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.
Why we had to start selling direct
In early 1997, our first WindDance dealer (who has been in the kite trade for many years) 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.
As we began selling WindDances to retailers, and whenever we WindDanced at kite festivals, we encountered prejudice against parafoil kites. "Parafoils are for PULLING. Deltas are for PERFORMANCE. Parafoils are inferior to deltas. Parafoils can't possibly fly better than deltas."
How strong is the prejudice? 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 one-and-a-half years and 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 they finally saw in our video how superbly WindDances FLY, including better than hot deltas, most kite retailers responded by immediately boycotting us! Our friend's advice was correct.
Can you imagine sports-equipment or computer-industry retailers rejecting products because they're too fast, too easy, too crashproof, too much fun?
Our first year
Our goal from the very beginning was to sell only to retailers, to have only retailers sell WindDances to flyers.
In April 1997, our first WindDance shipment arrived. During our first year we sold WindDances only to retailers, and we referred all inquiries from flyers to their nearest retailers.
We bent over backwards to serve retailers. And we continue to do so. Low wholesale prices. Friendly terms. Low shipping costs that enable profit margins higher than the industry average (retailers near and far from Seattle all pay the same within-Seattle UPS rate). Fast delivery (typically just a few days within the USA for a phoned-in WindDance order, even from Seattle to Miami). Outstanding guarantee and product support.
Later in 1997 we began receiving reports from flyers who encountered kite retailers that did not have WindDances in stock, and refused to order any, and tried to talk the flyers into buying something else. We also got feedback about retailers who said unkind and untrue things about WindDances, about kite shops who said they never heard of WindDances or Seattle AirGear in spite of having received our many retailer mailings including WindDance fabric samples in six colors.
We encountered kite retailers who would not even mention the key WindDance selling points to their customers: superior sport-kite FLYING performance and exercise qualities, easily brought to life by the sport's simplest skills. They would not tell customers how WindDance parafoils FLY better than deltas in several exciting ways, and how they provide better exercise than deltas, too. They would not tell customers how WindDances provide more speed-&-turning thrill, far livelier and more-exciting pull, and higher-quality exercise than power kites. They would not tell customers how speed & turning performance is easily maximized to spectacular high levels through the simple process of precision-tuning with two bridle adjusters. They would not tell customers how WindDance performance tuning is far simpler than with other kites: one peak-performance bridle setting gives top performance for all wind speeds. They would not tell customers how versatile WindDances are, how each model is a good light-wind kite and a good strong-wind kite. They would not tell customers how all this fun happens merely by using the sport's easiest skills.
Those retailers preferred to present WindDances as something they are not, as typical parafoils (compact kites or power kites), rather than as the special high-performance sport-kite fun & exercise machines they really are. They also chose to present delta sport kites as something they are not, as having better FLYING performance than WindDances. Few kite retailers would promote WindDances -- and other kites -- accurately. Rather than selling the new reality, they preferred to sell the old stereotypes: If you want pull, you need a parafoil. But if you want performance, you need delta.
Those retailers told their customers that WindDances do not perform as advertised.
After a year of that, in addition to selling to retailers who do like WindDances and the way we support them, we had to begin selling directly to flyers who can't get WindDances from their local or favorite kite retailers.
We discovered the "kite culture"
In 1997-1998 -- while figuring out why so many experienced delta-sport-kite flyers and kite retailers were shunning our state-of-the-art products even after seeing WindDances fly better than everything else in the air, and while figuring out why flying handles that cause discomfort & pain and prevent good feel & control are preferred by flyers -- we learned how the sport is structured.
We discovered how the sport & trade are an insular, commingled, inbred kite culture with little social or economic connection to the general public or to mainstream sport & recreation. Examples: In other sports, competition gear and competition skills generate the sport's highest levels of performance. In sport kiting, competition gear and competition skills generate the sport's lowest levels of performance (the gear, skills, and performance all hyped by the kite culture as 'hot'). In other sports, advanced/expert skills are refinements and extensions of basic and natural apply-power skills. In sport kiting, advanced/expert skills are unnatural cut-power skills that do the opposite of the natural basic skills that apply speed & turning power to a sport kite -- advanced/expert sport-kite skills work like this: take your foot off the gas to make a hot car go fast. Among the sport-kiting elite and wannabees, the preferred kites have relatively low FLYING performance, the preferred skills generate low-to-zero FLYING performance, and the preferred control handle is a type that causes discomfort & pain and prevents good feel & control. As other sports evolve toward high performance from easy natural skills which attracts the public, sport kiting evolves toward low performance from difficult unnatural skills which turns away the public. Judges are competitors are designers are manufacturers are wholesalers are experts are celebrities are kite-club & kite-association members/officers are kite-festival organizers & volunteers are kite-shop owners/employees are kite-magazine owners/employees/writers and so on -- all working together to propagate the kite culture including the above cultural traits.
An example of the commingling: Until last year, one USA kite magazine was owned and operated by a company that manufactures/wholesales kites & accessories. A conflict of interest. We discussed it with some flyers and retailers. They didn't care.
In the Fall-98 issue of "TRADEWINDS", the journal of the Kite Trade Association International (KTAI), we were stunned to learn this: "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." (Bold and italics ours.) On our own we had learned that the kite culture sells primarily to itself. But we hadn't known it was supported by trade-association policy.
The Kite Festival, usually with competition events, is the pinnacle of kiting's marketing pyramid. The Kite Festival is controlled by the kite culture. The entire kite culture -- including kite clubs & associations, kite magazines, and kite shops -- steers its members, new flyers, and the public toward the types dual-line kites and flying featured at kite festivals: 1) trick & competition delta-kite flying, and 2) power flying. No other types of dual-line kiting are featured at kite festivals.
But the public doesn't particularly care for trick/competition-style flying due to its low performance and high difficulty -- the public prefers to fly for fun rather than to please judges, and the higher the performance and the easier it is the better. High-intensity power flying, getting dragged and lifted as you play tug-of-war with the wind, scares most people. A type of dual-line kiting the public would really like -- easy, fun-recreational, high-performance sport-kite FLYING that also provides higher-quality exercise than trick/competition and power flying-- is never featured at kite festivals.
At festivals here in the Pacific Northwest during the past two years, we have WindDanced many hours as normal recreational kite flyers, not as featured flyers. As we WindDanced side-by-side, our two WindDances zipped around like crazy close together in the same airspace! What fun! It attracted people! We taught many others to fly! Newbies, even children, caught on fast! Why? Because only natural basic skills are required, and because WindDances are so forgiving to the typical beginner mistakes of pulling too far and too hard on one line and accidentally flying it into the ground. In smooth winds above 5 mph the speed & turning performance of our WindDances, especially the stunning aerobatic agility, was vastly more spectacular than what you saw in any of the featured kite-culture flying including championship competition flying -- even when newbies were flying our WindDances!
Sometimes we flew our two WindDances too closely together and had midair collisions! Some were hilarious! 90% of the time we either quickly recovered in midair or self-relaunched within a few seconds after they came down! Many of our recoveries looked totally impossible beforehand -- even to us!
Beside appreciating WindDances as airborne fun machines, people at the festivals experienced WindDances as airborne exercise machines! With delta kites, the pull drops when you punch-turn. Poor exercise. Typical power flying feels like playing tug-of-war, your arms pulled straight like when hanging onto a weight that's too heavy to lift. Poor exercise. The WindDancing Workout feels more like cross-country skiing -- you accelerate and turn by using natural swing-your-arm pulling skill (it feels similar to the poling action), the pull RISES when you turn, and you can move around a lot, too, as you maneuver and regulate speed and pull! You pump air! It can make your body burn and provide an aerobic workout! The fun makes you do it!
Our flying attracted non-kite-culture flyers, as well as members of the general public. It was the people outside of organized kiting who understood and appreciated WindDancing: easy, fun-recreational, high-performance, sport-kite FLYING with high-quality exercise as an accidental side benefit!
At these Pacific Northwest kite festivals, you would think that serious sport-kiting enthusiasts would be attracted to hot FLYING performance, high-speed aerobatic side-by-side flying, and superior dual-line kiting exercise, all from simple & easy skills. But the kite culture shunned WindDancing.
Our second year
In July 1998, we mass-mailed our dealer package for about the fourth time to all kite retailers in the USA and Canada. This time it contained our new WindDance video.
The video shows WindDances FLYING as advertised -- including better than delta sport kites -- and it explains how easy they are to fly. WindDance owners, friends, and a few kite retailers raved about the video!
We expected a boost in sales. Instead, in peak season, our WindDance orders from retailers immediately plummeted.
Why did kite retailers react to our video that way? Read on!
During our first several months of marketing WindDances, we encountered strong prejudice within the kite culture: "Dual-line delta kites have the highest performance, dual-line parafoils have much lesser performance." And, "Deltas are for hot performance. Parafoils are for pulling. If you want performance, you need a delta. It will always be that way. Period." We saw magazine-ad images of tiny parafoils pulling strongly in mild winds, an impossibility but obviously believable to the kite culture. We saw how the kite culture has placed deltas on the highest pedestal, merit doesn't matter, and prefers to keep them there.
The prejudice is very strong. A delta-flying team, that clearly saw WindDances substantially outFLYING everything else on Seattle's Kite Hill including high-tech deltas, told bystanders that parafoils are slow and sloppy-handling!
We even found this prejudice in our WindDance dealers. Although some have told us how WindDances outFLY all other parafoils and all sparred-parafoils, hardly any will admit to or tell their customers how WindDances FLY better than deltas also. Nearly all of our dealers make their customers believe, "WindDances do not fly as advertised."
How extreme is the prejudice? Even after seeing in our magazine ads, retailer mailings, user's manual, TECH and PHOTO fliers, web site, and video about how WindDances are not power kites but are sport kites for high-performance FLYING -- and even after FLYING WindDances -- a retailer, unable to sense the wondrous FLYING qualities, perceived WindDances only as power kites. And stopped carrying them because they did not pull like big power kites.
Care to witness the prejudice in action? Visit or phone your nearest or favorite kite retailer and ask them a simple question: "How, and why, do WindDances FLY better than delta sport kites in the three fundamental ways?" All kite retailers do have the correct answer. It's in the literature and video we sent them.
If any kite shop does answer correctly and with sincerity, please let us know! We may send them a prize!
We summarized the prejudice, and comparative WindDance performance, like this:The old stereotypes
- "If you want the best flying performance, you need a delta."
- "Parafoils cannot fly as well as deltas."
- "No way can a recreational kite outfly a hot competition kite."
The new reality
- WindDance parafoils, besides outperforming other parafoils both sparred & sparless, outFLY deltas in several exciting ways!
- Deltas excel at tricks -- which are un-flying & non-flying stunts. WindDances excel at FLYING!
- Purely-recreational WindDances have far superior acceleration & speed, and turn faster & more-powerfully, than competition kites!
The above message is in our kite-magazine ads. It's in our PHOTO flier that retailers hand out to customers. And it's in the user's manual. Kite retailers must have read the message many times. But words don't seem to generate vivid images or clear understanding in readers' minds anymore.
The video finally made kite retailers see that our magazine ads and PHOTO flier are actually true -- and most of them immediately reacted by boycotting WindDances!
Those kite retailers reacted to our video the same way that kite-culture members reacted to our WindDancing at kite festivals here in the Pacific Northwest!
In early 1997, our first WindDance dealer (who has been in the kite trade for many years) 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. A year and a half later, we learned why he gave us that advice.
Most kite retailers, religiously propagating the old stereotypes to keep the kite culture happy, are boycotting WindDances because they FLY too well.
A WindDance owner in California reported this: WindDances, his and those flown by others, attract far more interest than framed kites do. The nearby kite shop clearly sees it -- but won't sell WindDances.
A minority of kite retailers, however, comfortable with the new reality and happy with the profits from serving everybody -- kite-culture flyers, non-kite-culture flyers, and the public -- keep their WindDance video running and sell all kinds of kites including WindDances.
We fully expected our superior products and outstanding long-term product support to be embraced by kite retailers also. That has yet to become true.
In the Fall-98 issue of "TRADEWINDS", we were delighted to learn this: "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 commend the KTAI President for sticking his neck out for the good of the sport & trade.
Currently, though, the kite industry is commingled with the insular kite culture and is barely cognizant of the public. Instead of functioning as an open-minded industry eager for growth and prosperity, it is behaving more like an inward-looking cult with self-destructive rigid beliefs that have no basis in reality as it sells only what the kite culture wants and rejects what the public wants.
For example, kite retailers reacted to new state-of-the-art -- a new kind of parafoil that flies circles around deltas -- like how the Vatican reacted to Galileo's discovery of how the Earth circles the Sun: both went ballistic with denial and punishment. It took the Church three centuries to get over it. Will it take the kite culture that long?
Can you imagine sports-equipment or computer-industry retailers rejecting products because they're too fast, too easy, too crashproof, too much fun?
At festivals we have accidentally angered retailers and competitors, who were experts in advanced slacken-your-kite-line skills but lacking in basic FLYING skills, by politely instructing them to use basic pull-on-your-kite-line skills to make WindDances FLY with hot speed & turning!
What did their reactions say? In addition to becoming tolerant of new sport-kite technology the public would like, the kite culture must also become tolerant of its own basic pull-on-your-kite-line skills! And it must become tolerant of its own tradition of sport-kite FLYING!
To help make the sport grow and the trade more prosperous, we suggest a few initial steps:
ALL MEMBERS OF THE KITE CULTURE: When you inform new flyers and the public about the different types of dual-line flying, gear, and skills, do not mislead anymore with the usual stereotypes: "Deltas have higher performance than parafoils." "Elite-class trick/competition kites have higher performance than fun-recreational kites." "Power flying provides good exercise." "Advanced skills generate hotter performance than basic skills." "Wrist-strap handles are the best." Stop keeping people from being as safe as they could be. Stop preventing people from having utmost fun. Present kiting information truthfully, fully, accurately. As a start, teach a few basic realities: How "beginner" skills provide far higher speed & turning performance than "advanced" skills do. How trick-&-competition delta sport kites have relatively low FLYING performance, and how fun-recreational sport kites specifically engineered for FLYING, such as WindDances, have much higher FLYING performance. How well-engineered parafoils intrinsically have superior FLYING performance than well-engineered deltas fully equipped with the latest and most-expensive fabrics, spars, and fittings. How trick-&-competition-style sport-kiting and power-flying provide low-quality exercise, and how WindDancing provides high-quality exercise. How the ergonomic T-handles are better for your FLYING and hands than wrist-strap handles. For those who want a sport kite that FLIES superbly, explain the three fundamental performance-&-handling qualities to look for. Good sport-kite FLYING fun begins with good knowledge!
RETAILERS: Kick your parafoil-prejudice habit. And think in terms of also selling to sport-kiting's largest untapped market of all, the public. The general public does not particularly care for trick/competition delta-kite flying, or for scary power flying either. Promote WindDancing and sell WindDances because they have what the public wants, including our outstanding quality and long-term product support. Sure, WindDance parafoils and good FLYING handles upset many kite-culture members, but so what. Console them by explaining 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 FESTIVAL ORGANIZERS: At festivals, in addition to featuring the usual trick/competition and power flying, also feature the new form of sport-kiting that's more appealing to the public: WindDancing! Easier, fun-recreation oriented rather than competition or macho-thrill oriented, more performance and excitement, wonderful for flying side-by-side with friends without fear of wrecking kites during midair collisions, easy and forgiving for beginners, exciting and challenging for experts, great for all winds from light to strong, more exercise than trick/competition flying and higher-quality exercise than power flying, and suitable for families. Feature delta and parafoil sport kites of all performance levels. In addition to showcasing advanced skills, also showcase the simple pull-on-your-kite-line "beginner" skills that generate the sport's highest-possible levels of sport-kite speed & turning performance. Arrange for and encourage the public to get away from the noisy roped-off areas and to go to the designated festival areas to learn how to FLY sport kites of their liking. For the featured flying, back way off on the usual kite-culture flying -- trick & competition delta sport-kiting that's low-performance and difficult. Add the new form of sport-kiting that's far more appealing to the public -- WindDancing: easy, fun-recreational, high-performance, sport-kite FLYING that also provides superior exercise! Switch emphasis from passive spectatorship to active participation to get newbies by the hundreds to experience the pure joy of sport-kite FLYING! Instead of turning-off and turning-away non-kite-culture flyers and the public as usual, lure them into the improved version of traditional sport-kite FLYING -- WindDancing!
It boils down to this. For kiting to grow and the trade to become more prosperous as the KTAI President hopes, the kite culture must improve its respect for the sport and its respect for the public.
Until many more kite retailers serve sport-kite FLYERS and the public well by enthusiastically promoting WindDancing and selling WindDances -- and by enthusiastically selling the safe, ergonomic, high-performance T-handles we've been recommending since 1989 -- we will serve those flyers 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 Nov-12-1998