If you can ride a bicycle, you can fly a sport kite. Everyone knows how to
steer a bike, don?t they? You turn the handle bar to the right, and the bike
goes right. Keep steering right, and the bike completes a circle. Straighten
out the handle bar and the bike goes straight in whatever direction you are
pointing. It?s easy. So keep that image in your mind and lets go kite flying.
OK, now its time to talk about kite safety. Experienced fliers use
something I call the ?Pre-launch Checklist?. It?s becomes so natural that
they don?t even think about it - like checking to make sure there are no
cars in the street before you begin to pedal.
- Never fly near power lines or in thunderstorms
- Never fly near trees, houses or over roads or highways
- Be considerate to those people around you, and never fly a
stunt kite over a person or animal. Stunt kites can move at
speeds over 100 mph and can cause serious injury.
Kite Setup and Flying Line
For beginners, launching a stunt kite and getting it under control is
almost as hard as mounting a bicycle and getting it rolling. After you do
it right the first time, it gets much easier. Roll out your flying lines
and make sure they are exactly equal in length. (If one line is a few inches
shorter, the kite will think you are pulling on that line and start to turn.)
The lines should be about 75-100 feet long. Shorter lines reduce response time
and make the kite move too fast for most inexperienced fliers. Longer lines
make maneuvers harder to complete.
Launching the Kite and First Flight
For the first time flyer it is great to have a helper pick up the kite
from behind, and hold it by the base and center strut. Keep a little
tension between the two of you so that the fly lines are off the ground.
If the winds are strong enough, all your helper needs to do is let go, and
the kite will soar off into the air. And if the winds are lighter, give the
kite a slight ?boost? by stepping backward as the kite is released. After a
little practice it only takes one person to get the kite into the air.
Now remember ? it?s like riding a bike. You want to get ?rolling? in a
straight line, so don?t start steering right away. Don?t jerk your hands around
or make any sudden move. Don?t get over excited and let go or start to run.
And please, don?t lift your hands up over your head, thinking it will make the
kite go up. It does absolutely nothing to help. I mean, you wouldn?t try and
steer your bicycle with handlebars that are up over your head, would you?
Steering and Controlling the Kite
Now we?re ready to go somewhere. So pick up your kite from wherever
it crashed after that first launch, untangle the lines, and let?s learn
how to steer. If you want to turn your bike to the right, what do you do
with your hands? Pull back on your right handle. Visualize that motion.
Now, gently, do the same thing with your stunt kite handles.
As a beginner flier, your goal should be to move the kite in a big, lazy
figure-eight across the sky. Turn to the right as we told you a moment ago,
straighten out to fly by bringing your hands even, turn a bit more to loop
under, and then straighten out again. When you have gone all the way over to
the left, just repeat the process, turning in the other direction.
It?s like riding your bike in a figure eight, except that you don?t
need to pedal. If you get excited and pull too hard, the kite will jerk around
fast and probably crash - almost like a bike when you turn too hard. But if
you eased into it, the kite will gracefully curve to the right. When you
bring your hands back even, the kite will straighten out. If you keep turning,
the kite will fly all the way around into a circle.
If you decided to fly a complete circle, or maybe did one by accident,
you?ll notice that your flying lines have now twisted around each other.
This is nothing to panic about. You can easily put as many as a dozen twists
in a good set of lines before your control of the kite is affected.
Just remember which way you turned, catch your breath, and then turn back
the other way until all of the twists have come out.
If your kite crashed with twists in the line, simply wind the handles
around each other until the twists disappear. This is much easier than
having your helper pick up the kite and try to ?un-rotate? it.
Once you have practiced enough to perform a good figure eight, you?re
ready to experiment with a few more advanced maneuvers. Instead of pulling with
your right hand to turn right, try pushing with your left hand. The result
will be roughly the same although the turn will be a bit sharper. Study the
differences between these ?push-turns? and ?pull turns?. Advanced
pilots use the difference to improve and perfect various types of maneuvers.
Fly all the way to the left and right. Experiment with how far ?out? your
kite will go. And notice that it slows down, and then stops when it reaches the ?edge?.
Try a landing. Just fly out to the edge and steer gently toward the ground.
The idea is to reach the ground about the same time the kite reaches the edge.
Try flying big smooth circles, and then flying squares.
Problems Encountered During First Flight
There may not be enough wind, or too much.
The amount of wind you need to fly easily depends on the design of your kite.
You aren?t trying to fly behind a big tree or building, are you? The wind
there is going to be turbulent and really bad. Move downwind or find an open area.
Is the line in your right hand attached to the
right side of the kite? If not, you?ll get some really surprising results when
you try to steer.
If one line is shorter, the kite thinks you are pulling
on that line and start to turn. If someone?s personality seems a little ?off?,
we say that they may not be flying with lines of equal length.
Look at your kite. Has it been put together right? Pay special attention
to the bridle lines. Is one wrapped over the spar, and the other one under
it? I thought so...
If your bridle isn?t twisted, then look at the
connection points where you attach the fly lines. Are they equal distance from the nose
of the kite? Usually, kite makers put a mark on each bridle to show the ?factory
setting?. You can change the setting to adjust your kite?s performance, but
make sure both sides of the kite are ?set? the same.
Performing Basic Tricks
You have a sport kite and can keep it flying. You?ve learned to launch without help
and make it do loops. What do you do now? How do you get the kite to do all those other
tricks you?ve seen sport kites do?
Besides the light touch on the lines, advanced flyers move their feet as much as their
hands. Moving downwind a couple of steps and swinging your hands forward at the same time
can slow the kite significantly, allowing dramatic downwind stalls and axels.
A stall is when the sport kite hovers pointed nose-up but
not moving. The axel is a spinning kite move beginning from a stall position. Most impressive
when the kite is a few feet above the ground.
To axel the kite, the flyer tugs one line while giving slack
to the other. A short sharp tug. The kite flops face down (while still in the air) and
rotates around in a full circle before popping nose- up and flying away. Be careful not to
wrap the lines on a wingtip.
A turtle is started the same way, but the kite flops backwards
and doesn?t spin around.
This product was added to our catalog on Monday 24 December, 2007.