Are parafoil kites easy to fly? Some would argue that they are, and some would disagree. What’s so different about parafoil kites that causes this wide range of opinions?
Experts agree that parafoil kites are among the kites that are the easiest to fly. They don’t have complicated bridles that affect weight. Also, parafoil kites work by generating wind once it is in the wind window. It functions like a parachute that needs wind to remain elevated.
Parachutes? No, It’s Parafoils!
You heard it right. Parafoils are not entirely like parachutes. However, parafoil kites do take their shape from parachutes. It’s just that parafoil kites are usually smaller compared to parachutes.
Therefore, these kites can harness less wind power than parachutes. However, compared to other kites, parafoil kites generate more than wind. Nevertheless, the parafoil kites are among the easiest to use.
Parafoil kites are easy to use because of their lightweight characteristics and usage of spars instead of rods. Generally, the parafoil kites are your first option if you want to be a stunt kite flier. Another plus for parafoil kites is their fewer breakable parts. Parafoil kites only have carbon fiber spars compared to rods.
Furthermore, parafoil kites come in different sizes, shapes, and designs, just like other kites. But the most common structure in parafoils is its non-rigid airfoil. This airfoil works wonders like inflating the cells. Kind of cool if you ask us! On top of that, it is of ripstop nylon or fabric.
Parafoil History: Jalbert, The Master Of Foils!
Remember how Flexifoil came into the picture? It also works for parafoil kites. Like Ray Merry and Andrew Jones, who pioneered Flexifoil kites, Domina Jalbert was involved in developing hybrid balloon kites. The hybrid balloon kites were created for scientific purposes.
Domina Jalbert had the chance to experience designing kites. Because of this, he saw the potential of parafoils to provide a good landing for space equipment requirements. Thus, a patent was granted in 1966.
Before the success of the parafoil kites, numerous reconstructions were done. The first parafoil was too difficult to be tied down. However, after careful reconstruction, the parafoil has been a success. From there on, parafoils were useful in lifting construction materials for workers building radio towers.
What Jalbert did was add a drag canopy that is attached to the sliders. This drag canopy slowed down the spread of the parafoil to become a proper parachute. Afterward, the parafoil parachute has an efficient steer, good controls, and good glides. Parafoils are used widely in extreme kite-flying sports like kite buggy, kite landboarding, kitesurfing, and simply kite-flying performances. (source)
Parafoils: The Parts And The How It Works
The best way to envision a parafoil is what a parachute looks like to you. The only difference between a parafoil and a parachute is that parachutes have a more sophisticated suspension and aerodynamic system mainly because it is common for naval or military activities or extreme sports and hobbies.
The parachute’s primary function is to land a device or person with significant weight. Unlike parafoils nowadays, these kites are used for slight lifting compared to other kites. However, it’s already established that parafoils are for scientific experiments and extreme or simple kite recreations.
It’s pretty common for parafoil kites to have upper and lower skin. These kites have vertical fabric cells in between. The function of these cells is to form the parafoil’s shape and to take it into flight.
Parafoil kites have complex and careful bridles that can sustain the parafoil’s shape and ensure that you can inflate them to fly in the air. The cells help in giving air pressure to the parafoil. Moreover, the bridling system supports the parafoil’s wind generation and stability.
In some cases, the bridling can be adjusted based on wind power. Kite-flier experts and enthusiasts can twist and turn the bridling system conveniently. For you, it all depends on your wind and level of enthusiasm on how you’ll adjust the bridles.
Parafoils: How To Fly These?
Let’s just say we convinced you to fly a parafoil kite, but the problem is you don’t know where to begin. Perhaps you’re having a little bit of a dilemma on where to start. Nonetheless, here are the simple ways to fly your parafoil kite.
Look For A Kite Flier Launcher
Parafoil kites need air to be able to fly in the air. In this context, having someone with you is essential to help you launch the parafoil properly. Parafoils are only sparred, unlike diamond and delta kites with rods to hold their shapes.
Parafoil kites can easily take flight once air pressure is wholly harnessed. In this case, having someone with you is imperative to have good timing with the launching. It is to avoid any incident with you and other people around you.
Check The Wind
Generally, parafoil kites are good to fly when the winds are approximately 8 to 25 mph. The stronger the wind, the easier it is to launch. If the wind is lighter or lower, you’ll encounter lots of running to launch your kite and stay the parafoil suspended in the air.
So, always ensure that the wind is ideal for your parafoil kite’s wind range. You can always look at the weather forecast to know more about the wind power or range. That way, you will not have issues and problems beforehand.
Choose A Dual-Line Parafoil Kite
Look for parafoil kites with two lines or strings. Dual-line parafoil kites are associated with stunt or sport kites. Hence, these require average to good skillsets before flying one.
The good thing about dual-line parafoil kites is you have more control. You can pull the strings or lines from left to right. Be sure that the dual lines don’t tangle frequently.
Therefore, make sure to find tangle or knot-free dual line parafoil kites. What usually happens with tangles and knots is that it easily breaks the lines or strings in the long run—making them thinner as time passes.
Position Yourself Properly
Flying a parafoil kite requires excellent power on your end. It is to avoid incidents like being dragged around by the parafoil or suddenly lifted. Even though these kites do not have the same power as the parachute, parafoil kites can still pull you around.
In this case, here’s how you handle a parafoil kite:
- Find The Wind Window
Parafoil kites have cells to be inflated. Looking for the wind window enables you to fly the parafoil above—the best way to know where the wind window is is to check the wind direction first.
Then after finding the wind direction, set up the parafoil kite to catch the wind on each cell. In other words, place your parafoil kite at a distance from you. Let your kite launcher form a slightly c-shape for your parafoil.
Position your parafoil kite facing up. Once your parafoil generated a good amount of wind and is now taking its flight, try adjusting your lines correctly.
- Find The Right Timing To Lean Back
The leaning back method ensures you put enough weight on your parafoil kite’s aerodynamics. Well, if you lean forward, you may be dragged with it.
With that, it’s more recommended to lean back to balance the force and drag science.
- Pull Your Lines For Control
As we said, parafoil kites sometimes generate a lot of wind range. In this case, know when to pull your strings and lines. Control is crucial at this point so that you will not lose your kite from your handle or grip.
Aside from that, you must know when to steer the kite in a different direction. It allows it to stay in the air without suddenly crashing.
- Land Your Kite By Steering The Parafoil From The Edge
Steering the parafoil kite to the edge breaks it away from its wind window. Pull it slightly on one line to get away from the wind window. Once you have done this, your parafoil can simply land without issues.
Adjust The Bridle
If you want to adjust the bridle based on the wind range, you can do so in parafoil kites. The bridling system prevents your kite from sinking and diving. For instance, lower the bridle by at least half inches if your kite is sinking. If your kite loses its air, you can move the bridle an inch upward.
But if your parafoil kite doesn’t have a bridle, it’s best to fly it when the wind is good. That’s the only safest and best option you can do so far.
Move Away From Other People
Flying a parafoil kite needs enough space for you to move freely. So, to avoid crashing and bumping with another person. While flying a kite, your and other people’s safety is always a top priority. As much as possible, flying a parafoil kite should be safe and enjoyable.
Look For Ripstop Fabric In Parafoil Kites
Every kite should at least have ripstop nylon as part of its fabric. Since parafoil kites need lightweight together with durable material, ripstop nylon or polyester will do the trick. Looking for this type of fabric ensures that your parafoil kite will last for a long time.
Avoid Obstacles In Areas
Look for vast areas with no obstacles that can hinder your parafoil flying experience. You can go to places like:
Keep in mind!
Following these steps supports your parafoil flying in a good way. But the essential matter of all the steps provided is always being safe for you and others. Parafoil can be a handful in handling and steering, especially if you bought a stun parafoil or Flexifoil. Hence, ensure that before flying a parafoil for skilled kite-fliers, you already know the basics.
Types Of Parafoil Kites
There are three parafoil kites that you’ll often see competitors or simple kite-fliers. These are the following: (source)
Single Line Parafoil Kite
These parafoil kites are significantly flat, with several small keels attached to the bridles. If you’re having difficulty visualizing this, you can imagine a mattress.
Dual Line Parafoil Kite
These parafoil kites are responsive to controls. It is because these kites are stunt kites. The dual-line parafoil kites are usually heavy, and getting hit by these guys can be a pain. So, better be careful, or you’ll lose your marbles!
Quad Line Parafoil Kite
These parafoil kites are used for extreme sports like kite buggy, kite landboarding, or kite snowboarding. The two lines from the quad line parafoil kites are used for steering. The other two lines are for brakes.
What’s The Best Parafoil For You?
We understand! There are too many choices. Regardless, it’s vital to determine the right kite for you. Thus, here’s how you’ll choose your parafoil kite.
Single Line Parafoil Kite
Beginners commonly use single-line parafoil kites. It’s easy to fly and launch. These parafoils don’t require launchers since you can fly these on your own—a good stepping point to start before gunning with the big guys.
Dual Line Parafoil Kite
Intermediate users use dual-line parafoil kites. Before these intermediate users proceed with the quad line parafoil, they can begin with these kites first. The kites offer a more complicated approach compared to single-line parafoil kites. These kites are good to try advancing your skills to the next level.
Quad Line Parafoil Kite
These quad line parafoil kites are utilized by those approaching extreme recreations. Kite buggy, kite landboarding, and kite snowboarding often use quad line parafoils. The reason is that quad lines have a sophisticated line or string system that you can use for steering and brakes.
What Should I Look For In These Kites?
Aside from the manufacturers, you should also consider the materials in a parafoil kite. It’s because the materials entirely impact the performance of your parafoils. Consequently, you should look for the best materials in a kite. (source)
Here are what you should look for in a parafoil kite:
- Ripstop Nylon
Kites usually use these fabrics. There are also times that these fabrics are coated or uncoated. The coatings add an extra layer of protection for your kite. Coatings prevent extensive and damaging stretches. Lastly, nylon fabrics are tear-resistant, durable, and lightweight.
- Ripstop Polyester
Although ripstop polyester fabrics are cheaper than ripstop nylon, they are the most affordable fabric. Even though ripstop polyester is more inexpensive than nylon, it still meets the performance and quality expectations.
- Parachute Fabric
We’re sorry for repeating this, but it’s somewhat apparent that some parafoils will use parachute fabrics in parafoils. Well, the name parafoil speaks for itself. The only downside of these fabrics is that it’s a little bit expensive compared to ripstop nylon and polyester. So, if budget is not a problem, try looking for these fabrics in your parafoil.
- Fiberglass Spars
We already know that parafoils do not have any spines or rods to keep their shape. Instead, these kites have spars. That being the case, it’s clear to find fiberglass spars. We know for a fact that fiberglass is durable. It endures hard crashes and can last for a very long time.
Should You Buy A Parafoil?
Yes! If you want to try extreme parafoil kite flying, buying a beginner parafoil is a good choice. Aside from that, parafoils are easy to fly and are suitable for beginners. So, don’t get yourself twisted with worries. You can even fly a single-line parafoil without a launcher. Just in case you don’t have anyone to accompany you.
Where Can I Buy Good Parafoils?
That’s an easy answer! You can always find good-quality parafoil on Amazon because physical stores are tedious. So, if you want an easy purchase and can deliver it to your home, Amazon is your best friend! There are tons of well-known Amazon brands that sell beginner kites.
Here are the following brands:
Are parafoils easy to fly? Yes, parafoils are easy to fly as long as the wind range is right, and you follow the steps accordingly. To add, make sure that you consider the types of kites you will be buying to avoid purchase regret. You must buy the parafoil that works best for you.
Finally, once you decide on the best kite that works for you, don’t forget the initial steps on how to fly parafoils. These steps will help you in your beginning and advanced parafoil flying journey. From there, you can find the steps that work the best for you.
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- Parish, Tim. “Parafoil Kites – The 3 Kinds Often Seen At Kite Festivals.” My Best Kite. www.my-best-kite.com, https://www.my-best-kite.com/parafoil-kites.html. 0 0, 2022. Accessed July 12, 2022.
- Cohen, Stephen. “INVENTION BECOMES KITE CRAZE – Sun Sentinel.” Sun Sentinel. www.sun-sentinel.com, https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl-xpm-1985-01-27-8501030700-story.html.January 27, 1985. Accessed July 12, 2022.
- Kite Culture. “Guide – Types of Fabrics for Our Kites.” https://www.kiteculture.sg/. www.kiteculture.sg, https://www.kiteculture.sg/content/6-guide-to-type-of-kite-fabric#:~:text=Ripstop%20Nylon&text=This%20material%20is%20the%20most,often%20coated%20to%20prevent%20stretch., 0 0, 2020. Accessed July 12, 2022.