5 September 2016

a little guide to kites

It's listed in the 50 things to do before you're 113/4 by the National Trust. It's a hobby that dates back in history as far as Ancient China. It has health benefits, gets you outdoors and provides adults and children with hours of fun. It's an adrenaline, sport fuelled activity that can actually be potentially fatal, depending on the type of kiting you undertake. Whatever your preference, there is no doubting that kite flying is a hobby or sport or activity that everyone can do and enjoy. The problem is which kite is best suited to your needs? In this article we're look at three different types, one for the children, one for the occasional flyer, perhaps uncertain how far they wish to take the hobby, and one for the expert. These are kites used in the traditional sense, standing in a field or on the beach. You, your kite and the wind. It's also worth noting that these are just my recommendations, of course there are many other companies and varieties. The joy will be for you to decide what you like best, so hopefully you'll use this as it suggests, as a guide. 


kites
The Revolution Rev 1.5

A (very) Brief History
Kites have been around for centuries, in fact dating back to Ancient  China, some 2,800 years ago! Through the centuries the kite has taken on different roles, both good and bad, from agriculture to being used as a means of transport. Marco Polo is noted as being one of the first to document the construction of kites, to this day new designs are being created that take kiting to high heights! 

Some Rules

It's worth noting that when you go kite flying its important to  remember a few simple rules. That way everyone can enjoy their flying experience. This is not an exhaustive list, manufacturers will often have a leaflet with their product given you more detailed explanations. 

  1. Leave plenty of space between you and the next person. That way you will have your full wind pocket (the area within which your kite flies best) and you are less likely to get your lines tangled. Its a mess when they do! 
  2. Only fly kites in the right conditions - don't fly them in the wet or if a thunderstorm is imminent. Also check the wind speed. Too strong and you'll likely to snap your line, bye bye kite! Little wind and you're unlikely to get it flying. Oh, and don't fly them near airfields or power lines! That's asking for trouble.
  3. Check your equipment before flying. Strings, rods etc 
  4. Be careful of your surroundings (also see Num1). Flying on the beach is fine, in the park ect, just be sure that if you're in a public place, that people are aware of you and can avoid a falling kite. They can really hurt if you get hit by one, believe me! 

kites
Prism kite - EO-6: single line box kite

kites
Prism Kites - EO Atom: single line box kite

For the Children

The first thing I want to say here is that, if you're able, spend a little more on getting a decent kite for the kids. One that will last, is well made and can be easily assembled. Kiting is about having fun, and you don't want to buy a cheap one that breaks within a few hours of buying it. Spend a little more and that scenario shouldn't happen. You can buy cheap ones (we're talking between £8 - £20) and they will do a decent enough job, especially if your children are very young. However add an extra £15 and you'll be able to get a kite that will take your kiting experience to a different level. For me then, the Prism kites are perfect. From the ages of 4 upwards these kites are perfect. They are great fun to fly, even if they do only have one line. 


How do they fly?

They look good (see the examples above), and fly beautifully. They dart about the sky in the right conditions. Weaving this way and that. They are not hard to control, and you can extend them out to quite a distance. Also they look fantastic. Imagine, its a Prism you're flying, not a traditional looking one or a delta wing for that matter. It looks like it shouldn't fly, but certainly does. They also pack away to a convenient size and shape; flat basically. When M and K have flown them, there have been a number of times when people have stopped us and asked, 'What kite is that?' and 'Where can you get them?' The simple answer to the second question is,  online. There are a number of online stores that stock a range of unusual kites, but if I had to pick one then Kiteworld is perfect. They stock all types (including the Prism kites) and much more besides. So to get the children interested and having fun, these are the kites I would choose. They retail around the £35 ($40) mark, so aren't a massive investment. So what if you're looking for a little more power? You want to take your kiting experience to a more challenging level. Then its the power kites you need. 


kites
Flexifoil - Big Buzz

The Power Kite

The pull of the wind on a kite can be an exhilarating experience. Can also feel like your arms are about to be pulled off too! With a foil kite you get that experience in spades. Depending on your needs, the large ones are mainly used for more extreme means such as kitesurfing, kiteboarding and parakiting. If you're a starter to the world of the power kite, and you want to stay on terrafirma, then the Flexifoil Big Buzz is the perfect kite to meet those needs. Firstly they are very easy to unpack and pack away again. It all fits into a bag that can be carried, it weighs next to nothing, so you can take it anywhere. An example being I took the Big Buzz away with me to Dubai. I was able to fly the kite in the middle of the Dubai desert and on the beach. The locations were amazing, the flying fun, the two key factors in why kiting is such a joyous hobby. 

Although not cheap, you're looking at around £75 for the Big Buzz, its money very well spent. The quality of the kite is second to none. It's well designed and will bring you hours of fun. To fly, its bags of fun. Although quite slow through the air (you can get smaller power kites, about 1.5m in width that are much faster), it has a graceful feel when gliding through the air. Long swoops, and twists and turns can be achieved. A word of warning in stronger winds the Big Buzz can really pull, sometimes it can take you by surprise. This is not a toy for a young child, its a proper power kite and needs your full attention. Adult supervision will be required, even with a teenager. I cannot recommend this kite enough. It's a wonderful piece of equipment, that has given me many happy hours of flying. If you respect the wind and the kites capabilities then the kite will respect you. 


kites
The Revolution Rev 1.5

The Ultimate Stunt Kite

Kites come in many shapes and sizes, the ultimate kite (in my opinion) is the Revolution Kite. It's shape is like nothing else in the sky. It's agility is a marvel and flying it is, I promise an absolute joy. Once you've mastered a few moves. Yes it will take some practice, you get a free DVD when you buy one, but that is part of the fun. It's all about taking your kiting to a new level. It flies backwards, hoovers, lands and takes off under your control, twists and turns with ease. If you can get a couple of you flying them at the same time, then the experience increases sevenfold. Create displays and a crowd will soon gather. 

The Rev is a four string kite, so worth remembering. It's actually easy to assemble and there are a number of different types, that will increase speed and agility. The one illustrated is really the entry level version, so once you've mastered that, then you're ready to go for their pro versions. These kites are not cheap. When I got mine a few years ago it was around £165. The price increases the more professional the kite. What more is there to say about these beautifully made kites (made with carbon fibre by the way). Although they are a land based kite, you could use them for boarding if you wanted to. I love the Revolution kite and I'm sure if you purchased one, you would do too.

A Little Guide to Kites 
I could go on and on. There are so many kites available. I've not even touched on the Delta stunt kites or the more novelty types. It's really all down to your preference. What do you want from your kite flying experience? Kiting is great fun, a simple pursuit at its heart. Why do it? Well there is an adrenaline aspect to it, but it is also very therapeutic. It can help take you away from the pressures of the outside world, just you, a bit of string, carbon fibre and fabric, creating a dance in the sky. Now that is something worth pursuing, isn't it? 

I hope you have enjoyed our little guide to kiting. Do you have a kite? Have you been kiting? I'd love to hear your stories. Thanks as always for your support. Until the next time. 


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