One of my fascinations of quad line kites is that you can stop and hover your kite anywhere in the wind window. And I don’t mean hover for just a second or so. No, you can really pin that kite to the sky and have it stick there for minutes if you like!
In the previous tutorial, we went through the hover basics. In this tutorial, we’re going to take it a step or two further and I’ll give you five different exercises that will take your hovering skills a long step in the right direction. They will even build your general flying skills, so let’s get to it!
Exercise #1 – Up To The Top
This exercise is focusing on getting the “feel” for the upright hover. Take off and fly your kite slowly and controlled all the way up to the top of the wind window. As your kite nears the top, you can feel a reduction of the wind pressure and soon your kite won’t fly any higher. It has reached the top of the wind window.
Your mission is now to keep the kite stable in this stationary position at the top of the window. Make sure to make your input subtle. Too much and the kite soon will look unstable in its position. You can also take a step forwards or backwards to compensate for any fluctuation in the wind.
Keep your hover for about five seconds before you start to reverse the kite slowly back down to the ground. Try to land the kite simultaneously on both tips at the exact point where you launched.
In addition to the hover itself, this exercise also focuses on controlled forwards and backwards flight. When flying try to keep the leading edge horizontal all the time. It will build your general flying skills and it looks soooo much better too!
Exercise # 2 – Step Up To The Top
This exercise is a somewhat more difficult variation of the first one. Rather than flying all the way to the top in one go, you stop and hover four or five times on your way up there. Hold the hover for about five seconds.
For each hover, make sure to keep it as stable as possible using subtle input. If you have fluctuating winds, you can take a step forwards or backwards to compensate for these fluctuations. Keep your leading edge as horizontal as you can.
After the hover at the top of the wind window, you repeat the same pattern reversing your kite down to the ground. Stop it and hover four, five times on the way down too. And as always, hold your hovers for about five seconds while tending them with the tiniest of hand/handle input.
When you land do your best to hit the ground with both tips simultaneously. And try to land the kite on the exact same spot that you launched.
When “taking off” from each hover going up, you can take a step backwards, in addition, to pull on your thumbs. This will put some more pressure in your sail and bring you a smoother lift.
…and when descending from a hover you can do the opposite, take a step downwind. This will decrease some of the pressure and make for a smoother transition from the hover.
Exercise # 3 – Sideways 45º, 66º, 90º
Like the header says, now we’re into the sideways hovering. Practising sideways hovers, always practice them in both directions, to the left and to the right!
First do them to … let’s say the left.
Take off and fly your kite in an arc to the left. When your kite has reached a position in which the leading edge is at about an angle of 45º, stop and hover for five seconds.
Like described in the previous tutorial, when doing sideways hovers to the left, make sure to extend your left arm in front of you. This will create a sideways angle of attack for your kite to hover vertically. The angle you put in your handles (finding the sweet spot between pulling or pushing your thumbs) will create the horizontal hover.
When you find this sweet spot for both horizontal and vertical hover, your kite should be like glued to the sky in that hovered position! Experiment until you get it right!
After the five seconds hover, reverse your kite (by pushing your thumbs somewhat forward) and reverse the arc down and land. Try to make the reverse as controlled as possible by combining hand/wrist motion and walking on the ground (if necessary). If you also manage to land the kite at the exact same spot as you launched it, we’re talking success!
Now, repeat the above, but angle your kite a little more – about an angle of 66º – and do the hover. A somewhat steeper angle and a little closer to having your leading edge vertical.
Reverse and do yet another repetition, but now your kite should end up with the leading edge perfectly horizontal, an angle of 90º! Hold for five seconds and reverse the arc and land your kite on both wingtips simultaneously.
I find this exercise is helped by my stance. When I do sideways hovers to the left, I put my left foot, well in front of my right one, and vice versa. It kind of set up my body for a better position to control the sideways hover. Try it yourself and see if it works for you as well!
….and off course, when you have done the sideways hover exercise to the left, you repeat for the right!
Exercise # 4 – Upside Down Up And Down
Now it’s about time to turn that kite of yours upside down and try to do upside down or inverted hovers!
If you remember from the previous tutorial, I like to hold my handles in a different position when doing inverted hovers, pointing the lower ends out to the side. I find this position the best for tending the inverted hover.
You start this exercise with your kite resting on the ground on its leading edge. Launch the kite by reversing it off of the ground and continue to reverse it until it’s about three, four meters up in the air. Then you stop and hover it for roughly five seconds. When completed, you fly the kite slowly forwards (in the direction of the leading edge) down and gently put it down on the ground on its leading edge.
This can be difficult, especially in gusty winds, but give it a go anyway.
If you find the hover difficult, you can skip it and concentrate on just flying the kite up and down until you get the feel for it. Then you can try to include the hover. Don’t be afraid to take a step or two on the ground to compensate for wind fluctuations or changing the pressure in your sail.
When you feel comfortable you include the five seconds of hovering before you gently bring the kite down and land it on its leading edge.
The next step is to reverse your kite a little higher off of the ground, let’s say six, seven meters up in the air. Now do the five seconds hover again and see if there’s any difference to the lower hover. Use subtle inputs when tending the hover and take a step or two downwind to ease some of the wind pressure when taking the kite down to the landing.
The first times you practice this exercise, you should opt for a day with smooth winds. Smooth winds make everything easier!
Exercise # 5 – Upside Step By Step
This fifth and final exercise is taking the previous exercise a step further. Rather than going down to land after the hover, you now go up (reversing your kite) and do another hover higher in the wind window!
On your way going up, stop and hover your kite three, four times until the kite is pretty close to the top of the wind window. Placing the hovers at different altitudes will give you pretty good feedback on the differences between hovers down closer to the ground compared to the ones (much) higher in the wind window.
From the hover at the top, you bring your kite down to the ground again, and on your way down, stop and hover the kite for about five seconds a few more times before you land it gently on its leading edge again.
This exercise will really boost your flying skills and when you have it down you surely can call yourself a much better pilot!
Remember to practice each exercise at least five times as I describe in the Five Reps Practice Method. This approach will focus on finding a pattern of your flying (the inner variables) the things you can work on, rather than the outer variables, like the wind conditions which you can only adapt to. I’m using this method all the time because it really works for me. I’m pretty sure it will work for you too!
So what are you waiting for? Check out the complete tutorial down below. Then grab your kite bag, hit the field and start flying!
Finally, if you have comments, questions, additions or whatever to this tutorial, please let me know by dropping a comment in the comments field below or on YouTube. Any input is appreciated!