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Tutorials : Quad-line for Dual-line Pilots

By Eric Allen

As a longtime quadline pilot, I'm amazed at how much trouble dual-line pilots have when picking up a quadline for the first time. I suppose I really shouldn't be, as I had the same problem when I started! It did disappear after about a week or so of frequent flight... Hopefully some of the time I've spent at the Revolution demo fields at the Berkeley and Seal Beach kite fests helping people learn to fly Revs will translate to print. I'll try to get you over the initial hump and show you some basics, and lastly give you a glimpse of some of the vistas available to you when you fly quadline kites.

First, some physics. There is a significant difference between dual-line and quadline kites. The extra 2 lines change everything! Dual-line kites change direction by altering airflow on one side of the kite or the other. As one side comes towards or away from you, air pressure on that side is lessened or increased, making the kite turn in the direction of less pressure (or away from more pressure.) Quadlines use the same principle, but the airflow is altered on the bottom of one side of the kite (or both, or neither.) This makes one side move up or down. Since there are 2 sides, this makes the kite turn. What this means is that most of the control of the kite is in control of the bottom lines, versus the left and right lines (ignoring slides for the time being...)

Enough talk. You've bought (or borrowed) a quadline kite. You're on the field. The breeze is nice. You've put the kite together with the bridle on the front, rods on the back (a common problem is rods on the same side as the bridle.) You attached the four lines to the bridle, unwound the lines and attached them to the handles-tops to tops (close to the grips), bottoms to bottoms (reversing this is another common problem-I do it myself from time to time...) All the lines are straight-no wraps anywhere (I'll go over fixing wraps and such later.) What now? The answer is simple-launch! Launching a quadline is very much like launching a dual-line-pull back sharply. You can take a step or two back as well to get some more lift. The difference is that you need to let the bottom lines out to maximize lift. This is most easily done by pulling your thumbs towards you. The question now is-did the kite go up?

If you got the kite into the air, great! Skip the bit about launch problems & go to how to turn.

Probably not, though.

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It probably ended up doing an upside down 'u' and is sitting tips up on the field. No problem. You can do this all day and not damage the kite at all. To put it back on its tips, slowly push down on the bottom lines until the kite floats up, then pull down more on one handle. Slowly is the word here, as quick movement will turtle the kite & you'll end up walking (this is a trick, by the way...) The kite should turn over onto its tips. Keep pulling if it doesn't. Launch again, and keep doing it until you get a good straight launch. Don't worry if it takes awhile. Some things that'll help you are: try to keep the handles steady-you may be favoring one hand over the other, pulling on one hand more. Check for equal length lines and bridle. Try to resist the temptation to steer by pulling or pushing-it doesn't work. You may need to get your handcuffs and put them on to counteract your hard won dual-line reflexes.

Once you get a clean launch, let's do the usual "try to make small left and right turns at the top of the window" practice. This is where the handcuffs come on (if you haven't got them on already!) NO PUSHING AND PULLING-WRISTS UP AND DOWN ONLY!!! This advice MUST make it into your head and body. Resistance is futile. Slowly pull down a little bit on one handle, let go, pull down on the other, let go. If you oversteer, try not to panic and start pulling on the other side-it won't do any good at all. Let go with the hand on the turn side and pull down on the other hand. Try not to pull too much or the kite will spin and maybe bowtie. Once you get over the initial panics and frustration with trying and failing to use your dual-line reflexes you should get into a nice "pull down one side, let go, pull down other side, let go" rhythm. To get it on the ground, just pull down on one side, then let go. You can also pull slowly down on both sides to reverse down. I would practice launching, easy turns and landing until you feel comfortable. Next we'll get better control over the bottom lines with forward flight and turns, circles and spins, stops and reverse flight.

The initial difficulty of pushing and pulling when you should "wrist up, wrist down" should go away with practice. Let's move on to making the kite do what you want it to.

  • To go straight, pull up with no wrist movement (you will need to adjust direction with tiny movements.)
  • Any single wrist movement translates to a turn, moving both wrists can translate to a spin or reverse-one up and one down spins, both down reverses.
  • The more you move one wrist down and the other up, the sharper the turn until it spins on its axis.
  • A sharp down then a sharp up makes a corner. The sharper and longer the snap down the more the turn.
  • Slow down force will make a circle, depending on how far down you move your wrist.
  • Pulling up on both is "gas", making the kite move faster.
  • Less pull up slows the kite-the more you pull down on both the slower the kite goes until it stops, hovers, then starts reversing.
  • The more you pull down, the faster the reverse.
  • A sharp pull down stops the kite. Too far down pancakes it.
All these bits translate into control of forward and reverse flight. Again, practice this until you're comfortable with everything. Now it's time to take off the handcuffs! Next up is sliding.

I lied when I said that "it's all in the wrists". A critical skill to flying quadlines is left & right movement (also known as "sliding".) This is done by pulling or pushing either hand, just like a dual-line. This move is easiest from an upside down or sideways position-just pull either hand. Upright is more difficult because you lose lift quickly-you'll end up tugging and walking backwards to maintain position. Sliding is also key for altitude control during turns and spins. Revs have a tendency to fall while turning-to demonstrate, start a spin halfway up the window-you'll end up on the ground after a while. To counteract this you need to push and pull to keep the spin in the same place.

Well, that's about all the basics. Keep working on these and you'll be a competent quadline pilot in no time! Now for some tips about winding 4 lines and the care and feeding of Revs, then a quick survey of advanced stuff and trickery. Winding 4 lines is fraught with peril. It's very easy to end up with a tangled mess-we've all spent a lot of time untangling (ask anyone who was part of the quadline mass ascension at the Berkeley Kite fest in '99!) The key is: separate everything before and after winding. Here's what I do: Land the kite upside down (this is the normal landed position, by the way.) Put the handles on the stake. Take off each set of line and larkshead the bottom to the top on each side. Put the loops back on the stake. Do the same at the kite & take the kite apart & put it in its bag. Put the loops on the winder. Put two fingers between the left & right side. This is critical. It keeps the sides separate. Wind. When you get to the end, make sure each side is separate and loop around the winder. When you unwind, put the lines on the handles-it doesn't matter which side-and unwind. When you get to the end, take each side, spread them out and tug a bit to get any winds out. Make sure its unwrapped clear to the handles. If not, you need to try to separate until the winds are as close to the handles as possible. Attach the lines to the kite. Walk back to the handles, keeping all 4 lines as separate as you can. If you have tangles, you'll need to remove one line from the handles and untangle it, then another, then a third. Sometimes you may just need to spin the handles to remove top and bottom line twists. Sometimes you may need to pass handles between each other to remove ladders. Caring for Revs is pretty easy-put them away dry & reasonably well folded & rolled up. Eventually you'll get tears in the top mesh. I repair them with a glue gun. You can use mylar or ripstop tape on sail tears (someone cuts theirs in the shape of a Rev! (cute, eh?)) or a glue gun. The sticks are pretty durable-you need to crash hard off-center, run into something or fly in too much wind to break them.

Here's some of the stuff you can look forward to doing with a Rev: slow spins right at ground level. Stopping and hovering anywhere in the window. Strobes, flat spins, axels, coin tosses and cascades, turtles anywhere in the window. Ladders, facet turns, dive stops, catches and tosses. The possibilities are bounded only by your imagination!

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