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Beginner kite selection information guide. Updated on 8-6-2020.


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I don't personally have that much experience or knowledge about the subject, so I compiled that info while I was learning about it and put it in a format in order for me to be able to comprehend it better.

Basically I was having difficulty understanding it, so I used that process.

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On 9/4/2017 at 5:27 PM, cjay said:

 I have been reading the beginner kite advice threads and noticed that I was looking for much of the same information about selecting kites that a lot of other beginners were asking about.

 I thought it would have been nice to have a consolidated page of kite selection advice from experienced flyers available for beginners like me to reference. So I compiled some of the tips and concepts that I have read in posts on various topics here, and some stuff that I have learned myself that I didn't see written, and although incomplete it might be a starting point to build on. Hope nobody minds that I used and paraphrased some of their comments. I tried to keep it focused on the different aspects involved for selecting a kite. This is a work in progress, and I will edit, delete, and change content as necessary. Input is welcome.

 

Dual line framed sport kite selection guide, definitions, and reasoning.

 

This guide might help a person doing research to be aware of the limitations and performance differences between different types and sizes of kites.

 

The first step in figuring out what kite to get is to understand some basic definitions. This will help you to understand the difference between kite flying characteristics, knowing what type of flying you want to do, what wind ranges are, why it matters, and making comparisons between kites.

 

 

Definitions:

 

Outgrow a kite means: Reaching the limits of what you can do with that kite. When your skills progress beyond the capability or trick potential of the kite. This limitation could be caused by the kite size, materials, design, build, or the conditions it is suited to fly in. Usually it means that a pilots trick skills are beyond what a kite is capable of doing.

 

Flying means: The kite is moving in a forward or nose first direction, making forward moving headway. This is the direction that a kite or airplane naturally travels when it has enough lift to fly. In general, it is directional flying and turning.

 

Stall means: The kite is no longer producing lift sufficient to make forward moving headway. It could be hovering in a controlled stall, or even falling.

A stall is defined as the aerodynamic loss of lift that occurs when an airfoil (such as the wing of an airplane or kite sail) exceeds its critical angle of attack.

 

Precision flying means: The kite is flying and moving in a forward direction, but accurate movements such as turns, figures, or patterns are being performed, and the ability for the kite to respond precisely to line control inputs is required. Consistent stable tracking or the ability to maintain a set course of flight is needed.

 

Stunt flying means: Performing other movements, or combinations of movements, primarily with the kite in a stalled or non-flying state. Stunt trick ability is generally based on a kites potential to be controlled in a stall.  This can also be referred to as Freestyle stunts.

 

Kite lines or line sets: The set of two lines that connect between you and the kite and allow you to control the kite. They transmit your hand movements into kite movement. Usually the lines attach to the kite, and then run and connect to a set of wrist straps made of fabric loops that you hold on to. Lines are usually made of low stretch spectra, or dyneema for fast response and less wind drag on the lines. Line quality and length effects a kites responsiveness.

 

Line inputs: Your hand movements applied to the kite lines.

 

Line Pull: How much pull or tension a kite causes on the kite lines in a given wind. Generally higher wind means stronger line pull. Generally smaller kites apply less pull to the lines in a given wind. Kite sail design also effects pull, a sail with more surface area generally pulls harder on the lines. A kite generally flys faster in higher wind, and a smaller kite can be very fast. Figuring out what wind speed is safe to fly in or allow someone to fly in is one of the main relevant factors for pull and is an important safety consideration for smaller, lighter, or weaker people etc.

 

Wind ranges for types of kites (generally):

( 0 mph = indoor kites ). ( 1-3 mph outdoor kites = Super ultra light ). ( 3-5 mph = ultra light or light). ( 5-12 mph = standard ), over 15 mph = high wind or vented kite.

 

*Be aware that every kite will have a wind range that they will perform the best in. Kites will often have the wind ranges misrepresented, which can cause incorrect expectations. 

 

*(With some exceptions), most mass produced kites wont be able to fly easily in under 5 mph of wind, and most people will usually stop flying at 15 mph or even less, unless the kite has certain features that makes it flyable at higher wind speeds, such as; smaller kite size, sail venting, stronger lines, and padded straps.

 

 

 

Kite selection;

When trying to figure out what kite to get, decide what type of flying you want to do, and in what wind range. Whether you want to just fly around in a forward direction, or whether you want to do precision flying, or maybe step up to performing freestyle tricks also called stunts.  

 

If all you want to do is get out and fly around in a forward direction, and carve some turns in the sky once in a while, and don't want to spend much on a kite, getting a larger and more expensive kite over 5' in size is not really necessary.

 

For perspective;

 

  *  A kite that is $100 dollars and below is not considered to be much money for a kite. These kites are usually smaller than 6', and are generally considered to be cheaper entry level mass produced kites.

 

* If you are on a budget, selecting a cheap $100 or below kite in this smaller size range (6' and under) may be the only option you have and will at least get you flying. However kites in the $100 or below price range are not usually as stall or stunt capable, and if you are trying to learn tricks this could limit your progress, and as your skills surpass the kites potential for tricks you would "outgrow" the kite, in which case you would have to buy another kite that is capable of doing tricks.

 

 A common first kite choice for a beginner on a budget, usually means buying one, entry level, mass produced kite in the 5' to 6' size range that can take a beating. The reasoning is that these are good for learning forward directional flying and basic kite control. This will get you through the frequent crashing phase where kites can get damaged, and can give you an idea of how much interest you have in flying before investing much money. It can also be good to keep one around for other beginners or kids to learn on. 

 

* Be aware that everything happens faster with these smaller kites. They can move so fast it can be hard to tell which way they are going and how they responded to line inputs, and can be harder to see and keep track of and correct in time to prevent a crash. This can be fustrating to a beginner.

 

 * Most of these kites in the smaller 5'-6' size range are built for beginners, and are usually heavy for their size, because they are built stronger to handle more of a beating before they break. They might need at least 5 mph of wind or more to get up and be stable when turning because they have a smaller sail size, and because they are heavy for their weight. The extra weight usually comes from the type of rods that are used in these kites.

 

 It is common for experienced kite fliers on forums to recommend that a beginner buy a more expensive large 7' or 8' sized kite, or even a boutique kite as a first kite. Part of the reason is that most of the experienced fliers are into freestyle stunt flying, and are usually more particular about kites.

 

 But also because a kite in the 7' - 8' kite size range will take you farther, and can be easier to fly for a beginner because they move and turn slower allowing for more reaction time. They are also easier to see and follow because of their size and slower speed, which means it should be easier to see how the kite responds to your line inputs, potentially making it easier to avoid crashes, and be faster to learn on.

 

* A nicer or better quality kite in this context usually means a larger kite in the 7'-8' size range, with possibly better sail fabric material, better rod and line set quality, and overall better design and build quality, with more freestyle stunt capability. These are usually over $100, and often $150 to $200 for a factory production kite. These factory kites might be considered cheap in both build quality and price compared to a $400 dollar custom made boutique kite.

 

* If you can handle the pull and can afford a 7' - 8' sized kite then get one of those. There are also some kites in this size range that are built tough for beginners and are heavier than the more advanced kites of the same size. They usually cost more than the smaller sized beginner kites, but not as much as a more advanced kite of the same size.

 

I have found that it is helpful to have a kite that is easy to see and tell which direction it is going. Certain colors and color patterns are easier for me to see and track against a clear sky, or in gray conditions. I can usually see bright colors like yellow, orange, or red the best because of the contrast.

 

Also consider that kite manufacturers promotional flying videos can be misleading because they usually have a world-class pilot flying in the video, leading consumers to believe that it will fly like that for them, too. How long it will take to achieve a certain level of skill varies depending on what you want to do, but it can be substantial.

 

 

For stunt flying; select a full-sized kite with a wingspan of at least 7’ wing tip to wing tip.

The 7’ foot and larger kites will move a little slower and feel more controllable & predictable, and give you more time to react and learn. Larger kites can generally require lower wind to fly due to the larger sail size. They are usually easier control and maneuver during a stall, which is where freestyle tricks are normally performed.

 

For non stunt flying; selecting a kite of 6' foot (72”) or less, will be faster flying than the larger kites, and will require a little more wind to get flying due to the smaller sail size, and require less input on the lines, and can be more difficult or even impossible to properly stall and do tricks. They may also be able to fly in higher winds due to the smaller sail size.

 

 They will be twitchier (which means it will turn very quickly, with a high probability of over steer). As for it needing higher winds - that depends on the weight of the kite, but as a general rule, smaller wingspan kites (under 70") usually do need a little more wind than say an 80" - 100" wingspan kites, and will also fly through the sky a bit faster as well.

 

For Precision flying: If precision flying is the main goal, do not assume that a dedicated stunt kite will be the best choice as it may or may not have high precision. Although most quality modern kites in the 7-8' size range usually have at least decent precision and tracking. Make sure to do research first because there are a number of kites that are known to perform better for this.

 

Which ever kite you get, be sure to check the line lengths and make sure they are the same. Sometimes they come from the factory uneven. This can have a negative effect on the way it handles.

 

 

 

A few thoughts on kites and wind ranges.

 Manufacturers advertised wind speed ratings are not always accurate (usually not). It may not be possible for everyone to fly a kite at the lowest or highest wind speed rating.

 

In general, kites perform best within specific wind ranges. You may not be able to tell what the real wind range is from the kite specs, and will either need to try the kite or read a review to know for sure what wind range it works the best in. 

 

It is common for people to have different kites for different wind speed conditions. One kite for indoors, one kite for little to no wind, one kite for light wind, one kite for medium wind, and a vented or smaller kite for stronger wind conditions. It is common for people to stop flying a standard kite in the 7' size range when the wind gets up to 15 mph, because things start breaking, and the pull can get dangerous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just bringing your content to the second page..

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4 hours ago, cjay said:

I don't personally have that much experience or knowledge about the subject, so I compiled that info while I was learning about it and put it in a format in order for me to be able to comprehend it better.

Basically I was having difficulty understanding it, so I used that process.

Still very useful including  your ' look up the post I made 10 posts up " comment. Thanks

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