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Kites. They've been around for thousands of years. The art of kite flying has become not only a hobby, but a challenging sport as well. A wide variety of kite kits and kite accessories are available at department, hobby, and toy stores. You can even design and build your own kites.

When I was a child, I used to love to fly kites. I made my own diamond kites with sticks of wood, string and newspaper. I would notch the ends of the sticks and run string around the kite, then cut a piece of newspaper to fit and glue the ends. For a tail, I would take several old rags and tie them together. My string was rolled up on a short piece of a tree limb.
Most of the kites I have now are single-line kites although my sport kite bag is growing. My future plans are to become involved with the AKA and hopefully attend a few kite festivals in my area and the West Coast.

Kitefest Pictures
Arlington Kitefest - Arlington, Texas - April 5, 2014
Edmond Kitefest - Edmond, Oklahoma - June 28, 2014
Bonham Kitefest - Bonham, Texas - July 12, 2014

Sport Kites present a whole range of different opportunities. By flying with two lines the 'pilot' can maneuver the kite left and right, up and down to perform however they please. The two flying lines are connected to handles or straps on one end and connected to the bridle of the kite on the opposite end of the line. You control the kite by pulling in one line to make it turn in that direction, if you pull the right hand line the kite will turn to the right. Sport kites are easy to learn how to fly but tough to master.

The Sport Kite was inspired by the very earliest of hang-glider designs. Just like the big man-carrying kite, a typical Delta stunt kite has a main spar and 2 leading edge spars with fabric stretched between them. One, two or even three horizontal spreaders are also used to keep the kite's shape. The shape is vaguely triangular, with some designs looking more bird-like with swept wings. The 2 lines allow the Delta to be steered left and right when up in the air. That means, with practice and a bit of skill, you can make the kite fly just about any pattern you like. The more serious fliers like to use Spectra line for controlling these kites, due to the material's low stretch and high strength. In precision flying contests, many of the 'figures' consist of straight lines joined by sharp turns at the corners.

A general rule for lineset length is: 10 times the wingspan for trick flying, 15 times the wingspan for precision flying. 90# is a common weight for lines. Although anything up to 200# can be used easily. One of my favorite lines to use is a Shanti Skybond set 100'/100#.

Also known as stunt kites, the sport kite is used in the following categories: Beginner Kites (Standard), Freestyle Kites, Ballet Kites, trick kites and Low Wind Kites which includes the Ultra Light kite (UL) and the Super Ultra Light kite (SUL).

When learning to fly, it is important that control of your kite becomes the priority. When starting out, it is inevitable that you will crash your kite a number of times. However, after gaining some flying experience, controlling your kite in flight and in landings should be your primary focus.

Pictured below are the sport kites that I currently have in my kite bag in the order that I've purchased them. On my wish list are the Skyburner Widow Maker UL, Prism Quantum Pro, Skydog Blackdog UL and of course, a Joel Scholz Kestrel.

Prism Quantum Fire

Skill Level - Beginner to Intermediate
Wing Span - 84" (213 cm)
Wind Range - 3 to 25 mph (5 - 40 kmh)
Speed - Moderate to Fast
Pull - Medium to Strong
Frame - Pultruded Carbon
Sail - Ripstop Nylon, Mylar Laminate
Flying Lines - 85' x 150 lbs Spectra (26 m x 68 kg)

Prism Quantum
The Quantum is manufactured by Prism in China and has been a good choice for new pilots for a number of years. The Quantum's 7-foot wingspan is full-sized for serious pull and excitement in a wide wind range. Engineered to make learning a snap, the Quantum's wide wind range, adjustable bridle, and light but tough carbon frame make it the kite you can learn on easily but never outgrow. The shock absorber in the tail and Kevlar-reinforced nose are designed to protect the kite from those unplanned landings. Once you've mastered the basics, a simple bridle adjustment will tune the kite for tighter turns, stronger pull, and sporty control response.

The Quantum is built with the same precision and attention to detail as other kites by Prism. The Quantum has been an excellent kite to learn on. It flies very well and is tough as nails. However, it is a standard kite and with the toughness comes a little more weight. I have found that the Quantum flies best in winds at 10 mph or above.

When buying a Quantum it is a plus that the kite comes ready to fly with 85' 150-lb. Spectra lines, straps, winder and case. The Quantum is not to be confused with the Quantum Pro. The Quantum Pro is a sport kite developed by Prism for competition teams and is lighter, stiffer and more responsive. From everything I've read, I believe the Quantum was first offered by Prism in 2010. From last check, I can't find a field card or manual for the Quantum, however, the Prism website is a great website to gain flying knowledge and information about the Quantum.

Skyburner Nik Nak Blue & Plum

Skill Level - Intermediate to Expert
Sail - Polycarbonate
Frame - 1570 Pultruded
Wing Span - 78"
Height - 36"
Weight - 4.4 oz
Wind Range - 0 to 10 mph
Bridle - Spectra 3 point

Skyburner Nik Nak
An outdoor, no-wind Sport Kite that is made in the USA by Skyburner, the Nik Nak is considered to be one of those staple kites in every pilot's kite bag. The Nik Nak is a 6-1/2-ft, is an Ultra-lite that weighs only 4.4 oz. tough enough to take a little abuse and is designed to do all the latest tricks. It's easy to fly, from novice to expert. It has an extended wind window gives you more room in less space. It has a lightweight performance design with the durability to last with molded connectors, kevlar reinforced nose, molded center T and aluminum ferrules.

Its greatest asset is that it can transfer from outdoors with no wind to indoors. The Nik Nak is designed by Jon Trennepohl and Wayne Brunjes. Sails sewn by Heads Up Kites, Pam Kirk and Mike Dennis. Color choices vary. The Nik Nak is custom built at time of order and was first offered to the public in 2010.

My experience with the Nik Nak is positive all the way around. Marieanne at Skyburner took my order and within a very short period of time I had my Nik Nak in hand. The flying characteristics of this kite are excellent. If you are experienced enough, you can fly this kite with no wind. It is considered as an ultra light (UL) and weighs just over 4 ounces. I love flying this kite in winds of about 8-10 mph with a 100 ft. Gomberg tail. It's fast and responsive yet has very little pull. One thing with the Nik Nak, there are two small thin battens that go in the back of the sail, and need to be removed when storing the kite in a bag. What you have to avoid is losing them. I carry a small plastic bag and when finished flying I take the battens out and put them in the bag. Some pilot's slip these battens in the nose of their kites, but I haven't found a way to do that on the Nik Nak. The Skyburner website is excellent featuring all of their products with excellent customer service. No field card or manual available.

Prism 4-D Cobalt

Skill Level - Beginner to Expert
Wing Span - 58" (147 cm)
Wind Range - 0 to 15 mph (0 - 24 kmh)
Speed - Fast
Pull - Light
Frame - .098 high modulus Microcarbon
Sail - Icarex Polyester, Mylar Laminate
Flying Lines - 50' x 50 lbs Spectra (15.2 m x 22.7 kg)

4-D Manual
Prism 4-D
Just about anywhere... just about any time, the Prism 4-D makes stunt kiting a blast when nothing else will fly. Its 58" wingspan makes small spaces big so you can fly in tight quarters with ease. At barely 2-1/2 ounces, its super-light weight gives it the buoyancy to stay aloft in swirling breezes and even indoors, where walking backwards with short lines provides enough lift for a huge range of graceful aerobatics.

But super light doesn't have to mean super-fragile. The 4-D's high-modulus frame is made from solid carbon rather than delicate tubes, super-stiff but tough enough to bend in a circle without breaking. So this is a kite you can fly in regular winds too, up to 15 mph without overpowering or worry about breakage. The 4-D is constructed from ultra-light Icarex polyester sailcloth and Mylar laminate for gossamer weight. Its Microcarbon frame folds to just 23" and fits in a provided padded case that you can sneak into any pack or suitcase.

To make it a cinch to put together, Prism designed a little wingtip fitting that instantly tensions and de-tensions the leading edge with no knots to fumble with. The bridle is clean and simple with limit knots so you're always within the adjustment range. And the included 50-foot Spectra flying lines are the perfect length for smaller spaces while still allowing a generous wind window.

I haven't tried it indoors yet but if you like to fly indoors, there's room in the case for a second, shorter lineset so you can hone your skills on those cold, dark winter days. In the air, the 4-D has the precision and presence of a much larger kite. The line feel is balanced and responsive without being twitchy like most small kites. Its light weight and buoyancy makes it forgiving in turbulence and gives you time to recover as the gust passes. For freestyle fanatics, it'll do a huge range of tricks without the heavy feel of many trick kites. While it takes smaller motions to fly, you don't have to be an expert to have a blast, making it the perfect addition to any kite bag. I purchased this kite used and I'm very impressed with its performance. I have flown this kite numerous times and find it fun and responsive outdoors. It flies so lightly that I have to switch from straps to finger straps just to feel how it's doing. The 4-D is made by Prism in China and replaced the 3-D in 2003. Manual is a PDF and listed under Specifications.

Diving Lady by Crystal Kite Company
(#25 - 10/1992 vintage)

Skill Level - Beginner to Expert
Made in 1992
Signed / Dated / Numbered #25
Size - 96" Wide x 42" Tall
AFC Carbon Frame, 0.2300"
No other data available
Diving Lady
The Diving Lady is a sport kite that was made by the Crystal Kite Company located out of Lahabra, CA. and Cancun, Mexico. Crystal Kite Company reportedly went out of business in 1998, but their kites become available from time to time on Ebay and other outlets for sale.

All of their designs were screen printed and they did have some unusual kites. There are at least 25 or more Diving Lady's that are signed and dated. This Diving Lady is dated 10/1992.

Most of their kites were named after the design, hence the Diving Lady. There reportedly is a red one named simply "Lightning" or "Striker". Their top end kites were framed in 5-6mm carbon tube and were made very well. There reportedly are a number of kites by Crystal since they were in business for nearly 16 years but most of what I see around are single line kites.

I haven't flown this particular kite as of yet, but I understand the sport kites fly very well. I consider the kite "vintage" since it's not made anymore and dated 1992. After an extensive search, I can't find anymore data on this kite other than locating another flyer that owns a Diving Lady numbered 10 dated 12/1991. So, that gives an approximate start date for the Diving Lady. But, I can't find how many were made. No manual or instructions available. After purchasing this kite and taking it out of the bag, I can say that I'm impressed with the design and color of the kite. I consider this kite rare and an important addition to my kite bag. If you have any factual information about the Diving Lady sport kite or Crystal Kite Company, feel free to contact me by email.

Prism 3-D Orange
(#1488 - 2005 vintage)

Skill Level - Beginner to Expert
Wingspan - 48"
Wind Range - Indoors to 12 mph
Weight - 1.9 oz.
Frame - .098" MicroCarbon
Lines - 50# x 15-40'

3-D Field Card
Prism 3-D
Ounce for ounce, the Prism 3-D is the most versatile little kite that was ever made. Small enough to fly almost anywhere, and light enough to fly easily indoors, it'll get you flying in places you never before thought possible.

Prism designed and implemented the 3-D in 1996. In 2003, it went through a number of changes and upgrades. In 2013, there were a couple upgrades/changes that Prism wanted to incorporate into the 3-D to improve the overall design and to make it more appealing to the end users. One of those things was a collapsible leading edge and spreaders. The 3D used single length leading edge and lower spreader rods which made it quite cumbersome to carry around. They went to a two piece leading edge and two separate lower spreaders to allow for the kite to fold down to a very nice compact size. The sail and layout also went through various changes as did most of the fittings mostly for performance improvements and flight characteristics. Prism originally was going to continue calling the kite the 3-D but the changes were so profound that it warranted it's own new name. So the 3-D was replaced with the 4-D.

This helped not only Prism but retail shops and end users as well by associating replacement parts for this new kite separate from the older two designs of the 3D. There is very little similarity from the 3-D to the 4-D other than they are both Prism's answer to indoor or ultra light wind flying kites. The 3-D was manufactured by Prism in the USA until 2003. It reportedly set the world endurance record for indoor flying. I haven't flown the 3-D yet, but I plan to after I receive new stand-offs. This particular 3-D is numbered 1488 and since it's not manufactured anymore, I consider it vintage. Field card is included under Specifications.

Jaws by Joel Scholz and Sky Delight Kites
(12/1991 vintage)

Skill Level - Beginner to Expert
Wind Range - 3 to 27 mph
Sail - .75 ounce Ripstop Nylon
Frame - 2400 Graphite or P2 SkyShark
Recommended line - 150# test
Dimensions - 93"W X 40-1/2"H
Weight - 11 ounces

About a year ago, I started flying single line kites. I quickly gravitated to dual line or sport kites earlier this year. As I started delving into the world of sport kites, I always found one constant... a good pilot always had a Joel Scholz kite in his bag.

About that time, I watched a video by Ray Bethell entitled, "Romancing The Wind" and I definately became hooked. In his video, Ray flies three Kestrel sport kites made by world renown kite artist, Joel Scholz. Joel has been described in American Kite Magazine as "One of America's best kite designers, and in Kitelines Magazine as "On the forefront of the next generation of kite makers". Joel's kites have won many awards, set world records and hang in museums through out the world. I fell in love with the video and the Kestrel kite and vowed one day that I would own one. There's just one problem, Joel doesn't make kites anymore and his company, Sky Delight Kites merged with Go Fly A Kite (GFAK) in 2001. Joel licensed his kite creations to GFAK. Now, GFAK isn't making kites either. It's sad... I've found since becoming involved with kiting that many US kite makers have gone out of business due to the economy. Of the kite companies left, only a handful manufacture their kites in the USA. Most have their kites made in China. In further researching "old school" kites, I find that the kites Joel Scholz made from 1984 until his merger with GFAK are rare and highly prized. So, finding and securing a Kestrel will take a lot of patience and time to find. However, from the 1980's up until 2001, Joel made several variations alongside the Kestrel. He used the same design and framework in creating the Neptune, Hummingbird and Jaws sport kites. And it just so happens I found a slightly used Jaws kite in my price range. In trying to secure all information about Jaws, I find that there's not much out there. The kite is signed and dated by Joel Scholz, but it's not numbered so I don't know how many were made. I find that only a few pilots own a Jaws kite, so I consider it kind of rare and since it was built in December of 1991, it's certainly vintage.

I was delighted to find a Jaws kite and add it to my kite bag. I haven't flown it yet, but will break it out and try it when the winds are right. I've become a fan of any kite that Joel Scholz designed and made prior to his 2001 licensing to GFAK. At last check, Joel is still active on the kite scene today. He has a Facebook page where he occasionally sells any older kites he may have left in his vast kite bag. Joel's passion has always been in kiting but his focus has turned to RC planes also. Joel, and his wife Bonnie live in Kingsland, Texas which makes me proud since that makes us both "Texas Boys". I'll try to get more info about the Jaws kite as time goes on. If you have any factual information, feel free to contact me.
Below are some kite festival pics as well as numerous links I have found to be helpful. Also there are various videos including a video illustrating the multi-kite flying talent of Ray Bethell. Ray's an award-winning multi-kite champion. His video "Romancing The Wind" inspired me to start flying sport kites.

Kite Search/Association/Historical/Misc Links

American Kitefliers Association (AKA) - World's biggest kite organization
Kite Event Calendar - American KiteFliers Association Calendar
KiteLife Magazine - Publication devoted to the sport of kite flying
National Kite Month - History of the kite and annual celebration
World Kite Museum - Also Washington State Kite Festivals

Kite Organization/Forum/Informative Links

DAKO - Dallas Area Kitefliers Organization
GWTW Forum - Gone With The Wind Kite Forum
Ian Newham's Sport Kite/Kite Design Website - Everything you'd ever want to know about Sport Kites
John Chilese Website - Ace Kite Photographer
Ray Bethell Website - Multiple Kite World Champion
TKO Professional Sport Kite Team - Texas Kansas Oklahoma Professional Sport Kite Team - Facebook page
TKO Professional Sport Kite Team - Texas Kansas Oklahoma Professional Sport Kite Team - Website
AKA Region 8 Kite Events Calendar 2014 - For Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas

Kite Online Retailer Links

Above It All Kites - Kite retailer - Long Beach, Washington
A Wind Of Change - Kite retailer and accessories - Salt Lake City, Utah
Big Mike's Kites - Kite retailer - Dallas, Texas
Chicago Kite - Kite retailer - Chicago, Illinois
Fun With Wind - Kite retailer - North Reading, Massachusetts
Gomberg Kite Productions - Show kites, inflatables, tails, line laundry, and banners - Neotsu, Oregon
Goodwinds - Kite accessories, rods and parts retailer - Mt. Vernon, Washington
Into The Wind - Kite retailer - Boulder, Colorado - Kite retailer - Edmond, Oklahoma
Kites and Fun Things - Kite retailer - Plymouth, Michigan
Kite Loft - Kite retailer - Ocean City, Maryland
Kite Stop - Kite retailer - Titusville, Florida
Kitty Hawk Kites - Kite retailer - Nags Head, North Carolina
Wind Dance Kites - Kite retailer - Charleston, South Carolina
World Wind Kites - Kite retailer - Austin, Texas

Kite Manufacturer Links

AirDynamics - Custom Kite manufacturer and retailer - Hereford, United Kingdom
Benson Kites - Kite manufacturer - Bradford, United Kingdom
HQ Kites and Designs USA - Kite manufacturer - Powells Point, North Carolina
New Tech Kites - Kite manufacturer - Austin, Texas
Premier Kites - Kite manufacturer - Hyattsville, Maryland
Prism Kites - Kite manufacturer - Seattle, Washington
SkyDog Kites - Kite manufacturer - Colchester, Connecticut
Sky Burner Kites and Sky Shark Competition Air Frames - Kite manufacturer - Plymouth, Michigan

Video of me flying my Skyburner NikNak. Getting better at piloting my kites.
June, 2014

Video of me trying to fly my Prism Quantum dual-line in wind that's either gusty or non-existent.
It's only my second time to fly this particular kite. Enjoyed every minute.
Hope to get better at it.
March, 2014

An excellent video entitled, "Romancing The Wind" by Ray Bethell.
Ray choreographs his kite flying skills with ballet.