[Alpha trick index]
[Functional trick index]
Dual line tricks - Spins
540 Flat spin
The 540 flat spin starts off with a vertical dive.
Bring your arms behind you to prepare for a dead stop.
Stop the kite by throwing both arms forward. This should flatten out
the kite with the nose pointing away from you (Pancake position) .
Some kites like a very fast kill (Stranger, Box of Tricks) other
prefer a slightly slower kill (Phantom Elite, MEFM). The trick is to
kill the kite slightly unevenly. If you're going to "pop" it with your
right hand, then let your left hand lead slightly when throwing your
arms forward. This will kill the kite with the nose pointing slightly
to the left. After that a firm "pop" with the right hand immediately
followed by lots of slack on both hands should initiate a flat spin. As
long as you want the kite to spin you have to leave a lot of slack in
your lines. Allow the kite to rotate one and a half times (540
degrees...). The last 1/4 turn is the tricky part. The kite can catch
the wind and not want to turn up. You can help it along by a short
gentle tug of the left hand. This extra tug takes a lot of practice to
get right, but eventually will allow you to give it an extra revolution
or two (and even reverse direction).
The next description was taken from 2 postings from rec.kites and must be
the clearest one possible...
In case anyone's not sure, the 540 Flat Spin goes like this
- The kite starts flying directly downwards towards the ground.
- At some point before the kite hits the ground (and the lower you go
the more impressive it is, but also more risky), you throw both arms
forwards so that the kite flattens out, with the nose pointing away
from you and the front of the kite now facing the ground.
- A gentle tug (I tend to use the word "pop") on one line should start
the kite rotating flat as if it was impaled on an imaginary pole
sticking up from the ground.
- After 540 degrees (1 and 1/2 rotations), the kite should
still be flat facing the ground (or nearly flat) but with the nose
now pointing towards you.
- A gentle pull on both line makes the kite sit up and fly off upwards.
As simple as that? Well actually, no. There are a few subtle things
that you have to get right to perform the 540 Flat Spin and unless you
know what you're looking for, they can be difficult to get right.
The Fast Kill
The first thing is that you have to kill the kite effectively. The
"kill" is that step when you throw your hands forwards to flatten
the kite out. As the kite is diving down, pull your hands right back
behind your back and then thrown them forwards fast. If you need to,
take a step forward (considering the speed you have to do this, it's more
of a "lunge") to get a fast a positive kill.
Practice killing the kite out like this, holding it for a second and
then recovering from this position. To do this, either walk forwards and
let the kite drop the the ground, or to recover in flight, take up the
slack on the lines, pulling more on one line than the other, to get a
half-twist-come-turn back out of the killed position.
Not all kites like to be killed fast (some prefer a more gentle approach)
so you may need to experiment until you find what works. These kites
*will* do a Flat Spin, but generally they need a little more accuracy
from the part of the flier. Dedicated trick kites tend to kill and spin
faster with more tolerance for user error.
The Uneven Kill
The second, and by far the most important point, is that the kill should
be uneven. By this, I mean that one hand should be thrown forwards
before, and going further, than the other one. If your strongest hand
is your right hand, you'll use this to execute the "pop". In this case,
it should be the *left* hand that you throw forwards first.
The reason is this: when you pop with the right hand, that wing should
be slightly nearer to you than the other. When this is the case, the kite
is already a little way into the rotation and will continue into the Flat
Spin much easier. To get the right wing nearer, you push the left wing out
further and faster. Just to confuse matters, the kite is upside down and
the right wing is actually on the left as you look at it...
Waay-haaaay! It's Crap ASCII-Art time!
Looking down from above in a bird's eye view, the kite flier on the left
has killed the kite evenly. The flier on the right has thrown his left
arm further forward which has made the kite rotate a little in an
anti-clockwise direction. The kite is now set up for the pop.
Nose ---> * *
T/Edge --> ___|___ \ _/
\ / _/ /
\ / _/ / ( weird looking kite, eh? )
Lines ---> X \ /
(crossed) / \ X
/ \ / \
Hands ---> m m | \
Arms ---> | | \ m
Body ---> \O/ O_/
You've killed the kite and there's only one place to go: The "Pop".
Consult the Crap ASCII Art diagram above (the stick flier on the right)
and check your position. Don't worry if your hands don't look like
the little "m" characters, though. The important thing is that you've
thrown you hands forward such that your left arm is fully extended and
your right hand is down by your waist, or perhaps a little further
Now give a small but firm tug with your right hand and *immediately*
let lots of slack into both lines. Another step forwards at this point
is often a good idea to achieve this.
Watch the kite. If the pop makes the kite "jump up" into the air
instead of rotating then you either pulled too hard or the kite wasn't
set up properly - perhaps you killed the kite too evenly? If the
kite starts to turn but then tensions the lines and stops, then you
need more slack in the lines. Try taking that step forwards.
If everything goes according to plan, the kite will rotate one and a
half times and then recover. Most trick kites will usually recover
themselves as they complete the final part of the rotation - the wind
catches them and off they go. Try and gauge the slack in the line so
that you can re-tension at exactly this point to get a clean and
controlled exit from the trick. Some kites might need a little tension
as the final rotation completes to help them recover.
Where in the Window?
The center of the window is most impressive, especially in a ballistic
wind. Imagine the kite screaming down towards the ground in a mad
suicidal dash, only to stop at the very last minute, perform a clean
540 inches of the ground and then scream back off into the wind.
The center of the window is most dangerous, especially in a ballistic
wind. Imagine the kite screaming down towards the ground in a mad
suicidal dash, only to stop at the very last minute with a loud crunch
as the frame splinters, tearing through the sail and embedding the spine
firmly in the ground.
The moral: practice in lighter winds, off to one side of the center of
the window. If you go too far out, you can find the kite sliding sideways
as it spins. This is the basis of an advanced Flat Spin trick - the Flash,
but for beginners it can be a little off-putting. The left(ish) side of
the window is slightly easier for right-handed poppers and vice-versa.
The "Eezy Peezy" 540 Flat Spin Technique
Still haven't got it?
OK, let's try something different.
Instead of flying directly down to the ground, try flying out from the
top center of the window, down towards the bottom left hand corner of the
window. You should aim to reach the point where the kite slows down
and almost stops by itself (ideally without hitting the ground). The
nose of the kite should be pointing towards 7 or 8 o'clock on an
Now execute the same 540 Flat Spin maneuver as described above *but*
doing everything a bit slower because the wind should be holding
the kite almost stationary - "parked" at the edge of the window. A nice
gentle kill (push that left hand forward!) followed by a smooth right
hand pop should be enough to start the kite spinning smoothly around.
Remember that it needs slack in the lines once it's started to get all
the way around.
If you prefer to "pop" your left hand, then fly out to the right side of
the window, push your right hand forward and then "pop" with your left.
You'll probably notice that the kite slides back in towards the center
of the window while it's spinning and it probably won't spin totally
flat to the ground. In fact, the trick you've just done is a 540 Flat
Spin variation that has a name of its own: The Flashback. Because it
happens more slowly out at the edge of the window, it's a little easier
to learn than the straight 540 Flat Spin.
When you've mastered the Flashback you can try coming in a little from
the edge of the window, speeding up the dive, and heading more downwards
than out. Eventually you should be doing straight 540 Flat Spins without
thinking about it.
The idea behind the footwork
is to get your whole body into the right position to make doing the 540
Let's say that you're going to pop the 540 with your right hand. This is
how I would do it.
As you bring the kite down towards the ground, power up the kite
by pulling your hands behind your back. Time this so that you are just at
the end of the back stroke when the kite is ready to be thrown out. At
this point your weight should be on your back foot (left foot).
So there you are arms down behind your back,
weight on your back foot (left foot) and the kite about 6' off the ground.
Now, all in one movement transfer your weight through your right foot
and onto your left in one step, making your left your front foot. Also
throw both hands forwards while doing this. This sudden movement
forwards will transfer all the forwards speed that you built up by
pulling back into an away from you direction. (If you make a note of how
far back your hands are at the start of this and then check where they
are at the end, you'll see that you've managed to move forwards by at
least 6' (just like that...)
You should stunt (hold back) one hand as you throw them forwards, in this
case it would be your right hand. Let it come to just in front of
your waist, 6" max. As the kite hits the end of the line give a
small flick of the right wrist, like cracking a whip.
Because having your left foot forwards will turn your whole body around
to the right, making your left shoulder relatively further forward than
your right. Try this simple test, put your left foot forwards and try to
look to your left. You should need to look over your shoulder to see,
now look right.
As you get the 540 down, you'll find that you need less movement to
perform it. At this point you can get away with just transferring your
weight from your back foot (left) to your front (right) without the step.
Fly up to somewhere approaching the top of the window and start a
downward turn by pulling the left hand. As the kite turns left and the
nose passes the 9 o'clock position, pop the right wing with a gentle
axel-like motion. This causes the right wing to be pulled towards you
and the nose of the kite to lift up so that it is spinning flat on its
back in an anti-clockwise direction (looking from above).
If you think how a normal Axel forces the nose down into a flattened
spin, this inverted Axel, the Backspin, forces the nose up into an
As the nose of the kite approaches the point directly away from you (the
kite is still on it's back, but now has the trailing edge towards you),
pull gently on the left line to spin the kite around on its back another
time. Pop again at the same point to force another rotation, and so
Done correctly, the move should be very smooth.
The Corkscrew describes a series of Backspins, or
Multiple Axels ,
starting at the top of the window and spiraling down.
In all but the lightest wind, you will need to walk forwards to
keep enough pressure off the kite to ensure you can maintain
a series of Axels or Backspins.
Fly the kite out to the right edge of the window and turn down towards
the ground. At the same time, throw both arms forward to kill the kite
and pop a 540 Flat Spin with the right hand. The sideways momentum of
turning the kite inwards while doing the Flat Spin causes the kite to
slide across the window back into the wind.
The flash starts out the same as a 540 flat spin,
except that the initial dive is not vertical, but down and out
towards the left side of the window at about 45 degrees.
Pancake the kite when the kite is at about a foot off the ground. The kite
should remain "tilted" 45 degrees. Now popping the right hand will
initiate a rotation of the kite AND a movement towards the center of
the wind window. Pull the kite out of it's rotation after 1 1/2
Instead of popping the kite you can also pop while pancaking by
stopping your popping arm earlier than the other one and extending
the other one. It might be easier to keep the kite rotating when
walking forward keeping the rotating wing hand extended.
Flat spin/180 Flat spin
A basic flat spin is similar to a 540 flat spin,
but only completing half a revolution (180 degrees). This is easier
to achieve as the kite requires less precision in the setup. The kite
should be "popped" back after half a turn, much as it would coming out
of an axel.
This move looks very effective if it completes to a landing, by taking
a few steps forward as the wing tips become parallel to the ground.
The Fractured Backspin starts like the Backspin with a left
turn at the top of the window followed by a gentle right-handed
pop to initiate the spin. Instead of popping gently with the
left hand, pop hard with the left and then immediately with the
right. Instead of spinning once more on it's back the kite
kill flip over onto it's front with the first (left) pop (belly
down, nose still away from you) and then flip under itself (like the
Fade, aka Fractured Axel) with the second (right pop) so that the
kite is on it's back with the nose towards you.
Constant tension on one line at this point will spin the kite
around back into normal flight.
Start with a wing tip stand. For example you pull your left wing up
and the nose starts rotating in a clockwise direction. Let the nose go
right until the leading edge is almost about to touch the ground and
then push your left hand forward to pancake the kite, nose away from
you. Before the belly of the kite hits the ground, pop with your right
hand to initiate the 540 flat spin. The kite spins in an
anti-clockwise direction (looking from above).
This trick can be started from a coin toss as well, to get the kite
into a pancaked position. The Twisted Sister is a similar trick.
Horizontal slot/Vertical slot/Angle slot/Slot machines
Very versatile trick, easy to do, (after learning) and can be done in
different parts of the window with different effects.
Horizontal Slot - Fly across the window, execute a half axel
move with your inside hand (up wing) As soon as the belly flattens out
(that is before the half axel move is completed!), pull your inside hand
again sharply and push forward the outside hand causing the kite to
spin a 540 flat spin.
Do this at the edge close to the
ground, the kite 540s back into the window for a landing.
Vertical Slot - fly nose down (with power) on the edge of the window and
slightly point the nose to the outside. Execute half axel movement with
the inside hand and pull again when belly of kite flattens out. The
kite will 540 flat spin.
Angle slot - Fly the kite nose down at a
45 degree angle. Execute a half axel with the up/inside hand and as soon
as the kite belly is flat, pop that same hand again causing kite to
float around in a 540 flat spin. This is the same as the vertical slot
but can be done anywhere quickly.
Lazy Susan/Rotating backflip/Turtle spin
Flip the kite into a turtle
and do a very gentle pull on one of the lines to generate a rotation.
This will start a rotation while the kite is on it's back. Pull the
kite out of the turtle position after one rotation. You should take
care that while rotating the kite doesn't pick up the lines with it's
wing tips. The way to do it is to immediately release both lines after
the gentle pull which enables the lines to lay in the cheeks of the
kite. Of course you can keep rotating the kite by pulling the correct
line after each half rotation. Kites that float easily will love this
There's a video clip from this one too (from
Dodd Gross's Flight School IV)..
Also see Sleazy Lou and Flapjack.
Starting in a shark from right to left, push both hands
forwards to flatten the kite out (as per the switchback), but before
the kite flattens out totally, pop with the right hand to execute a
540 flat spin off the ground. Looking down from above, the kite
Flat Spins anti-clockwise. Pop again to get Leading Edge 900's, 1260's
A totally, totally excellent combination move is to start with a very
low 540 flat spin at one edge of the window, come directly out into
a shark, drag all the way across the window, switchback,
shark all the way back to where you started and then
pop a leading edge 540 flat spin back into flight.
Fly out to the edge of the window, turn up and then turtle
kill the kite, pop the inside hand to get the kite spinning
on it's back (Lazy Susan) while sliding back into the window.
Fly the kite right to the edge of the window such that it hovers
close to the ground. Pull back hard and fast with the inside hand
to whip the kite through 270 degrees (nose points down) then push
this hand back to the neutral point progressively. Step forward
to drop the kite lightly into a wing tip stand, pointing towards
the edge of the window, as it continues to rotate.
This works better with kites that turn and accelerate quickly.
Like the Fountain (Rising Cascade) and the Toast Rack
(Rising Flic-Flac) before it,
I wanted to get the Corkscrew going upwards.
The result is the Spiral Staircase. Fly down into a 540 Flat Spin
near the ground and as the kite completes, briefly take up the
slack in the lines and fly the kite up ever so slightly. The
movement should be quick enough to get a little lift in the kite,
but not so aggressive that the rotation stops. Hopefully, the
kite should continue to spin around so that you can pop another
Flat Spin or
Axel to continue the cycle.
It's tough to perfect the technique to get a smooth spiral
upwards, at first it's more of a "Spin, Jerk Up, Spin,
Jerk Up, Spin" kind of motion.
The strobe starts out the same as the Flash or a Flashback, and
you continue to "pop" the kite to make it perform multiple
Flat spins as it slides back into the window.
Fly the kite down and out towards the wind's edge at an angle of
30 degrees. Accelerate the kite by pulling back hard on both lines
simultaneously and then throw both hands far forward as the kite
gets near to the ground. This move should roll the kite back by more
than 90 degrees so that the back of the kite shows to the flyer and
the kite is still tilted at an angle. Perform an Axel pop with the
outside hand, ensuring that there is plenty of slack in the lines
after the pop. Let the kite flip around to face you and then nod
forward, face down and again showing the back of the kite slightly
but still at an angle. Pull smoothly with both lines to recover and
send the kite back up the way it came.
The whole manouvre should take place within the kite's wingspan and
just above the ground for maximum effect.
Kites proven to perform this move: Box of Tricks, Xntrik, Phantom
Remarks, additional info ? mail
Peter Peters (