Issue 44: REVisions: Beyond the Basics

For more summers than not over the last 8 years, my life at WSIKF (link) has been spent doing two things. Having a lot of fun, and helping teach people how to fly Revolutions (which is also a lot of fun). On any given day, I’ll run across all levels of flyers, from people who have never seen a kite with anything beyond one line, to quad experts who have been at it for years, to people who have had their first Revolution for a little while and they are looking for more.

Primarily, this article is directed at this large, middle group. The person who’s never seen one probably won’t be here reading, and the quad experts will have more fun picking this article to pieces in emails to me afterwards (which, I encourage, I’ll be learning this kite for years to come!). It’ll will take you through a few different areas of Revolutions, from some basic information about the equipment itself to techniques to further your skills. Next summer if you come to WSIKF, come and tell mw what you’ve learned, or, better yet, teach someone else how to fly… While some of this article is specific to Revolutions, much of it applies to any quad kite, whether its a Spirit, Deca or an Airbow.

Due to the length of this article, I’ve split it into two parts, part 2 will be in the next issue…

6 things newish flyers need to know!

Part 1 – Stringing you along

The first Rev you bought probably came with 100 foot long lines, either Spectra Sport for the EXPs or Laser Gold (sadly, this company is now gone) and 90 – 150 pounds (depending on which Rev you bought). This would pretty much what everyone else flies on as well. The length is a good balance, giving you good control, and some decent speed. DOn’t feel locked into these lengths though, experiment and try some different setups. Either find new sets in stores or online, or, learn how to cut and sleeve your lines. Sooner or later, you are going to break at least one line in the course of learning and if you get the basics of sleeving down, you’ll find most line sets can simply be repaired in less than 30 minutes. One note with 100 foot lines, if you are going to be flying the precision figures that I talk about later in this article, 100 feet is your best bet. All the compulsory figures are based on 10% increments, which makes better sense when you are 100 feet away and gives you a lot of sky to work with.

A Little Shorter : 75 Feet

This is my personal favorite length, I find its a good all around length for general flying. Its a little quicker to react than 100 feet, yet you can still fly very precisely with it. The park that I usually fly at (Vanier Park in Vancouver, BC is a little limited in space, and 75 foot line sets are the norm for quad or dual lines.

Even Shorter : 50 feet

If you want to have a lot of fast twitchy action, this a great length to play around with. Everything will happen a little quicker and a little sharper. Its a good length if you are going to be experimenting with flying close to objects, ie, landing on objects in your flying area. However, its not a great length in higher winds. You’ll find that the kite can cover a lot of sky with lines this short and it’ll catch you off guard and send your Rev into the ground with a nice splat or snap.

Wow that’s really short : 20 – 30 feet

Any quad kite will become quite a different animal at these lengths. Control becomes immediate and the merest twitch of your handles can quickly change the angle of the kite. Once you get down to lines this short, there’s a few things to consider. First, you may want to do away with the bridle altogether (sorry, not recommended for speed series Revs). Its very easy to take it off the kite, just make sure to keep track of what bridle piece attachs to which frame point on the frame. Then attach your lines directly to the end caps, or, alternatively, modify your end caps to allow for easier tying of lines when there is no bridle involved. Below is a picture of what I usually use for ends caps. I simply drill a hole into the center of the end cap, and pull a 6 inch length of bridle in through this hole and tie a knot in both ends. Now, quickly change lines without needing to pull the end caps off. The best fun at this length is whats called 3D flying, but, I think I’ll deal with that in its very own article next month.

Indoor sets

If you are flying a Rev inside, you are usually going to limited to an 8 – 12 foot set of lines. You may be asking for a handful by flying a 9 foot Rev 1 on 8 foot lines, but, it can be amusing! While you can come up with different line sets depending on what gym you are in, you’ll find you’ll fly more consistently if you just stick to one length of indoor lines. I’ve settled on a 9 foot set (while flying an Indoor Rev or severely lightened 1.5) which seems to fit every gym I have been in so far. Oh, and remember to take your own height, with your arms extended upwards, into account when working out what to use in a specific space.

Weighty Matters

Ideally, its nice to have two sets of this, one lightweight set, say, 50 pounds and a heavier set, 90 or 150 depending on the kite and winds in your area. A good general rule of thumb is the more powerful the Rev, the heavier a line set you will need. For 1s, 1.5s, IIs and Supersonics, you’ll usually find 90 pound will be strong enough, and you’d only use 150 pounds in high winds, preferably with a Vented kite. For Shockwaves, and the Various blasts, the pull of these in good winds means you’ll probably want to stick to 90 as your low weight lines and count on up to 200 pound with a Super/Power/Blast 2.4 if you will be using it to pull you around.

Part 2 – There are no safe rod jokes.

While there are some exceptions to every rule, with respect to rods on Revs, you’ll have one of four different types. This has endlessly confused people for years until someone sits down and explains the gold labels…

Revolution Equipped – The 4 wrap rods (named for the amount of graphite wraps that make up the rod) are the most common rods you’ll run across, used in all of the Revolution line of kites.

Ultralight – The 3 wrap rods used on the lighter kites.

Professional Use Only – Doesnt that label make you feel special? This is the 2 wrap rod, the lightest rod used in their kites, except for the Indoor Rev.

SLE (Super Leading Edge) – No particular label, but, they are pretty obvious given their larger size.

All of these sizes are available for any of the kites and it makes your kites much more versatile. Over the years, I’ve managed to collect 2/3/4 wrap frames for my 1s and my 1.5s. A quick frame change can make the difference between a day when the wind dies off and going home, or continuing to fly for a while longer with a lighter kite. Also, swap leading edges around too, when the wind comes right down, swap that SLE out and go to an old school (what you new kids call EXP) leading edge. Or, mix your frames up a little! I find that using a 3 wrap leading edge with 2 wrap verticals gives you a little stiffer response but, its still a very light frame. Or, a trick John Barresi showed me at WSIKF this past summer, put a 2 wrap frame into a vented kite. You’ll end up with a Rev that will back up much easier, even in moderate winds.

Ok, enough of physical pieces, next month I’ll take a long look at the various handles available. How about some actual flying tips?

Part 3 – Fly My Little Monkeys, Fly!

For most people, quad flying seems to work in a series of plateaus. The first one is the basic ability to get the kite into the air, and keep it there. For some people, this is an easy spot to reach, for others… well, its just a little tougher at first. There’s a few ways you can cut down on these plateaus though…

1] Find other people to fly with

The first year I spent flying a Rev, there was nearly nobody flying them in Vancouver at that time. So, I had to find alternate ways to learn new things to do. An early find for me was Revolution’s own site. On the main menu at the bottom is a link to “Advanced Flying” where you will find 19 separate exercises that will guide you through all the basics and start you down the road to more advanced flying. I printed each of these out onto separate pages, and took a clipboard down to the park, dutifully working my way through each one. By the end of the 19 exercises, you’ll have all you will need to continue on! But the best way to learn quickly is to simply find someone else in your neck of the woods who has already learned the basics. Ask them questions, watch their hands and get your own kite and simply try to keep up with them. You’ll learn more with a few afternoons of this than by going over printed examples on a clipboard, plus, it’s a lot more fun. If you have nobody in your area who’s flying quads, then take the next step and force a friend into taking it up by teaching them yourself. As you try to explain the concepts to them, you will find that these same concepts will become much clearer to you as well.

2] Focus in on specific skills

There’s really two specific things that are important to focus in on in the early stages of learning. First of all, learn to hover, in any direction, for as long as you can. The first hover people tackle is the simplest, with your leading edge pointing up. Next, work on holding the kite vertically. In every lesson I have taught to a beginner, I have drilled in the idea that their hands will remain in front of them, with your elbows locked onto your sides. I’ve gone as far as to tie people’s wrists together to enforce this idea (this is usually only needed for very stubborn dual line flyers 😉 ), but, this always leads to strange looks when you begin to explain how to hold a vertical hover because the first thing you will notice is that your hands are now apart, with your top hand pulled back further. Now, flip the kite over so its now hovering with the leading edge vertical, but facing the opposite direction. Go back and forth between the two, and as you do that, you will slowly discover the bicycle motion that’s used to spin a Rev in one place without losing any height. You’ll want to do this over and over again until you can do it anywhere in the sky, from any position.

3] Have fun

This really is the most important lesson of all. While the first few times you try to get a quad under your belt may prove to be a little frustrating at first, it won’t be long before you’ll hit that magic point, where it will all come together and flying a quad will begin to make sense.

Next issue, we’ll look the various handle types, advanced flying and finding new places to fly. Until then, if you can do it forwards, learn how to do it in reverse…

Here’s to beating John,

David Hathaway