The Stunt Kite Pre Launch - Attaching the lines
Flying Trick Stunt Kites
How's That Different From Stunt Flying?
Trick kites have been around for a long time now, although they have changed and improved over the years. Most 'tricks' can be performed on any good Delta stunt kite, but of course a special trick kite is best.
So what actually is a 'trick'? Tricks tend to be done in one spot, in the air or close to the ground as part of a landing or take-off maneuver. Sometimes they are referred to as 'slack-line tricks'. Now there's a real clue!
By throwing both hands forward, the kite can be 'stalled' so it hovers and floats down on its face. Or it can even be flipped over onto its back, where it can hover while there is no tension in the lines.
A tug on one line will then send it spinning around on the spot.
Beginners find these kites uhhm trickier to fly, compared to just about any other type of kite. On your first attempts to fly one, be prepared for a few unplanned landings! Some harder than others. Hence, it would pay not to start on the most expensive model available.
A skilled flyer can do a lot of fancy tricks based on a basic set of moves. These flyers are sometimes referred to as pilots!
Trick flyers also combine landings and take-offs with fancy moves, and refer to this as 'groundwork'. Neatly landing a kite on one wingtip after a low-level trick is an example of this.
Kinds Of Trick Kites
There are dozens of good trickable kites available in the shops, including on-line stores. Many of the old ones still perform well and find their way onto eBay at much reduced prices. The technology keeps advancing, making it harder and harder for anyone to just whip something up at home from a set of kite plans and expect similar results to a shop bought one.
Comparing With Precision Kites
So how is a trick kite different from the stunters that you see doing precision figures in the sky, during a team display for example? Apart from the sheer ability to do all the 'radical' maneuvers from the officially recognized list of tricks, plus maybe a few more. Well, the first trick kites were considerably less precise than the stunt kites that inspired their design. In other words, you could try to fly a straight line with one, but it would be a lot harder to do that successfully, compared to a precision stunt kite!
Another difference is that trickable kites usually have a higher aspect ratio than precision kites. Put simply, that just means thinner, more pointy wingtips.
There can also be differences in the way bridles are designed and various other adjustments. You won't find a 'trick line' on any other kind of kite. Some trick kites are actually quite complex to set up, out of the box.
Just like all aircraft, there is a general principle that more stability means less maneuverability. And more maneuverability usually comes with less stability and control. And so it is with stunt kites and trick kites.
I had a think about how trick flying might have started. It's not hard to imagine really. A stunt kite suddenly stalls in gusty conditions. The flier just happens to scratch his ear at the same moment, causing the hovering kite to spin through more than 360 degrees. 'Hey, how cool was that!' he thinks, and trick flying was born. Well, I guess we'll never track down the very first trick.
Somehow, somewhere, people discovered that delta stunt kites were capable of all kinds of radical maneuvers, when deliberately flown in and out of the stalled condition in various ways. There are so many possibilities, new tricks are being perfected all the time. A few of them become well known and popular enough to make it onto the 'official' list.
Trick Kites In The Future
Some trends can be seen, and are sure to continue for many years.
There is a growing emphasis on Freestyle, where individual tricks are connected together into a routine. Sort of like a precision kite display, but the important thing is the tricks rather than accurate shapes carved in the sky.
Trick kites are being designed with better and better precision. This makes Freestyle flying more attractive to watch. And possibly more satisfying for the pilot too!
Precision kites are becoming more 'trickable' too. I wonder if this might mean that a few tricks might eventually creep into official figure-flying. Don't be surprised.