So I'm left to imagine the only scenario where launching with a kite in the air is the same safe as a self launch is if there are two expert kiters so well practiced
Exactly. Its very safe if you know what you are doing. It is not being lazy and definately not incompetence as RichadM states - sometimes there is no other option if there are no tether points and no other riders.
In addition rider with kite in the air doesn't do any "flipping" of kites, they just stand there and get given the kite, all they do is hold it. Same when landing - the other rider does all the work. If I'm flying my kite I will not mess about turning kites over as that's when problems happen!!!
Kooks like to copy the expert kiters, if they see them launch with a kite in the air, that's how they'll do it do. They don't know any better.
We were all kooks once