Learning Winglish

While practicing kiting one day, Andy, heard a distinct and quiet voice saying, “Hello”. “What?” asked Andy. Echoing through his risers and brakes, the wing whispered, “You must listen closely, and I will help you become one with my fabric and the air you fly in. I will teach you to speak the physical language called ‘Winglish’.”

Andy, lost in thought over this unexpected communication, let the wing fall back to the ground. He attempted to talk to the wing by asking questions in his head, but no response. Finally, he gave up and decided to go back to his practice. As soon as the wing was airborne again, he heard, “Hello again, friend. I can only communicate with you through your risers and brakes.”

Andy had always struggled with kiting and anticipating events while flying. When his instructor had been teaching him the basics of kiting, he coached him with his braking to enable him to keep the wing up. The teacher would often say “left brake” several times before Andy could react as the wing moved to the left. At first he took too long to react and the wing would fall to the left side. Eventually Andy began to learn to react quick enough to keep up with the wings movement. Still, there were other times when his reactions were not quick enough.

Andy began kiting again and suddenly heard, “The key to kiting, is more than using your eyes. Winglish can only be communicated through your risers and brakes. Before you can ‘hear’ Winglish, you must relax your entire body and feel the changes in riser tension and brakes. Winglish is a physical language, so the way to hear it is through the body”.

The wind gusted suddenly and changed directions. The wing said, “Feel the pull changing on your harness!” Andy noticed that the pull did change from his harness. The wing began moving to the right so he reacted by pulling the right brake a little after it began moving. His pull was too late and a bit too much, causing the wing to overreact to the left side and fell back to the ground.

When Andy had lofted the wing again, it continued, “You see, I have a delayed reaction to the wind when it changes. In Winglish, I can only tell you of the change through your risers and brakes. I always try to warn you of a change before I move, but you have not been listening.”

Andy had always thought his eyes were his best tool for kiting. But he now put his attention toward the feelings in the harness and brakes more than before. He waited for the wing to talk to him. Finally, he heard “Your arms are too stiff and this makes your entire body stiff,” Andy immediately noticed that his arms and body were too tense. He concentrated on relaxing his arms and body. Like magic, the sound from the wing’s communication became clearer.

The wing spoke again, “Close your eyes and try to feel the wing move to the side”. At first Andy laughed. To continue this amazing experience, he tried it. At first the wing remained overhead, but then he felt it move to the side. The wing asked, “When I moved to the side, could you tell which side it was?” Andy admitted he had snuck a peak and checked which side the wing had moved to, but that he did guess which side the wing had drifted toward. The wing laughed, and said, “You will get this yet. Once you feel this a few times your body will become more connected to me. You see, since you got more relaxed, your kiting has already become more connected.” Andy asked what specifically he would feel in the harness when the wing moves to the side. The wing answered, “Winglish is too complex to explain that simply. Feel comes from many senses. Learning winglish happens whey you personalize these sensations. Your body will learn it as long as your mind is observing.”

Andy kited for a while, trying to ‘hear’ the Winglish. He worked on becoming more relaxed, specifically his arms. He also began to sense and become aware of the wing’s pull on his risers and harness. He noticed that just prior to the wing’s moving to the side, he would feel it in the harness. He closed his eyes and began to be able to feel the wing move to either side. He realized that when the wing surged forward, just before it would collapse, the lift would diminish. The first few times this happened the wing would shout, “Going, going, gone!” as the wing surged and collapsed. Andy soon learned to become aware of the diminishing lift that related to a surge so he could catch them before the collapse.

The wing spoke to Andy for the last time, “Andy, you now have learned my language. The truth is, I am really communicating to you through your body and the words you are hearing in your head are not part of the language. I will continue to speak to you in Winglish whenever you fly or kite. And if you continue to use your senses fully we can look after each other.”

— And now, a more direct approach to explain the same thing …