The 90 series have opened my eyes to another realm of finesse that I didn’t fully realize. Having mostly US kites in my bag, a lot of my time is spent finessing timing within execution. My kites tend to use fast rotation and momentum that if stopped, tends to end a trick in full. In this case, timing and letting a kite ride on your first input is essential. The 90 series, however, has me exploring the subtleties between input style, outside of timing itself.
The 90Nines basic flight is quite stately. Slower than I’d expected, and light on the lines for its size. The wide-set 3-point bridle makes me feel less connected within a turn, and the kites turn radius is wider than what I’m used to. As such, spin stalls can be difficult by being less compact. Tracking is good- speed remains controlled throughout the window. The kite seems to prefer a sweep-influenced combo turn to execute good corners. Concepts like this come to the fore in the snap stall- the input is far less agitated than what I’m used to, and the kite needs less input to hold down the stall. This was jarring at first and did come with a learning curve. US pilots, this feel might come as a challenge to you as well, but it’s worth every second of adjustment. After about a week, I started to relax into this style and am loving the doors that are opening for me.
The 90Nine rewards the pilot with seamless transitions in tricks, however the pilot must be willing to be flexible in input style. For example- taz machine’s need a very drastic change in a sharp pull for the half axel, and a sweep for the taz rotation. In my experience, without proper execution this model likes to roll up or move into a twix-like maneuver. At first, I struggled with the 540 as well, but solved this with less but faster movement into the flare. I found Karels nitro frame to be helpful in relearning this transition: even with an overdone input, the frame helped the kite maintain the integrity of its shape throughout the maneuvers. I prefer this instead of a flexible frame, covering up an input that is potentially incompatible.
The kite lives for rotational based, pitch maneuvers. There’s nothing to report here except for transition in a Jacobs ladder. This can be solved by a sweeping pull through the maneuver as opposed to a more aggressive pop that can be observed on other models. Flic-flaks are quite smooth without dead spots, bearing the pilot’s ability to let the tail fall before leaving the fade. Assuming this is set up correctly, a quick pop of the fingers will reward you with seamlessness without dead spots. This is echoed within the pancake rotation, bearing you don’t let the tail fall too far down.
I’m sure you can all see where this is going- the bottom line is less is more- but a different kind of ‘less.’ This kite has opened my eyes up to a different realm of finesse that I didn’t have access to with 90% of my bag. I’m loving this process of learning. As balanced and pitch favored as the kite is, I often find myself wanting to spoon feed it rotations when frankly they’re already there. When you learn to navigate the balance that comes with its input style, its need for the hit’s correlated with graceful sweeps, oh boy are you in for a treat. If you like to smack around a kite that’s a touch less picky, the 90Three might be your build. The 90Nine, however is a kite not only for great fun, but elegant and demanding enough to aid even an advanced/professional flyer into yet another ‘ah ha!’ moment.
If you’re looking for a kite that might connect some dots for you, I’d not hesitate in saying the 90Nine will be your game changer. I firmly believe more pilots need to experience what it’s like to explore this series not only for fun, but also for progression and articulation within (future(hopefully!)) teaching.
A special thanks for my longtime friend, John McCracken for building me the 90Three, and 90Nine standard / SUL.
Stay safe and happy in these troubling times, all, and fly on.
With every good wish,