4:40 PM

Oh, go fly a kite.

I have a fondness for anything that flies, but you already knew that. What most readers of WoF do not know about Av8rdan is that I am Charlie Brown when it comes to flying kites.

But I have just returned from flying my new Spectrum Parastunter kite for the first time, and I can say that my street rep as a dunce when it comes to kites is gone forever. Stick in a tree, Charlie Brown…

The problem was…it took me fifty years on this planet to find the perfect kite. My new 54” Parastunter ($39.50 at workshopplus.com) is like a mini-parafoil just like those used for sky diving. While not a skydiving expert, from what I could read on this, the kite’s aerodynamics work similar to a ‘chute’s. And because this kite has no frame, you can crash it endlessly without any damage…it is virtually indestructible. That comes in handy if you’re, well, me.

My first impression is…very cool. Here’s why:

Most kites require constant wind to stay aloft. Not the Parastunter. It features built-in tunnels throughout the canopy that captures incoming wind and converts it to lift. This means that when the wind dies down, any forward motion creates just enough lift to keep it flying until the next gust arrives.
When the wind is rocking, you can do rolls, loops, stalls and other tricks all day. But when the wind dies off, the "low-wind" drill is quite simple. You simply fly it gently sideways until you hit the side of the wind envelope, crank a quick 180, and gently fly sideways the opposite direction. Back and forth, barely flying, forward motion creating useable lift, until you feel a tug on the dual controls telling you the wind is coming back. Then it's all about speed, baby:
When the gusts jump over the 15-knot mark, this kite rockets from one side of your 180-degree wind envelope to the other in about two seconds. It goes from STOL Maule to Lancair Propjet in the blink of your eye.
Only downer is that if not done right (the right-left-right low-wind drill), the canopy can "ball and fall" where it closes into itself, balls up and heads straight for the ground. This makes me wonder if real parachutes can do that, which – of course – could really ruin your day in a hurry.

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