A Beginners Guide to Stunt, Steerable and Foil Kites
Why Buy a Kite?
First, if you have kids, or access to kids (for example, grandchildren) it’s a great way to have fun and share fresh air and exercise. Kids adore kites. There is something particularly satisfying in controlling a colourful object aloft in a clear blue sky. It's also great for developing a child’s hand to eye coordination.
For adults too, it’s a fabulous way to exercise and get in touch with nature. There is something almost mystical in steering a kite across the sky with the wind whistling in your ears. It’s a classic way for adults to ‘‘play’ and capture the joy of childhood once more.
Kite flying is a great way to get rid of the stresses of modern life and to socialise at the same time. Why not take a friend with you and share the joys of kite flying with them?
With a steerable or sports kite, there are lots of things you can learn. If you are the sort of person who loves to be proficient at things, you can teach yourself to do lots of stunts and manoeuvres.
If the sport of serious kite flying floats your boat (excuse the mixed metaphor!), you can join kite clubs, go to kite shows and events and compete with others at even the national or international level.
Exercise I hear you ask. Surely you just stand still with the kite up in the air on a long line?
Far from it! With a steerable kite, that has 2 or 4 lines, you are constantly steering it across the sky. Depending on the size of the kite, a considerable amount of energy is needed in order to hold the kite in position in the sky.
You will need to balance the constantly fluctuating force of the wind with your own body. This involves using virtually every muscle. For this reason, it is sensible to match the kite size to your own strength.
Beware giving a child a large adult kit—they might take off! Fortunately, most kites have a minimum age classification.
Types of Kite
The simplest kites are flown on a single line. This offers limited control to the flyer or pilot. Simple traditional children’s kites fall into this category.
Many modern kites have either 2 or 4 lines. These are typically known as steerable or stunt kites. This allows the pilot, by pulling or releasing the appropriate line, to guide the kite either horizontally parallel to the ground or up and down. This makes it possible, for example, to fly the kite in tight circles or a figure of eight.
Some steerable kits have a conventional frame and are typically triangular or delta-shaped. Other steerable kits, known as foil kites, consist of an aerofoil shape that is inflated by the wind. The aerofoil shape makes it behave like the wing of an aircraft, so it lifts when air passes under and over the kite.
The foil kite has a number of advantages over rigid kite designs:
- There are no solid struts, so the foil kite folds up very small when not in use
- The lack of struts makes it relatively indestructible
- It also performs well in light winds
Buy HQ Symphony Beach II 1.7 Foil Kite
I was recently given a foil kite by my wife as a surprise present. She chose the HQ 1.7m Symphony Beach 2 Foil Kite. Here is a summary of its specification:
- 2 -line power kite
- Includes flying lines, wrist straps, winder and a case
- Offers excellent flight performance and easy handling
- Ideal for beginners
- Stable flight delivers remarkable speed and pull for its size
- Quality durable materials and excellent design
- Height: 63 cm
- Wind range: 5 to 30 mph
- Sail: Ripstop Polyester
- Recommended age: 12+
I really love flying it, and its great fun to get other family members and friends involved. I find it useful to have a flying partner if only to relaunch the kite when it crashes and share the joy of kite flying.
Getting Started Flying a Steerable Kite
The first time you fly your new kite it is helpful to have someone to hold the kite aloft at arm's length while you pull the lines (one in each hand) toward you in order to get the kite in the air.
With the wind directly behind you, the kite should climb rapidly into the air and keep climbing until it is almost over your head. Steerable kites are normally supplied with wrist straps to ensure you have total control of the 2 lines.
With the kite high in the sky, experiment with pulling slightly on one line. If you pull on the left line, then the kite should turn to the left and fly from right to left across the sky. If you pull the right line, the reverse is true and it will turn to the right.
You can now practice steering your kite backwards and forwards across the sky, typically performing a figure-eight pattern. Now try a complete circle. If you pull the left line and hold the tension the kite will turn through 360 degrees in a tight circle, anticlockwise.
At this point you may be concerned to find the lines are now twisted around each other. This isn't a problem as the lines are designed to slide easily when twisted so you can still control the kite.
To unwrap the twisted line, just repeat the manoeuvre but this time, pull the opposite line (the right), so the kite executes a 360-degree circle clockwise, so the lines are now untangled.
The part of the sky where the kite flies well is known as the wind window. To land the kite, fly it horizontally until it moves out of the wind window and loses height and allow it to gently fall to earth.
Once you have perfected these basic skills you can begin to learn a whole spectrum of tricks and stunts.
If you enjoy basic kite flying, then you could also try using a power kite. Power kites are multi-line steerable kites designed to generate large forces which can be used to power activities such as kite surfing, kite buggying and snowboard kiting.
Whether you are eight or eighty, I can really recommend kite flying. If your only experience of kite flying is an old fashioned single line kite from your childhood, then why not treat yourself to a steerable kite? Fantastic fun and lots of exercise and fresh air guaranteed for the whole family.
So what are you waiting for? Get online right away and search the web for a kite to suit your budget!
Foil Kite Flying Guide
© 2012 Rik Ravado