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So you want a kite but are not entirely certain what you think you may want? Dont worry; this is the most common topic people ask us about!
If you are completely new to kites (or think you are) then just read from the top down. There is a bit, but it was designed to answer all the questions about kites we can answer for you.
If you want to skim down to a specific spot we have them marked off to the left-hand side, and here is a directory:
2) Single-Line Kites
3) Dual-Line Kites
4) Getting In The Air
5) Other Resources
Please be aware this guide is a work-in-progress; we plan on adding a lot more pictures, videos and links as time allows while we set up the online store. We wanted to get something basic out for people who had questions and wanted some thorough reading.
People always ask "Whats a good beginner kite?" But honestly there is no such thing as a "Beginner" kite, and they always seem perplexed when we tell them this.
But the fact of the matter is that, whether it be Single-Line, Dual-Line, or even Quad-Line, if you've flown one of that respective type, you've flown them all. While different kites can have different handling and flying dynamics, the basic controls and mechanics are all there, and only require a little bit of tweaking to switch to a different kite of the same type.
Flying any kite is not difficult; for even the most intricate and hands-on kites, it's mostly about what the wind and weather is doing. If the wind is right, the kite will fly and you will likely have no problem keeping it up! If it's not, well dont count on it. It is as simple as that.
That being said, there are certain kites that are easier to get started with, but that has almost nothing to do with mechanics and more to do with cost, materials and construction. And even then cost is rarely a concern; one of the most asked questions for us is "What is your price range for kites?" when we have literally everything from $10 all the way up to $500, and almost every single price point in between. Dont worry, you've got options with us, and if you are set on a kite we will have one for you.
Single-Line kites are very self-explanatory. They are the most recognizable, and your standard kind of kite to throw up into the wind and not have to think about; you just enjoy it doing it's thing! In the right wind, these things will almost never fail. Very, very, very few times has it anything to do with a defect or problem with the kite itself. For the most part, picking one out all comes down to personal preference that depends entirely on what you want the kite to look like.
However, certain kites do have slightly different behaviors. When it comes to Single-Lines, your most dead-on, never-have-to-think-about-it, almost-any-wind kites are going to be Deltas, Dragon-Type Kites, and Parafoils.
Deltas - Self-explanatory; they are triangular-shaped kites that have a very wide, straight bottom edge and taper up into a point at the top. These kites have a lot of surface area for lift from the wind, and the pointed shape means they cut through that air to get up quickly.
While Deltas can function without a tail in some instances, we still recommend putting one on. Most of them come with a tail.
Dragon-Type Kites - Somewhat of a Misnomer in a lot of instances; while they can indeed be Dragons, typically what constitutes a Dragon-Type Kite is that it has a very large sail and a long, thick tail. The large sail gives them a lot of surface area for lift, and the large tails give them a lot of stability by acting as a ballast to keep the kite from diving to the sides. They are the most stable kind of kite and will likely never come down without you making it.
These kites are typically very large, and in many cases have very little in the way of frames to put together. They are also relatively inexpensive for their respective sizes. However, they do take up a lot of space, and their sails are often one-piece that do not come apart, meaning you need to account for a minimum amount of space when transporting or storing them.
Parafoils - Sometimes called "Bag Kites", these types of kites are designed to not need a frame to fly. Instead they have a length of cells running down the length of the body that both act as a sail and fill with air to provide a rigid structure to keep their shape. They have a network of bridle lines across their surface to keep tension spread equally over the kite to keep a shape. Most will have a lot in common with Dragon-Type Kites, both in functionality and flying style, and they are very easy to get up in almost any wind, as without a fixed shape they can contort themselves to get the maximum amount of lift for the wind range you are in.
The lack of a frame affords many advantages; aside from the ease of flying, no frame also means there is nothing to worry about putting together, storing, losing, fixing, replacing or breaking, and depending on the build quality makes them nearly indestructible for winds that most other kites would be demolished in. No solid pieces also means that most can fold up into an extremely small space and are great for traveling. However, they are expensive (compared to other similarly-sized kites) because of the engineering required to make them work properly, and due to this they also cannot allow for many different shapes or designs compared to frame kites; they will all have a somewhat boxy or rectangular shape to them.
Now, a lot of people think that Dual-Line kites are an "Upgrade" from Single-Line kites, and this is a bit of a misconception. Aside from being attached to string you hold and being up in the air because of the wind, there is technically very little similarities between the two; Single-Lines are mostly glorified decorations, while Dual-Lines are actual activities that you must constantly keep on top of and actively control, as they cannot fly themselves.
Many people who know of Dual-Line kites are familiar with the traditional sharp, delta-shaped frame kites that are capable of doing very intricate tricks. However, there is also Dual-Line Parafoils, which fly slightly differently.
When first getting into Dual-Line kites, especially when you have no prior experience, we always recommend a Parafoil like the 50" or 62" Sport Foil from In The Breeze, which are $32 and $42 respectively. This is because it is a Parafoil; as mentioned in the Single-Line section, this means it has no frame. As a Parafoil this kite may be a bit slower, and unable to do super intricate tricks that traditional framed kites can do, such as with slack-line flying.
However, it still has the same basic handling dynamics as other Dual-Line kites, and the lack of a frame means a lot of advantages: for instance, nothing to put together, nothing to take apart, less space to store, less parts to lose or replace, a lot less damage to anything it may crash into, and most importantly, they are almost impossible to break! It is also an inexpensive kite, meaning that you are not spending a lot of money on something just to try it out. Remember; you could get the biggest, best kite in the world, but if you find out afterwards that you dont actually like flying kites, well, thats a lot of money wasted. And we dont like selling you something you are not absolutely sold on.
Aside from all that, it is just plain well-made, and we have many years and thousands of examples that have gone out the door with very few of them ever coming back because of any issues. If they do, there is a 99% chance it was Operator Error, such as trying to fly it in too high a wind. Which we tell people that we cannot recommend that they do, even if the kite can handle the abuse. Especially if you are new to flying Dual-Lines! After all, more wind means more force exerted on the kite, and this can amplify the speed of the kite as well as the effects your own movements have on it's behavior. Always ask if you are uncertain about what a kite is capable of handling.
However, that is not to say that you cannot start off immediately with a Framed Dual-Line; as we mentioned at the beginning, if you have flown one, you've flown them all, and this means that the basic handling dynamics are the same no matter what Dual-Line you are flying. You can learn how to fly Dual-Line on literally any of them; it all goes back to the cost and the quality of construction.
Do keep in mind however that they are a bit more intricate and their attributes count more for framed kites; size and weight can contribute heavily to how a kite flies and how you will respond when controlling it. Bigger and heavier is slower and pulls more, smaller and lighter is faster and requires more reflexes, etc.
All of our kite companies have Dual-Line kites that are very good to start off with; Prism, Skydogs, H.Q., In The Breeze, and Premier. All of them are simple, no-frills kites that range from $25 to $50 for everything needed to fly. The only real difference being that they have different colors and styles.
For perhaps the absolute best framed Dual-Line to start on, you will want the Jazz from Prism. It is a medium-sized, medium-weight, middle-of-the-road kite that is very balanced and comes from a company that has been both making and professionally flying kites for almost four decades. At $67 it is a very well-made kite that can work perfectly as both a durable starter, or a Do-All kite for someone who just wants a single Jack-Of-All-Trades kites.
Being a Prism Brand kite, you also get access to the convenience of having one of the most recognized brands backing the supply of parts for repair or replacement, and will find them in almost every Kite Store, including ours! You are also able to order directly from them should you need specific parts and do not have a kite store nearby.
As exhaustive as we are trying to make this guide, there is still only so much we can do without actually being outside and showing you how to actually fly the kite ourselves. However, we will detail out the methods we know as best we can (and will include pictures and even videos as time allows later!).
Determining The Wind Speed - The wind is the single most important component to flying your kite, what kind of flying you can do, or if you'll even be flying your kite at all.
Ideally, you want between 5-15mph/8-24kph, as most kites of any type will fly just fine within this range as long as it is not cutting out constantly or there are no sudden large gusts.
If you are on the beach, it is a simple enough prospect to determine this; dry sand will start going home to it's people at around the 18mph/29kph point. If it is doing that, it's best to not fly without the knowledge that your kite can handle that abuse, aside from the fact you will be getting sandblasted the entire time, and thats never fun, trust us.
Launching The Kite - A lot of people assume you are required to run to get a kite airborn. For the most part it is unnecessary, as if you have a steady wind you can typically launch it just by holding the kite aloft and letting the line out carefully as it gains altitude.
However, getting a head start might be the case in certain instances, such as when you are surrounded by obstacles that would prevent a lower-altitude wind from picking the kite up for you. Trees, hills, headlands, all of these things can potentially prevent the kite from getting into the air easily, even if a steady breeze is in play. While running is not always necessary, it does help to have someone else to hold it for you as you run the line out a fair bit, perhaps 30ft/10m or so, and then pull or walk backwards with it so it can gain enough altitude to get into the cross-breeze above.
Single-Line kites are almost deceptively simple; as mentioned above, it is 90% what the wind is doing, and if it's not in the proper wind range (between 5-15mph/8-24kph) it's most likely going to have a bad time unless the kite is designed for taking such abuse from the weather. Those kites on our website will be marked as such. However, also take into consideration that even if a kite can take an unholy amount of abuse, it still may not fly properly (crashing, mostly) if the wind is going crazy and it's raining sideways, and if a kite doesn't stay up then it's not doing very fun kite things.
Dual-Line kites require a bit more setup, but are not complicated:
1) Attach the lines to the Bridle attachment points using a slip knot, or a similar knot, or if the kite lines have loops built in (most do) put your finger and thumb through the loop, fold it over so each digit is on either side of the outside of the loop, and touch the tip of your finger and thumb together; slide that hole your fingers are in over the knot on the end of the Bridle attachment and tighten it down.
2) If you have someone to assist you, have them hold the kite while you walk ALL of the line out, making sure the lines are straight, not crossed over each other, or knotted. If you do not have assistance, simply positioning a framed kite on the bottom tips of it's wings will work while you let the line out. See below for a note on letting the line out.
3) Pull gently and equally on both sides, keeping them level and parallel to each other; if one is further forward or behind the other, it can make the kite want to veer before it gets up to an acceptable altitude.
4) Make certain you can keep the kite in the air for a moment before attempting to fly; keep the controls aligned with each other to keep the kite in one spot. If it is easy to control and has no problems staying in the air, you should be ready to fly!
There are two very important bits of information that is absolutely crucial to flying a Dual-Line kite:
First - Let out all the line. Each Dual-Line kite is designed to fly best with a specific weight and length of line (which will usually be between 60-80ft/18-25m), and as such it will already be measured out for you. Dont let out only a little on each side, let it ALL out on both sides. We have had too many people try to only let out a certain amount of line on each side, and aside from it being difficult to measure out the line that way (as even a slight bit of length on one side or the other can dramatically affect the flying of the kite), it also isn't flying at a proper distance from the user to control effectively.
Second - Do not overdo your movements when controlling the kite. When you first get a Dual-Line kite into the air, the first thing it's going to want to do is steer to the side, and 90% of the time the flyers will immediately veer the controls in the opposite direction. The kite will do exactly what it is told to do, and as such this usually means it immediately flies to the other side and will slam into the ground, potentially grenade-ing the kite if you are unlucky. Instead keep the controls level with each other as the kite rises into the air, and only do itty-bitty tiny baby movements with the controls; if your movements are smooth and controlled, the kite will behave in kind. Get use to how the kite reacts to your movements before getting crazy with it.
We very much recommend going to places like Youtube to look up videos of people actually showing you how to set up and get started, as some people learn better that way than reading text on a screen, no matter how thorough or succinct the instructions.
We intend to make our own videos of this subject soon enough now that we are working full-time on the Website, as we understand that regardless of the resources out there, there is always a need for more information; we are in the Golden Age of kites, after all. It has never been more popular with so many people flying than right now, and we are here to help keep that going.
We are putting forth our best effort to educate everyone on proper kite flying technique to get them started as smoothly as possible into the exciting world of flying. However, there must always be caution, as Kites are not toys, and you should always be aware of your surroundings, environment, and whoever else may be nearby when flying.
Improper flying of kites can create a hazard; high winds can cause kites to behave erratically, potentially plunging down into the ground or someone if others are nearby, and that is never a fun time for anyone involved; a framed Dual-Line kite can move in excess of 60mph/97kph, and hitting someone with those fiberglass rods at those speeds can cause significant injury and potentially a trip to the Emergency Room.
If a kite's lines break, aside from potentially losing the kite, it can hit something dangerous such as a power line, another human being, or make it's way into traffic and cause significant damage; a few years ago during one of the Kite Festivals, a large truck-sized Parafoil kite got loose and rolled it's way over the road, right through heavy traffic. While the kite itself may not do much damage, it can obscure vision and cause panic, which will.
Despite the extensive information we have presented here, it is still up to you, the flyer, to properly utilize it all and apply common sense to every undertaking with kites. After all, flying kites is not difficult, and as long as proper cognizance is applied, you should have no problems with your brand new kite.
As always, while we cannot help you in terms of weather or weather-related damages to your kites, we always welcome questions or concerns and will gladly assist as we can with anything kite-related.
Dont be afraid to call us, email us, or come in and talk to us. Preferably with the kite you are having a problem with; whether you bought it from us or not, we'll see what we can do to help, and if we cannot help you, we know people who might be able to.
Until then, happy flying! There's an entire world of flying out there! Go Fly A Kite!
2) Single-Line Kites
3) Dual-Line Kites
4) Getting In The Air
5) Additional Resources
2) Single-Line Kites
3) Dual-Line Kites
4) Getting In The Air
5) Additional Resources
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