite may pivot fast in a hot precision move or may flip-and-twirl fast during a hot trick, but it travels slowly or perhaps not at all in the process. But in nearly all other types of sports competition, as well as in recreational kite flying, what's hot is fast.
In competition flying, push-on and punch-&-jerk slacken-your-kite-line skills -- cut-power-to-your-kite skills -- are needed to perform the low-to-zero-speed types of flying that score well. But in recreational flying, only natural and easy-to-learn pull-on-your-kite-line skills -- generate-&-maintain-power-to-your-kite skills -- are needed for hot speed-&-turning FLYING.
In trick & competition flying, you get less FLYING performance from more skill. In fun-recreational flying, you get more FLYING performance from less skill.
You can see all of this at any dual-line kite competition.
The sport got competitive, and FLYING performance and speed-&-turning excitement deteriorated. Perhaps this is the Fundamental Nature of Kites and FLYING telling us that kite flying is not meant to be blood-and-guts competitive!
Dual-line kiting continues to evolve. Until the competition side of dual-line kiting goes with the flow of all other sports, fun-recreational flying will continue to breed the kites that require the least amount of skill as well as the kites that FLY best.
Look at the total dual-line kite flying scene. And give it careful thought. You will see everything in the above two sections very clearly.
Dual-line kiting offers great variety. Flyers are free to choose what they like.
Flyers deserve to be accurately educated about all the choices so they can choose wisely.
Unfortunately for flyers, accurate basic education about the sport -- and all the choices -- is rare.
How improperly designed/engineered kites limit your fun
To Seattle AirGear -- and, we suspect, to the majority of all flyers -- the whole point of dual-line kite flying is to have fun! The better the kite's FLYING performance, the nicer it feels, the easier it is to fly, and the more forgiving it is to mistakes -- mistakes such as moving the control handles too far or too fast, or flying the kite into the ground at high speed -- the more fun you have! But many dual-line stunt kites limit your fun in the following ways:
Many kites -- including very expensive ones -- are designed to have low to medium FLYING performance. If your interest is kite FLYING excitement, such kites are not much fun once you're past the beginner stage.
Many kites deform way out of shape as they fly straight: spars bend, delta sails and parafoil wings distort, wingspans shorten, and more. That distortion causes a kite's aerodynamic efficiency, its potential for speed, to deteriorate.
What does that mean to the flyer? Loss of speed. And loss of two important types of responsiveness: Loss of edge-to-powerzone acceleration. And loss of responsiveness to the wind.
When flying a kite that readily distorts, the closer to the powerzone you fly and the stronger the wind, the greater the performance loss and the more "dead" the kite feels. This loss of performance means loss of fun.
Many kites deform way out of shape as they turn: wings bend or kink in the middle, spar and sail shapes become very different on one side of the kite than the other, wings develop a lot more bend on one side than the other, and so on. Such distortion causes loss of turning performance, and additional loss of fun.
Do not confuse this with subtle wing-shape changes that are engineered into WindDance parafoils and into other kites to enhance turning performance.
For kites that deform substantially, as the shape of the wing changes while flying straight (this occurs as the wind changes or as the kite flies toward or away from the powerzone) the bridle setting needed for best performance changes.
Since increases and decreases in wind strength alter the shape of the kite, you need to change the bridle setting for each different wind condition if you want to maintain best flying performance. An inconvenience.
While flying in unsteady wind, it is often impossible to change the bridle setting every time the wind changes -- especially when the wind is changing a lot every few seconds or faster -- which means the bridle setting is not correct for best performance most of the time. This is why kites that deform substantially also have poor performance in unsteady winds.
Since the shape of the kite changes as it flies toward or away from the powerzone, if you want to maintain best flying performance you need to change the bridle setting for each different distance the kite is from the powerzone (for each different <PFK). That is impossible. But you can adjust the bridle to the best setting for flying at the edge, or to the best setting for flying in the powerzone, or to something in between, and then live with the performance losses while flying away from the best-performance area you've chosen -- this is how flyers normally tune their kites, perhaps without thinking about it in these terms. (But if the wind speed changes while you fly, either the best-performance area will move to a different location on the flight envelope or the bridle will have to be readjusted.) This is why kites that deform substantially also can lose considerable performance merely by flying to a different location on the flight envelope.
Kites that require spars generally have narrow wind ranges. Large, lightweight framed kites are good only in light winds: in medium and stronger winds, the distortion and performance deterioration become severe. Many medium-size all-around framed kites can also distort and lose considerable performance when the wind picks up. Small, heavily-sparred kites that perform absolutely wonderfully in strong winds may be too heavy for light winds. With framed kites, if you wish to have the best flight performance at all times, generally you need to switch to a different kite whenever the wind changes. That's why many serious delta-kite flyers have many kites, one for each narrow wind range. Some flyers set up delta kites of different sizes, separate handles and lines for each, and switch between them as the wind changes. An inconvenient and expensive way to deal with unsteady winds. And an impossible way when the wind is changing a lot every few seconds. (The best way to deal with widely-varying unsteady winds is to be flying a kite that does not distort much, a kite that does not require a bridle-setting change every time the wind changes, a kite that maintains high aerodynamic efficiency over a wide wind range.)
For kites that deform substantially, the changing distortion levels can cause the kite's stability and handling characteristics to change as the wind changes, and as you fly from the edge to the powerzone. Such inconsistency and unpredictability is no fun, especially for beginners. According to their ads, some dual-line kites are designed to have unpredictable characteristics!
Many kites understeer, oversteer, and sideslip rather than steer-and-track positively and accurately. With such kites, it can take considerable practice to develop the reflexive expert-level anticipatory and compensatory techniques needed to fly them well. And it takes practice to maintain those advanced skills. Although fun for experts, it isn't so for novice or casual flyers.
"Increasing-resistance" steering and turning is what you normally experience with vehicles and sporting gear. This handling quality is engineered into just about everything that moves because it feels so good and enables the best-possible control. But with many dual-line kites, pull falls off when you steer and turn. Such kites are said to have "decreasing-resistance" steering and turning. That unnatural feel and lack of positive feedback prevents beginners from learning quickly. And the vague and bland feel probably isn't all that enjoyable for seasoned flyers, either.
Many kites have little tolerance for flying technique that's less than perfect, including models intended for beginners. Pull too hard or too far on one flying line and the kite falls out of the sky. Frustrating, especially when you're trying to learn.
Ideally, a kite should have inherently-high flying performance which can be quickly tuned downward to achieve less speed and less pull as the need arises. Should you desire the thrill of high-speed quick-turning aerobatic or power flying, the kite can do it if you can. Should you desire subdued performance -- for a first-time flyer, for slow and graceful leisurely flying, or to be able to fly in really strong winds -- merely tune the performance downward as far as necessary. Such a kite is exciting and challenging for experts, yet easy for beginners to learn on and grow into. But with many kites, you are stuck with unexceptional FLYING performance which simply cannot be tuned upward if you want more excitement.
A lively, responsive, exciting feel is a highly-desirable and sought-after quality in virtually all types of sports equipment. But many dual-line stunt kites are lacking in this important quality.
Kites with spars lack durability. Spars break during crashes and collisions. They also break in strong winds, when encountering sharp gusts, and during forceful control movements. Spar replacement, especially when the spar has splintered into carbon-fiber needles some of which poke through the fabric enclosing the spar, can be a pain.
Kites with spars are lacking in product safety. In the Seattle area, people have been hit by flying delta kites and injuries have occurred. This is serious talk, but it needs to be said.
Kites with spars don't travel well. Can you stuff three deltas, say a small/medium/large set, into a tiny pack?
Dual-line flying has been largely solo recreation. When two people go flying -- couples, friends, family members -- usually one flies while the other watches, or they take turns flying the same kite, or they stand over 200 feet apart each flying their own kite. Standing side-by-side and flying together in the same airspace can be extreme fun, much more fun than flying solo or separately. Except for expert flyers, you seldom see people flying that way. How come? Colliding delta kites, as well as colliding sparred parafoils, tend to snag and damage each other. Even a minor midair touch can be disastrous. You have to have perfect control, or else.
"If you want the best flying performance, you need a delta."
"Parafoils simply cannot fly nearly as well as deltas."
"No way can a recreational kite out-fly a hot competition kite."
Those stereotypes are terribly inaccurate about WindDances.
A new choice
Flyers now have another choice. A new family of kites without any of the above fun-limiting deficiencies, kites with much better than average performance and handling qualities, kites with tremendous versatility, kites that open up whole new worlds of solo and side-by-side dual-line flying fun: WindDance parafoils.
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 Nov-2-2002