When I thought of the Stunt Kite Classics project I also wanted to vote for the six tricks myself. But what tricks to go for?
There are so many to choose from and the Backspin and the Cométe were the two first ones in my mind. But then I started to wonder. What should I really look for in a trick making it worthy of a vote?
So I made a few notes to self.
I was looking for a diversity of tricks that would put the kite in various positions, upright, upside down, flat on its belly, from the ground, nose away, nose towards you….
I was looking for tricks that could be … door openers to a deeper dive into the wonderful world of freestyle flying.
I was looking for tricks that have both challenged and encouraged me to improve my flying and skills.
And after quite some time I made my mind up and selected my six tricks
- The Snap Stall
- The Two Point Landing
- The Axel
- The Backflip
- The Fade
- The Cartwheel
The Snap Stall
This is – in my opinion – the most important of all stunt kite tricks!
Well, for several reasons. First I find this trick very impressive itself. You know, you’re powering your kite across the wind window and then, BANG! Right in the middle of the power zone, the kite stops dead and hover in the air! It’s so dynamic! First fast and furious, then BANG, stop! That’s amazing!
But there’s also more to the snap stall than just stopping the kite from flying. You might think differently, but I see the snap stall as the biggest door opener to trick flying. As soon as you have that snap stall down, a whole new world of tricks open wide. The stall is the starting position for oh so many other tricks. The Axel, axel to fade, half axel, cascade and many more from which you can go on further and explore the Jacob’s Ladders, Backspins, Insanes, Flic Flacs and so on.
It’s also the first step to nail the – at least as impressive – Two Point Landing because when you have the correct timing for a perfect snap stall no matter the wind or position in the wind window the Two Point Landing is not that far away.
So .. the Snap Stall… IMO the most important trick and #1 on my list!
The Two Point Landing
I remember back in 2005 when the AERIALIS Team Flyers were invited by Roger Tessa Gambassi and the R-Sky Team to the World Freestyle Cup in Cap d’Agde in France, Richard Debray was repeatedly doing rock solid Two Point Landings on the beach in hilarious winds. He was sooooo god smacking that kite’s wingtips perfectly into the sand every, yes, every time. No matter the conditions, he was just doing it!
This really amazed me and it was a great inspiration to go flying no matter the conditions, Just Fly!
And wow! That trick! It’s soooo spectacular! Just speeding your kite towards the ground and then – just the split second before impact – BAM – the kite is stalled out of it’s flight, turned around and smacked into the ground into a perfect landing!
In addition to being an impressive trick itself, it also a kind of opener to other tricks starting from the ground. Axel TakeOffs, Tip Stand, Coin Toss, Reversed Cointoss, Flap Jack and others. Yes, none of these tricks necessarily have to come after a ground shaking Two Point Landing, but if so, it sure looks impressive!
I think this is a must have trick in your kite flying toolbag, but it’s pretty darn difficult to land (no pun intended). At least for me, because I’ve struggled quite a bit to get it down (once again no pun intended). Slowly but surely I’ve come closer and now I can do it pretty consistently counter clockwise. I find it much harder to do it clockwise, probably because I’m left handed. But I’m working on it and I’m improving.
Anyway, a great looking trick that really shows your skills as a pilot!
So… Why the Axel? Well, if any kite trick deserves to be called a true classic, the Axel it is! I remember I read a lot about the Axel on rec:kites and on Peter’s Kite Site and finally, the day after the birth of my daughter twenty years ago, I nailed it! A true classic and by far the “winner” of the voting.
The story of the Axel goes back to the early nineties, 1992 to be more precise.
This move consisted of, in light wind, moving toward the kite while the kite is flying downward, thus “flattening out” the kite. While in this flattened position, carefully popping the left or right line to make the kite spin around while in this position.Steve Thomas
If you want to read more about the development of the Axel you should take a closer look at this post by Mike Emery in the GWTW-forum.
…and if you ever happen to check out the video “The Advanced Way to Fly” by Prism Kites or the “Flight School” by Dodd Gross, there are some great tutorials on how to perform the Axel. First you stall the kite (remember the door opening Snap Stall above?) Then you let one of the wing tips, let’s say the right one, drop just a tad, a couple of inches or five, six centimeters will be sufficient. Then give the right line a sharp tug and within the next split second give (and maintain) slack in both lines. The tug will flatten out and initiate the Axel rotation and making sure your lines are slack will allow the kite to rotate all the way. When the kite has rotated all the 360 degrees you pick up the slack in your lines and pull the kite back into flying position again.
…and VOILA! You’ve just nailed the Axel!
Hey! What’s going on! Your kite is upside down!
Yes, that’s right. The Backflip (also known as The Turtle) turns the kite over onto it’s back, ready for more fun!
This is IMO another crucial trick you need to have in your repertiore, because it will wide open the door to a series of new tricks. Lazy Susans, Multilazies, Jacob’s Ladders, Cyniques, Rolling Cascades, Snap Lazies and several more, are tricks you can do when your kite is in a back flipped (on it’s back nose away from you) position. Meaning it’s a really important first step trick that will take you into more advanced trick/freestyle flying.
…and you really will need to get out of that backflipped position and there are many ways to do so. The easiest one is just to pull on both lines to flip the kite back into flying position again, and this is probably the first thing to do. When you have this down, you could start to explore the Lazy Susan (aka the Rotating Backflip). Tug just one line and immediately let your lines go slack to allow the kite to rotate 360 degrees on it’s back before you pull on both lines to flip the kite back into flying position again. The Lazy Susan! Just one – of many – ways to exit the Backflip!
It’s going to be a quite interesting trick to do with my Classic Stunt Kites, because it’s a trick that can be tricky (oh no, not again! 😉 ) to get a few kites out of. A significant number of (really) old school kites lies pretty flat on their backs and it can be quite difficult (or even impossible) to pull them back into flying again. However there are a few … workarounds. Like dropping the nose a little (or much) to make more leverage. …or trying to do a Lazy Susan and pull on both lines after half a rotation. Yup, this one is gong to be interesting!
Hey! What’s going on! Your kite is upside down! Again!
Yes, in a Fade it sure is! The kite is on it’s back with its nose pointing towards the pilot, and if the kite sits in a stable Fade it can sit for ages if the wind allows!
When the kite is in a Fade, it’s kind of floating in the air. Nahhhh…. it’s not really flying, nahhhh… it’s not really hovering, but somewhere in between…. Floating.
And you can tend the Fade with your flying lines (if wind allows). Walk slowly backwards and the kite will (mostly) rise or walk slowly forwards and the kite will sink. …and for those moments when the wind is just perfect, moving your hands backwards and forwards will make the kite do the same. AhhhhhhoxomoxoA!
From the Fade you can also go into other tricks. Pull on one line and start a Backspin or a Jacob’s Ladder. Pull on both lines and start a Flic Flac or – if pulling (much) harder – the Yo Fade is within reach. The Fade is a great position for you to make transitions into other tricks and really get that Freestyle Flyin’ going!
Once I was flying in Copenhagen (or Dragør to be more precise) I had my kite – Prism Vapor – in a Fade when my phone rang. The wind was suuuuuper smoooooth, I put both straps in one hand and answered the call. Did my talking and returned to flying after three, four minutes. The kite was just locked into the Fade and after returning the phone into my pocket I could take up flying again! Just a great experience! Why not try it yourself!
Another cool variation of the Fade is to stake your straps to the ground and walk over to the kite. If the kite sits solidly in a Fade and the winds are just right, this is actually possible. And you can prove it by taking a selfie!
This one puzzled me for a while. No, not the trick itself, but whether to include it in my votes or not. Why? Well, for several reasons.
Is it really a trick? Opinions might vary and that’s fully understandable. The kite is not flying, it sits on the ground. …and quite often in an awkward position. But all you wanna do is fly. So what do you do? Do you do the walk of shame or is there another way out?
Yes, there is! The Cartwheel!
Because kite flying is all about that, FLYING! You don’t want to waste time walking back and forth along your lines to setting your kite up for relaunch all day long. You want to fly!
And the remedy is the Cartwheel. ‘Cause no matter what, well… mostly… the Cartwheel will pop your kite back into launch position again just by pulling on the lines! No more walks of shame! No more wasted time of walking rather than flying!
Just pop the Cartwheel and you’re back to flying!
It was such a revelation to me when I discovered the Cartwheel and how I could focus on flying instead of walking. I also know a whole lot of other kite buddies experiencing that same sensational feeling.
So please, every time you’re out there flying and popping a Cartwheel, take just one moment to enjoy the greatness of this … trick!
So there you go. A quick (?) rundown of my selection of tricks. Some of them real game changers for the development of freestyle flying and some of them true revelations to my own flying.
Btw, featured photo by Ivar Thomassen