New Tech Kites - Thunderfoil 1.7 Parafoil

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I have been flying stunt kites for a little over a week. I have taken my Thunderfoil 1.7 out to the beach 4 times and to a park 1 time and on all five occasions the wind was blowing 10 to 20 mph or more. I have a Turnigy Anemometer for checking windspeed (for a different hobby)and I generally try to make sure the wind does not exceed the kites rated performance. The Thunderfoil was obtained from Ricks darts and games in Houston. Rick took time to explain to me that the foil kites advantage for a first time flyer was that it was very hard to damage, having no spars or hard structure to break. I decided to accept this as probably wise and purchased the kite from him and took it to Galveston's east beach for a little first time fun. Rick had shown me how to attach the lines and the basics of control of the kite as well as how to throw some sand on it while setting it up so I felt I was ready for it.

The kite comes packed in a little mini-pack with a carabiner and strap that I just hooked to my belt loop to keep it handy while flying. The sail itself is folded and rolled up in a little drawstring ripstop sack that fits in the minipack next to the handle and lines. There is enough room in the mini pack for my wind meter as well. Easy to stow and go, this is the kite for traveling with. My kite is the Velocity color scheme of Red, Yellow, Black, and looks very nice. Unrolling the kite from the storage bag, the confusing tangle of bridle lines appears daunting but is rather simple really. Rick had shown me the pig tail attachment points and how to look at it to make sure they were not tangled and so far it was going easily. The kite has a little velcro tab in the center cell of the foil that holds the pigtails securely during transport and keeps the lines from getting tangled if you are careful.

My first problem was the wind. This first afternoon the wind was blowing nearly 20mph constant with gusts to 26mph or so and sand was streaming down the beach in flows because of it. I had to cover the bottom of the kite with sand as I laid it out so that it would stay put. I laid out the lines and attached the ends to the pig tails. The lines appeared to be the same length and about 80ft long. These are nylon control straps with 200# spectra line attached to them, sleeved at each end. Once I put the lines on I walked back to the straps got ready to fly.

I was prepared for a decent pull and for the kite to move a little faster than I might be ready for because of the wind. Despite my apprehension, I gave the handles a tug and the kite sprang into the air in what I NOW KNOW! is a power launch from the strongest possible wind directly down wind of me. Needless to say that I was pulled forward hard but managed to avoid falling. This kite pulled hard in this wind and the first thing I noticed was that the control lines were more than 6 inches different in length. The kite wheeled up and over and slammed down into the sand hard enough to make a substantial noise. No harm done, the kite was sandy but in perfect condition. Now knowing that the lines were uneven I was able to roll the kite over in the wind and take off again. I kept it in the air for a good 30 seconds before a badly timed turn put it in the sand again at high speed. The kite only seemed to know one speed, I later realized it was my lack of information that caused the speed problem and learned to fly out on the edge to slow things down a bit. The kite is easy to control if you can handle the pull. I am a really large man both tall and round, and in this wind the kite actually dragged my feet a few inches and threatened to pull me face first in gusts. The sensation was nothing short of a rush! I continued to fly in this wind for about one and a half hours non-stop. This is the kind of workout that I can really enjoy!

The kite held up to repeated crashing, as I learned to fly that first day, and my wife took a turn and was able to fly it(with a lot of crashing) but had to sit to keep from being pulled off her feet. Despite all the hard crashing, the kite kept on flying and was in perfect shape when we were through(although quite sandy, inside and out). Ricks advice turned out to be very good, soft foil kites appear to be quite durable, easily packed around, and an absolute blast to fly! The Thunderfoil was put through this several more times in slightly less wind and once in more reasonable wind(10 to 15mph)and the workout varies but is always a thrill! I have already made it a point to fly it any day I can, at least for an hour or two, to get a nice all over workout that I enjoy. Beach wind is this kites friend. In low wind conditions the window of flight narrows as the wing can collapse out on the edge without enough air to keep it inflated. I can now land this kite on it's side in good wind anywhere and take off again without a problem. Crashes are no problem as the kite is unhurt and a good yank on one side will usually roll it over in the wind where you can tug both lines and relaunch quickly.

The kites construction is excellent with good materials used all around. It flies like a bat out of hell in strong winds and its durability gives you quick confidence to try flying fast and low along the ground. This kite pulls, I mean it. I think any decent sized adult can handle this pull but the lighter ladies out there might be in for some feet dragging in high winds. Turns are slow to sharp depending on your control input. Small movements will not seriously change the kites direction so be prepared to move your arms if you want tight loops and turns. You will need some tight turns while you get used to flying this kite to avoid the ground though the kite will probably be fine if you do not manage the save it from a crash.

A breakdown of the good and bad. Its all good except the line length issue. Adjusting the lines length requires an uncommon tool(I made mine with a Dstring from my electric guitar)for working with the sleeves on the ends of the lines. I found out from kiters here that spectra stretches some, over its 80 feet of length and if you pre-stretch the lines and then even them out, you won't be faced with this problem. Other than that this kite is an excellent representative of the foil kites out there, producing strong pull, high speeds, and a thrill for the new stunt/power kiter. The Thunderfoil line includes a smaller 1.4 and a larger 2.4 foil. I can recommend the smaller foil for anyone wanting a fast stunt kite that is durable and that may not pull quite as hard, and the 2.4 might be ok if you don't mind being dragged around in higher winds.

Thumbs up for a thrilling kite with a lot of muscle!

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