Trooper vs. Nighthawk. Which to buy?

edited April 2010 in Kites

I want to get myself a good strong wind delta. My research has left me with a choice between a Dan Leigh Trooper at


  • A quick check on the Beaufort scale suggests force 4 to 5 is in question which is more like FF16 territory for me.

    I've only had 3 outings with the Nighthawk so far and my first thought would be that it would need more wind to lift that weight. I'd say my basic SLR set up is half that weight and had been easily lifted in winds gusting to 45mph (70km/h). I would guess it would need a minimum solid force 5 to lift my gear but maybe I'm doing it a disservice and the more experienced PFK users can shed more light on its ability.

    Can't speak for the Dan Leigh Trooper....
  • I'm not very happy with my FF16 Becot in strong gusty winds and seems only to be working well in wind speeds below 30kmh and certainly no strong gusts.
    I cannot say much about the wind gusts I am experiencing here but they feel like they are well above 45kmh and they are certainly strong enough to send my FF into the ground. So what I am basically looking for is a kite that can handle winds which are too strong for my FF16.
  • Michael and I were going to do a comparison test at some point.

    Looking at them I think the trooper has a bit more lifting area and a little better wind range on the low end. It should lift more with the same wind. I've flown it with a 1.3lb rig in 13-30 mph gusty winds and was pretty happy with it. Personally I don't plan to go a lot stronger. Gale force winds just make me long for hot chocolate in doors. The PFK is going to be a lot noisier as it has some built in drag with a floppy trailing edge. I guess this will make it behave a bit better in gusts and turbulence. This will get more important as you get up towards those hurricane force winds :)
  • I'm with tgran and would say that the trooper is fine for the 13-30mph, with 20-25 being ideal.
    Night hawk sounds better for the winds where 25 mph is the lull.
  • I fly with the Nighthawk in high wind.....but no where near 1.5 my simple math that is ~ 3.3 lbs....big camera!

  • My heavy rig weighs 2.5 lbs., a bit less than 1.2 kg. I still haven't sent this rig up with the Nighthawk yet. If there was a steady wind in the 20-35mph range I would feel comfortable doing it. But when the winds are high here, there are often significant lulls of less than 20 mph for half a minute or more. The Nighthawk doesn't have much surface area, so the heavy rig would start coming down quickly. I wouldn't be able to pull the line in quickly enough to keep the rig airborne until the lull was over. So until now, I've only flown a lighter rig with the Nighthawk.

    The kite definitely has enough pull at 20mph to lift 1.3 kg with no problem. I think there are some places without the lulls during high winds where the Nighthawk would do the job very nicely. As Tgran already said, we will hopefully do a side by side test of the Trooper and Nighthawk soon, but possibly not before KAPiNED.
  • I have flown my Trooper with my two lightest rigs (~0.4 and ~0.6 Kg) in winds up to ~40km/h. Very stable, even in turbulents winds, and a nice lift-to-pull ratio, so you can lift your rig without having to fight with your kite in high winds. I haven't been brave enough to KAP with my 1.2 Kg dSLR rig en high winds (usually turbulent here), but I'd say that the Trooper would need winds in the higher end of the range you mention to lift that weight.
  • Thanks for the input. At present, the Trooper seems to be the better choice but I'm beginning to wonder if Deltas are the right choice for heavy rigs. Are there kites that would suit my needs better?
  • If not FF16, how about a FlowForm 8? (never tried one)
  • No, the FF8 would be nearly useless with a 1.3kg rig, IMO.

    It will fly when few others will, but with a shallow string angle, and it's very busy even with a tail in blustery conditions.
  • Yep, a big no to the FF8. It has threatened to lift my SLR just one, and as Brooks says, it won't be very high in the air.
  • I'm leaning toward purchasing a Trooper for high wind flying, but am curious about it's lower wind capability with lighter rigs. Does anyone have feel for the minimum wind speed needed for a Trooper to comfortably lift the following rig weights:
    6 1/2 ounce rig (~185 g)?
    16 ounce rig (~450 g)?

  • I haven't flown mine much . . . but it seems to have a nice pull at 13 or 14 mph. Probably lift those rigs.
  • Does anyone happen to know if either the Trooper or the Nighthawk can be transported easily on a plane? They both seem to be large kites but I'm curious if either can be broken down to a manageable size for trips overseas.
  • The Nighthawk is long but skinny -- maybe 3" diameter x 50" (more than my 4-ft boxes anyway). It begs to have custom sectional spars, but care would need to be taken to make them sturdy enough to withstand the winds this thing flies in. The standard spreader is heavy hardwood, maybe 1/2" thick with tapered ends.

    No knowledge of the Trooper, sorry.
  • My trooper measures 54" long when folded.
  • Trooper: Scott made me measure mine. It's 54" folded with the central spar in place. If you pop it out you can get it down to something close to the length of the longest spar, which is 45 inches. The tote bag it comes with is 48".
  • I just came back from Amsterdam, and I carried my kites on-board the aircraft. Longest spar was 1.25m (just shy of 50"), and I had no problem either way. Aircraft was Airbus A330-200.
  • I have in the past carried kites on and slid them down next to the window seat. Most overhead compartments now have enough width for a pretty wide kite bag, but you'll need to get there first.
  • Tried the trooper in very gusty high winds. Nearby airport doesn't report gusts but reports sustained 35 mph winds at the time. Anyway, this was Nighthawk weather.

    The trooper was fun to fly . . . but it was basically a single line sport kite that took 100% concentration to keep in the air. Very responsive to line tension, it let me do 36O's, stalls and climbs. It didn't let me keep it in one place. and the only reason it was sort of fun was that I was surrounded by trees and when it went for a power dive I could generally reverse stuff at low elevation. Would have been fun to play with a nighthawk under the same conditions.
  • The Trooper is one of the steadiest kites I've flown in these conditions. With a tail. Perhaps you didn't use a tail ?
  • edited May 2010
    What kind of tail (and how much) do you use Simon? I might have a chance to try it tomorrow with a 15 foot fuzzy tail, but I've heard (Pierre?) that a 30 foot fuzzy tail isn't enough in less wind.

    I mostly was flying it on a lark (no KAP rig with me). When I say gusty, I mean gusty. I'm in the mountains here and the wind was probably mostly in the 20-40 range with a few very short 5 mph lulls. I was going to go a little higher for cleaner air but figured I would simply be overpowered.
  • I've managed fine with 20 feet of fuzzy tail
  • I fly (take on plane) my Dopero and Nighthawk (bundled together in one kite bag) on every flight I take (2 to 3 trips per month).

    I get on early and place the kite bag in the overhead areas on most flights.

    The Nighthawk can easily be shorten by sliding the wing spars up.

  • Thanks Simon. Looks like I won't experience the wind again soon, but I'll remember to pack a spare fuzzy tail with it (and maybe read the piece of paper that came with it). Might make the flight less fun though.

    In smooth high winds along SF-bay it has been great without a tail.

    WW -- that would work to shorten the Trooper too. And it would be easier than popping out the central spar.
  • Just keeping a watch on the Trooper vs PFK Nighthawk chinwag..... did a search for the Trooper in the Flickr KAP kite group and found this. I note that Pierre has a length of fuzzy attached to his Trooper in this shot.
  • I have found that about 10 metres of line then the fuzzy tail works very well.
    PS this Friday I had my first sortie with the PFK. Next strong wind day I will try to fly both my Trooper and PFK but from initial observations the PFK seemed to wander arround a bit more than I would have expected the Trooper, suitably tailed, to.
  • edited May 2015
    I got hold of a bargain....and had a lot of fun figuring out how the Trooper works:

    I may be able to cope with Bft5 ..and keep all my fingers now!
  • edited May 2015
    Sorry, Bill.
  • Troopers like fuzzy tails In squirrelly winds Bill.
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