The Holy Grail of Combination Kites

Subject The Holy Grail of Combination Kites
From (Andy Wardley)
Date Tue, 30 Sep 1997 10:02:38 GMT
Newsgroups rec.kites
Larry Benitez <> wrote:
> Just curios Andy, how close are the Benson kites (Phantom Elite and
> Fusion specifically).  Base on what I've read in various places, these
> two kites have some claim to fame that they are precision kites with
> trickability.  Based on the "Holy Grail" what is it that these kites
> lack?

Tim describes the Phantom Elite as a "trickable precision kite" and the Fusion as a "precise trick kite".

The Phantom Elite isn't really an out-and-out precision kite, but something well suited to ballet-type flying and general recreation "fun" flying. It will do just about any kind of Axel/Flat Spin type trick in the book but it's designed to "fly" rather than "flip" and things like Flic-Flac's are difficult. It's perfectly capable of doing clean crisp precision but it requires a steady hand. When I talk about a "precision" kite I think of something like a Northshore Radical that will track on rails and stay on a straight line even if the flier decides to pop off for a quick pint. Having said that, Rads will barely Axel, let alone do any other kind of trick.

The Fusion is more tricky than the Phantom Elite. It's smaller, more curved and has a slightly tighter skin. It will do any trick in the book but compared to a dedicated trick kite like the Box of Tricks, it requires a little coersion and slightly more accuracy, particular with some of the advanced combination moves. A Box, being smaller and more tricky is much more tolerant of the "Thrash Till You Crash" style of flying. What you get from the Fusion in return, is a kite that will also fly cleanly and precisely but it's probably still a little too quirky for competition standard precision.

The other big difference is that the Phantom Elite is available in 4 different versions for different wind conditions. The Fusion has a fairly wide wind range (about 4 to 15mph, I guess) but that's it. The Phantom Elite range will do you the whole competition wind range from 3mph up to 30mph. (At 30mph it'll fly, but I've yet to find any kite that flies well at that speed :-( )

The "Holy Grail" of kites, in my opinion, is one that has excellent precision: good tracking, clean sharp corners and smooth, variable radius curves (many kites will turn wide or turn tight but not do both well). The kite should be such that it "locks" onto a line and tolerates a little bit of "wobbly hand" without skitting around. A kite that requires bigger hand movements to control it is good because you don't have to hone your skills to millimetre precision.

Conversely, the kite has to be totally responsive when tricking so that tiny inflections in hand movement can influence the kite and allow the most radical tricks to be pulled off. Trick kites are designed to be inherently unstable to some degree to permit this. It's not necessarily that you want to do the most radical tricks in a ballet routine (although you may) but often that you want to do fairly radical moves with a high degree of certainty and repeatability. If you're pushing a kite to the limit, you're less likely yo pull it off every time.

Add to the fact that we want good speed control (i.e. the kite can fly slow as well as fast to make those figures easier) and stability in stalls and slides and we start to see how complex the problem is. Furthermore, the kite should exhibit a good blend of all the above in a range of winds from 2mph to 30mph (although in reality we would have a number of kites for different wind ranges). The only kites I've flown that will do radical tricks in 30mph are of the Matchbox/Aziza/Psycho and I can't see myself flying one of them in competition.

I believe we already have the ultimate in trick kites (for me it's the Box of Tricks) and many candidates for very best in precision (Northshore Rad, Sandpiper, Phantom Elite, take your pick on personal preference...) but nothing that combines the best of both worlds. As we see more and more freestyle influence entering the competition arena, with tricks being included in ballet and precision routines, the fliers are requiring more versatile kites that can do everything and do it well.

There are some very good kites out there that do a bit, or a lot of both, but nothing yet that combines the very best of both ends of the spectrum. I don't know if it's possible but I've flown some very nice prototypes that are heading that way.

Watch this space.


Andy Wardley  <>     Signature regenerating.  Please remain seated.
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