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 Prism E3.A 'trickable' kite design
Trick Kites - the Prism E3.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.

Check out the video, a bit further down this page, that I took of someone doing a spot of trick flying over the sand at our local festival. Not a small event, since it was the Adelaide International Kite Festival!

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.

The photo up there is of a Prism E3 kite, courtesy of the Dutch Flying Objects online shop.




Here's some product names you might like to look up online. By using the link near the bottom of this page, you'll find some of these trick kites for sale on Amazon...

  • Acrobatx  (beginners trick kite!)
  • ITW Kymera
  • ITW Hydra
  • ITW Trickster
  • Prism E3
  • Yin Yang
  • Krystal 0.9
  • Nirvana SE - HW  (pricey but top-notch!)



Kinds Of Trick Kites

There are dozens of good trickable kites available in the shops and 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 Prism E3, which features in the photo up there.

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

Talking about older kites, I'll mention a couple that illustrate how different designs can suit a wide range of wind conditions. Do you live in a very windy location? A kite such as the Prism Alien was built for high wind conditions.

There's an Alien in the first photo. 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 needed so little air that it could be flown indoors! The Zero Plus was 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.



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.

Here's some trick flying we saw at a festival...


 


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.



You might like these...


I can tell you love kites...

Otherwise you wouldn't be all the way down here near the bottom of the page :-)

So, could you do me just a small favor? 

Please sign up for my free monthly publication, "Tethered Flying". No other emails will be sent, and your details are safe with me. You do need to be at least 16 years old. There's...

  • A huge "photo of the month" (via a link)
  • 3 "tips of the month" (one each for beginners, parents and the more experienced)
  • A "flight report of the month" (selected from my own flying logs, with a photo)

Looking forward to hearing from you...

P.S. My free kite-making e-book "Simplest Dowel Kites" can be downloaded as soon as you sign up.



 

Back to top of page


Need winders, reels, flying line?

We earn a small commission if you click the following link and buy something. The item does not cost you any more, since we are an "affiliate" of Amazon.

Click here to buy anything you need. Just use the Search box in there if you need different weights or lengths of line, for example.

P.S. Keep an eye out for books by kite author Glenn Davison, a prominent kite person in the USA.

What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Indoor Fan Finally Flies

    Sep 19, 19 08:04 AM

    Been wondering about the delay? The finicky Fan has been nothing but trouble... I started making notes of the changes made to the original prototype of this kite, in the attempts to get it to fly at a…

    Read More

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 ...
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3

Moderate ...
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4

Fresh ...
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5

Strong ...
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

Like/share this site...

Like/share this page...

Comments

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...