Kite Magazine - Summer 1994
Wingspan: 8 ft.
Height: 3 ft, 8 in.
Weight: 15 oz
Frame: carbon graphite or fiberglass
Wind Range: 3-25 mph
Rec. Lines: 80-200#
Purchase : IAB
The Griffin has secured a place in kite flying history. This is the bird
that broke the price barrier, that first made full-scale stunt kites affordable
to the masses. If kiting ever becomes a full-on, mainstream sport, the
Griffin will sit at one of the turning points in the struggle.
But price is just one of the Griffin's strong points. Any landmark kite
must also offer performance, durability and enough personality so that
flying it doesn't ever get boring. Judged on those criteria, the
Griffin deserves a spot in the kite hall of fame. Hang it alongside the
Fire Dart, the Phantom, the Revolution and other famous kites that advanced
the sport and attracted new blood. A collaboration of two established
kite companies was required to produce such a big and worthy flyer at
such a reasonable price.
To call the Griffin "full-size" hardly does it justice. The sail is 8
feet from tip to tip, so, technically, full-size is correct. But it's
a big sail, stretched tight by long standoffs that produce plenty of depth.
This kite has guts. No gewgaws are added - the Griffin is simple and straightforward.
It is sewn securely from five panels of stout nylon (in this version),
which covers a frame of Pro Spar fiberglass. Two other frame materials
(each with a slightly different pattern in the sail) also are available.
The Beman-framed version costs about $115, and the Advantage-framed model
runs $150. Both of these reduce the minimum wind requirement from the
least expensive version's substantial 7 mph or 8 mph.
The nose is protected by heavy webbing, as befits a kite that will be
the choice of many beginners - with their habit of crashing hard. The
Pro Spar rods have proved themselves to be tough. About the only obvious
weakness in the design is the rudimentary fashion by which the standoffs
attach. In keeping the cost down, the manufacturers have left open the
possibility of running the end of a standoff through the sail. Caution
at every setup (or a custom alteration) solves the problem.
The Griffin and a breezy day, say 12 to 15 mph, are made for one another.
The kite leaps into the sky and immediately impresses the pilot with the
force of moving air. The Griffin has more pull than Richard Daley.
Nothing else about its flight is subtle, either. It cuts a straight line
well, but cuts it fast. It spins on a point inside either of its wingtips
in a blur of color. And it roars with a slightly different note from each
of its wings, a characteristic of kite designs in which Bob Childs has
had a hand. Racing the Griffin around the sky on short lines tests reflexes
and calls on strength. It is no threat, but it's a handful. Attention
is required. Big loops, tight spins and breathtaking ground passes are
a delight. Precise turns are a taller order. For exact results, the kite
prefers to be steered by a push on one line, with no pull on the opposing
handle. Working both handles in the turns makes it hard to avoid oversteer.
The big, deep sail grabs a lot of air, and the kite holds at the edge
of the wind amazingly well. It also flies through a lot of sky. With sufficient
wind, a 180-degree window is easy to maintain. Lighter winds might reduce
the window, but then this is no ultralight. When the pilot pulls out at
the edge of the wind, the Griffin flips over without losing altitude or
diving for the ground the way some of its more expensive competitors have
a habit of doing. It also spins repeatedly without displaying any intention
to lose air or widen its loops into the ground, through it drops a little
altitude with each revolution.
When the time does come to set the Griffin down, it alights with surprising
agility, landing gently and staying put. Off-wind landings are the preferred
version: downwind landings require commitment and foot speed.
If you like your kite performance meaty, with control movements pronounced,
this is a good choice. If you're looking for a lot of performance in an
inexpensive package, it can't be beat. If you are a beginner wondering
what all the excitement is about, get one and strap yourself down. And
if you're a collector, pick up a Griffin and own a piece of history.
to the product page for more articles.