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Troubleshooting reverse indoor quad flight

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I'm still struggling with indoor reverse flight. After quizzing several people at SPI for their ideas, and getting a bunch of viewpoints (e.g. lead with the hips, very light leading touch, etc.) I spent all of today's indoor practice trying to crack open something for reverse flight.

Over the 45 minutes on the ball court, I was able to fall back (rather than what I'd call flight) about 90 degrees many times. During the entire morning on about three attempts I was able to reach perhaps 180 reverse, and only one single time hit about 3/4 of a circle in reverse. I never hit what I would consider sustained reverse flight.

So here's a link to as much raw footage as I could record this morning. It's raw footage, so lots of rough spots. The entire 28 minutes in the clip is spent launching to a side then trying to reverse. Over and over again. You can see it from all different angles if you watch long enough.

What am I missing? Moving faster to catch more air? Slower to glide longer? Different angles to try to glide differently? More speedy reverse walk? More arm extension to pull a wider ark? More time on some core indoor skill?  I've been watching my own attempts all morning and cannot see what's lacking.


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does the kite have enough "reverse" (tuned into the handles &/or leaders)?  Does it barely go forward at all, under only the most demanding of your commands?  How long are your lines?  Does the kite use a bridle?

Walking in a circle should allow you to go forward half way around and in reverse the other 50%

the "up &over move" should be forward flight until you are comfortable walking around, .....then work on doing it in reverse, reach out (extend your arms) to get it moving towards the apex and then pull your arms downward, almost like you were squatting down to reach the highest point and float on down the other side.  This will take time and then suddenly happen, wondering what all the fuss was about thereafter a lesser action will initiate the action desired.

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General flying – 360ies and up and overs

First have you extended the top lines in some way if using the original Rev Indoor as originally configured? – if not: Do so! I added a pair of pigtails in series to the top two pigtails on the LE.
When originally starting out with the Rev indoor I flopped seriously and forgot/hid the kite after trying a couple of humiliating times and didn’t touch it for something like 1.5 years.
My recommendation (quite close to how I did it i.e.) is to address one difficulty at a time:

  1. Learn to do 360ies and low wind flying with your normal outdoor quadline. I used 10m (33foot) and 8.2m (27foot) for this. This step can take a long time dependant on your previous quad skills.
  2. Learn how to pilot the Rev Indoor as a "normal" kite to know its properties on ”long” lines (25 to 30 foot) outdoors on close to zero wind days. The Rev Indoor has a way of ”cutting/sliding downwards through the air” seeking the ground when doing horizontal flight or 360ies if you do not know how to counter act it. This behaviour is different from the 1.5 Revs. I think of the lower hand handle and lower hand wing tip as intersecting cog wheels –  if the lowest wing tip starts to lag to much when doing a 360 and you want to bring the lower wing forward – rotate the lower hand handle so the top line of the handle gets pulled and the brake line gets slacker. Get used to the kite and as usual feel the kite through the lines while thinking of the sail surface/feel the presence of the kite/feel the pressure of the sail. Also: Beware of gusts – they are scary when piloting the Rev Indoor outdoors!
  3. Deal with the really short short lines - in my case 3.6m (12foot) and 4.6m (15foot). Being Indoors or outdoors is not so important. If/when available also try the longer line set indoors.

When you do an up and over with a long line set (like 25foot), a nice drill is to try to adjust the brake (trim the sail) so that you don’t need to pull so much on the lines and (in this case) while keeping the handles far from the ground.  How well you managed can be measured in how much you need to lower your hands to make the kite pass the top (and yes, the handles can’t go lower than the ground).

Reverse flying

I’m sorry, I’m learning reverse flying myself and the success rate for limited distances is perhaps 50%, so the only thing I can say is how it has worked for me so far. The sort of reverse flying that I have looked into is almost exclusively horizontal or 360-like flying. I have been more successful outdoors than indoors with the reverse flying. It could possibly be caused by more frequent "natural" load on the sail (if positioned downwind). Think of it, medium light wind when reversing a 1.5 Rev, one builds up some pressure in the sail or at least starts a bit slow the first bit. Although I didn’t get all parts in it, this old post got was helpful in creating a subjective image that seems to help me:


I think that the post says that the kite should lead the way and you shouldn’t pull too softly(?). OK, now to my image (yes it will sound silly): I see the kite  (and especially the now leading trailing edge as a locomotive) that way ahead leads/drags any (real or imaginary) tail. When doing so, I pretend that the air has turned much viscous. This image says that the kite goes first and (the viscous part) says I should have enough line tension.

Let me know in a couple of months if any of the above descriptions held water.

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> How long are your lines?

This line set is 9 foot, I have the stock 15 foot set but it sometimes hits that low ceiling strut on the up-and-over, and I'm sometimes sharing the space so I get a smaller half court, so I typically use the shorter lines.

> Does it barely go forward at all, under only the most demanding of your commands?

Mostly, but I last added leader four months ago, I might be able to add an inch more. When you add "barely" and "most demanding", that used to be true but I could probably adjust it.

I've pulled it back to the point it is difficult to launch, requiring a significant pull. I'm not sure how to document, but from when I adjusted leaders four months ago here is the side view when all four lines are off the handle and tied to a single point. I had to hook them on a chair and walk around to take the photo. On the kite I've got long leaders on the top, tiny leaders on the bottom, both visible in the picture.  The handles are similar, almost no length on the bottom, perhaps 8 inches of leader on the top.

I could possibly add more leader on the top but it is approaching my limit of a successful launch. Already I typically launch toward one side, making it easier to gain height through an upward slide rather than straight up or up-and-over.  As you might hear and see in the video, I need a significant tug (quite different from all the other gentler motions) to launch.

I have also shortened the elastics so there is a bowing along the top and tension top to bottom so it takes less to power the sail, and put rubber tips on the bottom endcaps so it doesn't slide around.

> Does the kite use a bridle?

No. The leaders are attached directly to the end caps, visible in the photo above.

> This will take time and then suddenly happen, wondering what all the fuss was about thereafter a lesser action will initiate the action desired.

That's exactly why I keep working on it, despite knowing it isn't there today.

I know there is something missing, but I don't know what it is.  The two that feel most likely are a subtle shift in angles, tipping back a little more or a little less, or a shift in speeds either more toward the long glide or more toward the powered sail.  


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> First have you extended the top lines in some way ...

Yes, as described in the other reply. I last extended them about four months ago, although I could possibly extend another inch or so more.

> Learn to do 360ies and low wind flying with your normal outdoor quadline.

It takes some running which I don't like, but I can handle both on 35 foot lines. 

> Learn how to pilot the Indoor Rev as a "normal" kite to know its properties on ”long” lines outdoors

I haven't done that. With the terrible inland winds, I'm not sure that's a good idea.

The video in the first post was a morning intentionally dedicated to reverse flight. I'll be doing the same thing tomorrow morning. (I try to fly indoors every Tuesday and Thursday.)

When flying indoor I can handle forward flight, up and over, 360's, upward turns, all of these quite easily. Catch and throws, also now come quite naturally.

I haven't fully mastered downward 180 turns, which I posted here about last August. I can usually handle them by adding a bit of speed and force. Once again I observed that few people use a downward 180 turn indoors, at SPI's indoor show I only counted a handful out of hundreds of turns I was paying attention to.  

I can also handle an inverted hover indoor, walking backwards at my maximum comfortable pace keeps the kite off the ground. While that's technically flying backward, it isn't what's normally meant.

That leaves me on the skill I'm now struggling with, full reverse when flying clockwise or counter-clockwise.

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downward 180 turns are a dual line technique, .... it drops your altitude and sends you back towards the center of the wind window.  None of those are beneficial with a quad!!!! 

No, you "Back the bottom wing up" instead of having the top wing power downward.  Say you were the bottom guy in a whole line of kites stacked above each other in a column. You are as low as you can go already and now it's time for a 180 turn.  You want a stationary turn, slow and remaining rock solid in position.

If I witnessed you doing a downward 180 turn with my equipment loaned we'd stop and talk about it.  I don't want to see that, you don't want your peers to see it and you surely don't want spectators to know that type of movement is even possible.

Use the "quad-line effect" or cut two strings off and fly dually

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I had a bit more success in this morning's practice toward a reverse 360.  I had perhaps 4 successful reverse turns instead of just one.

Each one used more pressure in the sail (back up more quickly) plus a bit of forward drive on the bottom wingtip, although it's probably closer to less backward than a little forward drive. With the increased pressure in the sail it felt more prone to overcorrect/flip just like inverted flying is on outdoors when first learning the skill, but putting pressure on the kite and forcing the motion into the sail seems to be better than relying on momentum.

It doesn't have the smooth floating reverse I've seen others do, but I suspect that comes with practice and finesse. 

3 hours ago, Paul LaMasters said:

and you surely don't want spectators to know that type of movement is even possible.

Use the "quad-line effect" or cut two strings off and fly dually

I didn't realize downward 180 turns indoor were quite that strongly held, especially since outdoor quads seem to prefer downward 180s in group flies instead of upward 180s. I've seen some people do downard 180s in demo flys, but it is uncommon indoor. I'll remember to avoid it in the future.  :-)


At the risk of derailing my own discussion a bit, my current practice topics are:

  • Outdoor dual: improved stalls to enable more and better precision work.
    • Yet another big thank-you to Paul De Bakker for ~90 minutes of stall tutoring at SPI.  The old Dodd videos kept stressing they were the key, but Paul's explanations helped. My new goal is to get it to stop dead, like a quad's rock solid hover, and practice holding it for two seconds to ensure it is a solid stop rather than just a brief pause. More footwork and better timing seems to be the key.  (More foot-travel and better timing of footwork seem to be present across the board.)
  • Outdoor quad: improved control in variable conditions through footwork instead of arm work, and axel all the time.
    • The megaflys showed me I need to work on stability when not flying alone; when alone the formation is done when I feel like it, when with a group the formation isn't done until the leader calls it. During one megafly I couldn't rise as quickly as others even though my neighbors were fine, during another I dropped control while we were holding position in a ball for an extended time. I think both require hoofing it, since baking up quickly with my neighbors rather than quick pulls was the part that felt different to me.
    • Brett Marchel helped unlock the piece of a quad axel I was missing. Before I could achieve more of a jerked snap-spin, it stayed upright and rarely laid flat. After 2 days practice on the field I can lay it nearly flat during the spin about 70% of the time, and get really flat around 20% of the time. I still sometimes get the timing wrong and it stays upright. Like the other skills, the key to unlocking it was more slack gained by footwork. The future work requires footwork timing to get the slack in place at the correct moment.
  • Indoor duals: launch-to-fade, gain competency at indoor slackline
  • Indoor quad: reverse 360

And on top of them all, gain more confidence in front of groups. Another thank you to Fletch for helping me over that last minute terror. The adrenaline rush part is good, the performance anxiety and overcorrections it causes are a problem. 


For nearly all of them I'm at the point of improving an action I can perform.  Those improve with practice and study.

But this reverse 360 indoor is unlike the others. I don't yet have the skill, but I'm working on it.

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my outdoor suggestion is to practice inverted a couple of inches above the ground,

I start All novices upside down, doing the cartwheel to roll over (no dragging the leading edge like a dualy kite) to up-right.

Work on landing in the same spot on the ground or on a PICNIC table, upright, left, right, inverted, imagine you have a trash can top to land on,.... well when it can be taken away and replaced with a soda pop can, that is the control required for a stationary hover in low/no wind outdoors or with indoor conditions.  YOU aren't stationary ever and the kite only is to your own perspective.

If the kite will not back-up from an inverted position (on the ground) something is wrong with the bridle, or the handle/leader tuning.  It must back-up inverted to engage the quad-effect, not every kite design can do this, some work better than others.

Johnny B hated the indoor Rev, he has forced himself to master it fully because other pilots have used it so effectively for decades.  It is not "my cup of tea" either, I have found other solutions better for my preferences indoors and outside.

That ideal line length indoors is very personal and will change like your sock colors over time.

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Trying to maintain an inverted hover indoors is one of the things I'm using while trying to figure out what's up with the reverse 360. 

Outdoor I'm fine with that, unless under mental stress. ;) I can trace out shapes and words in reverse, boxes in reverse, quickly rise inverted from a launch up to the top of the window, and hover comfortably inverted. The same with side hover and wingtip landings, I usually try to land on leaves, sometimes picking up multiple leaves each stabbed through the wingtip. My aim is gradually improving, some take a few attempts.

Indoor I can hold it up steady while walking backwards, but it requires maintaining plenty of pressure in the sail. From re-watching performances, most reverse flying is far slower with less air pressure. I suspect that is because the reverse motion is relying on the momentum of flight rather than a constant load from walking required for hovering. 

I've also been playing around with seeing how the air flows differently in reverse. Some of my time this morning I tried the spin in place done before a catch/throw to load up the sail for the long glide. That same motion done in reverse has a dramatically different effect on the 'legs' of the quad; unlike the leading edge that wants to glide, in reverse the two legs both want to flip up or flip down to catch the air even at slow speeds, rather than wanting to glide. Trying to enter a stable reverse glide was what clued me in to applying different motions (less reverse on the lower wingtip) for my few successes.

Another thing I've been feeling is the nearly-inverted slide/float, which is more like a long glide. It is still mostly forward motion, but closer to inverted that I hoped it might help develop the right sensations.


It is likely some subtlety I'm missing, subtly changing tension on one handle, feeling a minor difference in motion, needing slightly different tension.  Just like the struggles I had with outdoor inverted flight, finding the balance point through repeatedly over-correcting and learning the edge.


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On the topic of reverse indoors, two ideas:

1 - let the pressure off for a split second when shifting from forward to reverse, similar to shifting gears in a car, being sure to fill the sail evenly when you go to reverse.

2 - "lead with your chin"... Tilting your head with the kite (top of head same direction as the LE or chin following the "V" in the TE) can help you keep a perspective on the controls up to but before it becomes physically uncomfortable to do so.

Watch this video and you'll see a lot of my head (and torso) work in this area, no big shifts in the handles, mostly pressure on 4 lines, pressure off 4 lines, keeping a grip on the four point frame and just shifting priority to the lines I want to be dominant.


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11 hours ago, Paul LaMasters said:

If I witnessed you doing a downward 180 turn with my equipment loaned we'd stop and talk about it.  I don't want to see that, you don't want your peers to see it and you surely don't want spectators to know that type of movement is even possible.

I'm calling a difference in terminology, what you described (squeezing the bottom wing to lift it up in reverse and gain altitude) is a variation of what we call a downward or under 180, named this because the leading edge (top of the kite) swings underneath rather than trying to roll that weight up and over through an upright face to the other side.

Said differently, I think Paul is describing one of the various applications of a downward 180.

Let me know if I've misinterpreted. ✌️

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@frob How long have you been flying quads? It all comes with time on the lines. You remember all those "aha" moments you've had so far? Well, there's more ahead. Even after 10 years. Ask JB.

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Much like having a weekly assignment from a music teacher, those are my 'work on this next' lists.

23 hours ago, makatakam said:

How long have you been flying quads?

For my history, I self-taught to fly dual line kites (simple dual line deltas and my brother's power kites) starting in 1986, and saw catalog pictures of quad line kites when they came out that were eventually called Revolution. I saved my pennies and bought a few kites, but around 1994 adult responsibilities kicked in.  There was no YouTube, and living 800 miles from a beach meant I didn't get to see anything in the kite world. Instead there were catalogs from Into The Wind and a few others, with ads for mostly dual line and single line kites. I still have some of that blue SpiderLine, an early brand of Spectra line.

Over the following years I would occasionally pull out my kites, and in the mid 2000's I flew with my kids who were amazed at dual lines but preferred to run around while flying my parafoil (which they called "the bag kite") but nothing serious.

In the early 2010s my interest came back more severely, I discovered youtube videos showing all kinds of changes. There were standoffs on kites, and people were doing tricks I never imagined. Quad line kites were doing formations that blew my mind. I managed to get to a few kite festivals, but kept taking the responsible route of spending money on family instead of myself.

I saved up the money, and bought my first quad in 2015. There were some youtube videos and the DVD that came with the kites, but it was a tremendous amount of trial-and-error. I still was searching for online communities, and didn't discover KiteLife until 2017. 

I was flying on my own, watching tutorials online to work on skills, but mostly have had to figure things out on my own. Only since then have I had the chance to post videos for others to view and offer tips.  On the rare occasions I can fly with someone in real life, I'm generally the most advanced person in the group, with the exception of traveling to a festival somewhere, when I'm a relatively skilled amateur.

From 2015-2017 I flew 1-2 times per month. Starting in 2017 I tried to hit once per week.  In mid 2018 I shifted to 3x per week, usually 2 mornings indoor and Saturdays outdoor, weather permitting.

I'd still absolutely love an indoor clinic, and due to location I've been to two indoor live performances. Everything else indoor has been through videos, reading, and experimentation.  Which brings it back to this topic, working on reverse 360's indoor and asking for help through recordings.

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It helps to fly with and talk to others on the field. Getting out to festivals is a good idea. Learning on your own is a long slow road -- I know because I've done it. Other than that it's just time on the lines. Eventually it will just "click" and you won't even know how you managed it.

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Another morning practice, not much improvement for sustained reverse indoors. I feel it was easier giving more force, less float. 

I've tried more variations of twisting, lead with the chin, also lead with the hips as was suggested, and also a variation I'd call walking to the side and dragging the kite along by force. With that I was able to drag it through a half rotation around the court, but it would either destabilize to a rocking motion or de-power and drop. 

Even so, still not there yet. 

I think I'll post a vid of Thursday's practice, too. 

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Okay, day four of my full practice devoted to this. Here is the unedited video from half of it. My best success was at 9:50 in that clip, managing not once around, but somewhat over twice around.

While I've been toying with this reverse flight on-and-off for months, here are these summary four days dedicated exclusively to reverse flight:

Day 1- 0 full reverse 360s, 1 good partial of 3/4 turn, 1 good half-turn reverse, a bunch of 'falling backward'

Day 2- 0 full reverse 360s, 4 good partial turns, many 'falling backward'.

Day 3- 0 full reverse 360s, perhaps 5 good partial turns, many 'falling backward'.

Day 4- four full reverse 360s, perhaps 5 good partial turns, several reverse floats back to the ground.

Today's big change was to dramatically increase the force I use to load the sail.  Usually moving forward I can do a gentle sustained force that keeps it barely loaded, and if I let up slightly it shifts to a forward float or glide.  During these successes I found I was pulling back to load the sail about 2x or even 3x what I do for forward flight.  

The other big change was directing the force.  The top half I need to pull back in full reverse, the bottom half I need to apply nearly-full forward drive, otherwise it would destabilize or rotate around like an inverted hover or full rotation, subject to continuous minor correction. This feels different than the same motion outdoor, which very nearly holds neutral on the low-hanging side with the top half pulled back to hold the sail vertical. 

A new problem today was, I think, coming from maintaining the vertical direction while in reverse.  In outdoor, because it's holding a vertical angle, the arms require a "drawn bow-and-arrow" posture to maintain a straight line.  In this practice, the motion ended up laying the kite flat. While it made flying more difficult, recovering from it felt like the same motion as an axle, a big tug to the side and it swings back around. 

One thing I noticed was when loading the sail during the successes and the partial-successes, there was a kind of click or pop into place. Maybe a term would be "indoor whump", or maybe "engaged" or "pressurized"?  When it hit the right combination of load and velocity, there was a notable shift that came in as a pop or click that I could feel strongly, almost as though it went from the sail being pulled then suddenly kicked into being engaged or driven, like when powered by a sudden gust but at an indoor scale. There was a notable tug at that instant. When I felt that kick in, the kite was suddenly substantially more responsive and joined up with the commands I wanted to give.  Again, the amount of sail loading was roughly double the sail loading I use for forward motion.  I suspect that's the point I've got to hit for this to become reliable.

When that engagement kicked in and then left again, it stalled. I found I could shift back to forward drive or otherwise recover during that moment of stall, rather than dropping down to a landing or pulling in for a recovery catch.

Anyway, looking forward to comments people may have.

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Watching your video, notice that your best reverse attempts usually saw your hands staying closer together, moving together as if holding the same frame - the least successful attempts saw that right hand start to pull back farther back and away from the other hand. Not a foolproof observation, but good food for thought. ;)

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11 hours ago, frob said:

During these successes I found I was pulling back to load the sail about 2x or even 3x what I do for forward flight.

Would you expect (I don’t have the answer), that the reason why the sail needs so much more load during reverse is due to a need to flex the LE or is it something to do more with the air flow around the sail? If it is the first case, that the LE should be curved somewhat, shouldn’t this be available with a sightly more flexible LE (and therefore require less pull when reversing)? I like my P90 LE (very soft) in my Rev 1.5 B-series std in very low winds, but have not tested any P90 LE in the Rev Indoor.

11 hours ago, frob said:

This feels different than the same motion outdoor, ...

You did find it worthwhile to defy the ”the terrible inland winds” with the Rev Indoor or was it while using a 1.5 outdoors?

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For the first, yes, I believe but don't know for certain that the sail billowing a little made some of the difference. I don't know if it is essential. The sail including the leading edge are under tension already due to doing most of Watty's suggested mods. In addition, I've followed the Djinn's method of clipping the elastic on the leading edge internally, plus I've used some tubing (the stuff of 'water weenies') on the two endcaps so it doesn't slide around. The leading edge is quite curved, and the material tight along the spars ready to cup at the slightest motion. 

For the second, neither. I usually fly indoors twice a week before work, and outdoors on Saturday. I enjoy it and want to improve my skills. That's just in comparison to light wind flying, trying a similar backing up motion.

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Haven't watched your video yet, but as I learned, I found it very important to setup the reversal by moving your feet first. Even changes in direction are setup by getting your footwork in order. Think golf swing - the downswing starts from the bottom up, feet first.

I watched John's tutorials in a very specific manner - I watched the whole series concentrating on his feet. Then watched concentrating on the hands. Finally watching how the first two affected the kite flying. IMHO YMMV

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