MBK Indoor Bird
MBK Indoor Bird
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...
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!
What's Indoor Kite Flying All About?
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 on purpose-built indoor kites....
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.
- Climbing and stalling the kite for sudden changes in direction
- Pulling the kite around in large circles, one wing-tip close to the floor
- Powering the kite vertically up, so it sails overhead and down the other side
- Landing the kite on an edge, then pulling it aloft again
- Letting the kite glide free, on a slack line
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
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.!
To see some 4-liners in action, check out this informative page on indoor kiting published by the AKA (American Kiting Association).
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
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!
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...
Photo courtesy of Gloria Bell