Every so often, something comes across my e-mail that's truly life-changing.
No, I'm not talking about spam for electronic cigarettes or other such nonsense.
In this case, it was a simple e-mail forwarded to me by Dan Metz, president of the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club. Dan frequently sends global e-mails to his friends. This e-mail forwarded to him by a gentleman by the name of David Hadzicki proved to be particularly interesting.
Imagine, if you will, a flying thing with a wingspan of 92" (2337mm), or more than seven-and-a-half feet. Now imagine something that will immediately accelerate to more than 40 mph (64km/h) with a mere backward flick of the wrists and immediately decelerate from 40 to zero and hover just above the ground with a push of the thumbs.
Add to this the fact that this improbable flying thing does so without a radio system.
The e-mail in question originally came from David Hadzicki, founder of Revolution Kites in Poway, California USA and inventor of the high-performance quadline flying wing.
Ah, you say. It's a kite.
Or not. In this case, definitely not, at least as the term applies to the traditional kites of yore.
David has a marketing angle which I thought was brilliant and since I come from a broadcast marketing background, I was doubly impressed and took the time to contact him for the possibility of a review here at RCGroups.
His idea was to make the incredible American-made Revolution EXP available to R/C flying clubs at a cost far lower than retail as an alternative to a wasted, windy day at the field. It's a whole new skill set and believe me, the EXP is as far removed from the inexpensive discount store kites or homemade newspaper-covered diamond-shaped kites with the rag tails we've all flown as a toy balsa glider is from a turbine-powered R/C model aircraft. It's also a heck of a lot of fun and is capable of some of the most eye-popping stunts and pinpoint manuevers you may ever see. It's far more well-made and aerodynamically sophisticated than a simple kite and the "K-word," as David calls the word "kite" and its connotations, almost doesn't apply.
Read on as I outline how the EXP will open the door to this incredibly fun sport.
|Wind Range:||3 - 15 MPH (5 - 24km/h)|
|Weight:||8.8 oz (249.5g)|
|Construction:||Parachute-grade ripstop nylon, tubular carbon fiber reinforcements, high-test Kevlar-reinforced flying lines, foam rubber-padded stainless steel control handles|
|Manufacturer:||Revolution Kites, 12170 Dearborn Place, Poway, California 92064 USA|
|Available From:||The manufacturer and select hobby stores|
|Average Price (USD):||$199.00|
Everything you need to get the Revolution EXP up and flying is included:
The only thing you'll need to provide is:
Revolution has made an ingenious simulator system available for training and practice. It hooks up to a suitably roomy wall and the wing is attached in turn via a bungee cord and a short set of lines. Putting tension on the bungee allows the wing to maneuver as if it were flying. Clubs, take note.
There are few things as relaxing than spending a few days in different surroundings without a need to answer to a schedule.
Translation: Vacations are cool.
After my correspondence with David Hadzicki, I was going to devote some of that free time literally learning the ropes. My wife and I would be spending time with my sister and brother-in-law in San Diego, California. Revolution Kites is a short drive away in Poway.
Funny how things like this work out.
I arranged to meet David at the historic Torrey Pines Glider Port up the coast from San Diego. If ever there were a more perfect place for flying kites - or flying wings - I'd be hard pressed to find it.
It wasn't hard for me to locate David; he and his friends had three quadlines in the air at the leeward side of a hill where powered paragliders soared away from the cliffs and over the Pacific. Simply put, the setting was quintessential Southern California.
Even more amazing was the quadline flying I was witnessing. If I thought the videos I'd seen were amazing, the real thing was breathtaking in its beauty and precision.
Dave already had my red, white and blue EXP set up and ready, but if you'd prefer another color scheme, Revolution has several equally attractive schemes available:
The instructional DVD enclosed with all Revolution wings is a beautifully produced industrial-grade video starring David's brother Joe Hadzicki and shot at San Diego's spectacular Seaport Village. It goes into clear, concise detail regarding the setup and operation of the wing. Here's a brief synopsis on how to do it:
Joe makes it look easy on the video - and it is - but having a helper on hand to help with any twists in the line and getting the wing in the air is invaluable for a beginner.
Now is where the real fun begins.
Forget about anything and everything you know about kite flying, or R/C flying for that matter. Flying a quadline is an entirely different skill, easy in theory but one which takes some practice.
With the wind directly at his back, Dave got the EXP in the air with a backward tug on the upper part of the handles. In less than two seconds and with the sound of flapping ripstop nylon, the EXP had rocketed off the ground and was flying almost directly overhead.
The EXP depends on a combination of wind and line tension to fly and manuever. It's so well balanced that it can be kept in the air almost indefinitely much like a traditional kite simply by keeping one's arms straight out in front and balancing the control handles at their bends.
The tricks involve keeping the wind directly at your back and avoiding overcontrol. Overcontrolling the wing will almost certainly get it out of the "wind window" and may cause a crash. It can be steered back into the proper orientation with the wind after some practice.
Turns are simple; to turn left, tap the bottom of the left stick and countersteer with a tap on the bottom of the right stick to get the wing flying nose up once more. Right turns are equally simple. Pulling back on the lower end of either stick puts the EXP in a loop; it will loop about eight times before you have to spin back the other way. Even if the lines are twisted, up is still up, down is still down and right and left are, well, right and left.
It seems simple and it really is, especially since there's no control reversal issues to overcome like there is in radio control, unless you do some advanced moves like nose-down inverted flight. David told me that R/C pilots are particularly quick studies, but it requires some unlearning of old skills and learning new ones.
I felt a bit like Luke Skywalker to David's Yoda.
I must...unlearn what I have learned...hmm...yes...
David is a patient teacher; my problem was trying to overcome the tendency to try and fly the EXP like a traditional kite. My arms were all over the place; doing so basically placed the wing in neutral and caused it to crash. It's a far more tactile sensation than the imagined feel of a radio controlled model. You'll always know what the wing is doing since you can literally feel it in your hands.
I should take this moment to point out that Revolution quadlines are incredibly well-made and sturdy. Repeated smackings into the Torrey Pines sands had no effect whatsoever on my example, but flying in sand requires getting into the habit of thoroughly cleaning the wing to remove the sand and to prevent abrasion damage to the nylon.
Just as it seemed that I was getting the hang of it, I fell back to the old habits. Again, David was very patient and stuck with me. After a couple of hours of intense trial and error - not to mention a bit of a sunburn despite the fact that I live in the desert and spend a lot of time outdoors - I finally overcame the tendencies to try and fly the $199 EXP quadline like a $9 Gayla single-line.
What followed was some of the most fun I've ever had with a flying model. I was doing loops, turns and I even managed to pull off the incredible looking stall which involves nosediving straight down and pushing ones thumbs on the tops of the sticks at the right moment. This action puts tension on the leading edge, relaxes the trailing edge and has the effect of literally hitting the brakes, bringing the wing to an immediate and seemingly impossible stop. If the sticks are held, it will begin to fly in reverse. I even learned how to get the kite pointing upward again after a nose-down landing or crash. So quick was my progress once I overcame the mental barriers that David felt comfortable allowing me to fly one of the advanced kites he'd been flying prior to my arrival. It was harder to launch than the EXP, but once in the air the response was absolutely laser sharp. It also had one heck of a tug to it; more on that in a moment.
The stunts this wing is capable of are simply amazing. Rolls and counter-rolls are as easy as can be once one learns the basics; advanced stunts such as knife edge flight, reverse flight and the amazing nosedive stall come with practice. Close-quarters choreography is possible; Revolution's flying team puts on choreographed shows all over the world; the YouTube video below opens with a choreographed routine. Multiple wings can be flown by a single person, but one should be aware that such a setup has enough thrust to literally drag you across the ground even if you dig in your heels.
Of course, this tremendous tug can be put to good use. A ride-on tricycle that looks like an adult-sized Big Wheel and steered with the feet is available that harnesses the power of multiple wings to pull one along at a pretty darn good clip.
Once I get proficient with my EXP, I have simply got to get a hold of David and get together with him back in San Diego for a whack at this.
Well, I certainly qualified as a beginner. Before long, I'd overcome my bad habits and had the wing flying properly. I had the advantage of help from the man who invented the wing and is a world-class flyer, but anyone who studies the video and enlists the aid of a helper for those first flights will be flying by themselves and flying well before long.
We in Southern California and possibly Arizona and Nevada have the extra added advantage of David Hadzicki himself. He has made himself avaliable to R/C clubs in this region to demonstrate the EXP and the rest of the Revolution product line in person and, as I mentioned at the top of this review, to provide samples to clubs at below retail. I applaud his bold marketing move and I urge clubs all over the country to contact David for advice and, if you're relatively near to San Diego, to book a demonstration.
Between my still-feeble flying skills and my inability to get some time coordinated with my videographer, I've elected to let the pros show you what these magnificent wings are capable of.
Prepare to be amazed.
These copyrighted photos of the EXP's available color schemes are from Revolution's website:
The Revolution Kites EXP High-Performance Quadline Flying Wing is a magnificent example of American entrepreneurship, engineering, quality and creativity. It will introduce a new hobby/sport to anyone regardless of whether or not they fly R/C. David's 8-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter as well as Joe's 14-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter love to fly the wing.
I have no aversion to video games since I'm a "first generation gamer" from the Pong era who owns and enjoys a Nintendo Wii. There are, unfortunately, far too many kids who are parked in front of video games for hours on end. They basically interact with what might be described as "unreality" almost to the point of ignoring any alternative pastimes. Of course, this is painting with a very broad brush. I have a nephew who is a nationally ranked Halo 3 player who's made a rather tidy sum in organized competition. He's also a well-rounded individual with a broad range of interests.
Learning to fly and to master a quadline is a healthy, worthwhile outdoor activity which the entire family can enjoy. The sky is quite literally the limit where these wonderful wings are concerned.
At around US$200, the EXP is by no means inexpensive, but it isn't priced out of sight, especially when compared to a video game console and a couple of top-selling games. Instead, compare buying an EXP to an investment in any piece of top-quality sporting equipment. In the case of the EXP, it's truly leisure money well spent.
Who knows? Your own child may someday make the Revolution team!
I give this marvelous, all-American product an enthusiastic and heartfelt two thumbs up. It's simply too much fun and too well made to give it anything less.
Just remember to avoid using that dreaded "K-word."
Many thanks are due to David Hadzicki for providing this wonderful wing for review and for his patient, helpful instruction. Learning to fly the EXP at the beautiful setting of the Torrey Pines Glider Port was the highlight of my vacation. Dan Metz, president of the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club, gets my thanks for forwarding David's e-mail to me. Angela Haglund is the RCGroups administrator responsible for getting many of these reviews coordinated and all of them published for you, dear reader.
Of course, you are the reason for these reviews. We reviewers all thank you for your continued visits and for making RCGroups.com the largest and most visited hobby site on the internet.
See you at the beach!
There are many things to like about this product. Among them:
The only real minus is:
Good post Ralph !
Yes you ought to see a whole squadron of REVs and their owners flying in formation .
And the indoor windless REVs is absolutly Spellbinding !
Honestly , I think this world would be a lot funner and friendler place if people would just go fly a kite ! No pun intended !
You mentioned paragliders , Heres what I do when the wind gets to much for the PG wing . I have a 4 meter, 4 line power kite that I hook up to my PG harness with short lines of about 30 feet . And Kite it like a PG . You have to have gun fighter reflexes to control it with weight shift only . Its like a micro mini speed wing! HUGE HUGE fun and safe when using kite killers ! I think is has helped me alot with the PG wing kiting as well. Trying to just feel the wing through the brakes and not look at it to keep it above your head is an awesome feeling . Feels like your arms have sprouted wings. Having the Kite connected to the harness with the main bridals, puts all the kites pull forces, focused on your weight , and does not tire out your arms like it would if you were just holding on to bars . You can kite all day . I have even been lifted in some insain 30 mph + gusts !
Having said that I wonder IF you could do the same with a REV and use your body weight as control and anchor, with your arms, now not tireing out as quick from the constant pull ! WOW ! I dont have a REV or I would try it !
Last edited by inventing_man; Sep 28, 2011 at 12:18 PM.
I have had multiple revs and I am big into kite flying and rc planes....and after seeing this review it brought a smile to my face *sniff*.....
I have a first gen EXP (green and purple)
A homemade B-series (traced sail of friends b-series and built it) flies exactly like the b series
I have a miniture rev that hasn't flown in years....
lets just say I love revs. Its nice to see this review...it brought a smile to my face
The only problem with revs are I only know of acouple people who fly them here in CT and even though it turns heads at the kite field, no one else wants to learn to fly to fly them cause they have to relearn to fly a kite.....
I have a gen 1 EXP as well, even got it to fly several times on my own on Cape Cod. My hangar has as many kites (1, 2 and the EXP 4-line) as planes and they both come to the field. If the wind is up when I get to the field, I break out a kite to scare it away. It works with often enough to be a little freaky.
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