The Survey Results Are In!!

Thanks to Colin Douthwaite for the wonderful suggestion of asking the fighters who are on rec.kites to participate in this survey. The survey responses I received ranged from the beginning fighter kite flier to the advanced; from fliers who enjoy the thrill of competition to the ones who just enjoy flying. It was really quite interesting to read all of the answers, and I'm sure that you will enjoy the information provided below too. So read on!!

Favorite Fighter Kite & Why

[Note: some fliers had more than one favorite fighter depending on wind factors, the type of competition, or the appearance of the kite.]
Paper Indian Fighters {10 votes} The Vic's Fighter {5 votes} The fighters made by Kevin Shannon, George Peters, or Carl Crowell {3 votes} Randy Shannon's Swallow Tail and Z-Fighter {1 vote} ; Cicada {2 votes} BlackFeather {4 votes} Mighty Mite Fighter {3 votes} Spencer Chun's Fighters {1 vote] Tyke (Martin Laurence) {1 vote} Peter Lee's Indoor Fighter {1 vote} Peter Lloyd Indian Fighter {1 vote} Grandmaster {2 votes} Mac's Fighter (Malcolm McLeod) {1 vote} Self-Made {5 votes}

Reels and line used

[NOTE: It seems that the majority of fliers use a Halo spool, but there were many different preferences in what line was used...so I've listed all the variations]
Plastic hyper bola with cotton thread from Brazil
Halo spool with extended lip and waxed linen {7 votes}
Halo with light ( 3lbs) Indian cotton, unwaxed for light winds; heavier thread for medium winds; waxed 18 lb linen for high winds.
Halo with Johnson&Johnson waxed dental floss (lying all over the floor).
Halo with 30 lb braided Dacron line.
Light cotton thread waxed with parrafin on a small YOYO Gator spool, dumped on the floor.
Sloped yoyo spool with thin cotton line {2 votes}.
Parrafin coated cotton, #12 thread, on a Gator reel.
Large wooden Indian-style reel (heavily weighted) with Manjha.
Indian cotton line with a *big* traditional reel.
Indian manjha No.3

"Line-Cutting" Competition

[ 11 ] - Have Experienced the Thrill of "Line-Cutting"

[ 13 ] - Have NOT... Yet!

Tips (or Secrets) on Flying Fighters in Competitions

Stay calm!!
Watch the other competitors for tricks, moves, and wind conditions.
Try to make the opponent come get you and make the mistakes.
Learn from someone who is really awesome, then kick their a** in a competition.
Don't fly against Johnny (just kidding). Get talking (not kidding).
Being too aggressive can cause you to make mistakes and lose points, slow down, wait, be in the sky at the end.
Practice, be able to position your kite anywhere in the sky when ever you want.
Patience off-wind and ambush when possible.
Practice in close quarters, around trees, banners, etc. Helps deaden the nerves.
Don't! .....just stand and admire the experts (grin).
Patience is the key. Wait for your opportunity, then strike. Don't try to force it; let the other guy provide you with the means to his defeat.
Watch out for the line at your feet. Don't make the mistake of getting tangled-up.
Lose to anyone named "Joel P." (grin).
Make sure you use the appropriate spinning direction. If you standing to the right of your opponent and needing to touch from under, the use the clockwise spin, picking up tension at about the 6-7 o'clock position. If needing to touch them from over, then use the anticlockwise spin with tension being applied to the line at about the 1-12 o'clock position. Obviously, the reverse will apply for your opponent being on your right.

Additional Comments

Paul Imbach - California
"Nothing is finer than a GOOD Indian fighter (paper and bamboo) on a warm gentle breeze. Unfortunately, the quality is so inconsistent that obtaining a GOOD one is difficult here in the US. Besides, you always need Johnny around when flying these, because his head is the perfect size and shape for making spine adjustments.

Recently saw a nice kite by Kai Griebenow. Orange and blue orchid on a black background. The most interesting part was the back and how the spar clipped into the spine. Very nice! Didn't get to fly it though, wished I had.

Perhaps the prettiest fighters I've seen are made by Spencer Chun. They also have the tightest and fastest spin, without losing altitude, of any fighter I've flown. However it was reluctant to fly in a straight line for any great distance. Perhaps a bridle tweak would have improved that, but I didn't get the opportunity to try it. As a fighter kite they are probably a little overpriced. As a piece of art they are a little under priced, so it all averages out in the end. It would be nice to see Spencer come out with a graphic design that emphasizes the kite's spinning abilities.

One of the most interesting kites seen at this years post KTA public showing, in conjunction with Buggy Boogie Thang II, was an indoor fighter kite by Peter Lee. This kite was so well balanced that it was STABLE! The kite was hot cut .5 oz. polyester with a Grand Master spine and a VERY STIFF spar. Surprising, just the opposite of what you'd expect for an indoor fighter. It flew beautiful straight lines across the entire wind window. However, instead of spinning it had what might be characterized as a slow turn. This was Peter's "keeper." I'm not sure if all his kites feel this good.

Speaking of stable fighters, the boys from Brazil, Hans and Yves, have introduced San Diego to inverse fighters. Their small, bowed, paper and bamboo kites resemble a topless rokkaku. They are inherently stable and need to be coaxed into the acrobatics one normally expects from a fighter. Very different, requires almost the opposite techniques to get the desired results. Lots of fun, and delightful kites."


David - Oregon
Thanks for thinking of me, Gina. Since I'm not a competitor, I didn't jump at your original post. But perhaps an alternative perspective may be helpful. ... I went to India and was cut down a number of times in rooftop "fights", does this count?...Lately I' ve been carrying some fighter line on Moran card winders. I travel a lot and spools take up too much room in the bag. Card winders are much less efficient for flying, but more convenient for carrying. It's a necessary balance. One last comment: "Read the book..." [grin]

Robin Levick - California
Don't let anyone tell you what you are doing isn't correct. If you have something that works, stick with it! It may turn into something that haunts your adversaries in the night! Also--BUILD YOUR OWN Fighters!! I like my own more than anyone elses (except Randy's, but hey, I am just his humble apprentice).

Peter Loop - Oregon
I much prefer cutting competitions because the strategy is all different. Positional advantage is not as important as how you attack.

Build your own kite and see what changes have what impacts: add weight to the nose (slows spin), add weight to the tail (increase spin), make the bridle longer, make it shorter, make the bow stronger, softer..... In short, experiment with your kite to understand what makes it tick.

A fighter pilot needs more kites than a golfer needs clubs. The difference between the best fighter kite in the world and what you can make is less than a few hours of work.


Steve Brorens - New Zealand
Come August (when the wind and the sun return to our part of the globe) I think that Colin and I and the other 3-4 locals who fly fighters need to actually "try" this competitive bit - I'm even going to get an order off for some manjha. I've got the latest video, "Knights of the Manjha" on it's way so that should give me a few tips...seeing these WWW sites devoted to fighters has enthused me greatly!

Stafford Wallace - United Kingdom
Since 1993, I became a professional kite flier and I get invited to many kite festivals to demonstrate and do tricks, etc., with my Indian kites. I fly to music at most festivals, using a Rossini overture and I do tricks of catching balloons and kites in the sky.

For "cutting" competitions, I have said this hundreds of times, that it is "some skill" and "some luck", but it is important to have a good slicing angle and lots of tension on the line. However, if both fliers used the same manjha and were equally skillful, then someone has to lose. There is no magic or formula, or it would be very boring! I flew fanatically as a child, until I left India at the age of 18. I was known as the mad kite boy in the city of Lucknow, India. Most of the fights in India are called "Tangles", and are flown at distances of 50 - 1000 mtrs., sometimes even more. In India, distance is a statement of prestige as it says how much you are prepared to lose (kite and manjha).

Now I am known as the mad kite flier in the village where I live because no one around me flies kites, but the whole village knows who is flying the kite which is around 900 mtrs. away, going down behind the pub, or the cricket club, and rising up majestically. My most recent trip was to Weifang, China, where I caused quite a stir with my kites and was awarded a prize. I flew my kite around the arena at the opening ceremony, spinning it over the heads of the crowd as we paraded around the arena to marching music.


Rick Miller - New Mexico
Practice, practice, practice. I fly against the same guy a whole lot. We have moves and counter moves and counter counter moves. If you can be slightly higher, fake an attack and let the opponent commit to an attack, you can be ready to dive below the attack and trap him. (But my partner knows I will try this a lot).

I like Indian fighters because I haven't flown anything better. I get mine from Stafford Wallace, and I also sell kites for Stafford. The quality control on these kites is excellent and the kites seem to be consistently good. I'd like more people to try these kites!


Howard Gordon - California
I've only been flying fighters about six months but really enjoy watching them dance. I would love to see a competition some day and see what others can do. I would really like to learn. Books and tapes can only teach you so much.

Jon Reinschreiber - Oregon
I fly a large variety of fighters, however I am starting to play around with a Korean fighter and a Japanese spool that I got from Makoto Ohashi.

Colin Douthwaite - New Zealand
Ok....I'll play....Singapore (Asian) fighters which can be described as "square diamonds" seem to be the most well behaved under control but they tend to be slow. Indian fighters are faster but less predictable in response.

Ed Alden - Washington
I participated in one "Grand Melee" demo at last years Seattle Kite Festival; about 9 or 10 fliers, and Gophal Das, I lasted about 10 seconds.

I've been designing and building for 10+ years. I haven't yet got what I think is the ultimate in performance. Competition keeps pushing me to achieve better performance, and I think that the winners of most of the competitions now build their own, the level of design having gotten to the point where the commercial designs aren't competitive anymore. This is gratifying for we few builders, but hard on those who must depend on the commercial kites.


Christophe Salome - France
I usually participate in "Line cutting" competitions about once or twice a month in France. The plan for the JM Favourite is located at: http://www.fdn.fr/~csalome/manjha/cv.html.

Come and Join us in the Manjha Club International. Everybody is welcome!


Ron Berman - Pennsylvania
My favorite fighter is a Vic's (circa 1976) that I've re-sailed three times. It's my favorite because it's predictable, handles a wide wind speed, is easy to set up and take down, and has sentimental value. I'm still flying it with the cotton button thread originally provided. I don't use a special spool, instead using the "Tons of line at your feet method" (in conjunction with judicious walking around). I've also enjoyed flying paper fighters, I've found that good ones can be very fast and track straight, bad ones are bad!

Bob Neitzke - Michigan
I have purchased the P. Gallot book and intend to work my way thru the whole book. I've also purchased the Butterfighter from Sky Delights and both GA fighters from Carlylse Kites. Being a non-competitor, I like the easier to control kites, but Joel's BF gives me fits.

Johnny Hsiung - California
I grew up flying the Indian paper fighters with manjha, so I'm partial to them, but since I met Basir, I like flying the large Afghani fighters too because they require a different set of skills.

Several years ago, at WSIKF, I met Ed (and Matthew) Alden, and fortunately, I was able to trade one of my handmade fighters for one of Ed's fighters. I really respect the work that Ed has put into designing his kites (see the article he wrote about his "Family" of fighters in KiteLines Magazine, Spring 1993). It's definitely one of my "special" kites.

Over the years I've tried to collect fighter kites from all different kite makers. Each kite is unique, some, mainly for looks, others for their excellent flying characteristics, and still others for the new innovative materials used in the construction. The latest kite I just received is the Mighty Mite; I'm still playing around with all the adjustments...(grin)


Joel Peck - United Kingdom
I like the look and sound of the kites that I call "bat fighters". These look a bit like a bat, and are made by Bombay Umbrella Mart in India.

A fighter is much more fun if you tune it very carefully.


Joe Schiros - Michigan
I try to come up with Practice techniques that are fun. One thing I like to do is go into an empty parking lot, with high lighting poles, and I try to position the kite to touch or fly near the lamps. I do this with lamps that are positioned in different areas of the wind window. I also outline the pole, flying down one side, back up, and down the other side. Have fun. If you aren't having fun flying fighters, fly something else. If you still ain't having fun, get another hobby.
Results compiled July 8, 1996 by Gina Hsiung. Comments, suggestions, or additional survey responses are always welcome!