Flying Trick Kites

Is It Different From Stunt Flying?

Trick kites have been around for a long time now, although they have changed and improved over the years. So what actually is a 'trick'? Tricks tend to be done in one spot, in the air or close to the ground as part of a landing or take-off maneuver. Sometimes they are referred to as 'slack-line tricks'. Now there's a real clue!

Trick Kites - the Trancer 2.A 'trickable' kite design

By throwing both hands forward, the kite can be 'stalled' so it hovers and floats down on its face. Or it can even be flipped over onto its back, where it can hover while there is no tension in the lines.

A tug on one line will then send it spinning around on the spot.

Beginners find these kites uhhm trickier to fly, compared to just about any other type of kite. On your first attempts to fly one, be prepared for a few unplanned landings! Some harder than others.

Hence, it would pay not to learn trick flying on the most expensive model available.

Most 'tricks' can be performed on any good Delta stunt kite, but of course a special trickable kite is best. A skilled flier can do a lot of fancy tricks based on a basic set of moves. These fliers are sometimes referred to as pilots!

Trick fliers also combine landings and take-offs with fancy moves, and refer to this as 'groundwork'. Neatly landing a kite on one wingtip after a low-level trick is an example of this.

This Prism Nexus stunt kite is a good example of a quality stunt kite that is considered 'trickable' by expert fliers.

Kinds Of Trick Kites

There are dozens of good trickable kites available in the shops, including on-line stores. Many of the old ones still perform well and find their way onto eBay at much reduced prices. The technology keeps advancing, making it harder and harder for anyone to just whip something up at home from a set of kite plans and expect similar results to a shop bought one. An example of a very good trick kite is the Benson Gemini.

The Alien.The Prism Alien
The Tattoo Zero.The Tattoo Zero Plus

These kites are now available in designs that suit a wide range of wind conditions. Do you live in a very windy location? A kite such as the Prism Alien is built for high wind conditions.

There's an Alien in the photo over there. Mind you, it's not a beginners' kite. A new one used to cost more than US$200!

Right down at the other and of the wind speed range, the Tattoo Zero Plus needs so little air that it can be flown indoors! The Zero Plus is designed as a very capable light-wind trick kite for beginners and up.

Apparently it's good in those gusty but light conditions that can be so frustrating with a lot of other kites! I mean any other kites.

Curious about prices? I just mentioned an expensive one, the Alien, but the kite manufacturers know that lots of people can't afford that kind of money. Some kites go for over US$300! However, some beginners models are available around the $20 mark or less. That's new. Of course, you can always find stuff much cheaper on the second hand market.

Comparing With Precision Kites

So how is a trick kite different from the stunters that you see doing precision figures in the sky, during a team display for example? Apart from the sheer ability to do all the 'radical' maneuvers from the officially recognized list of tricks, plus maybe a few more. Well, the first trick kites were considerably less precise than the stunt kites that inspired their design. In other words, you could try to fly a straight line with one, but it would be a lot harder to do that successfully, compared to a precision stunt kite!

Another difference is that trickable kites usually have a higher aspect ratio than precision kites. Put simply, that just means thinner, more pointy wingtips.

There can also be differences in the way bridles are designed and various other adjustments. You won't find a 'trick line' on any other kind of kite. Some trick kites are actually quite complex to set up, out of the box.

Just like all aircraft, there is a general principle that more stability means less maneuverability. And more maneuverability usually comes with less stability and control. And so it is with stunt kites and trick kites.

Trick Flying

I had a think about how trick flying might have started. It's not hard to imagine really. A stunt kite suddenly stalls in gusty conditions. The flier just happens to scratch his ear at the same moment, causing the hovering kite to spin through more than 360 degrees. 'Hey, how cool was that!' he thinks, and trick flying was born. Well, I guess we'll never track down the very first trick.

Somehow, somewhere, people discovered that delta stunt kites were capable of all kinds of radical maneuvers, when deliberately flown in and out of the stalled condition in various ways. There are so many possibilities, new tricks are being perfected all the time. A few of them become well known and popular enough to make it onto the 'official' list.

Which brings me to the 'official' side to trick kite flying. By 1999, the trick flying community was really recognized by a certain kite manufacturer, R-Sky, in France. They came up with a competition format which was named Tricks Party, The competition flourished in Europe, and by 2005, a global competition was held. By this time, trick flying had been pushed to new levels. Old tricks were dropped, new ones were added and rules were refined.

All this did not go unnoticed in the U.S. Sure enough, Tricks Party U.S.A was later formed to cater for the growing interest among American kite fliers. These 2 organizations keep in touch and try to stay compatible so U.S. fliers can participate in world events.

Trick Kites In The Future

Some trends can be seen, and are sure to continue for many years.

  • There is a growing emphasis on Freestyle, where individual tricks are connected together into a routine. Sort of like a precision kite display, but the important thing is the tricks rather than accurate shapes carved in the sky.
  • Trick kites are being designed with better and better precision. This makes Freestyle flying more attractive to watch. And possibly more satisfying for the pilot too!
  • Precision kites are becoming more 'trickable' too. I wonder if this might mean that a few tricks might eventually creep into official figure-flying. Don't be surprised.
On that last point, the Prism Nexus stunt kite is an example of a precision kite which is capable of most tricks.

E-book special of the month...

Barn Door is a traditional American design, and this MBK version has delighted many of this site's visitors over the years.

If you have made Diamonds before, this kite is only a small step up in difficulty.

Get the e-book for making the MBK Barn Door kite. Down to a mere $2.95 for this month.

The MBK Barn Door is a reliable flyer over the Light to Moderate wind range. Tail(s) are entirely optional, if the kite is made according to the instructions.

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:
    Parachute Over The Roof

    Oct 27, 16 03:22 AM

    Yes, the MBK Parachute kite floated over our roof for a minute or so...

    With the creasing problem fixed, the kite is flying well, though somewhat short of those CAD-modeled foils done by paragliding co…

    Read More


Plenty of fun kite info, photos and videos - there's definitely too much here for only one visit! Feel free to leave your impressions of this site or just this page, below...

Return to Stunt Kites from Trick Kites

All the way back to Home Page



Kite-making e-book: Simplest Dowel Kites

This one's FREE
Download it now!

More E-books...


"Love the easy to understand step by step instructions, made from next to nothing materials and above all so much fun to fly... cheers Tim for sharing your well thought out pdf kite designs with the whole world.

Very satisfying making your own and watching them get air-born for the first time."


"I've just bought your super e-book and spent most of last night pouring through all the great stuff in it!

Very detailed and USEFUL information - thanks for such a great book."


"30+ years ago, I tried making a kite using the 'instructions' in a free kite-safety booklet. What a disappointment for a young boy.

 Your instructions and methods are wonderful. You help the builder to focus on accuracy, without making it hard. Also, you use materials that are durable, yet cheap!"


"omg i made a kite from this site and i fly it ....... booom i didnt expect this bc in the other sites instuction are trash

thank you"

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