We are flying very similar kites in 2010 that we were 20 years ago which is when I started messing about with these things. Whilst they are generally similar they differ greatly in detail. For those who haven't watched this evolution first hand I thought I'd try to point out some ways in which things have changed.
In order to illustrate this I've used three kites - a California Wasp from 1992 (although designed earlier), an Area 51 from 2000 and a Cosmic TC from 2007 - to act as representatives for roughly a decade each.
All of these kites attach the bridle at the same points; LLE, ULE and T. The Wasp gets an extra, loose line midway between the LLE and ULE that is really there only when the frame gets under heavy strain. The Area 51 sports one of the many variations on the theme of active bridles with lines all over the place making a mobile tow point. The Cosmic uses the recently widespread reverse turbo arrangement.
Also note that the sail of the Wasp is "ripstop nylon" whereas the others are Icarex, with areas of mylar on the Area 51. All use dacron tunnels in the leading edge to hide the spars. The framing layout is identical.
The Area 51 has trick lines to avoid tip wraps and reduce wear on the TE which the Wasp lacks. The Cosmic discards these lines in favour of wear resistant reinforcements and neater wingtips to achieve the same effect.
Here is one of the areas where development has taken place. The Wasp has a homemade centre-T with vinyl tubes and aluminium tubing cobbled together to do the job. Both of the other kites makes use of specifically designed and manufactured parts.
Compare the sparring - the Wasp uses arrow shafts, the Area 51 has generic carbon tubes (could be Exel, could be FibreForce, could be almost anything), the Cosmic gets made-for-kiting spars.
Again the changes in how
kites are built is shown; the Wasp has fittings fashioned from whatever bits were deemed suitable, the Area 51 and Cosmic get specific parts. Note the covering that the Cosmic has sprouted, hiding away snag points.
The area of the standoffs. Once again, the move from homebuilt to manufactured.
The build of the nose area remains the same from the early '90s, albeit getting cleaner and tidier over the years. The Cosmic is the only kite to sport yoyo stoppers.
What else can we see in terms of design ? Well the Wasp has standoffs that measure 19cm. A Fury .85 has an almost identical wingspan but has standoffs of 28cm. The Wasp is all straight lines, notably in the unspeakably noisy trailing edge, whilst the others make use of gentle curves in both the LEs and TEs.
So.... in reality these kites, separated by nearly 20 years, are remarkably similar in how they are put together. But that's not what we fly them for. We fly them for what they can do
and make no mistake the more modern the kite, the more it can do. You might think that the Cosmic doesn't FlicFlac especially well but the Wasp will give you a whole new perspective. The Area 51 might come from the golden age of "trick kites" but just see how well it yoyos. The major progression in these kites is in their performance through finessing details, not revolutionary changes. There's still fun to be had flying an older kite but if you're any kind of enthusiast you'll soon miss the things that the newer kites have made possible.
I'm almost certain I had a point when I started writing this