Hotter speed and turning than competition kites. Higher-quality exercise and livelier pull than power kites.
WindDances are "airgear," a new concept. They fly better and feel more exciting than typical stunt kites.
Our other advancements: Ergo T-handles that boost feel, control, exercise. Natural active FLY-a-kite skill.
A primer on "FLYING a dual-line stunt kite"
A dual-line stunt kite is a small airplane at the end of your control lines. It can be a little toy, a powerful kite-sailing engine, or anything in between. It can be a delta, diamond, parafoil, sled, or any other kind of dual-line stunt kite. And of course to have the most fun you want your kite -- whatever kind it is -- to be engineered and built to be "airgear." You are the pilot.
Rather than being powered by gravity (like a glider) or by an engine (like a prop or jet airplane), it's powered by the wind and by the flyer. Often you are the engine, too.
You steer and turn it like an airplane.
It's so INCREDIBLY simple!!! Active "FLYING" skill when turning it powerfully (put all your effort into one control handle at a time) is like basic "walking," "running," or "bicycling" skill (put all your effort into one shoe at a time)!!! MORE!!!
All the world's walkers, runners, and cyclists certainly know that basic. So why do hardly any kite flyers know it? Because the usual dual-line kites and control handles are designed and built in such a way that makes aircraft-like turning -- and basic FLYING skill -- virtually impossible: CLICK HERE. See why organized kiting can't teach it?
The speed you see constantly changes! The power you feel constantly changes! That happens during passive flying, the usual way of stunt kiting including power/traction flying and kite surfing. During active flying, the speed & pull changes (and the exercise) can be much more intense!
Technically, what is "FLYING?" The concept is far simpler than you think: CLICK HERE.
If your kite is "airgear," actively turning it hard feels like THIS, and in strong wind that pure fun can inspire a sharp-&-fast turn every second or so! When you do it in the powerzone, the outer wingtip can slice through the air at ten times the speed of the wind! Since all of the pull momentarily ends up in one arm, it feels like diagonal poling when cross-country skiing: besides exercising that arm and shoulder, it torques your torso and upper body and works out major muscles not usually strained when flying a kite, not even when flying a big power & traction kite! Active workouts with "airgear" are an accidental side-effect of real "FLYING!"
Suppose the wind doubles as you pilot your kite from the edge to the powerzone. If your kite is "airgear," its airspeed can rise 10-fold and its pull can rise 100-fold! In strong wind, all that can happen in one second! Since you're also the engine whenever you wish, you can athletically boost the speed & pull like THIS -- made possible by the fundamental airspeed vs. pull characteristic of kites! During all this zippiness, you actively turn it like crazy, too! Your kite is alive!
Of course, you can take it easy whenever you wish, too! Like with running shoes or a racing bike.
Flyers have two basic choices. Your dual-line kite can be a typical one. Or it can be "airgear" -- a fast and agile, powerful turning, fun-and-exercise machine aeronautical-engineered for "FLYING" -- that you can tame to be less intense when needed.
"Airgear" -- from tiny models to powerful kite-sailing engines -- are kites that are optimized for "FLYING." They are engineered and made for the new sport of "REAL kite flying" taking place outside of organized kiting!
"FLYING" a kite is the most important aspect of flying a kite, isn't it?
"Theory of Kites" was an aeronautical engineering course taught by the University of Michigan in the early 1900s. The first airplanes were test-flown as kites, small models and full size. UM was the first school in America to offer an aeronautical engineering program, a scandalous undertaking at the time because early aviation was so extremely dangerous.
The new field of flight, launched with the help of kites, progressed rapidly. The basic science & engineering of flight mushroomed -- including advancing sailing technology in the 1920s which led to the birth of the delta kite in the 1940s -- and pretty much leveled out by mid-century (ever notice how jet airliners over the past 50 years have all looked alike?). We received our aeronautical-engineering degree at the UM in the 1960s, as well as their Advanced Achievement Award. New knowledge and new tools, all firmly rooted in the basics of flight, continue to emerge. Wow! Without it, our "airgear" would be impossible!
Aeronautical engineering began with kites. Then it bypassed kites and virtually neglected them for a century (in part, as we discovered the hard way, because good aeronautical engineering doesn't seem to be allowed in organized kiting!). So why not apply a century's worth of flight science to create better and better kites today!
As beginners in 1989, we encountered a slew of performance-&-handling deficiencies. We quickly noticed how the usual stunt kites -- diamond, delta, parafoil -- can't turn like aircraft because they're missing crucial bridle lines. We analyzed why the usual delta kites fly so slowly, especially the expert and competition models. We saw how the usual parafoil kites turn sluggishly like parachutes, instead of efficiently and powerfully like aircraft. Those very same problems remain a normal part of "kite culture" flying today, even in the top levels of sport-kite competition and in kite surfing.
Apparently no one in organized kiting (the "kite culture") had ever developed the fundamental performance equations for stunt kites, the first step necessary to aeronautical-engineer a kite. So we did.
We saw how organized kiting had no standards for stunt kites (they still don't), so we devised a few bare-minimum standards. They are nothing special. They merely bring the basic performance-&-handling qualities of dual-line kites up to normal par with the rest of the sport-&-recreation gear in the world.
By applying elementary aeronautical-engineering principles to kites, we fixed the common kite flaws above as we developed our delta and parafoil "airgear." How high did it kick up the fun of parafoils? Read this yellow banner and gray box. Although WindDance parafoils are still the state-of-the-art in flight performance & handling -- compared to all types of dual-line kites -- we have even hotter "airgear" in the works! What an exciting, ongoing adventure!
The world of aviation encourages and embraces progress. Shouldn't the world of kiting?
If your kite is "airgear" -- a kite that's optimized to heighten the "FLYING" experience, that is, a kite with three essential performance-&-handling qualities aero-engineered and built into it -- here's what happens: When you turn it, the increase in pull makes it feel like a turning airplane! When you turn it sharply and hard, it feels like this -- the feel of sports gear! In response to the piloting & power from you and to the power & texture of the wind (see above), "airgear" delivers mindblowing lively speed & pull and active exercise -- like the fun you experience in other forms of sport & recreation!
See where the names "airgear" and "Seattle AirGear" came from?
What are specific examples of the visual, physical, and glandular excitement? Since "airgear" is so versatile, it ranges from relaxing to intense. From slow lazy flying in a gentle breeze -- or with tamed speed & pull in stronger winds (do it by adding tails) -- to excitement in 10-mph wind like THIS -- to spectacular aerobatic fun with friends like THIS with great exercise like THIS as a side-effect -- to intense workouts like THIS -- to extreme, high-G, kite-surfing thrill like THIS! See what we mean by "mindblowing?"
Point F can be stationary as during normal kite flying. Or moving fast along the ground -- or moving fast through the air upward, horizontally, or downward -- as when kite sailing (be sure to consider the dangers). During ANY of that -- while standing on land, while being propelled or dragged or lifted -- you steer & turn your kite like an airplane.
The word "wind" -- on this page and in the flight-envelope illustration -- means "apparent wind." What is "apparent wind?" See Introduction to kite-sailing. For normal kiting, the "apparent wind" at F is the "true wind:" it's the wind you measure with your meter, the wind experienced by the flag you see fluttering nearby. When you are moving while kite sailing, the "apparent wind" at F is different from the "true wind:" its strength can vary from much weaker to much stronger, and its direction can vary from being the same to almost the opposite -- as all sailing enthusiasts well know.
For normal kiting, disregard the above paragraph. "Wind" simply means wind!
When you park your dual-line kite at U on the top edge of the flight envelope (or at the side edge L or R), it faces upwind motionless in the sky with light pull in your flying lines. The kite's airspeed equals wind speed. This is exactly like flying a single-line kite. Your kite is FLYING.
From the edge, suppose you fly it into the powerzone toward P , and suppose the wind increases while doing so. Speed & pull can increase tremendously. Near P , the kite's airspeed can be several times the speed of the wind. Your kite is FLYING.
Halfway through that trip, suppose you do a sharp turn or tight spin. Depending on your kite and your turning method, speed & pull rise or fall or stay the same during the turn or spin. Your kite is FLYING.
Pretend you are standing there like a post at F with the wind against your back, holding onto your two kite lines. FLYING is when your kite K has airspeed -- air flowing past your kite, like air flowing past an airplane wing -- which creates the pull you feel in your kite lines.
Also, you the flyer can use basic skill to generate pull in your kites lines, which creates airspeed and FLYING.
The pull can come from FLYING: FLYING = speed = pull. That's passive flying.
Or the FLYING can come from pull you make using basic skill: pull = speed = FLYING. That's active flying.
The kite really doesn't care which! Because a kite thinks like algebra: FLYING = speed = pull is the same as pull = speed = FLYING!
So remember the primary fundamental like this: pull = speed = FLYING!
And always be aware of this special case: no pull = no speed = no FLYING . . . the source of most skill problems!
In the photo above, the WindDance is flying to the flyer's right, tails streaming behind. The tails show the airflow's direction past the wing. See how the airflow is almost directly at the wing's leading-edge and perpendicular to the kite lines? It's that way everywhere on the flight envelope no matter what direction or speed the WindDance is flying. See how the flying lines are tight? That means the WindDance is pulling on the flyer.
The lines show the pull. The tails show the airspeed. The WindDance is FLYING. Pull = speed = FLYING!
Airflow past the kite generates the two basic forces of flight: "aerodynamic lift" and "aerodynamic drag." The kite's "aerodynamic lift" pulls on the kite outward away from the flyer and perpendicular to the airflow -- actually see how it makes the kite pull on the control lines, which pull on the flyer? The kite's "aerodynamic drag" acts in the direction of the airflow -- actually see how "aerodynamic drag" on the tails drags them into alignment with the airflow and perpendicular to the control lines? (This simplification, a teaching tool, is very accurate for fast kites with high L/D. As the efficiency-factor L/D drops, the outward-pointing "lift" vector tilts more forward, and the backward-pointing "drag" vector tilts more outward.)
Unfortunately, organized kiting -- the leadership of our sport -- impedes basic education about the flight of kites. That is, about the FLYING of kites. During my first KTAI (Kite Trade Association International) trade show in 1991, I (Dan) discussed stunt kiting with a past KTAI president who remains a "kite culture" celebrity and kiting authority today. He hotly insisted that the pull you feel in your lines comes from "aerodynamic drag," not from "aerodynamic lift." His refusal to agree with the principles of flight totally stunned me. In the years since, we've discovered how his flawed understanding of flight is typical of the education provided by organized kiting. We talked with a professional kite-surfing instructor who didn't know where the flight envelope locates itself. See why most kite flyers today don't know what FLYING a kite is? How very sad for our sport and millions of flyers.
The higher the "airspeed," the stronger the "pull." It happens the other way, too. The stronger the "pull," the higher the "airspeed." You see, the wind doesn't do it all: the flyer adds pull when flying actively, which generates more airspeed. The kite doesn't care in the least where the airspeed & pull come from: from the wind alone, or from the flyer alone, or from the wind and the flyer generating airspeed & pull together.
Every dual-line kite has a unique "airspeed vs. pull" signature. When the kite has a certain amount of airspeed, it generates a certain amount of pull -- no more, no less. When the kite and you the flyer simultaneously generate or experience a certain amount of pull, there's a certain amount of airspeed -- no more, no less. You the flyer experience it, exactly as the basic equations of stunt kiting describe it!
That two-way "airspeed vs. pull" relationship is independent of wind strength, flight-envelope location, and how actively you FLY. That is, it makes no difference where the speed & pull come from. FLYING your kite passively in the powerzone in light wind, or passively at the edge in strong wind, or actively near the edge in light wind -- can produce the same identical airspeed & pull in each case.
If your kite is "airgear," it works for very-tight turning, too. That's when all the pull is in one control line.
Here's the straight-flight "airspeed vs. pull" signature for WindDances: CLICK HERE.
Fortunately, it's as simple to understand as the "speed vs. power" basic for athletic shoes: "Want to move your body to go somewhere? Apply effort to walk or run!" "Want to go faster? Walk or run harder -- with a more-powerful, longer, and higher-frequency stride!"
Want to turn your "airgear" faster and more powerfully, and work out more in the process? Merely pull faster, harder, longer, and more often on one control handle at a time! Same concept as walking or running!
Yes, active skill is that simple! "Just PULL it!" To make it FLY!
Whether at the edge with little speed & pull, or in the powerzone with tremendous speed & pull, or while turning sharply, your kite is FLYING just like a airplane does.
While you FLY a dual-line kite, its speed & pull vary from low to high, and have two extremes:
- In light wind when you park your kite at the upper edge or at either side edge -- where the kite's airspeed equals wind speed -- there are just a few ounces of pull and it's just like flying a single-line kite in a gentle breeze.
- In strong wind when you fly the same kite through the powerzone -- where your kite's airspeed can be several times higher than the wind speed -- the momentary 100 mph speed and 100 lbs of pull is intense high-speed power flying.
For a more detailed look at the flight envelope's fun, read this section.
Pull = speed = FLYING. This is the basis of "REAL kite flying."
No pull = no speed = no FLYING. This is the basis of landing your kite, un-flying & non-flying tricks, and "kite-culture" advanced flying.
Single-line FLYING is merely a special case of dual-line FLYING: a single-line kite FLIES constantly at point U. If you install a good dual-line bridle system onto that single-line kite, it becomes a stunt kite! See how single-line kiting and dual-line kiting are closely related?
FLYING is also created actively: use your arms and body to generate more pull & speed by using full basic skill. That is, "Just PULL it!" with simple and natural technique. To accelerate your kite in straight-ahead flight, pull long and hard on both lines. To perform a fast, tight, & powerful turn, pull hard on one line LIKE THIS. To perform a sustained fast, tight, & powerful spin, pull long and hard on one line while stepping back away from the kite as fast necessary to maintain the strong pull -- it's easy even in light wind! To keep it airborne when the wind pauses or plays a trick on you, pull gently pull on both lines. When you create pull, you create speed and FLYING -- straight-ahead FLYING (pull evenly on both lines) and powerful sharp-turning FLYING (pull on one line).
When you FLY passively, you're just the pilot. Like steering and coasting a bike. That's the nature of the usual stunt kiting -- including power/traction flying and kite surfing.
When you FLY actively, you're the pilot and often the engine. Like steering and coasting and pedaling a bike. That's nature of "REAL kite flying."
(See A primer on "FLYING a dual-line stunt kite" which begins at the top of this webpage.)
The basic equations of stunt kiting, simple high-school math, even explain the relationship between pull and FLYING!
- When stunt kiting in the usual way -- or when using your kite to drag you downwind on land (crude power/traction flying) or on water (sea kayak towed by parafoil "spinnaker") -- the flight envelope is in front of you. If you FLY it from a high bridge, the flight envelope has a lower half, too (so much fun it isn't legal, a customer reported)! As the wind shifts, the entire flight envelope rotates at point F like a weathervane!
- When beach buggying, kite surfing, or ice sailing at high speed on a beam reach (on a course perpendicular to the true wind), the flight envelope is behind you.
- When descending from a high kite-surfing lift, the flight envelope can be directly above you -- shaped like a round parachute!
See the amazing realm of kite "FLYING?"
How much of the total "kite-FLYING" realm does each of the two choices ("kite-culture flying" and "REAL kite flying") of dual-line kiting encompass -- in terms of passive and active flying , quality of exercise , quality of performance & handling , location of the kite on its flight envelope , and location of the flight envelope itself?
- "Kite-culture flying" -- which is based on false beliefs and fun-limiting beliefs about kiting and on four major design flaws that prevent good performance & handling, lively feel, good skill, and good exercise from happening -- includes only portions of the total "kite-FLYING" realm even if you have a huge bag containing every specialized kite-culture kite available. It is largely passive (see above) in all of its performance-flying and power/traction-flying variations including kite surfing. You mainly just steer-&-coast your kite, and un-fly your kite. Performance-flying with delta kites focuses on "no pull = no speed = no FLYING" techniques using kites optimized for un-flying and non-flying stunting (CLICK HERE). Power/traction-flying and kite-surfing consists of hanging on with low-effort steering. As you steer to different places on the flight envelope, and when the wind kicks in, the speed and pull changes are relatively slow and low. When you turn, the power drops and the pull stays even in both lines. When doing tricks with a delta kite, or when power-flying with a quad-parafoil, the kite is flying more like a parachute (airflow parallel to the control lines) than like a FLYING wing (airflow perpendicular to the control lines): see above. When kite surfing, the kite is nearly always at the edge of the flight envelope and it never turns spectacularly. In "kite-culture flying," the overall flight performance & handling, and exercise quality, are at the low end of the spectrum.
- "REAL kite flying" -- which is based on gear and skill that are optimized for FLYING -- encompasses the entire realm using versatile kites. It includes passive steering-&-coasting and doing a few un-flying tricks. And excels in the active (see above) "pull = speed = FLYING" kind of performance-flying and power-flying, especially in the fast & powerful turning that loads one arm at time and torques your body, sometimes faster than once a second as you go crazy with extreme speed-&-turning fun, which can be awesome accidental full-body exercise that the usual power/traction-flying cannot possibly deliver. As you steer to different places on the flight envelope, and when the wind kicks in, the speed and pull changes are relatively rapid and high. When you turn, the power rises and transfers more and more into one line. Every bit of the flight envelope is enjoyed, including doing basic FLYING moves that are impossible in "kite-culture flying": CLICK HERE. With the ultra-hot airgear of the future, descending from a very high kite-surfing lift while FLYING your tiny engine on its flight envelope directly above you, will be possible: CLICK HERE. In "REAL kite flying," the overall flight performance & handling, and exercise quality, are at the high end of the spectrum.
For a more-complete look into the "FLYING" and "skill" basics, CLICK HERE.
Care to know the exact speed & pull at any location on the flight envelope during passive straight flight? If you know the basic performance parameters of your stunt kite (L/D, CL, A), if you look up the local air density (one customer flew his WindDance 2 in very thin air at 22,000 feet in the Andes!), and if you know how to use high-school math, CLICK HERE.
We wish organized kiting taught these "kite FLYING" basics. So we wouldn't have to!
What is "dual-line" kiting?
Stand at F and jab your groundstake/windwand into the ground. Watch the wind blow the yarn telltale toward P, which is where your set up your WindDance for launching. The yarn telltale, at the upper tip of your groundstake/windwand, keeps telling you the wind direction FP -- which can drastically change as you fly!
Wrap your control handles around the base of the groundstake a turn or two so they won't move, and as you walk toward P your pair of 75-ft control lines reel off your card winder. At P slip your kite out of its bag, attach the two stretched out flying lines to the bridle-ends of your kite, and place your kite's trailing-edge on the ground with the leading-edge downwind of the trailing-edge so it won't launch by itself (illustration). Walk back to F, pick up both handles, and gently swing both arms back and step back to launch. You are now dual-line kite flying!
To turn right, pull on your right control handle. To turn left, pull on the left one. To fly straight, or to end a turn or spin, hold both handles even. It's that simple, just like steering a bike or car. A few pointers.
Depending on how far and how fast & powerfully you move your two control handles, it goes where you want it to (although perhaps not at first!), it turns and loops as sharply & fast & powerfully as you wish, or it flies straight.
Your kite, point K, is always moving except when you park it anywhere at the "edge" of the flight envelope where it becomes stationary like a single-line kite -- or after you crash it into the ground at the other edge of the flight envelope (anywhere along arc LPR)!
- As you fly from the "powerzone" to the "edge," your kite's speed & pull drop.
- As you fly from anywhere on the "edge" to the "powerzone," speed & pull rise.
- As you fly along any one of the red lines, speed & pull change the fastest.
- As you fly along any one of the blue lines, speed & pull don't change at all.
- When the wind strengthens, speed & pull rise.
- When you turn or spin, speed & pull rise (if you have "airgear") or fall (if you have a usual kite).
- With "airgear" all those speed & pull changes are bigger and more dynamic, and the tighter you turn the more the pull transfers into one line, all far more exciting and exercising than with a usual kite.
That's for passive flying. During active flying -- possible only with "airgear" and hand-friendly control handles -- you actively create more speed and pull especially sharp powerful turns with all the pull in one line.
"Dual-line" kites are one of the three types of "stunt kites:" 2-line, 3-line, and 4-line stunt kites.
A "stunt kite" is any kite with two or more flying lines, a kite that can be maneuvered at will by the flyer.
A "sport kite" is any kite used for sport, that is, any kite used for recreation or competition. "Sport kite" is used to describe just about every kind of kite that's used for sport, an imprecise way to describe a kite.
Of the three kinds of stunt kites (2-line, 3-line, and 4-line), dual-line stunt kites provide the highest speed, fastest and tightest aerobatics, most aircraft-like flight performance, strongest pull for their size, and the highest levels of visual and physical excitement.
Dual-line stunt kites are also the easiest to fly, and are by far the most popular.
Your dual-line kite's straight-line acceleration & speed & pull, its turning sharpness & speed & power, its steering & turning feel, how easy and forgiving it is to fly, how much fun you have, and how much exercise you get are hugely determined by the kite itself. This topic is covered throughout this website.
To read an overview of the sport of kiting, CLICK HERE.
Want fun? Then you want these FLYING qualities!
The three essential ones:
- Superb FLYING response to basic pull-on-your-kite-line skill:
- Strong straight-line acceleration when you pull hard on both lines.
- Fast, tight, powerful turns and spins when you pull strongly on one line while the other goes totally slack.
- Superb edge-to-powerzone acceleration and high powerzone speed. And superb responsiveness to the wind. The rising speed is a thrill, and so is the strengthening pull which shoots up way faster than the speed does! It happens whenever you fly toward the powerzone, and whenever the wind kicks in! In addition, you feel every bump in the wind, which makes the wind and your kite seem alive!
- Natural steering & turning feel: the pull rises when you turn, and the more tightly you turn the more that pull transfers into the "pulling" control line. This "increasing-resistance" steering-&-turning feel is engineered into virtually everything that moves (except for typical dual-line kites), provides outstanding control, enables faster learning because it feels so natural, and provides superior exercise (such a kite is an windborne exercise machine).
- Perfect tracking. No oversteer/understeer or skidding whatsoever during turns.
- Superb handling. From hover at the side-edge near the ground in light wind, you must be able to sharply spin downward or hairpin-turn downward into a pass toward the powerzone -- by using full basic skill (pull on one control line).
- No need to change the bridle-setting in order to maintain top performance when the wind changes from very light to strong. Your kite is automatically like this if it has the first two qualities above.
- Versatility. A kite with all the above qualities does all: FLIES with high performance over a broad wind range, from very-light winds to strong winds, with no need to switch to a smaller or larger kite or change the bridle setting in order to maintain peak performance when the wind strengthens or weakens -- often this versatility is needed while you are flying! Easy for beginners and challenging and exciting for experts who are into awesome speed & turning and lively power. Provides an awesome workout -- if you choose to FLY it actively with full basic skill (like choosing to pedal your racing bike fast). Easily tamed for beginners or strong winds simply by adding a pair of long tails.
You want all these qualities in one kite!
We encourage you to carefully look for these basic FLYING qualities in all available dual-line kites -- including in trick & competition kites, in power & traction kites, and in all their specialized novice-to-expert and wind-range variations. You'll discover this: Most kites don't have any these qualities. A very few have just one or two. WindDances have them all.
Straight-flight speed & pull
Your kite's straight-flight speed & pull are determined by three things:
- Location of your kite on its flight envelope. The closer your kite is to the powerzone, the faster it flies and the stronger the pull. You have control over that.
- Strength of the wind. The stronger the wind, the faster it flies and the stronger the pull. Mother Nature, and your decisions whether or not to fly, have control over that.
- Your kite's in-flight rigidity & aerodynamic efficiency. The higher these are, the greater the speed & pull increase as you fly from the edge to the powerzone and as the wind kicks in -- go for this excitement!
WindDances are at the high end of the in-flight rigidity & aerodynamic efficiency range.
Our first experimental delta years ago, the worst kite we've ever seen, was at the bottom end. We designed it; we didn't engineer it. It distorted so much in strong winds it came to a dead stop before it could even reach the powerzone! Its flight envelope had two edges: the normal one, and the one around the powerzone! We learned a lot from that, and began applying aeronautical and structural engineering in a big way!
Turning speed & power
Your kite's turning speed & power are determined by two more things:
- Your kite's turning characteristics. With WindDances, speed & pull rise when you turn, and the pull transfers into one line -- go for this excitement! With virtually all other kites, the pull drop when you turn, and stays even in both lines.
- Your turning technique.
Pull-turns (see below). With WindDances and the very few other kites that respond well to basic one-line pulling skill, speed & pull rise when you pull-turn -- the stronger the pull, the faster & more powerful the turn or spin -- go for this excitement! But with kites that do not respond well to one-line pulling skill, speed & pull do not rise or may drop -- and when you pull strongly on one line the kite may collapse or break or fall out of the sky.
Push-turns (see below). A sudden push-turn or punch-turn, required for some kites to make them turn sharply, reduces the kite's speed & power during the turn -- for ALL kites. When you sharply punch-turn a delta kite, the center of the kite momentarily stops as one half of the wing flies forward and the other half flies backward. When the pull is very strong while WindDancing, you must punch-turn to prevent excessive pull while turning.
Dual-line FLYING technique
- Dual-line stunt kites require flying-line tension to FLY; no pull in your lines, no FLYING. We learned that in 1989 from a book on stunt kites.
Pull = speed = FLYING. Our sport's primary fundamental. CLICK HERE.
Everything about skill boils down to one simple concept: you the flyer -- you're always the pilot, and often the engine -- actively use your mind and body to make sure that "pull = speed = FLYING" happens.
Actively pull on both lines to keep it airborne, and to make it go. Actively pull on one line, the other can go slack, to make it turn & spin fast & tightly & powerfully. The more strongly you pull, the faster it goes and the faster it turns & spins. The farther you pull, the longer the acceleration and the longer the spin. You move your arms and body as much as necessary to generate & maintain the desired pull = speed = FLYING. Children flying single-line kites use the very same concept.
- How should you hold and move your arms?
Keep them down at your sides, forearms slightly bent forward at the elbows, knuckles out. Never point your arms straight at the kite. For the same reason a fisherman never points the pole straight at the fish. When flying in really bumpy wind, your arms swing & flex back and forth -- and keep the pull smooth and even -- just like fishing poles!
Do you push and pull your control handles back and forth at chest level? You can, and many flyers do. But no kites FLY well using that technique because it severely limits your control movement and your ability to generate and maintain the pull needed for FLYING. When your hands reach your chest or armpit, they "stop" there and you can't move them any further back (try it) -- which can cause your kite's FLYING to stop, too.
Do you lift your arms when you try to pull on your lines? People seem to think, "If I lift my hands, I'll lift my kite." Well, if your kite is going up as your hands are going up, that technique may move your hands toward the kite -- which slackens your control lines instead of generating pull in them. When your arms reach the straight-up position, they "lock" there and you can't move your hands any further back (try it) -- which can cause your kite's FLYING to dead-end, too.
Instead of making those two big "kite FLYING" mistakes, swing an arm from forward to back at your side as you pull. Swing an arm like when walking or cross-country skiing, always with your knuckles naturally pointing to the side. Those long and smooth control movements generate the highest levels of FLYING performance and fun, as well as the most exercise. Each arm functions like an upside-down fishing pole. Swing a pole back to generate pull. Swing a pole ahead to reduce pull. With this natural method, you have far more control movement than the above two methods -- twice as much as the pull-to-your-chest method.
The other benefits of "fishing-pole" arms? You're ready to instantly make or reduce pull when necessary. And it prevents a parafoil kite from collapsing in turbulent wind: when turbulence causes the pull to suddenly drop, your arms instantly flex back just like a fishing pole! That instant "flexing-back" automatically generates the pull needed to keep it FLYING!
As with airplanes, the higher the speed the less the control movement. In light wind at the side edge near the ground, a 12-foot-long pulling stroke may be needed to do several downward-turning spin-on-a-wingtip loops. That's when you're the pilot and the engine. In strong winds in the powerzone, only little swinging movements of your hands and forearms are enough to zip & turn even the large WindDance 3 around like crazy! That's when you're mainly just the pilot.
- What do you do with the rest of your body?
Do you stand there at point F like a post planted in the ground? You can, and many flyers do. But no kites FLY all that well if you stand motionless because it severely limits your control movement and your ability to generate and maintain pull.
Instead, move around when you need to. Step backwards away from your kite to keep it FLYING when the pull drops while at the edge, to keep up the speed & pull when the wind momentarily dies, to accelerate your kite, to execute very-fast-and-tight pull-turns, and to keep a spin going for a long time.
Step towards your kite to keep the pull down to safe and sane levels when a strong gust suddenly hits, and to decelerate your kite.
While playing high-speed tight-turning airgames when flying side-by-side with a friend, you move around a lot! The fun makes you do it!
- How should you turn?
When the pull is light -- that is, when the wind is light or when the kite is at the edge -- you must use pull-turns (pull on right line to turn right), often letting the inactive flying-line go completely slack. If you have a WindDance and want the most exercise, use pull-turns.
When the pull is strong -- that is, when the wind is strong or when the kite is in the powerzone -- you may have to use push-turns or punch-turns (push or punch on left line to turn right) -- to prevent excessive pull while turning.
As the pull changes, alter your turning technique in a continuum from pure pull-turn (when pull is very low in light winds or at the edge) to pure push-turn (when the pull becomes very strong or unbearable in high winds or in the powerzone). It happens naturally -- like this: When the pull is light, you'll naturally pull-turn. When the pull is strong, you'll naturally push-turn.
Usually, your turning technique is a blend of the push-turn and pull-turn -- the pull-push turn -- with the relative amounts of pull and push depending on the pull you sense in your two kite lines, and on how much turning-speed and exercise you want.
Be sure to go for exciting "Crank the wheel and stomp on the gas!" turns like this: CLICK HERE. It's a normal part of "REAL kite flying" with "airgear" and "ergo T-handles" -- but it's not possible in "kite-culture flying" with "kite-culture" kites and handles.
- Sometimes the pull becomes too low.
When it drops too low -- as when the wind dies while flying at the edge, or when turbulent wind strikes the top of the wing while at the edge -- you must do something to maintain the pull so that the kite remains airborne.
How? Simply keep your flying lines tight with a few ounces of tension by moving your control handles, and your body if necessary, directly away from the kite -- just like children do when flying single-line kites -- and by turning and then flying toward the powerzone where the pull is naturally higher. When turning, use long pull-turns, gently pulling on both lines at the start of the turn.
If the pull instantly drops when the pull and speed are moderate or high, often you don't have to do anything if you're smart enough to make your arms operate like dumb fishing poles: CLICK HERE!
- Sometimes the pull becomes too high.
When the pull becomes too strong, as when a gust hits, you must yield to the pull. And lower the pull by suddenly swinging your arms forward and by suddenly stepping toward your kite, and then by flying toward the edge where the pull is naturally lower. When turning in strong wind, use push-turn technique.
If your arms are pointed straight at your kite when a strong gust hits, and if you hang on, you and your lines and perhaps your kite may be in trouble. The better way? Fly with "fishing-pole" arms, so that automatic "give" is always available and ready.
- Fly mostly by feel. Why?
No tension in your lines = no pull = no speed = no FLYING. Avoid that.
More tension = more pull = more speed & faster turning = hotter FLYING = more fun. Go for that.
How? Sense and respond to the tension in your kite lines. Sense and respond to the pull. Sense and respond to what you and the wind are doing to your kite.
Consciously sense the pull. Constantly feel for pull. This sensory monitoring of kite-line pull using your hands and fingers, and your response to it, becomes as automatic as the way your feet and toes sense the ground, as automatic as the way you keep yourself standing upright.
When the pull suddenly becomes too light -- at the side edge, when the wind drops, when the wind direction where the kite is flying suddenly changes, or after you end a strong acceleration (straight-line or turning/spinning) -- quickly swing your arms back while stepping back away from the kite as necessary to generate as least the few ounces of pull to keep it FLYING.
It collapses at the edge? Maybe it's because you simply let the pull drop to zero. Or didn't sense and respond quickly enough -- or at all. Or you moved your arms the wrong way to cause the collapse. The cure? Prevent collapsing by easily doing what's necessary to maintain at least a few ounces of pull at all times.
Feel for pull. Feel no pull? Then quickly make some pull -- and feel it happening.
It doesn't turn or spin fast enough in light wind or at the edge? Then ask and answer, "Am I feeling the power of the spin? No! That's why I have to pull harder!"
Use good FLYING handles -- handles that allow you to sensitively feel your kite through the lines, handles that allow you to perform natural swing-your-arm pulling strokes, handles that are comfortable.
Want handles that help you feel for pull, maintain pull, and go for pull? See recommended handles.
Dual-line FLYING exercise
Active arm motion to generate turning speed & power mostly with one arm + lively pull + stepping & walking & maybe some running, too = wonderful exercise including aerobic. This is an incidental health benefit -- it "accidentally" happens while you exuberantly FLY a dual-line kite with full basic skill.
Whenever you turn, there is more pull in the "turning" arm than in the other arm. During a sharp turn or spin, all the pull ends up in one arm. This loads one side of your body at time -- like walking/running and bicycling do -- and it torques your entire body, forcing you to use large muscles that are not normally used when flying a kite!
Compared to rip-your-arms-off bulldoze-the-sand-with-your-heels power flying, compared to traction flying where you're attached to your kite with a harness, and compared quad flying where all you do is twiddle your hands, this is far better for your body and provides far more speed-&-turning fun and physical excitement.
Want to get the most accidental exercise? Buy a dual-line kite that's so much fun it makes you go for it! That is, buy airgear! It's a supercharged aerial Ferrari and an airborne exercise machine!
WindDance dual-line parafoil stunt kites/sport kites are developed, sold, and backed by Seattle AirGear.
WindDance, WindDancing, Seattle AirGear, and AirGear are trademarks of Seattle AirGear.
Copyright © 1995-2017 Seattle AirGear.
This page last revised Mar-5-2003