Issue 54: REVisions: Team for Anyone

I’m currently sitting in New York state, trying to decide what to write about while I’m working between the Grand Haven festival and Wildwood, which I leave for a little later on today. Thus, this article of Revisions will end up being a little bit of this, and a little bit of that as opposed to a specific focus, as I’ve been mulling this over for a week now when it dawned on me that it was indeed time for a new one!

Many many years ago, I had started a mailing list geared towards quad lines kites, not so oddly, named the same as this current column is, “Revisions” I ran it reasonably regularily for a few years but, it finally tapered off in 2000 due to my time being focused elsewhere (like, on a guitar) for a short while. Once I came back to kiting in such a hardcore manner again, forums had become the mainstay for kite conversation and thus, I never did “relaunch” the mailing list. But, I refer back to it once in a while (as you can too, its still located here) and when I do this, I see names that have continued on to this day, and many of these people, I have had the great pleasure to meet and fly with over the years. On in particular comes to mind at the moment, and that’s Mike Kory of Illinois. “Back in the day”, he was a frequent contributor to Revisions and we first crossed paths a year or so ago again, when I spotted a great Tshirt he’d done at Cafepress, titled “Curious George Flies a Rev”. Of course I HAD to have one of these. And then this past winter, Mike made the trek out to Kiteparty 5, where with huge amounts of coaxing (ya right, as if), we managed to have him fly with iQuad much of the weekend, when he wasn’t playing with the crowds on the pier with one of his beautiful handmade kites.

Once Mike headed home to Illinois, he got an idea in his head, he was going to undertake the documentation of many of the moves and calls we took him through over the weekend. The idea behind this was to create a “manual” that other flyers could go through and develop a common vocabulary for the various team moves that we and all the other quad teams make use of which in turn would make the experience for a new flyer integrating their first team flying far easier. The manual itself has gone through a few “revisions” over the month or so that Mike has been working on it and a couple of weeks ago, we sprung it out onto the net for everyone to get a look at, and add in their perspectives. As for getting a copy of this, you can download your own, and also spend some time in the forum Revolution has dedicated to team flying from here:

The manual itself is available in either English or Spanish, absolutely free of charge, in PDF format… Download it here:

These past two weekends has found us out on the Eastern side of the country and we got to see first-hand how this manual has helped people to get a good grip on the mechanics of team flying. We had a very easy time dropping people into the middle of a megafly at either Grand Haven or Wildwood and much of that was due to Mike’s hard work on the document, the people who flew were at the very least familiar with most of the calls and what to expect, and once you have that part down, the rest comes much easier. We’d found in the past that trying to verbally explain moves like “Benefits” or the terribly brain teasing Blender was pretty difficult and now, its very well documented into a format that anyone can read through at their leisure.

Its worth nothing that the document itself is to be considered a “Live” document, in other words, people are continually helping to add to it, and spread it further around the world. I know we’ve added a few new twists just over the last two festivals for example. Various groups have undertaken translation of it into other languages for their own uses, so in fairly short order, you should be able to go fly a consistently called megafly anywhere in the world where there is a few rev flyers. Just how cool is THAT? And one other thing worth noting as well, Mike got to field test his work with iQuad directly, we proudly added him on as an alternate member, and he flew with us for all of the Grand Haven festival. And did a pretty fine job of it as well, thanks again Mike, both for the manual itself and for joining us in Grand Haven, we hope you found it as much fun as we did.

While both the Grand Haven and Wildwood festivals will receive their own articles in Kitelife, I’d like to make a few quad specific remarks about them here. More than anything else, I’d like to thank everyone we met and flew with over those weekends. I’d go right over my word count if I thanked you all individually, but myself and all of iQuad had a simply fantastic time at both events and that wouldn’t have been the case without the people we hung around with being there. A few days after returning from Wildwood, my smile is still running on 1000 watts, I’m very tempted to suggest that it was one of the best festival weekends (both of them!) that I have ever had the pleasure of flying at. Both festivals had well attended megaflys with anywhere from 6 to 12 people involved with them and for many of those people it was their very first experience flying in a team situation like that. After a few adjustments, people generally caught the feel of it pretty nicely.

There’s really two key skills that make for some good team flying, the first of which is speed control. Its something we don’t really tend to worry about when flying solo, you fly at the speed you want, varying it as you go, but, when you have a kite in front of you and one zooming in behind you, it becomes critical to dial your own forward (or, backwards for that matter) speed into whatever the pack is moving at. This often involves a fair amount of brakes being applied, but as anyone who participated found out, it’s not that hard to do once you get used to the idea of it.

The second skill, which can be far more subtle, is to keep your eyes on your kite at all times. Sounds simple doesn’t it, when you put it into those terms but, when you get right down to it, it can be a little trickier than it would seem. But you will find that as soon as your eyes leave your own kite, yours is very likely to go skating off into someone else. This also applies very heavily to the sensation of being wound up amongst all the the other lines in the pack. The first few times, this can be the most disorienting hurdle to overcome in a team situation, but, as you get used to it, it really comes down to the same basic thing, simply watch, and fly your own kite. If its coming down in the sky because of the pressure of everyone else’s lines, simply compensate for that as if you were the only kite in the sky and you will find it becomes much easier to control. All that being said, when I’m flying with iQuad, I have a list of visual priorities as we’re flying. First and foremost, my eyes are on my kite and not very much else, however, I’m usually keeping either John or Steve (kites 1 and 2) in my peripheral vision for alignment’s sake as with any given move, I’m probably having to line up to either John as the leader or, Steve, depending on which kites are going where. Steve rides number 2, and as we’re usually aiming to fly with an even number of kites, I’m typically either 4, 6 or 8, thus also “even” with Steve instead of “odd” with John. It’s a little knack that you will develop as you fly. Now, go forth and play with more quads, I’m expecting even bigger megaflys next time we are out your way.

Ok, one last final comment, and this time specifically with Grand Haven. Attending Grand Haven has LONG been on my list of festivals to attend and it really comes down to one reason, I’ve always wanted to see the big quad stacks of Lee Sedgewick and Sam Ritter. Lee I had the distinct pleasure of meeting at the AKA Nationals last year in Des Moines but, this time around, I also got to finally meet Sam and Ann Ritter in person. Sam was also one of those people who was on the Revisions mailing list all those years ago, so to finally get to shake the man’s HUGE hands, and spend some time flying with him was truly a treat. Sam, you’re first class all the way and much of my current passion with Revs originates within your’s and Lee’s work at Grand Haven and other festivals.

And now? Time to get ready for the next run of festivals. I’m looking at 6 of them over 8 weekends so I am sure I will have some more tales to spin by the next issue. And, if there’s any area of quad flying you’d like to see covered soon, be sure to send me an email. Thanks again and may you always find good winds.

David Hathaway