GWTW Forum

Kites! Kites! Kites! => Beginners Corner => Topic started by: xuzme720 on March 12, 2010, 07:15 PM

Title: Just a thought...well, ok, a few...
Post by: xuzme720 on March 12, 2010, 07:15 PM
    I was just browsing through the kite shop and was looking at the Quantum because the "caution tape" graphics caught my eye (almost the same as the E3, which I have and love the look of). But as I was looking at it, I remembered that it comes with clips for the fly lines to attach. I also remembered what one unhappy self described newbie was complaining about. Now, I know that if you've read this far, you are probably asking, "Is there a point?" There is and it's this...
    Are kite companies really doing themselves any favors by not providing even a basic flow of information/instruction with certain models of kites, especially those that might be used by a beginner? The one constant I hear is lack of literature/information/instruction with new kites.
    Wouldn't it be better to at least teach one basic knot, the larks head, than to have some sort of clip, that can and sometimes does fail, to  make it easier(in theory) for the beginner? Wouldn't it be better to provide even a basic guide to some of the knots commonly used, that in all likelihood, will help this new pilot along the path to success. And maybe even some sort of guide for replacement parts; types, availability, possible substitutes. I know it isn't an ideal proposal possibly giving another company your parts supply business, but if you can't keep a new flyer in the air long enough to enjoy the kite, how can you expect to keep them as a customer? I think we can agree, we all went through the lawn dart stage! I was lucky enough that I progressed past that stage on cheapie stunters, but I know that isn't the norm! I have heard many horror stories of kite carnage and the expense or even just plain lack of replacement parts. Combine this with the fact that most new pilots don't know that most spars have equivalent counterparts across a few manufacturers, depending on your area of the world. For fittings, it's a slightly different matter, given that so many kites use proprietary parts, even though some of these can be substituted with more standard fittings, IF you know what to use. Again, something the Fledgling Pilot will not know.
    I guess what I am getting at is maybe we need to really think about what direction our addiction hobby is doing to bring in more participants and making sure they are given the tools they need to enjoy and progress in the future. I don't really think the boutique kites are part of this, mainly due to experienced pilots being their primary clientele. What I am talking about are the "manufactured" kite companies; HQ, Flying Wings, Prism, etc.
    I don't want to seem like I am attacking anyone, I fly kites from all these makers and like them all. I also don't want to seem like I am singling out or attacking Prism by using the quantums "clips" as an example, [my first "high end" kite (a team Hawaiian) had them on it]it was just that, an example. What I am thinking about is the future and continued success of this sport, because if the copycat trends continue (Chinese low cost, low quality copies) not being able to properly inform and cultivate new pilots will eventually drive the costs higher and so on, in a snowball effect, until it becomes prohibitive to have new pilots even think about kiting.
    These are just my thoughts... Let's hear yours. What do you think about the sometimes lacking amount of help/information given to the new flyer? Obviously, the forums help, but only if the new pilots find them!

Sorry about the length...the more I thought about it, the more I thought about it! ::)

Title: Re: Just a thought...well, ok, a few...
Post by: Steve Hall on March 12, 2010, 07:54 PM
I have spoken with Mark several times over the years about the "new features" that he added to his kites.  One in particular was the clips.  One of the most common calls/emails they were getting was from new fliers that couldn't remember how to attach the flying lines to their kite.  Enter (or more correctly reenter) the clips.  Note that this is not a cost saving measure as it actually costs Prism more to do this than just tow points. 

From personal experience I can tell you that this is true ... case in point ... Chris has a friend who bought a kite from us.  When she got it I walked her through the steps on setting up her kite and particularly on how to attach the flying lines with a larkshead.  Even had her do it three or four time.  No problem, she got it.  Until a few months later when she wanted to fly her kite again.  I walked her through the larkshead again.  Several months went by and ... well, you get the idea. 
I would guess that the vast majority of people only fly their kites once, maybe twice per year.  While most people here are well past the need for clips to attach lines I do applaud Prism for several of the little changes that they have made to help make new filers kiting experience a bit easier.

We have always struggled with how to make parts and part substitution easier to understand (and this goes back 9 years to when Dan was at the helm).  One of the things when the "new" GWTW site was getting ready to roll out in 2001 was going to be a comprehensive parts selection section.  Brian Todd who was one of the master kite tinkerers of all time was going to tackle this ... suffice it to say that never happened.  A daunting job that I was glad Brian volunteered to take on.  There are so many variables I'm not sure you could actually put together a coherent guide.

I will say that if you put almost any kite in my hands I can fix it (short of sewing).  Which is great if you live in the Chico area.  Sadly brick and mortar kite shops have almost disappeared. and (I know I am going to regret saying this) the shops that are left, particularly online, have little to no clue on how to repair kites ... or desire.

Sorry I can't offer any easy solutions.  I agree with almost everything you said.  It is a subject that has been near and dear to my heart for a long time. 

Title: Re: Just a thought...well, ok, a few...
Post by: xuzme720 on March 12, 2010, 08:06 PM
I guess maybe the clips were a bad example for the lack of info I was trying to illustrate. I really don't have anything against the clips themselves, I still have them on my TOTL Chevron...And to be honest I hadn't really thought about a flyer not flying for months at a time. Also I think using Prism as an example was not the best example anyway as their documentation is better than most, anyway. But I think overall you got where I was coming from.
Bottom line, I wasn't complaining, I was wondering if anyone had ideas to help remedy the lack of initial info. Once they find you, Steve, and GWTW, all problems go away!<shameless butt  :-*>

Title: Re: Just a thought...well, ok, a few...
Post by: Steve Hall on March 12, 2010, 08:17 PM
Most flyers fall into that once or twice a year category.  Certainly those that are the bread and butter of the mass produced kite companies.  One of the most common mistakes we kite geeks make is thinking that we are a driving force in the business.  Once upon a time you may have been able to build a business catering to the kite fanatics but don't believe that is true any more.  Take a look at (almost) all the high end kite makers.  One man operations (and thank god for them).

Title: Re: Just a thought...well, ok, a few...
Post by: xuzme720 on March 12, 2010, 08:32 PM
Most flyers fall into that once or twice a year category. 
I did not know that.
 I guess I am just not the usual kite geek, as all of my current kites are from the mass producers. But I will say, I keep looking at the fearless... ::)

Title: Re: Just a thought...well, ok, a few...
Post by: Steve Hall on March 12, 2010, 08:46 PM
You may not be the bread and butter of mass produced business but I would say you are the gravy!  An avid follower that will buy 2 or more of a companies kites before being lured off by the high end kite maker.

Title: Re: Just a thought...well, ok, a few...
Post by: GEB on March 12, 2010, 10:39 PM
More information for beginners is definitely needed. When I started I had a thousand questions and I spent quite a bit of time on the web looking for answers. Most of what I learned though came from talking directly to people. Steve hit the nail on the head. Brick and mortar kite shops solve many of the problems you are discussing. There is no replacement for “one on one” type help and service. Here is my experience.

    Bought my 1st dual line kite a few years back. The last kite I flew prior to that had a picture of the moon on it and I think I paid ten cents for it. We bought the Prism Jazz at a small kite shop in Lincoln City Oregon and the guy who sold it to us would have normally shown us how to fly it but the winds were howling that day. We took the kite home, gave it to our son as a present, and we all went to the local field to try it out. None of us knew the first thing about putting it together but we finally accomplished it. We then proceeded to play lawn dart with it until another kite flyer came over and ask if we minded if he could show us a few things. He started flying the thing in circles, squares, did a few tricks and ended with a two-point landing. We all just stood there with our mouths wide open. He then graciously taught us the basics of keeping it in the air and left us to give it a try.
Now if we had bought the kite online and did not live around other kite flyer’s I believe we would have had a good time that day but would have eventually given up on flying the kite out of pure frustration.

A few months ago I watched a guy trying to fly a Hawaiian with two spools of twisted poly line in 2mph wind. Anything short of one on one in that situation probably would have been futile. I gave him a line set, made a friend and he now can fly the kite.

I can’t say how much I appreciate a guy named Fred who took almost 4 hours at one time to show us how to fly a kite when we started. Take the time to teach someone. It is the future of the sport IMO.