The Jacob’s Ladder, a really nice trick combination that even a non-kiter can understand and appreciate. And perhaps best of all; the ”Ladder” is not too difficult to learn, and hopefully – when you have read through this article – you’re a few steps closer to make it. Are you ready? OK, let’s go!
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What’s a Jacob’s Ladder
OK, first of all we have to agree upon what a Jacob’s Ladder really is. In my opinion the kite goes like this…

  1. Fade
  2. 1/2 Backspin
  3. Lateral roll into Turtle
  4. 1/2 Lazy Susan
  5. Lateral roll into Fade
  6. Repeat from 2


Will climb the Ladder!

Different kites, different behaviour
Some kites are better at this trick combination than others. Quite a few of the new kites are ”ladder machines” because they sit in a quite nose deep turtle. (Makes 1/2 Lazies easier). The Gemini is probably not the best kite for this combination because it won’t go very deep with its nose in a turtle. It can be done though. The MiniGem is better. It does the lateral rolls easier than it’s bigger brother.

Different kites, different input
Different kites require different input. You’ll be surprised of how little effort it takes with a kite that excels at this combo. With the Nirvana it can all be done with fluent motions and the correct timing. The kite kind of ”floats” through the combination. With the other kites however, your input must be much more distinct. Let’s say going from the fade via the lateral roll into the turtle require some work from the pilot. Some kites sits in a (relatively) nose high position, you need to give a very distinct pull (to pull out of the fade) and give plenty of slack (to enter the Turtle). The hard(?) pull gives the kite enough momentum to drop it’s nose lower than a softer and more gentle pull will do.

Will climb the Ladder too!

Breaking it down
The Jacob’s Ladder can be broken down into smaller ”elements”. Here’s how I prefer to break down this combination:

  • Getting into the Fade
  • 1/2 Backspins
  • Lateral roll 1 – from a Fade – nose away – rolling over into a Turtle
  • 1/2 Lazy susan
  • Lateral roll 2 – from a Turtle – nose towards you – rolling over into a Fade
  • Recovery

All these ”tricks” are not too difficult. The difficulty is to put them all together and get the timing right so it looks like one flowing motion.

Ghost, climbing as well!

Practice on the different elements before you try to put them together.

Step 1
First you should pratice getting into that fade. Wether its from a fractured axel, pancake to fade or any other approach is up to yourself. Try to balance the fade too, when you get them.

Step 2
The next step is to add that 1/2 backspin. Give a little slack to one of the lines and watch that wing tip move a tad backwards. Pop that same line and (hopefully) the kite will start to rotate. After 180 degrees of rotation pull on both lines to recover.

Step 3
Now it’s time to practice on the Turtle stuff. First you should practice on getting tha kite into the Turtle from normal flying position. Fly the kite upwards until it’s starts to slow down while moving your hands closer to the ground. Then give lots of slack by flicking your wrists and moving hour hands upwards. This will probably roll the kite over into a Turtle.

Different kites needs different input to get into this position. Experiment to find out the best way to Turtle your kite. You need to give slack, but giving too much some kites will roll over in a YoYo. That’s pretty cool too, but not what we’re after this time.

When the kite sits in the Turtle, try to keep it balanced and guide it while descending. To recover give a little slack to both lines followed by a good pull on both lines.

(Side note: Some kites can be hard to recover from a Turtle. Indoor and SULs, and the older versions of the Tramontana are known examples.)

Jacob’s Ladders in the sunset

Step 4
When you feel comfortable with the Turtle, it’s time to move on to the Lazy susan. If your kite sits in a nose deep Turtle, this should be pretty easy. Give a quick pop on one line followed by slack in both lines. The pop should start the rotation and the slack will allow the kite to rotate all the 360 degrees.

After one rotation you should recover to normal flying again. (Se how to recover above.)

Step 5
Now you should pretty much know all the main elements that go into the Jacob’s Ladder and it’s time to put it all together. From now on timing is the key word!

Into tha ladderOK, put the kite into a fade and initiate the 1/2 backspin. When the kite’s nose is pointing away from you, pull on both lines and immediately followed by lots of slack (over-recover). If you get the timing right, this will cause the kite to do a lateral roll and – assuming you have given enough slack – the kite will fall over into a Turtle rather than recover. Puh! You’ve got part 1 down!

Let the kite’s nose drop a little before you pop a line to initiate the 1/2 Lazy Susan. When the kite’s nose is pointing towards you, pull on both lines. This will pull the kite out of its position and will do a lateral roll. Make sure to give enough slack to allow the lateral roll to continue. (If you don’t give enough slack the lateral roll wil be choked and the kite recovers into flying position. If it’s close to the ground, you can expect a serious lawn dart! )

Tension your lines so the lateral rotation stops when the kite enters the Fade position and… you’ve done it!

Get out and fly!

That wasn’t too hard was it?

Timing and knowing the combination’s different elements are the key to this combination. …and as mentioned above, some kites will do the Ladder easier than others, and different kites needs a little different input.

Oh yes… don’t forget to alternate direction for the 1/2 rotations. 1/2 BS to the left, 1/2 LS to the left, 1/2 BS to the right, 1/2 LS to the right, 1/2 BS to the left, 1/2 LS to the left, etc.

Hey, are you still in front of your computer. Get out on the field and start ”climbing the ladder!”


This article was first published at AERIALIS-DOT-COM on May 7th 2006 



Here’sa GREAT video for you, Jacob’s Ladder Studies by DPmama74. Watch and learn!

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