Kite terminology

The descriptions/explanations are given for delta shaped stunt kites.
Explanations for kites of other shapes may (and probably will) differ....
In the pictures the kite parts are encircled/pointed to/boxed in red


Any remarks or additional info should go to me (pp@win.tue.nl).


Index

aspectratio
bridle
cheater line
frame
in-haul line
leach line
leading edge
flying line
lower spreader
nose
out-haul line
oversteer
sail
spine
spreaders
standoffs
towing point
trailing edge
trick line
upper spreader
wingspan
whiskers
wing tips

Frame

The frame of a kite are the spars that construct the skeleton of the kite. A lot of different materials are used. Modern stunt kites mostly use fiberglass or carbon/graphite.

Leading edge

leading edge picture Look at the picture....

Spine

The "spine" or "main spar" or "center spar" of a kite is the spar that runs from the
nose to the "tail" of the kite. It is usually in the center of the kite. Some kites (such as the Revolution) have dual spines, and some have no center spine (such as the Flexi-Foil).

Trailing edge

Look at the picture...

Sail

The "skin" or "sail" of the kite is the cloth that is put around the kite's
frame. The most commonly used fabrics are: tyvek, ripstop nylon and ripstop polyester.

Flying line

The flying lines of the kite are the lines that are used to control the kite. The most commonly used types are: spectra, dyneema and kevlar.

Bridle

General

The lines that attaches directly to the kite
frame and in turn attach to the flying lines. Other than tying everything together, the main purpose of the bridle is to govern the kite's angle of attack, i.e. the angle in relation to the wind. The bridle is adjusted for varying wind conditions. Each of the lines that run from the towing point (where the flying lines attach) to the frame are known as 'legs'.

Different types of bridles

Adjusting

By moving the
bridle adjustment point

Adjusting the bridle is generally done in small steps (1/8") at a time. You can start by bridling your kite low or heavy (nose pointing more toward the back) and then bring the nose forward in those small steps until you like it. Make equal adjustments on both sides at the same time. Play with your bridle and see what it does to your kite. If your bridle settings are all wrong the kite won't fly, but you won't break the kite....

Also the length of the bridle is something to experiment with, although there are "rules of the thumb" for bridle line lengths. Different lengths will produce different characteristics. Longer bridle lines have a better force angle on the frame, thus reducing the strain. They will allow easier adjusting of the tow point. It will also be easier to tangle up your lines in edges and whiskers. Shorter bridle lines don't tangle that easily, but cause a lot of flex (bending of spars) in the frame while turning. This will e.g. cause the kite to stall easier.

As a rule of the thumb you can start with a bridle consisting of a dynamic line that is as long as the leading edge and a static line that is 50-60% of the leading edge's length.
For the "turbo" bridle the dynamic and static lines are equally long, 80% of the leading edge's length.


Bridle adjustment point or Towing point

The towing points are the points where the
bridle and the flying lines connect. By moving this point on the bridle lines the flight characteristics of the kite can be changed.

Spreaders

The spreaders are the horizontal rods that keep the kite in it's shape.

Lower spreader

The lower spreaders run from the kite's
spine to the right and left leading edges.

Upper spreader

The upper spreader runs from the kite's left
leading edge to the right leading edge

Nose


Aspect ratio

This is the Span^2/Area ratio of the kite. A low and wide kite has a high aspect ratio. A high and not so wide kite has a low aspect ratio. High aspect ratio kites have a large (dull) nose angle, low aspect ratio kites have smaller (sharper) nose angles. Generally high aspect ratio kites fly faster than low aspect ratio kites but are more vulnerable because of the longer spars.

Oversteer

A kite that exhibits oversteer is very touchy. When you pull to turn the kite over-rotates and you are required to counteract to correct it. This behavior is partly due to the design of the kite, but is also influenced by bridle settings. Oversteer is useful in a number of tricks and special maneuvers.

Wing tips


Wing span

The width of the kite measured from left to right. For normal delta shaped stunters this means the distance from left to right wingtip. For other shaped kites I put the kite in the normal upright flying position, and measure the kite from utmnost left to utmost right poits.

Whiskers / Standoffs

These are small thin spars that run between the
trailing edges (back edge of the kite) and the lower spreader spars. Their purpose is to make sure the sail keeps the right shape in light winds. These are found most often on delta (triangular shaped) stunt kites.

Leach line

This is a piece of line that is put into the hem of the trailing edge. Used to tension the trailing edge.

Trick line/Cheater line

This is a piece of line that runs from a wingtip to spine bottom to the other wingtip. Used to prevent the flying lines from getting wrapped around the wing tips or spine end.