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Author Topic: How to evaluate skill?  (Read 399 times)
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jedijon
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« on: March 27, 2015, 10:52 AM »

I've got an ~48" mid 1990's kite which I was given by a German foreign exchange student. Have flown it VERY occasionally.

Most recently I've flown it with a mind towards "is kite flying fun and should I invest any $ in this as a sometimes hobby"?

Toward that end, I paid attention to wind speed as displayed on the internet at a nearby location in my town of Moses Lake WA during the time I was out flying. In 4-8mph wind it doesn't seem to want to even lift off the ground. The bridle is a 3pt attachment to a washer. I tried 1 or 2 wraps of the line around the tubing and that helped get it up <10mph. In earlier years I just assumed that unless the flags were snapping at the end of the pole...you couldn't fly a "trick kite". I've been reading up a ton on this board and kitelife.com over the past 2 weeks and have questions.

All of my questions are due to inexperience  and revolve around trying to determine my skill level--i.e. how much of my failure is me [and can be rectified with a different kite] and how much is the kite. I don't currently have another kite so I can't test any hypothesis Smiley

Even in higher wind - say 10-15mph - there's plenty of gusts. Each gust makes the kite tumble. I can run backwards as soon as I see slack in the line but that kite still falls out of the sky. Most of the time it takes multiple attempts to launch it (in the past I used to have a second person toss it up in the air for me...scary for them surely). I give a short tug and walk back some and it'll tip forward w/o launch as often as not. There's just no real ground wind. Can't stall and land the sucker so the best I've got it gently setting it down with a flutter--usually in the dead position...here comes the "walk". Ugh.

While I'd love to launch another of these ubiquitous beginner "what kite should I buy" threads...what I really want to know is if I got kite X, would it tell me if I can at least get the kite up, keep it up through gusts, land it most of the time, and thereby start to actually get some muscle-memory for all the more advanced things? For me, kite X might be a cheap prism (Jazz seems to be at a local sporting goods store so it's theoretically possible to return it if it's not dirty/broke) or a cheap HQ - there's so many <$50 options...my chief worry is that they'd all be indistinguishable from my current kite that I wouldn't learn anything--or worse that I would THINK I had, but actually hadn't. Or, said another way if my "suck" is due to the kite--I'd buy another kite I'd be guaranteed to suck at and walk away from the thing for good. On the other side of the spectrum, there's a $100 kite or a $200 kite...and it's generally respected - BUT I could suck just because I'm not "good enough" (whatever that means) yet. Right? Or wrong?

Does this all boil down to the kite being heavy and small? Generally I pick things up with no training and get decent quickly (guitar/piano as an example of skill stuff, hiking/biking as an example of althetic stuff - and I'm decently braining too). I rarely delve deep and gain great mastery--so I want to fly and have it be fun.

This is a really - really -really - long way of saying; I understand there's "beginner" kites that are some combination of cheap &/or durable but is there anything more to it? Would a full sized kite like a Prism Quantum [as the cheapest "full" I've been able to identify ~$100] tell me if I have what it takes in skill/interest to get into this hobby? Other thoughts?? And thanks.
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stapp59
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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2015, 11:27 AM »

Well there have been volumes written about this most vexing of questions for the newly interested kite flyer:
"What is the best cost effective way to get started and insure success?" 

Many options are available that will work well. Consider this equation:

Kiting success = Equipment X Flying conditions X Pilot ability

You must have all three at sufficient levels for good results.  No exceptions.  Let's look at each one briefly:

Equipment

There are really cheap poorly made heavy kites designed to make someone money and ruin the experience of anyone who is suckered into buying one.  Generally best to avoid these.

Any moderately priced kite recommended by the kite fanatics on this forum will do well.  Many possibilities.  The Prism Quantum you mention is an excellent choice.  The kite must also be adjusted correctly and have good lines.  The Quantum should do well on most all counts.  Again, may good choices.

Flying conditions

The best $500 kite available will not fly in the wind shadow of a tall building or in a small field surrounded by really tall trees.  You must have smooth moderate winds for success.  Think big open field with no obstructions around to disrupt the wind.  A big open deserted beach with a smooth consistent breeze off the water is as close to perfect as you will find.  In the wind feels bumpy and inconsistent, so will be your results.

Pilot ability

You.  Drive a car badly and you will crash. Ride a skateboard badly and you will crash. Fly an airplane badly and you will crash.  Fly a kite badly and you will (you get the idea).  Like driving a car, find an experienced flyer to help you learn the smooth movements needed to successfully fly a kite.  You are the biggest variable of the three parts.

Keep it relaxed and fun.  Mistakes, crashing, and breaking things are part of the fun.  Laugh after each crash. Smiley Equipment does not last forever and is best if worn out having fun.

Keep you hands below your shoulders and use small smooth controlled movements to steer the kite. Do not swing your arms wildly hoping to avoid a crash. Would you drive a car that way? With practice you will soon learn to anticipate what the kite is likely to do next.

The critical part is to stay with the learning process long enough until you learn to take off, fly around, and land successfully three times in a row.  At that point you may even experience satisfaction.  Cool

Continue flying.  Try new things and beat the snot out of that kite.  Wear it out. Then its time for an upgrade  Grin

Summary

Get a decent kite, find a big open field and a nice smooth wind, seek help at first, stay with it, keep it fun.

More people will chime in for sure.

« Last Edit: Today at 05:57 AM by stapp59 » Logged

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adx1592
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2015, 11:35 AM »


Kiting success = Equipment X Flying conditions X Pilot ability
You must have all three at sufficient levels for good results.  No exceptions.  Let's look at each one briefly:

Equipment

There are really cheap poorly made heavy kites designed to make someone money and ruin the experience of anyone who is suckered into buying one.  Generally best to avoid these.

Flying conditions

The best $500 kite available will not fly in the wind shadow of a tall building or in a small field surrounded by really tall trees.

Pilot ability

You are the biggest variable of the three parts.

I've narrowed down stoves post to what I feel are the most important things here. Small heavy kites are just that. Small and heavy. They need obscene amounts of wind and usually are made poorly, leaving a less-than-great experience for a new pilot and also leaving them confused and frustrated. ESPECIALLY if they're at a local field and too nervous to talk to someone, and sees a kite flying without much effort in 2mph. If you're new, get something thats more full sized, and something with a good reputation. The internet is great for that and for research. Another kite (as an option from the Quantum) I would suggest that you'd look into is a nylon freestylist from skyburner, premier kites'  Widow NG, or a wolf if you want something just a bit smaller.

Equipment is great but if the conditions suck, almost anyone is hosed. Flying a demo (where most people will observe kiting for the first time) in a low altitude field, surrounded by trees, is the absolute worst. Makes anyone, pros, included, (most of the time) fly like garbage. Go for smooth winds your first times out! Then move to harder conditions. Trust me it'll make your life easier, coming from someone who started at the age of 4 and learned in terrible conditions for... 4-5 years.

Keep it fun, keep it 'fresh,' and don't feel ashamed about asking a question. Reach out to see if kiters live by you! It's a great time and a great community of people. Enjoy  Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2015, 11:47 AM »

Excellent advice from Strapp59 - I can't really add much except  take a look at 'Dodd Gross Flight School' on youtube - great instruction for all new fliers. This and a more modern kite will make a world of difference. ( But be warned it's addictive!!)

Dodd's Flight School Sport Kite Basic Instruction


Dodd's 6 step Learning/Practice system for Dual Line Sport Kites
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etully
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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2015, 01:51 PM »

Prism, HQ, Skydog all have great intro kites.  The bigger the wing of an intro model the better. This will slow things down, improve performance in bumpy or light winds (somewhat), enhance the tracking and steering, and give a satisfying pull as the wing generates lift.   I had a Quantum, and loved the way it flew and the overall quality and design of the kite. It is a great machine for the money, but needs a little bit more wind to power up than a higher end kite.  Don't over-think the skill required to fly around without crashing, because, you should be good to go after a few sessions, especially if you prep with the loads of tutorials on the 'tube or run into someone who can show you the ropes.  Also, I might add, foils are great kites to look in to since they are not easily broken in a crash and store in a small bag.  But nothing bigger than 2 meters to start, they pull hard.
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BrianS
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« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2015, 07:33 PM »

I'm somewhat familiar with Moses Lake and I can assure you that there's frequently enough wind in your area to fly a sport kite Wink The Jazz is a relatively small kite that moves fast. In my experience, beginners usually have a much easier time with a full-size kite, such as the Quantum or the Widow NG.

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« Reply #6 on: Yesterday at 07:24 PM »

I've got an ~48" mid 1990's kite which I was given by a German foreign exchange student. /// Other thoughts??

It's the kite. Many folks have already given good advice about good beginner's kites. Even good pilots have a difficult time with poor quality gear. You mentioned playing the guitar, learning to fly with that kite is like learning to play on a guitar with warped neck.

There is a good chance that because you'll like to fly your new kite, you'll want to spread your new found joy with others. Inexperienced "others" will often always crash kites. This new kite will be the one you let others fly when you get different kites. This might be a consideration in your purchase. If you think that you will only want/need one kite, well... good luck with that, if you get bitten by the kite bug. I hear there are therapy groups.

Adding a tail will help slow a kite down. I find tails help with gusty winds.

I also enjoy just flying a stunt kite, that is, I do not do any fancy "tricks" on purpose, usually... And I do like to hear the kite when it gets moving. Some kites are louder than others.

Tell us what you get.
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