Thank you all very very much for your input!! I can't tell you all enough how relieved I am to hear that I didn't buy something that was a lemon!! Thank you for clearing all that up for me!!
It's also great to know that I can easily change some (relatively) inexpensive parts to get some better performance and even somewhat of an "upgrade" too!
I did find some videos around youtube and what not, but nothing that really helped me out much until I found some video series' from a guy that doesn't give his name. Younger dude, seems like a pro kite flyer, short blonde hair, always wears a hoodie and shades, lol... Those videos are so amazing, I can't even begin to tell you how much they've helped me. The DVD that came with my kite is worthless in comparison. Unfortunately we haven't had any wind during these last several days, but I'm VERY anxious to get back out there again, especially knowing now what I've learned from these videos.
Regarding when I purchased my kite: the guy that's here in town is a one-man-shop, and unfortunately I didn't get much input from him about the setup or flight. However, other than getting the spars on the wrong side, I had zero problems settin' this baby up and breakin it down again. And I can certainly attest to the toughness of these SLE spars. I took SEVERAL full-speed nose dives right into the ground, lol, and the thing is still holding strong! Come to think of it, I don't think I was able to do even one "intentional" landing, hahaha. I should probably work on that.
MrDenny, that is very kind of you to offer to take "care" of my kite for me. I'll make sure to get that to you PROMPTLY. In fact, go ahead and hold your breath and wait by the mailbox. I'm sure it'll be there any time now! hehe
OH! I just found those videos tutorials, they're on www.kitelife.com. I'm sure you all probably know about them already though.
So maybe if I can describe the problem(s) I was having during my last flight, maybe you guys can give me a few pointers?
1. At first, I had someone holding the kite up and it literally launched itself, which was kinda cool. But it (or I) would immediately turn to the right or left and it would come crashing down again.
2. After that, I launched it from the ground. Per the DVD that came with it, I would bring my thumbs back and give it a good tug. The kite would do one of two things:
a ) It would shoot up like a rocket to max altitude and then lose wind and fall down, or
b ) It would veer to the right or left and I would panic and try frantically to correct it.
There were actually a few times when I would get it up and be able to spin it left and right, but I'd lose some control (or wind) at that point and it would come down again. Could this be as a result of the spars being on the wrong side?
3. Crashing nose dives are a great way to practice your inverted launches, ha ha. Surprisingly enough though, almost every time I was able to (sloppily) spin it back around for another normal-but-newbish relaunch. After thinking about this a bit, I realize that my inverted-control theory was quite backwards. I was pretty frustrated when I would try to spin it right and it would go left. Something else to work on I suppose.
4. Backwards flying is SO foreign to me. Is that something I should even be thinking about right now? I mean, considering how often I find myself a**-up, it seems like it might be pretty important, lol.
The one bit of advice the guy at the kite store gave me was to practice just launching and landing. Don't spin, don't slide, don't do anything except that for an hour or so until I'm confident about moving to the next step. The problem with that was, though, was that I could launch, but shortly after that I would lose control by either the spinning problem or the skyrocketing problem as noted above.
And for my last question, do I need a lot of wind for this kite? It says 4-whatever MPH, but it doesn't seem to want to do jack squat in the lower wind bracket. How much of that could have been because of the spars being on the wrong side?
Any other beginner tips, advice, suggestions, criticisms, critiques, slanderings, and/or words of encouragement are greatly appreciated! I can't thank you all enough for all the great input you've given me so far!