cjay

Beginner kite selection information guide

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cjay    16

 I have been reading the beginner kite advice threads and noticed that I was looking for much of the same information about selecting kites that a lot of other beginners were asking about.

 I thought it would have been nice to have a consolidated page of kite selection advice from experienced flyers available for beginners like me to reference. So I compiled some of the tips and concepts that I have read in posts on various topics here, and although incomplete it might be a starting point to build on. Hope nobody minds that I used and paraphrased some of their comments. I tried to keep it focused on the different aspects involved for selecting a kite. This is a work in progress, and I will edit, delete, and change content as necessary. Input is welcome.

 

Dual line sport kite selection guide, definitions, and in depth reasoning

 

This guide might help a person doing research to be aware of the limitations and performance differences between different types and sizes of kites.

 

The first step when trying to figure out what kite to get, would be to decide what type of flying you want to do. Whether you just want to fly around, or whether you want to do precision flying, or maybe step up to performing freestyle tricks also called stunts.

 

Outgrow a kite means: Reaching the limits of what you can do with that kite. When your skills progress beyond the capability or trick potential of the kite. This limitation could be caused by the kite size, materials, design, build, or the conditions it is suited to fly in.

 

Flying means: The kite is moving in a forward or nose first direction. This is the direction that a kite naturally travels when it has enough lift to fly. In general, it is directional flying and turning, without stunt or trick flying. 

 

Precision flying means: The kite is moving in a forward direction, but accurate movements such as turns, or patterns are being performed, and the ability for the kite to respond precisely to line control inputs is required. Consistent stable tracking or the ability to maintain a set course of flight is needed.

 

Trick or stunt flying means: Performing other movements, or combinations of movements, primarily with the kite in a stalled or non-flying state. Stunt trick ability is generally based on a kites potential to be controlled in a stall.

 

Stall means: The kite is no longer producing lift sufficient to make forward moving headway. It could be hovering in a controlled stall, or even falling.

A stall is defined as the aerodynamic loss of lift that occurs when an airfoil (such as the wing of an airplane or kite sail) exceeds its critical angle of attack.

 

For trick flying, select a full-sized kite with a wingspan of at least 7’ tip to tip.

The 7’ foot and larger kites will move a little slower and feel more controllable & predictable, and give you more time to react and learn. It will have a wider wind range than a smaller kite due to their larger sail size. Larger kites can generally fly in a lower wind due to the larger sail size. They are usually easier control and maneuver during a stall, which is where freestyle tricks are normally performed.

 

For non trick flying, selecting a kite of 6' foot (72”) or less, it will be faster flying than the larger kites, and will require a little more wind to get flying due to the smaller sail size, and require less input on the lines, and can be more difficult or even impossible to properly stall and do tricks.

 

 They will be twitchier (which means it will turn very quickly, with a high probability of over steer). As for it needing higher winds - that depends on the weight of the kite, but as a general rule, smaller wingspan kites (under 70") usually do need a little more wind than say an 80" - 100" wingspan kites, and will also fly through the sky a bit faster as well. Also shorter wingspan kites are a little harder to trick.

 

For Precision kites: If precision flying is the main goal, do not assume that a dedicated stunt kite will be the best choice as it may or may not have high precision.

 

 If you are on a budget, selecting a cheap kite in the smaller size range (6' and under) may be the only option you have and will at least get you flying. However kites in the $100 or below price range are not usually as stall or stunt capable, and if you are trying to learn tricks this could limit your progress, and as your skills surpass the kites potential for tricks you would "outgrow" the kite.

 

Consider that kite manufacturers promotional flying videos can be misleading because they usually have a world-class pilot flying in the video, leading consumers to believe that it will fly like that for them, too.

 

Manufacturers wind speed ratings are not always accurate. It may not be possible for everyone to fly a kite at the lowest wind speed rating.

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TonyB    26

Thanks for taking the time to combine the various bits of useful information you've discovered, well done! 

There is only one thing I noticed that may be a bit misleading: 

4 hours ago, cjay said:

For Precision kites: There are kites made more specifically for this type of flying. Generally dedicated  stunt kites aren't usually as good at precision flying.

Generally, most dedicated stunt kites do have a high precision rating since stunting tends to require it (flying low to the ground, giving inputs to the kite when the leading edge is at the proper position in order to execute stunts, various types of landing and relaunching very quickly without damaging the kite, predictably performing various figures/patterns/combinations, etc.). However, it's not guaranteed that a dedicated stunt kite will have high precision so it is worth noting such (that if precision flying is the main goal to not assume a stunt kite will be the best choice since it may or may not be).

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cjay    16

Thanks, I deleted that part and added your input.

 Keep the information coming, it is a work in progress. I will continue to add input and correct it as needed.

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makatakam    1,560

I like where this is headed and would like to hear more from newer flyers as they have related experiences.

Well done, cjay!

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Kansas Flier    28
On 9/4/2017 at 4:27 PM, cjay said:

 I was looking for much of the same information about selecting kites that a lot of other beginners were asking about.

Can't wait till you ask about line sets...

I find that some kites can do some tricks easier than other kites. A trick learnt on one kite can be translated to another kite. I don't think there is one kite that does everything great, but there are kites that will fit your flying style better than others.

Lots of great info. Good job. 

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makatakam    1,560
38 minutes ago, Kansas Flier said:

Can't wait till you ask about line sets...

That's a whole different can of worms, but worth scrutiny.

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Nekoshi    9

Hello fellow flyers! I've been flying for 2 seasons. I don't have a lot of knowledge but I will share my experiences for cjay and anyone else who might be interested in my noob experiences. Thanks for doing this post. I'm following.

So I started with the Freebird by Skydog. It was a good price and a good teacher. It took a beating and I love flying it. Makes a good sound and flies fast but not too fast. I've been told it's a decent all around kite that can do tricks (although I haven't really tried) and it handles pretty good. The only down side is that it takes (correct me if I'm wrong) solid carbon spars that are 6mm diameter and I cannot find them anywhere. A few people from here and a couple of facebook kite groups suggested I contact Dodd Gross and after trying every other option, I did but it didn't get me anywhere either. For this reason, I wouldn't recommend this kite as a beginner kite unless your ready to accept that you will have to purchase a new one once you break a rod which could be rather quickly after you buy it. You will crash...a lot. You will probably fly it in too high of winds or be too rough with it at times. You may not know how to adjust the bridle for the winds and put too much stress on your kite. A lot can damage your kite and as a new flyer, expect to abuse your first kite so consider how you will be getting replacements and repairs done. Most the time if you buy from an actual kite shop they will sell kites they have access to repairing. I bought my first kite from the closest store who had a stunt kite for sale and it was just a hobby shop and the guy didn't know anything about kites and didn't have parts or a way to service them. :(

My second kite was a WolfNG by Premier Kites. I got it from a kite festival but they have a storefront and only sold kites they could get parts for and service. Parts are not too costly on this one and are indeed easy to get. It's a little heavy being a little bigger of a kite than my Freebird. I get some oversteer and it's a kite I would imagine a person who has flown before could handle but a novice might have some trouble getting the hang of. I think it's a good one for just flying. I've tried stalling and axles but it just seems to do that oversteer thing when I try it but I'm still attempting to get the hang of the tricks so maybe I just need to practice more. It does claim to be able to fly in some low winds (4-25mph) but I feel it flies much better if the wind is steady and around the 10mph-15mph range. It might be possible to do 4mph but you'll be doing a whole lot of exercise to make that 4mph wind work for you. It's just a little too heavy for that low. Really hard to get it up if the wind is under 7mph and especially if it's a gusty day where you may have moments where the wind dies off to under 7mph. I personally like flying this kite with my 100ft tail on it when the wind is good and steady and just doing casual loops.

My third kite was a gift for my birthday. I discovered I wasn't able to fly on most days I would think I could because our wind just drops off so hard. It'll be a 10-15mph perfect flying day but then I'd have moments where the wind was nothing and I'd stand in the field waiting to lift off once the wind picked up and then crash when it dropped off again. This was not fun for me so I started shopping for an UL that I could use outdoors in little wind but could handle the 10mph gusts. I found the AirWave Zero by Flying Wings and it's my favorite kite to date. Smooth flying even in gusty winds. It has great response and it's just a dream to fly. If the wind starts making it buzz too much I stop flying it because it is very lightweight and the sail is very thin. Frame is very thin also and being my favorite, I really don't want to break it. I have tried a few stalls and axles and it does them when I do it right and it seems to be the easiest for me to get that to happen with. It doesn't oversteer and will just hang there or slowly drift down. Parts are easy to get an also not too expensive. The price was decent for it's class. If you need a kite that can do 0-10mph, this is a good buy in my opinion. I'd love to try it indoor as well but I don't have anywhere to do that so I cannot speak of how well it'll do indoor flying but I'm sure it can because I have tossed it around in the house a little and it seems to be doable. This is not a kite for a novice. Get used to flying in all sorts of wind conditions and comfortable with your flying. Once you have confidence in your flying abilities I'd recommend this. I sometimes feel I could break it just by trying to break it down at the end of the flying day. It's very fragile so try not to crash, but if your gonna, don't crash too hard.

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cjay    16
On ‎9‎/‎6‎/‎2017 at 8:23 PM, Kansas Flier said:

Can't wait till you ask about line sets

Haha.

I will leave that list to someone else, in a different topic.

I have been into the technical information of dyneema and spectra before, so it isn't as much of a mystery to me, and so not as interesting.

 

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cjay    16
11 hours ago, Nekoshi said:

Freebird by Skydog

That's good to know about the lack of parts availability on the freebird. I wonder how parts availability is for the Dream On.

 

11 hours ago, Nekoshi said:

WolfNG by Premier Kites. I get some oversteer

I had an oversteer problem with my Prism E3. I never figured out what caused it. I do know that it was a heavy kite, but have no idea if it was the bridle setup, the weights, or my flying technique.

I am surprised that the Wolf NG has oversteer. It weighs 9 oz, is a pretty good size at 6.71' wide, and is a wrapped carbon and 2400 fiberglass frame. I am not sure if that means composite rods, or that some rods are carbon and others are fiberglass. I have seen some pretty good flyers on youtube tricking pretty well with it.

I am not sure if it has a tail weight but I was told that removing it helps if you are just flying around and not trying to trick, but I don't know.

I am lucky that several kite shops in the NW can do full kite repairs, cut and make custom rods, sleeved line sets, etc.

Ocean Shores Kites, The Kite Company in Newport Or.

And the kite Shoppe in Vancouver Wa for line sets.

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makatakam    1,560

Trick kites are intentionally designed to be somewhat unstable. Moving the center of gravity towards the tail helps accomplish this. Bridle anchor points, adjustment, and distance apart will augment or diminish this tendency. 

Precision kites will have the exact opposite of these design features, and therefore, more difficult to stall and trick, as tricking depends largely on how easily the kite can be stalled. Precision kites tend to have their center of gravity towards the nose of the kite.

Most kites are a compromise between these two extremes, but will lean towards one or the other, depending on the designer's intent.

In addition, the depth of the sail, the number, location and attitude of the standoffs, the aspect ratio, and the number, shape, and location of sail panels of the kite will play a major role in the overall performance. It's not as complicated as rocket science, but all the basic principles of aerodynamics are considered by the advanced kite designers when building a kite for a specific purpose.

And then they have to try to make it look pretty, which may slightly inhibit the other performance traits. Very often, the uglier ones will perform better than their pretty cousins, but the differences are so subtle that only an advanced flyer can feel any difference.

This is what makes kite flying a life-long learning experience. The level you want to achieve is the one that makes you smile the most.

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