Stunt: Axel

In article <dhines-160993134733@beernut8.as.utexas.edu> dhines@pan.as.utexas.edu (Dean C. Hines) writes:
>Hey folks:
>I am curious about a new stunt I've seen and as wondering if people could
>give me tips on how to perform it. 
>While in Rockport, Abel Ortega called over to me and said, "Hey Dean, does
>this look like I'm doing this on purpose?" His Stinger proceeded to flop on
>its belly (it was in the air and almost stalled), spin completely around
>(180 degrees on its belly), then pop upright. The kite stayed essentially
>in its original stall position in the sky. Abel proceded to do this at
>least five times IN THE SAME PLACE. He called it an axel. 
>Un fortunately, we didn't get much more time to discuss the move, so I
>never got to really see how he was using his hands --- I was too fascinated
>watching the kite.
>So my question: How is it performed?

The Axel is the greatest move ever concieved of for a sport kite.
This is bacause I was the one that invented it. :-)

I started doing a move I called the "Axel" in the 92' season.  This
move consisted of, in light wind, moving toward the kite while the kite is
flying downward, thus "flattening out" the kite.  While in this flattened
position, carefully popping the left or right line to make the kite spin
around while in this position.  I later learned to do a "double axel" with
this technique--which consisted of the kite spinning around 540 degrees.

Doing this move in competition had a major drawback--in more than, say, 5
MPH of wind, the move didn't work--you couldn't run fast enough towards the
kite to get it to flatten out.  Consequently, only a few of my routines in
the 92' season contained this move.

About the middle of the 92' season, I started trying to do the move in Wind.
I noticed that if I really jerked around the lines a lot while the kite was
Ain a stall, the kite would pop out of the air--and sometimes "flatten out".
I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to control the kite's popping
out of the air--without ending up with a tangled mess.  This process took
quite a while; at Berkeley 92', I _almost_ put the first "pop axel" (as I
called it) into a routine.  Unfortunately, the move just wasn't 100% (it was
more like 75% at that time), and the move has a pretty ugly failure mode (if
you miss it, you have a tangled mess--not real pretty in a Master's class
Choreographed routine).

By early this year, I had the "pop axel" down to a science, and was able
to teach people how to do it.

Well, here on the Left Coast, the move has caught on like wildfire. 
Everybody, it seems _needs_ to do this move.  This came as something as a
suprise to me, since my old "axel" move, although it got a lot of looks,
didn't really catch on.  Everybody's doing it, and the move has been
renamed--for convienience' sake--to simply the "axel" (nobody does the
"old axel"--or what I now call the "flat axel"--so the simpler name stuck).

I've taught many, many people how to do this move, and I've found that some
people catch on quickly, and some take a while (Scott Auchenbau could hardly
do the move even after at least an hour of patient drilling [last time I saw
HP, Scott was in fact doing the move--I'm sure I've taught this move to
him/them at my own competitive peril :-) ]).

Some kites are much better suited for the move than others.  Kites that
"oversteer" are often--but not always--apt to do it better.  More stable
kites, such as the Stinger, the NSR, Big Brother, Phantom, etc. will do
the move, but don't like to very much.

In competition (here comes a plug), I fly the XTC by Buena Vista Kite
Company, San Francisco.  The XTC does this move better than any other kite
I've ever flown.  The only kite I've ever done a "double axel" with is the
XTC and the XTC X-10 (10 foot "team kite" version of the very radical XTC).

Other kites that are easier to do it with are Prism's Eclipse,
the UP Warrior, and--although I've never tried one myself--I've heard
that Jordan Air's Pro can do the move quite well.

The move starts in a Stall.  Note the capital 'S'.  The most important thing
for a good axel is to start in a good Stall.  You need to be in a Stall that
you can keep for at least 5 seconds.  The reason for this is that the
entire move is performed _in_ the stall.  If the kite is out of "stall
mode" at any time during the move, it doesn't work.

So, step one is to Stall your kite, and learn to keep it there for a "long

Next, while in the stall, push out with your left hand, while your right
hand stays PERFECTLY STATIONARY throughout the move.

Next, "pop" your left line by quickly pulling your left hand and then
PUTTING IT BACK TO ITS ORIGINAL POSITION (i.e. pushed out).  While doing this,

The "popping" action of the left hand will provide the momentum to spin
the kite around.

Last, steady the kite--the move looks the best when it starts and ends in 
the same place.

(The ALL CAPS instructions are the things that I've noticed people tend to
find counter-intuitive when first learning this move).

Since first perfecting the Axel, I've kept moving.  It's also important to
note that the rest of the "Berkeley School of Flying" ("BSF"--another plug),
has also been taking this move into new territory.

Many new moves that are "axel-based" are happening on the ground.  This
consists of starting the motion not in a stall in the air, but stopped on
the ground--on one tip or another.  Miguel Rodriguez (maker of the "Berkeley
Wasp"--yet another plug) came up with a move he calls the "coin toss" where
the kite starts on the ground with both tips down, pops into the air doing a
360, and then lands back in the same place (Miguel developed his move
partially concurrently with mine, but the "class of moves" is the same).

Another frontier is the obvious one: double axels, triple axels.  I did the
first double axel in a choreographed routine in front of people at the
World Cup a few weeks ago.  The double axel is not to be confused with a
"1+1" axel when the kite gets popped again in the middle.  A true double
relies soley on the momentum from the first popping action, and the kite
remains completely flattened thoughout the move.  This move very much relies
on a very "slippery sail", and I've only accomplished it with the two XTCs.
(The Jordan Air Pro might be a canidate, but kites with "winglets" tend to
aerodynamically spin themselves upright during the first turn, and won't
continue to spin on their bellies).

The Triple Axel is still on the horizon for me.  The only way I've
accomplished it--and I've only pulled it off a few times--is a "2+1" kind
of action.  The kite remains spinning on its belly, but you need to give it
another Pop at the right time to keep it spinning.  (This is real hard).
Again, the kite should never pop back out off of its belly or even start
to--this would be a (1+1+1) axel (a good exercise, perhaps, but not a true
double/triple axel).

Flying indoors is excellent Axel practice.  Indoors, the "axel" action is
actually the best way to turn a wing, since you're on such short lines and
your space is limited.  Also, the Axel can be acomplished at any place in the
(dome-shaped) flying window--even directly above you (this is really neet).


Have Fun...

Return to Kite Fliers's Site