Stunt Kite Skills & Flying Tips

Set-up

Once you have the kite up indoors to make sure you know how it all fits together and that you have all the relevant parts, setting up your stunt kite outside should be a breeze. Usually all the spars will be packed separately and need to be inserted into their fittings; it is easiest to start with the wing spars last to give the kite its shape. You may leave the wing spars and spine attached to the kite when you finish as you can still fold the kite away in this state as long as you take out the spreaders.

Next you need to unwind your kite lines and attach them to the bridle, using a lark’s head knot. Stand your kite up on its trailing edge so that it is pointing upwards and unwind your lines as you walk into the wind.

Dual- and quad-line kites are set up differently to single-line kites as they have preset line lengths, rather than a spool that provides varying line lengths. This means that you have to unwind the entire length of line in order to launch the kite, and it makes it more important to choose the right line length initially for your ability and for the strength of the wind. Note that the longer lines (30m/100ft) are easier to learn with as they are more forgiving, and can be used in lighter winds. Make sure that your lines are of identical length, as controlling your kite will be near-impossible if they irregular.

Put the plastic winder in your pocket because, unlike for single-line kites, you do not need it when the kite is flying, only to pack away the lines. If your straps/handles are attached to the lines as they should be, you are ready to fly; if they are not, use the lark’s head knot again. If you need to go back to the kite for any reason, peg your handles to the ground with a ground stake.

Launch

Stunt kites are incredibly aerodynamic, so launching should be as graceful as the kite is light. First check that you are in a suitable location. Make sure that the wind is of appropriate strength and directly behind you, and that the kite is directly in front of you.

Once the kite is facing upwards and the lines are taut, simply pull the lines firmly backwards to get the kite airborne. If the wind isn’t playing as it should, having a friend hold the kite to start with, and gently letting go at your signal, should help the launch. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms low and relaxed, as if you were holding on to the handlebars of a bicycle.

Manoeuvres

The joy of adding another line to a kite is that suddenly you are not just standing by, watching an object being blown about helplessly in the sky, but you are able to decide what will happen to the kite and where it will go next. Your relationship with this object high in the sky is now tangibly close and you can decide whether the kite will drive near to the ground and soar up again, whether it will stall and reverse, or whether it will simply glide from left to right. All it takes to exercise such power is gentle motions of the wrist. To turn the kite left, pull on the left line. To turn the kite right. pull on the right line.

Remember that the kite will lose power at the edge of the wind window, and eventually stall, so make sure you always keep the kite within the window. Obviously this means taking care not to fly your kite too far left or right, but also not to fly it too fast upwards towards the zenith as it may propel past your head and essentially upwind of you. Your kite will drop pretty quickly if flown in this way.

Once you have mastered small left and right movements, try flying your kite in a figure of eight, using the entire width of the window, getting a feel for how the kite loses power near the edges of the window. Be aware that the wind direction is changeable, so keep a check on where the edges of the window are.

Try making a faster left turn by pushing your right hand away from you. This stalls the right hand wing tip by taking the wind out of it and allows the left side to pivot around it. This is a useful skill to master as it eliminates the momentum usually built up by a standard turn, where pulling a line towards you increases the wind pulled into the sail and accelerates the kite through the turn. Once you can control the kite’s desire to accelerate, you can work on a whole repertoire of intricate manoeuvres which look fantastic in the sky.

The simple loop – Pull on one line while pushing on the other until the kite makes a complete loop. Don’t worry about twisted lines, the kite will fly in just the same way even if the lines are twisted. To untwist, simply pull on the line you have just been pushing and push on the line you have just been pulling this wall make the kite loop back again!

The stall – Fly your kite towards the right-hand edge of the window. Pull down quickly and sharply with your left hand. Immediately tug sharply with your right hand, levelling out both tips and pointing the nose of the kite upwards. Pushing both hands towards the kite at this point should stall it. To hold the stall, walk towards the kite.

Wingtip stand – Place the kite on the ground, facing upwards, at the edge of the wind window, with the inside wingtip about 30cm (1ft) closer to you than the outside. Tug gently on the outside line until the outside wingtip begins to lift. You should be able to balance the kite on the inside wingtip.

Landing

Once you have mastered the stall, you have mastered the landing for stunt kites. Simply fly your kite very low, at the edge of the wind window and stall it by pushing your hands towards it. it is not essential that the nose of your kite is facing upwards when it lands, but it does look tidier. It looks better still if you throw in a ‘spin stall’; having flown your kite low across the window from left to right, slowly turn the kite upwards by pulling on the left line. When the nose is facing upwards, punch your left hand back to neutral, which will cause the kite to stall and gently sit on the ground. You may have to walk towards the kite to hold the stall long enough for the kite to settle on the ground.