There are times you really need an indoor kite! You know the story... 'Was hoping to fly today, but just look at that wind - none of my kites will survive in that!' Or perhaps 'Gee, I can't even see a leaf moving out there - even my best kite won't stay up in that.'
These days, help is at hand in the form of extremely light-weight kites that are specifically designed for flying indoors. Zero wind kites! From scattered and small beginnings, indoor flying has grown into something of a movement, with entire festivals now being dedicated to the activity. It might never compare in size to more conventional kiting, but flying indoors is definitely here to stay.
In my opinion, you are not restricted to buying special kites made from space-age materials such as polyester sail cloth and tapered graphite spars.
Instead, even the most humble of kite-making materials can be used, as long as the weights are chosen to allow very low-speed flying. Like the very lightly built dowel-and-plastic Delta over there in the photo.
In a large enough venue, most of my Dowel kites (over there on the right) would provide some reasonable zero-wind flying. Particularly if you went down a size with the dowel widths. The 2-Skewer kites would be more practical in smaller venues. Be sure to buy bamboo skewers that are only 2.5mm in diameter. Many packs have 3mm skewers, and these would make indoor flying harder, due to the considerable extra weight.
Bridling is particularly important for a home-built indoor kite. That's because a multi-leg arrangement allows you to get away with using much lighter spars than would otherwise be possible. But of course, it just boils down to personal choice. Are you a builder or a buyer? Both types come through this website ;-)
Broadly speaking, just 3 types of kites are flown indoors. Those that fly on 1, 2 or 4 lines. Miniatures, designs that have less sail area than the palm of your hand, are generally flown indoors for obvious reasons. So I guess these technically belong to the 'single-line indoor' category too. OK, so do those somewhat even more rare miniature 2-line stunt kites!Check out Indoor Kite Flying on Amazon, for some great in-depth info on this topic. That's a Kindle version, but you can also buy the paper-back version.
How can it be summed up? From what I've seen, which includes a number of You-Tube videos :-) it's a relatively short-line form of flying that demands a certain level of finesse. Fine judgment of line tension(s) and the kite's reaction to that at any given moment, is required.
The best fliers make it look easy, but of course it isn't. It's cool to some, corny to others, but I suspect that it's reasonably cool for most kite-fliers.
Fliers create their own 'relative wind' by slowly walking backwards, walking in large circles and occasionally pulling on the line(s). With practice, an indoor kite can be flown through all angles around the flier, including directly overhead. Even the single-liners!
So sensitive are these kites to small air movements, that they can actually be affected by someone else walking around nearby.
The overall effect is graceful and artistic. If the pilot is any good, that is!
Here are some notes specific to the number of lines....
Single line kites are generally fairly easy and fool-proof to fly. However, putting on a decent display in an indoor setting is another matter! Getting a little routine together would take some practice. That's obvious just by watching.
Not bad for a single-liner hey?
2-line indoor kites can fly all the usual figures of their out-door relatives. Provided the pilot keeps walking backwards to give the kite some air pressure. However, tricks as such are more difficult, or impossible, since true trick kites rely on the kite having some inertia. Being almost weightless, an indoor kite just doesn't have enough mass!
So, a 2-liner can fly all around in a big circle while the pilot walks backwards in a much smaller circle. The kite can be powered overhead, like the single-line version. On top of this, the kite has full left / right controllability just like any dual line stunter, as long as the pilot walks backwards.
All this adds up to a great display, when executed by a good indoor flier! Of course, flying 2-liners such as the Prism 4D indoors takes a little more skill to master than doing the same with single line kites.
4-line kites represent the ultimate in maneuverability! I like to call them the 'helicopters of the kiting world'. These kites, just like their outdoor cousins, can fly forwards or backwards, loop left or right and even spin left or right on the axis of the flying line in a controlled way. Not surprisingly, these agile craft are the most difficult of all to master.
The creative possibilities of flying an indoor 4-liner, such as the Revolution Indoor, are almost limitless. By the way, that particular indoor kite weighs only 128 g (4.5 oz). A young expert pilot once impressed the judges of the America's Got Talent show on T.V. with such a display, set to music. No, he didn't win the whole competition, but it sure introduced a lot of people to zero-wind kite flying in the U.S.!
There's just one more small point that could be added... Some kites are designed for outdoor use in very light wind. For example, to take advantage of warm rising air like birds do, even if there is no discernable wind at ground level. An example is the ultra-light weight zero wind kites from Horvath in Zurich, Switzerland.
My own original MBK Dowel Delta could also qualify, since I distinctly remember trotting around in a large circle one calm day, trying to fly it up a bit higher! This Delta has since been redesigned, since it proved a little too light and flimsy for outdoor use.
The point is, both the above kites would be fun to fly indoors, assuming the venue had a reasonably tall ceiling. Anyone can do a few climbs and glides with a light-weight kite!Check out Indoor Kite Flying on Amazon, for some great in-depth info by an expert on indoor flying. That's a Kindle version, but you can also buy the paper-back version.
Hope you enjoyed this short introduction to indoor kite flying. The photo down below shows a couple of huge single-line kites made for indoor flying...