KHK Basic Guide to Kites

Two line stunt kite in flight with a tail.

Two line stunt kite in flight with a tail.

There are so many different kinds of kites in the world that we couldn’t possibly list them all. There are certain constants among all them, though, that might help folks who are looking at 200-300 kites in a well-stocked kite store–Kitty Hawk Kites, as an example–and are wondering what to buy.

There are four basic kinds of kites—single line, single line , dual line and . Within each type there is an infinite selection, but those are the basics.

Single line

Single line parafoil in flight.

Single line in flight.

This is the most basic kite and what almost everyone thinks of when they imagine flying a kite with a child. A single line attaches to the kite, run into the wind and the kite goes into the air.

Three basic frames—diamond, delta and parafoil. The classic diamond is actually the hardest to get into the air; either the parafoil with no frame, or the delta are the easiest to fly.

Often intricate in their patters, fighter kites are are great for more experienced flyers.

Often intricate in their patters, fighter kites are are great for more experienced flyers.

Fighter Kites

Hailing from the Orient these are single line controllable kites. They are inherently unstable in flight, and are not a good choice for a novice flyer. Originally glass was imbedded in the kite lines and the object in competition was to cut your opponent’s line.

Two Line Stunt Kites

The Prism Nexus. A versatile dual line kite.

The Prism Nexus. A versatile dual line kite.

A fun, fun kind of kite to fly. The flight of the kite is controlled by two lines that allows the flyer to maneuver the kite up, down, across the horizon, figure 8s, just about anything imaginable.

Most two line stunt kites are delta shaped—actually look a bit like a miniature hang glider—but there are also dual line parafoils that generate tremendous lift and power.

It generally takes about an hour or so to get comfortable controlling a stunt kite. The time is very well spent.

Quad Line Stunt Kites

The Revolution quad line kite.

The Revolution quad line kite.

When Revolution Kites brought out their line of quad line kites back in the 1990s, it was, well . . . revolutionary. But here’s a historic footnote: look at a photograph of the Wright Brothers flying their 1901 kite and they are controlling it with four attachment points.

Nonetheless, quad line kites really got people thinking about new stunts and new ways of doing things. Remarkable in their maneuverability, and surprisingly easy to master.

Revolution is still making their frame kites. Ram air quad lines are great power kites; kiteboarding kites use quad line controls.

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