Become An Aerobatic Pilot...
Without ever leaving the ground! To keep things simple, I'm going to just talk about doing kite stunts with 2 line kites. That's a good place to start anyway, before moving up to those fancy quad-line kites.
Apart from the kite manufacturers, very few people would build anything for doing kite stunts these days. The shop bought ones are so good, and some of them aren't too expensive either.
With a delta stunt kite you can really feel like an aerobatic
pilot! Particularly when you get good at flying kite stunts accurately,
coming really close to the ground from time to time without crashing...
Just to add a bit extra to the spectacle, many shop-bought kites these days are designed to be easily 'stacked'.
This lets you fly more than one kite at a time, on one set of lines. I
have memories of an expert flier doing kite tricks with 3 tiny black
deltas, stacked together and zipping around very fast in a stiff breeze. That was at the Adelaide International Kite Festival, back in March 2007.
A very popular 2-line stunter is this Prism Nexus Stunt kite
on Amazon. Plenty of great reviews there.
Basic Flying Tips
If you browse around the Web or even the local kite shop, sets of instructions aren't hard to find. In fact, many kites come packaged with brief instructions or even a CD ROM to play on your computer. I'll highlight a couple of particularly good write-ups on flying stunt kites now.
Firstly, David Gomberg is the author of a well known book titled Stunt Kites! and has published an extract on the Web. It's a great, informative introduction for beginners, called
Flying Basics for Dual Line Sport Kites.
It covers the basics, for example laying out the lines, steering and choosing where to fly.
Secondly, Jim Mayfield is another recognized kite expert and has published a somewhat more detailed guide for those wanting to get into doing kite stunts. He also touches on Diamond stunters in a couple of spots. Titled How to Enjoy your Dual Line Stunt Kite, it also has sections on such topics as bridle adjustments, doing repairs and flight tuning.
The diagrams scattered through the text really open up the nitty-gritty of sport kite construction and flight.
As Jim says, this info-packed article sums up the experience gained from many hours of flying time. He invites you to study it and get a head start! Save yourself time and money.
You know, it's really pretty easy to sum up the safety aspects of
flying stunt kites. Just have a good look around your flying site, and imagine every single thing that could possibly come into contact with your kite or its lines! Keep in mind you might have to back up a few steps while doing kite stunts, too. Can't see any problem? Time to fly!
About the only other thing to consider would be to not fly in bad weather. Lightning and/or very strong wind don't mix with sport kite flying! That's just common sense.
In case you don't trust your imagination, here's a list of things not to hit. ;-)
- buildings (not good for the kite)
- power lines (could be an electrifying experience)
- trees (retrieving the kite undamaged could be interesting)
- people (ouch! ...and in the U.S. 'I'm calling my lawyer!')
- animals (ouch again, and maybe some vet bills)
- moving cars (even the toughest stunt kite might come off 2nd best)
- any other obstacle your kite might possibly reach
Photo courtesy of Luis Argerich.
OK, Some Actual Kite Stunts!
Anyone can fly a few loops and figure 8's and zip around here and
there in straight lines. It's easy to pull the left line to loop the
kite left or maybe pull one line and push the other at the same time to snap the kite around in a really tight turn. 'Pull turns' and 'combination turns' they're called, and they're the basis of most kite stunts.
Sooner or later, it's good to learn a few precision figures for a bit more of a challenge. Not to mention seriously impressing other family members when you pull off your best kite stunts. ;-)
There's a little booklet available for just a few dollars in kite shops that's good for this. It's called Sport Kite Precision Maneuvers by David Gomberg. There's that name again. :-) You can test your skills by learning to fly such stunts as Ladder Down and Eight In A Rectangle.
Want to get a bit more official? Ok, there are the Dual-line Individual figures, from the International Sport Kite Compulsories Book. If you ever consider entering competitions, there are just 15 figures to learn if you're not in a team.
But what do these kite stunts actually look like I hear you asking... How about seeing some animated graphics
on the Web! Check out this web page created by a very skilled webmaster
who has taken the trouble to re-create the movements of a kite going
through all the
standard competition figures.
Once you are at the page, just click on a maneuver name to see an animation.
For example, Circle Over Diamond is one of the kite stunts. You should see a grid overlaid on a moving
cloudy sky background, with a little kite flying along a red line which
represents the figure. You can turn the grid on and off, and also
remove the red line if you want to. The moving kite can be paused and
Some technical info, in case you find the animations don't
work. I have tested a few of them using the Internet Explorer browser
(V7) and the Mozilla Firefox browser (V2 - V9) with the latest Flash
plug-in installed. Most browsers should work fine as long as the Flash plug-in is at least version 4.
Kite Stunts - The Top Teams
One day I might devote a whole separate page to all the top kite
flying teams around the world. But for now, here's a quick introduction.
Sooner or later, one of these amazing teams might be performing their
kite stunts in a city near you! Remember the names. Apologies to any
great teams out there who I've missed...
In alphabetical order, and some of them I know nothing about except their name... Yet.
- 6th Sense.
- AirZone Flight Team.
- Austin End Of The Line. These guys take part in
demonstrations, performances, training and competitions. The members are
Eddie Zihlman, Ben Gray, Jim Cox and Michael Boswell. Austin EOL was
formed in 1996.
- Chicago Fire is apparently the oldest competitive sport kite
team in the United States. They have been competing and demonstrating
team sport, aerial ballet and precision kite stunts since the 1980's.
- Colored Dreams is a successful German stunt kite team.
- Cutting Edge.
- Garuda is from Germany, and are into sport kite competitions.
- Kite-O-Holix is an Austrian competition and display team.
- Kite Team Philippines.
- OOPS! My Fault is a three man stunt kite team from Oregon, U.S.A.
- Postive Lift are from here in Australia, consisting of Joanne
Baker, Maggie Phillips and Ricky Baker. They demonstrate all forms of
kiting, not just stunt kiting.
- Scratch Bunnies. Mmm. Do they perform in those pink bunny ears?
- SPI is a very competitive stunt kite team from Texas U.S.A.
- Tame Bird.
- Tatoueurs du Ciel. From Mongolia. Just kidding, French of course...
- The TKO stunt kite demonstration team has been a hit at many
major kite festivals. Consisting of 4 guys - Troy Gunn, Chris Shultz,
Shane Snowden and Jerry Hershey.
- Too Much Fun consists of Mark & Jeanette Lummas, Ron
Despojado and Susan Shampo. A bit unusually, they are one of the few
multi-discipline stunt kite teams in the world. In other words, they
don't fly just dual line stunters, but quad liners and trick kites as
well. An American team, they have performed at the Superbowl. As an
Australian, I'm guessing that's a pretty big deal in the States!
- Up Against the Wall is another successful German stunt kite team.
- U4RIA is a Belgian kite team that claim to 'boldly go where our kites have gone before'.
- Visual Impact are Dan Villegas, Jim Barber, Rick Wolcott, Reid Wolcott and Mary Bos.
- Windjammers are a 6-man stunt kite team. These guys formed
their group in 1983, making them one of the oldest teams around. First
names are Aaron, Nate, Gary, James, Mike and George. Over the years they
have performed at a wide range of public events and competed in many
competitions. They have a thing about kite trains. Or at least they did
in the 80s. In 1984 they flew a record breaking train of 76 Trlby kites.
get a Prism Nexus Stunt kite
from Amazon, for each member of your family and form your own stunt flying team. Now, if I could just
get my wife to be a little more enthusiastic about kites...
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.
Sep 17, 14 06:33 AM
Well, it was the same reserve and a similar time of day. A bit closer to sun-down perhaps. Only the kite was different - the Dowel Barn Door kite this time, chosen to suit the 'gentle' strength wind gusts of between 15 and 20 kph.
The first flight went well, with the kite soaring straight up on around 45 meters (150 feet) of line. The late afternoon sun glinting off the panels as the kite moved about at steep line angles. In the gusts and lulls, the kite had a tendency to pull to the right at times.
As I was taking the kite down to do a bridle adjustment, the main problem became apparent. The horizontal spar had pushed through the tip-tape on the right corner of the sail, drastically reducing the sail area to the right of center. It was actually surprising how well the kite was still flying, given the gross problem with the sail!
On a second flight, with the tip repaired, there still appeared to be a slight pull to the right. So, after taking some video footage of the Barn Door's antics, it was brought down once again. This time the bridle knot was taken across by about a centimeter (1/2"). That was better! The 1.2 meter (4 feet) span pale orange kite shot right back up, showing much less tendency to pull across when under pressure.
After some more video was taken, with the kite soaring around almost directly overhead at times, it seemed safe enough to let out more line. It was surprising to feel the flying line touching my jeans while it was anchored under-foot! How much rising air can there be at this time of day? At the time I was concentrating on keeping the wandering kite in-frame as I took video.
Finally, after enjoying the kite doing its thing on over 60 meters (200 feet) of line, it came time to pull the Dowel Barn Door down. When within 30 feet or so of the ground it started to float and sink face-down. Then it was an easy matter to pull in the remaining few meters of line, keeping the kite flying until the bridle lines were in hand.
Weather stations were reporting around 10kph average wind speeds with gusts almost to 20kph.
"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 what's on offer in that message series!
Apologies for this site's current lack of video when viewed on mobile devices...
For now, please view this site on a Desktop or Laptop computer to see the videos. And there's plenty of them!
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