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.

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)

A steerable parafoil that has a couple of brake lines as well.

Photo courtesy of Sookie.

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!

You might have noticed that this site has a monthly newsletter...

For single-line kite fliers and builders, it's always been a good read. But if you are interested in KAP and/or large home-made kites you won't want to miss it!

So sign up today, and download the free 95-page e-book "What Kite Is That?" straight away. Info-packed and fully photo-illustrated.

And there are even more free resources, such as a kite-making e-course, waiting for you in the next issue of this newsletter.

What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Carbon Diamond High Wind Experiment

    Sep 23, 14 01:22 AM

    This day's flying had been anticipated for at least a couple of weeks. A 'drag bucket' added to the tail end of the 2m (7ft) span Carbon and Tyvek Diamond was an attempt to raise the upper limit on the flyable wind speed for the kite. From earlier experiences it seems the unmodified Diamond becomes unstable at around 30 kph.

    The first flight was done with the drag bucket adjusted for fairly minimal effect. As half expected, the kite soon started to fly way over to the left and right. So, the wind speed up there must be at least 30kph! This was down at Brighton Beach, but all thoughts of doing KAP soon evaporated, due to the high wind speed. Not to mention the turbulence coming from some high buildings directly upwind.

    For a second attempt, the Velcro fastener was re-adjusted to considerably open up the intake of the bucket. The bucket being two Tyvek flaps which come together over the tail-most region of the sail. This had an immediate effect. More stability! Unfortunately, the extra drag also helped keep the kite at a lowish line angle in some of the fiercer gusts. Lots of line tension ensued, with a huge amount of distortion apparent in the sail.

    At this rate, something was going to break pretty soon, so I struggled to get the kite down to the sand. After shifting the towing point forward by about 3cm (1") the kite seemed a little more comfortable. When the sail of a Diamond distorts badly, it reduces the amount of effective area below the towing point. This is like shifting the towing point back - adding to the problems of too much wind!

    And then the inevitable happened. The already broken-and-repaired horizontal ferrule gave way and the kite promptly folded up and sank to the sand. But not before I had carefully observed every second of the kite's struggles, trying to learn more about Diamond kite behavior in high winds.

    Just an hour after arriving home, the weather station at the nearby airport was reporting gusts to 50kph! It was less further down the coast, but I suspect the Carbon Diamond felt the brunt of around 40kph for at least a few seconds at a time.

    "Simplest Dowel Kites": A free but very useful kite-making e-book. Make a super-simple Sled, Diamond and Delta - step-by-step with photos. Sign up for the e-book and get an emailed series of messages called "MBK Tips'n'Ideas". If you don't need the e-book, consider signing up anyway... You won't believe the value on offer in that message series!

    Read More

New! Comments

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