Issue 38: Indiana Trick Clinic

In the winter of 2003 a program was proposed to the master kite flyer living in Bloomington, Indiana. Mark Kunoff was that master flyer. He agreed to my proposal on the condition that I promote and do all the legwork for the event… With this one being held on Labor Day weekend (Sept 4th and 5th), Mark Kunoff and I plan to hold 2 trick clinics every year. One in April (which we will have to schedule this later), and on the first weekend of September each year.

To both our surprise, more than 25 people showed up to learn trick flying during the spring trick clinic. The participants came from as far away as Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio and Canada! All were eager to learn some slack line tricks. Mark started with the basics and then moved to the experienced portion of the clinic. The pilots had many chances to identify key elements of Mark’s teachings during individual flight times. Those key elements included the wind window, the stall, footwork, and hand inputs. At the end of the trick clinic, all the novice pilots walked away with the axel firmly tucked into their trick repertoire.

This class reinvigorated Mark’s love of flying and he consented to doing another trick clinic at the end of the competition season. This time Mark wanted to be apart of the planning, promotion, and coordination. With support from the Hoosier Kitefliers Society, we managed to bring Lam Hoac down from Canada to be out special guest instructor. With added support from the Academy of Model Aeronautics we had our kite field and camping grounds. Everything else just fell into place.

The Indiana Trick Clinic (Summer Session) was scheduled as a two-day event, during the Labor Day weekend. On site camping was allowed and encouraged. Many participants decided to camp adjacent to the kite flying field.

The first part of the trick clinic started at 10am on Saturday. The winds were low and everyone struggled to keep their kite up in the air. Mark quickly compensated by going over bridle tweaking, which helped keep the non-ultralights air born. The day was slotted for basics, and everyone had a chance to hone their low wind flying skills.

Later in the day, everyone congregated to the camping grounds and began socializing around a campfire. Food, drink, and conversation ran freely as the night progressed. The activities started to die down around midnight, and everyone turned in.

The Sunday part of the trick clinic was slotted for advanced tricks and combination. The day was a drastically different from the day before. At 11am, Mark called for the pilots meeting. The wind was starting come in from the south at about 4mph and rising. After the first lesson the pilots took the field with the wind blowing about 6mph. One group was learning the axel to fade, another was focusing on the cascade, several people were working on combinations, and a few more were working on other advanced tricks.

The winds remained fairly steady for the rest of the day, at around 9mph. It felt good to see a participant pop an axel-to-fade, and then hold the fade. I saw the workings of a cascade from Mark’s ‘cascade group. It was about this time that the urge to fly became too great, and I took my kite up into the air to practice my combinations. At kite launch I became oblivious to my surroundings for the next few hours.

The great thing about the clinic was that the instructors, along with the participants, were learning. Lam Hoac executed his first comete, and rolled up 540. Mike Delfar was getting the dynamics for the Jacob’s Ladder. I was happy to take in all that I could from the more experienced pilots. There was so much talent and experience on the field that all the participants had individual sessions with an instructor or two.

If I may, I’d like to thank all the guest instructors: Dan Welbaum, Walter Park, Mike Delfar, Ben Liptak, John Arnold Sr., and Lam Hoac… The popular kites over the weekend were ADX’s, Transfer, Nirvana, STX2.3s, Killer Bees, Profiles, Mambas, Sky Masters, Sano SS, X-Masque, E2, Pheonix, a few home grown kites, and a bunch more that escape me right now.

I think that everyone learned something. I believe that everyone had a great time (except for Lyn, who caught a bug and was ill on Sunday). As the event coordinator, instructor, and participant of the Indiana Trick Clinic, I hope to grow this event. I’d like to thank everyone for coming out to have some fun. I’d especially like to thank Mark Kunoff (and the other guest instructors), for helping the kite flying community to become better pilots.

Anyone interested in assisting with, or particpating in future trick clinics can reach me (click on my name below), or Mark Kunoff.

Keep on tricking!

Castor Uycoque