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When I go to a local park flying someone often comes up and says I'd love to try that, or asks how do you do that etc. I recall that there were many things that took a while to pick up; bits of folklore, pearls of wisdom etc. The trouble is they're scattered around, so I thought I'd collect a few to share with other newcomers to the sport and save them some searching.

Kite Resources on the Internet

These sites are absolute must sees:

Subscribe to the rec.kites usenet newsgroup.

Kite Clubs

If you can, join your local kite club, or at least turn up at a fly-in and talk to people. That way you can usually try before you buy.
You can use Kitez.com to search for your local club.

First kite?

Be Warned this will probably be expensive!

Most of my comments here are aimed at someone with enough body mass to restrain a kite. If the kite is for someone young consider that a large kite may well be more than they can handle so something smaller is preferable. On the downside smaller kites are typically faster, less predictable and consequently much harder to control. Many need a lot of wind to get going too.

If you just want to try it out, you don't have much cash or you're cautious Trlby or Peter Powell style diamond shaped stunters make a good trainer. Decent wind range and robust construction are a real help when you just get started and theyre dead easy to relaunch without a walk. Since diamond stunters often don't pull very hard, they may well be a good choice for smaller flyers.

No? You want a delta sportkite? Take my advice and that of many others - buy an eight foot kite, a nice docile one thats well made. Expect to pay about 100UKP. They will fly in lower winds and be predictable. Much nicer to fly when you get started. A kite like this will have considerable pull in higher winds however, so could be potentially dangerous in the hands of a small pilot, for younger flyers there are some small well made kites, such as the Flying Wings Beetle. Be warned however that many smaller kites are neccesarily built very light, since they have less sail area, so they may be more prone to breakage. The Beetle is pretty bomb-proof though.

Whatever you do If you are an adult looking for a first kite (or even second if your first was a diamond) avoid anything less than 8ft. They may cost less but they need lots of wind and tend to be skittish to downright uncontrollable. Buy one as a beginner and you'll soon be looking to buy another kite. 3/4 Kites like my Psycho or even the Reflex tend to be pretty lively and need a fair amount of wind. Small kites like my old Alpine are just downright unpleasant and need a gale. How many new kiters must have given up after trying a beginners kite like that. Honestly, buy an eight foot kite if at all practical. I started on a Psycho because it was cheaper - I spent a lot of time waiting for winds strong enough, and once the novelty wore off I was soon looking for another kite - not so cheap after all. The average 3 or 4 foot fibreglass framed stunter you see in toyshops or on the coast, is usually really unpleasant to fly, might just put you off altogether.

Flexi's Rev's etc - I haven't a clue! I fly a Rev II but don't consider myself sufficiently experienced to make a recommendation. General opinion seems to recommend the Rev 1.5 as the best all rounder however.


YES, Dyneema / Spectra lines do make a big, no huge difference. Buy Some! You will be amazed after flying on twisted polyester. If you're scared off by the price of Dyneema or Spectra you may like to check out Climax flying lines, the higher end lines are similar to Dyneema or Spectra but some of the lower cost lines are still good and the prices (from memory) were very good.

Make sure the ends are sleeved (open to debate but thats for the experienced) and use a larkshead knot to attach them to 'pigtails' on the kite. You can find pictures detailing these knots in Simo Salanne's knots galley

Setting up to fly

Unless you've flown with other flyers you may not know what a ground stake is. Stick a stake, tent peg or whatever, into the ground (make sure it's in securely so the kite will not pull it out). Put your handles round it, then lay out your lines. Now attach them to the kite and stand the kite on it's wing tips leaning back against the tension of the lines (but make sure it leans back more than 30 degrees to stop it flying off). Now all you need to do is walk back to the stake and pick up your handles. It's that easy - no more balancing your kite against twigs/fences.

Bridle rules of thumb

Mark the original bridle position with a marker pen. Then measure it with a tape because the marks WILL fade.

I could make this technical but I won't, for lighter winds make the nose come toward you. If you have enough wind moving the nose away from you will make the kite more lively. Try it then you'll understand. Only move the bridle in small increments, say 6mm at a time and keep it equal on both sides.

Pulling the nose toward you (setting the bridle lighter/higher) will usually make the kite track straighter and pull less. Nose away (heavy bridle) is usually better for tricks.


Start off with horizontal figure eights high up, nice and easy. When you get braver try squares etc.

When you've got the hang of it have a look at the flying techniques pages on Peter Peter's Kite Site.

Oh No! you want to axel? Ok if you must. The novelty wil wear off soon enough but really learn precision flying first (it's sound advice that everyone will give you). Learn push turns - big squares, combination turns - little squares and learn to control you're speed.

Ok done that? If you want to learn tricks learn the snap stall! It's not that exciting but it really is the key to many good tricks. It's also surprisingly difficult when you first start but it will make axels etc. soooo much easier

It may take you a while to spot them but Dodd Gross's 'Flight School' training videos are worth every penny, buy them and save yourself a lot of time and effort. Flexifoils Tricky flickery is more entertainment for those who can already trick, I wouldnt recommend that for a raw novice, Dodd's videos are still the best IMHO.

Care for your kite

Wash it! just throw it in the shower then let it dry naturally. All that grit & grime will soon wear the sail (especially sand!).

Care for you!

I know this sounds dumb but wear good UV proof sunglasses, a hat and a good sunblock on places like your ears when you fly in the summer. Theres nothing like spending hours concentrating on flying your kite to make you forget about the sun, only to have your ears blistered and red the following day :-)

While were on safety watch out for that line. I've had a few nasty line cuts and burns from spectra / dyneema and even polyester. Apparently kevlar line at speed cuts flesh like a knife through butter. Also be wary of broken spars, there are real health risks associated with tiny carbon fibre splinters. The carbon itself is not harmful like asbestosis but it is excellent at carrying other detritus into your blood stream.

A few tips

Stretched a bit of your sail by standing on it? Try thoroughly wetting it then letting it dry - it may shrink back (A good wash makes your whole kite feel taught too).

Spar stuck in a ferrule? Try warming the ferrule in the steam from a boiling kettle

Don't buy your replacement spars from the toyshop, they'll cost you the earth

Don' t leave your kite(s) in the car - no brainers think theyre fishing rods, when theyre bagged up, and pinch them

You can buy a little plastic doohicky called a kitemate to help get your spars out, ask your kiteshop - if theyre any good they'll know what you are on about

Graphite spars usually break at the ferrel or centre crosspiece. You can extend their life by getting some cheap fibreglass rod that fits inside your spars, cut some 2 inch lengths and glue them inside your spar to beef up the ends. Use a slow setting epoxy glue such as Araldite.

And finally, varnish digestive biscuits to make attractive coasters :-)

kites/newbie.html last modified 19:57:02 30-Jul-2017

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