Dual Line Parafoil Kites

Fast And Furious!

Dual line parafoil kites come in a range of sizes and most are built for pure stunt flying fun. Others are built for speed, the record being over 150kph! A soft dual line stunt kite pulls harder on the lines than an equivalent sized Delta, and requires more line movement to maneuver.

A 'soft' dual line stunt kite being flown on a beach.Beaches are great for stunt flying

If you've ever been up close to a parafoil, it's easy to see how it's made. An upper surface, a lower surface, and a whole lot of dividers in between. Typically, there are between 10 and 20 such dividers.

Thus the kite is made up of many cells, each one open at the front edge of the kite. During flight, air rushes in and pumps up the kite to form an efficient, hard-pulling wing.

Some of the cheapest kites use plastic, but any decent dual line parafoil is constructed of rip-stop nylon or polyester. The stuff sailing spinnakers are made from! Very strong for its weight, and tear-resistant.

'Rip-stop.' A small rip will stop before going very far!

Available on Amazon, this Prism Snapshot Foil Kite is a typical high-quality steerable parafoil.

The Bridles

The exact designs vary somewhat from kite to kite, but in general... The left upper under-side of the kite is attached to a number of quite short bridle lines. These lines all come together to a thicker single line, which in turn connects to the left flying line.

There is an identical mirror-image arrangement of bridle lines on the right hand side of the kite. Thus, the 2 flying lines restrain the kite. Pulling the left line causes the kite to loop left. Similarly, pulling the right line causes the kite to loop right. The more you pull, the tighter the turn, up to the limit of the kite's performance.

Lines And Handles

Anything that's strong enough will work, but the most popular line materials are Dacron (a brand of polyester) and Dyneema (a special type of polyethylene). Nylon is usable too, but it feels like you are flying with rubber bands! Dacron is better, and is popular for single-line kites too, where stretch doesn't matter at all.

Dyneema, which happens to be very low-stretch, is the ultimate line material for multi-line kites. It is extremely strong for its weight too. Hence, a set of Dyneema lines can be quite thin and still do the job. Thin lines have less air resistance and let the kite move faster through the air. Do you have the need for speed?

One little known fact... Apparently, Dyneema has a relatively low melting point. This means friction from lines of other materials can easily slice it through despite its high tensile strength at lower temperatures. Gulp. Don't tangle with other kites...

Moving on to handles. The pricier kites often come with a bar, as opposed to 2 separate handles. This arrangement offers more comfortable and precise flying, particularly with the larger kites. If the bar is anchored by your body, that takes a lot of stress off your arms while you fly. Wind surfers do this all the time.

Dual Line Pilots

Yes, if you fly a dual line parafoil kite, you are entitled to call yourself a pilot! Well, a kite-pilot to be more precise.

Age. Adults are stronger than young teens, who in turn are stronger than even younger children. A person's strength and weight determines how much kite pull they can safely handle. Although other design factors can influence how hard a kite pulls in any given wind speed, the main one is simply size. More sail area equals a stronger pull on those flying lines. Hence, it pays to take notice of the age ratings on dual line power kites. Also, be careful about taking any big kite out in strong wind conditions!

Skill/experience. Amongst a group of pilots the same age, those with superior kite-handling skills will be able to safely fly somewhat bigger kites. They know how to position the kite to reduce the pull when necessary. Not to mention when to give up and let go, or use the de-power feature! But then, their superior knowledge would probably lead them to not even attempt to fly in such conditions...

Have fun! Picture yourself on the sand, in a stiff smooth breeze... (This kite looks like it has a couple of brake lines as well, but it's essentially being flown as a dual line kite)

An excellent example of a dual line kite is the Prism Snapshot Foil Kite which is available from Amazon. Get down to the beach with one of these, in a fresh sea breeze, for a real work-out!

E-book special of the month (25% off)...

Click to get 'Making The MBK Parachute Kite'

This printable e-book takes you step-by-step through making a 119 cm (4 ft) wide Parachute kite. It's not quite that wide in the air since the canopy takes on a distinct curved shape when inflated. This 14-cell kite performs best in moderate to fresh wind speeds. That's 20 to 38 kph or 13 to 24 mph. In gentle winds, this kite will hang in the air at fairly low line angles. In fresh winds, it pulls firmly for it's size, so small kids should only fly it while supervised!

Every kite design in the MBK Soft Series satisfies the following points...

  • Materials are plastic sheet, tape and line – and nothing more!
  • Tools are a ruler, scissors and a marker pen - and nothing more!
  • All cuts are along straight lines.

For the greatest chance of success, I make recommendations regarding the materials. For example, the type/weight of plastic, type/width of tape and line type/strength. Close enough should nearly always be good enough, since the design is well-tested and should be tolerant of small differences from my original.

Get the e-book for making the MBK Parachute kite. After making your first one in plastic and seeing how it performs, you can try soft Tyvek or rip-stop nylon for your next build.

The e-book is a PDF file - which means printable instructions to refer to while you make the kite. It also means convenient off-line access if that suits you better.

What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Some Kites Just Need The Beach

    Aug 21, 17 03:11 AM

    The local kite club bought a load of second hand gear - including kites - from interstate some months ago... With the power supposedly being cut sometime between 8am and 3pm today, it was an opportuni…

    Read More


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Kite-making e-book: Simplest Dowel Kites

This one's FREE
Download it now!

More E-books...

Wind Speeds

Light air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2    

Gentle breeze
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3    

Moderate breeze
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4    

Fresh breeze
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5    

Strong breeze
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7