Validity and reliability are obviously good things in a review, so, to insure the quality of this one, I triangulated my findings with those of two Master Class flyers (Dodd Gross of DJ Sport Kites and Bob Neiman of Chicago Kite Company) who I knew had flown the Aerial and who I could reach by phone. To my delight they independently affirmed not only my conclusions, but also my enthusiasm for the Aerial.
The Aerial by Highly Strung Kites of Australia is a new stunt kite that has just reached the North American market. Its performance profile is impressive: It travels straight, corners sharply, spins tightly, does not over react, and is smooth to fly.
Let's start with the basics:
The first thing I noticed when I took the Aerial out of its packaging was that it felt a bit heavy, and it is, weighting in at about 12 oz. But its mass is certainly not a liability. Indeed, rather than feeling heavy in the air, it feels smooth and responsive, even in choppy wind. Initially I attributed this to the mass of the Aerial, but, upon reflection, it is more likely a function of the shape of the camber of the sail and the slight stretchiness of the Carrington fabric.
The Aerial flies about medium speed, tracks beautifully, and is rock solid right out to the edges. Turns, whatever kind you like, are dead square with little to no oversteer. The Aerial spins with precision on a point about a third of the way up the leading edge and stops dead on command. Aerial stalls and floats may be the best you will see. The Aerial is quiet, except when you spin it, and then it makes just enough noise to remind you to pay attention.
I was amazed and delighted by the Aerial's performance when my wind meter read between 2 and 3 mph. With a little bit of rowing to compensate for wind abbreviations, the Aerial behaved as it had in stronger winds. And the slides, wow. Certainly this is attributable the two pairs of standoffs and pair of battens which give it a high efficiency sail. To be sure, the Aerial is not a zero wind kite, but I wouldn't be surprised if it could be close to one if it were fitted with lighter spars.
While I was testing the Aerial in 4 to 10 mph winds, I flew a 2400 Tracer and an MEFM in its highest aspect ratio as comparison kites. Compared to the Tracer, the Aerial has a slightly faster forward speed, trackes at least as straight, does not pull as hard, corners squarer, and stalls and floats better. The Aerial's spin is comparable to the MEFM's, except that the Aerial has little or no oversteer. The MEFM flies in less wind than the Aerial.
In summary, the Aerial's attributes make it an exceptional individual kite with strong bents toward precision and ballet. If you are a casual flyer, this kite will surely make you look good; if you are on the tournament trail, it may well make you look better. When you get a chance, check out the Aerial. You will be glad you did.
Jim Welsh firstname.lastname@example.org