Issue 4: Doin’ It Indoors

Hopefully, those of you who have been following this column have by now at least tried indoor flying or have been flying indoors for some time. In this article, I will give you a “how to” on a basic move for a dual and a quad line kite.

I will also be doing a review on the Synergy Zero Wind Great Deca.


The Axel

First, let’s discuss what has always been the big move for almost every flier as soon as they feel that hunger to do more then figure eights and loops: the axel.

If you are on the newer side to flying indoors, or out, you may still be perfecting your axel. When I first started flying indoors, I had just about six months of flying under my belt. For the longest time I couldn’t get the axel at all. Then I purchased a brand new Jam Session and axeled on the first attempt. I guess it must be the kite. Needless to say I didn’t have my 50 axels in yet, so I was not prepared for doing them indoors.

Mostly, I was used to axeling “on the fly” outdoors. This involves popping the axel while the kite is in motion, not stalled like Dodd instructs. When attempting the axel indoors I tried to do the same thing, axeling on the fly. Didn’t work. And it wasn’t the kite either.

My first indoor kite was a Precision Kite Co. Wren. Try as I may, the axel was escaping me. I even called Jeff Howard, the kite’s designer and asked for his advice. He did give me advice all right, but it was not what I wanted to hear. He simply said, “Practice.” God, I hate that.

My next plan was to review the axel in Flight School II. Then it became very clear. Stall the kite first, let the nose start to fall forward and pop. Sounds simple, but it wasn’t to be so simple as that. It took a few attempts, but eventually it all came together.

When doing an axel indoors, make sure to keep enough slack in the lines for the kite to go around. Once the kite starts coming around, remember to move it smoothly into the direction you want it to go. In other words, there is no wind to support the kite, so you have got to be ready to keep the kite in motion once the axel is complete. One other thing…be gentle with the pop. Too sharp of a tug and the kite will just flip over and fall to the floor. And remember, once you learn how to axel indoors, the same rule applies. You can only do 50. I gotta ask Dodd, does that mean 50 per day, or 50 forever? And what is the fine for exceeding the limit?

One Handed Up and Overs

For quad liners, let’s try a really impressive looking move that is really kind of easy to do. This would be the one handed up and over. Applies to Revs and Decas.

With the kite on the floor in the launch ready position, place both handles in one hand. Doesn’t matter which one. I’m right handed, so I tend to favor that hand. With your hand extended out to your right side as far as it will go, tilt the top of the handles back and gently launch by using a sweeping motion to your left side. As the kite goes over the top, you may want to do one of two things in order to keep pressure in the sail. One would be to start bringing your arm in toward your body. The other method is to move your body away from the direction of the kite. Both will work, as well as a combination of the two. Experiment to see which you like best.

Once you have mastered the one handed up and over, try doing a reverse up and over one handed. It’s the same motions, but for some reason, reversing the kite is more difficult. At least for me it was. I found it very hard to “feel” the kite in reverse. It took a while, but it was that sage advice that I got from Jeff Howard that did the trick…”Practice”.

Kite Review

In the past couple of months, I was unable to review any kites due to a possible conflict of interest. That conflict has been resolved and I am now quite ready to share with you what I know about some of the best kites on the market today.

This month I would like to examine the Synergy Zero Wind Great Deca. This is an original design by Marc Ricketts of Guildworks. The kite is now being manufactured under license by InVento of Germany, the same folks who bring us HQ products.

I first flew a Deca in late October of 1997. It was the Zero Wind model. I flew it outdoors in a crazy, unrecommended amount of wind. It was a blast! The next day, in true New England weather fashion, there was no wind. It was again, a blast. I was immediately hooked on Decas and I of course wanted the top of the line, the Great Deca.

I was doing okay flying quad at the time, but I was not prepared for the difference between it and a Rev, that difference being the need to keep tension on all four lines. Because I was used to flying Revs, I had a frustrating tendency to keep overcontrolling the Deca resulting in the kite flipping forward on itself. If you decide to try a Deca, keep this is mind. And definitely try flying it, at least for the first time, outdoors in a slight bit of wind. In this way you can become familiar with the amount of control you need to use, as well as keeping all four lines tensioned.

When you do finally bring the kite indoors, you will, no doubt, overcontrol in the beginning. Don’t give up! It will not last long. It took me about two hours before it was not a problem anymore. The Great Deca has a tremendous feel to it, kind of like pull in the sail. The more you fly it, the more it will become an extension of your hands.

To compare the Great Deca or any Deca to a Revolution is like comparing apples and oranges. Yes, both are quads and with practice, I’m sure someone, somewhere would be able to do everything on a Deca that can be done on a Rev. But it was clear to me that the two did have some immediately noticeable differences.

A Great Deca is a gentle and graceful giant indoors. It flows through the air. It is capable of doing amazingly long floats. After some time, you can do quick stuff, too, as well as 3-D maneuvers. But the best asset of the Great is its presence in the air.

The kite is already so unusual looking to begin with, that with its nearly nine foot wing span, it gets attention.

As mentioned before, the flier has to keep all four lines tight while flying. This means the pilot must be in complete control at all times. Because there is no conventional leading edge, the kite can not be yanked through the air. It must be flown. Once the flier has gotten a good grasp on the amount of control necessary to fly the Great, the first thing you will notice is the kite’s amazing stability. It has a rock solid feel to it. Where a Rev sort of cuts through the air, a Deca glides and floats.

Its turning capability is also amazing. It can turn on its center in a spin. The response in a turn is solid, whether the kite is moving forward or in reverse.

And reverse is as easy as flying forward, again with a solid feel.

When it comes to 3-D maneuvers, the Deca can be at a bit of a disadvantage. Or so I thought. However, whenever I see Curtiss Mitchell fly a Deca, I’m usually stunned by the kite’s capabilities. Thanks to Curtiss, I know the kite can be hand launched as well as caught in many ways.

And believe it or not, the kite is capable of accomplishing an axel. More on that in a future issue.

As for construction of the kite, I own both Guildworks and InVento produced kites. And to their credit, InVento is putting every bit of craftsmanship into the Deca as Marc does. The InVento version uses a ventex sail with Avia Excel and Skinny rods. Bridling is dyneema core Dacron. The kite is approximately 5 ounces. For a kite that has a 107 inch wing span, that is pretty impressive. The kite comes complete with a 50# line set and handles.

I can honestly say I can give a detailed review of this kite. I have been flying it in competition this season and have not finished less than third in four events. It will always be one of my favorite kites.