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Phil in Ottawa

New Flyer Questions

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Hello everyone,

I'm a brand new dual line stunt kite flyer (and I mean less than a week new).

First, am I using the right term to describe my kite? I've seen them called stunt kites, sports kites, delta kites, trick kites, etc. What is the normally accepted term?

My kite is a 74" Skydog Freebird. I've had it out twice since I bought it less than a week ago.

The first outing was a real bust. There was very little wind that day and I chose a less than optimal location where what wind there was was very inconsistent. I got the kite up in the air and crashed it but not much more.

My second outing was much better initially. I found a great location about 10 minutes from my house. The wind was relatively steady at around 20-25 kph. I was able to launch the kite by myself and perform basic turns back and forth across the window. I did a few spins although I have to admit they were more by accident than by design. And of course, there were many crashes. Which brings me to the reason I said the outing was better "initially". With all those crashes, I quickly came to the realization that kites are not built like tanks and will suffer damage after a hard hit or ten.

My first incident was when I realized that the spine had poked right through the bottom of sail. The Freebird is equipped with a breakaway Velcro flap intended to open up to allow the spine to release on a hard nose hit. Well, in my case, the flap did not open and the spine went right through it. Oh well, no big deal. I just moved the end of the spine to the other side of the flap, closed the flap and everything was fine. I figured this could easily be fixed so I didn't consider it a big problem.

My second issue came when, after another crash, I noticed that the small bungee tie that holds the end of the sail to the leading edge had come off and was lost. You see, the Freebird has a two-piece leading edge that allows you to fold the kite down to a smaller size for storage. When you put the two pieces together, you then lock them together using the sail by stretching a small bungee loop attached to the end of the sail and inserting it in an arrow nock at the end of the leading edge. Obviously, the knot used to tie the bungee loop was not very tight and came loose sending the bungee flying. Again, this turned out to not be a deal breaker. I used the small piece of bungee cord that came on the line winder, made a new loop and used that on the kite. Problem solved and I was back in business.

My third and last accident did end my flying day though. After a rather severe crash, I approached the kite to find one of the bottom cross spars had broken. I guess it did not release as it had in previous crashes. Just bad luck really. But I learned that 6mm carbon is not as strong as I thought.

Needless to say I was not too happy with all the problems I experienced. The broken spar was probably my fault for crashing the kite at a relatively high rate of speed. But I considered the other two issues manufacturing defects. I contacted the shop where I bought the kite. They in turn contacted Skydog who agreed the store should replace the kite for me. So I'm happy with that and I will have a new kite later today. First thing I'm going to do is reinforce that breakaway flap somehow and also find a way to ensure the little bungee loops do not come loose again. And I'll try to learn not to crash so heavily so I don't break another spar. I'm actually going to ask the store if I can keep the good one from my current kite as a spare. We'll see what they say.

So that's my story so far. Now onto my questions.

1. The Freebird comes with 65', 100lb Dyneema lines. From what I've read, those are shorter than the 80'-120' length normally recommended for kites. What effect do shorter lines have? Faster speeds? Less area available in which to fly the kite? More severe crashes? More difficulty flying and executing tricks? Would you recommend I purchase a longer set of lines?

2. When launching my kite, it would often climb to the point where it was directly above my head. It would then stall and start falling down without me being able to recover and get the kite flying again which was quite annoying. Obviously I'm doing something wrong, but what and how do I correct my mistake?

3. The same kind of stall problem occurred when I would fly the kite to the edge of the window. How can I get the kite to start flying again after it has stalled like that? Would taking a step back and pulling both lines down by my side (as in a launch) do it?

Thanks a lot for your help. Happy to be part of the community and looking forward to getting familiar with my kite, learning how to do tricks and having many hours of fun.

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Sounds like you are on the right track. Kites are either single, dual, or quad line, so you are right in calling it a dual line. I would say dual line trick or stunt kite. When I hear delta I think of a flat profile and straight bottom edge kite used for lifting, not tricking.

I'll let the people know about flying answer the rest of your question.

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Phil,


1. The Freebird comes with 65', 100lb Dyneema lines. From what I've read, those are shorter than the 80'-120' length normally recommended for kites. What effect do shorter lines have? Faster speeds? Less area available in which to fly the kite? More severe crashes? More difficulty flying and executing tricks? Would you recommend I purchase a longer set of lines?


You'll probably find that a longer line set will make life easier (if your flying field is large enough that you don't have to dodge obstacles or something). Think of it this way: the kite will fly at the same speed on long lines or short lines, but with the long lines the kite has to travel a longer distance to get to the edge of the wind window. That longer distance gives you more time to think about what to do next.

Another thing you can do to slow things down is take a few steps towards the kite. The effective wind speed will be reduced by your walking speed. This is really helpful if you're headed for an unscheduled landing and can't remember how to steer out of it -- just walk (or run) towards the kite and the kite will have a much softer landing.

2. When launching my kite, it would often climb to the point where it was directly above my head. It would then stall and start falling down without me being able to recover and get the kite flying again which was quite annoying. Obviously I'm doing something wrong, but what and how do I correct my mistake?

3. The same kind of stall problem occurred when I would fly the kite to the edge of the window. How can I get the kite to start flying again after it has stalled like that? Would taking a step back and pulling both lines down by my side (as in a launch) do it?


Both of these issues are really the same problem: difficulty controlling the kite at the extreme edge of the wind window. In one case, you're at the edge of the window directly overhead and in the other case it's to the side. When you're right at the edge of the window, you don't have much tension in the lines and it takes a certain amount of delicate finesse to keep the kite under control. Inputs generally need to be very small -- it's really easy to over-do it. It probably won't take much more than a few more hours on the lines for you to start developing that muscle memory and feel for the delicate control. I usually recommend that beginners avoid flying all the way to the extreme edges of the window for the first few sessions -- it'll save a lot of frustration.

So how do you avoid the edges? Remember that kites are very literal. If you launch and point the kite straight up, it'll just keep flying straight up over your head unless you make it turn before it gets there. If it's flying horizontally and you keep even tension on both lines, it'll just keep flying that path all the way to the edge. All you have to do to avoid the edge is make a turn before the kite gets there. Try to feel the tension on the lines while you're flying. You'll notice that the tension is highest in the center of the wind window. As you get farther away from the center, the tension gets correspondingly lighter. When you start to feel that tension dropping below your comfort zone, turn the kite and fly it back towards the center of the window. Remember that when you want to turn, the kite only understands differential tension on the lines. It's a push/pull action. (I know this sounds obvious, but it's not a natural reflex for most people during the first few flying sessions. When things start moving fast, I see a lot of new flyers trying to turn by swinging both hands together towards one side or the other or crossing left over right or something like that.)

Take heart, this will all get ingrained into muscle memory and become a natural reflex after just a few more hours of practice. Stick with it, you're well on your way.

If you can find an experienced flier to work with you, that'll be a huge help to quickly climb the learning curve. Those "local experienced fliers" are sometimes not easy to find, so don't hesitate to ask questions here. There are lots of friendly folks on the forum who will be happy to help.

-Brian

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While later, when starting with trick learning, the window edge would be your friend, now it's best to avoid the far ends of it, like Brian said. Pulling your hands to generate more speed would lead to the kite stepping out of the window, so to speak, and falling. A small pull with the opposite hand, if you still have speed, or a small push with the same direction hand if you don't would be better. Check out videos on pull and push turns.

There's another "freebird" thread from a few days ago with a lot of good advice from the learned flyers here that you can check out.

Good luck, enjoy your kite, and welcome!

Thank you kindly, Iftah.

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Hi, Phil. Welcome to the forum. Another excellent source of instruction is the DVD available from Prism Kites, or any shop that sells their kites. Should be quite a few in Canada.

The lighter the wind you fly in, the less severe your crashes will be. We've all had our share while learning. Fix or replace the parts you break and keep on flying. It gets better with each hour you spend aloft. Practice basic control and proper landings first. It will reduce the amount of walking out to reset the kite that you have to do. After that, it's snap stalls and stall landings. Only after you have these under complete control, would I recommend trying "tricks". If you don't have the basics mastered it's like trying to build a brick wall on quicksand -- no foundation? no wall !

Most importantly, don't become frustrated if it takes more time than anticipated to learn something, especially if learning it without assistance. It will all come to you with time. Have fun, enjoy the experience, smile a lot and don't forget to breathe.

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