How to Fly a Kite
To those who have flown kites before, it is an almost intuitive process. Sure, you lift a kite in the air and run. But if you have ever seen a young person fly a kite for the first time, you realize there is more to it.
First, you want to choose a good site for kite flying. Make sure there are no hanging wires or kite-eating trees in close proximity. Buildings and vehicles close by are also a problem, because as light as a kite may be, it can also cause damage if it rams into a window or paint job. Also give yourself room to maneuver. Ideally, you want a fair amount of room to walk (or run) and also room for the kite and string in event of an emergency landing.
Of course, you will want to have the wind blowing into the sail, this is what creates lift. You really do not need a lot of wind. Many kites will float on a minimum of a breeze, blowing only a few knots. Some kites can even be flown on no breeze at all. There are even indoor kite flying contests where wind does not play a factor. You can buy a wind gauge, but this is not at all necessary, and a simple wet finger in the air will usually be sufficient. For a rough approximation of wind speed you can use the table to the right.
|2-5 mph||Smoke begins to move - fun for very light kites.|
|6-12 mph||Leaves begin to rustle - best to fly light kites and deltas.|
|13-20 mph||Branches sway, smoke moves horizontally. Best kite weather for most standard kites.|
|21-30 mph||Large branches sway, dry dirt rises. Larger kites are difficult to handle.|
|31-40 mph||Waves form on the water with white caps. Good for conveyances pulled by kites.|
|41-50 mph||Trees begin to bend, great kite weather for experienced flyers with buggies, power and vented kites.|
There are several good ways to launch a kite. You can hold it up to the breeze and let it float away, letting string out as the kite moves. But the breeze is not always sufficient for this approach. You can let out a fair amount of line and with someone lightly holding the kite, take a bit of a run. This allows the kite to rise very quickly to catch any higher breeze that might be available. If you are alone, you can also do this technique by propping a kite up into the wind.
Once in the air, flying the kite will depend on the amount of wind. In a nice, even breeze, flying a kite is just a matter of holding onto the string. In light airs, you will want to keep constant tension on the string either by backing up or rewinding the string. In heavy winds any flaws in the kite construction or design will quickly be revealed. Most kites will spin or dive if not very precisely proportioned. But this is part of the fun. If your kite suddenly takes a wrong turn give the string some slack, and it will right itself. Slack can be gained by walking towards the kite or by letting out string.
There are maximum heights at which a kite may be flown (by law - depending on your location). Often this is no farther than your average spool of kite string will allow. But this, in a good breeze is quite far. Watch your spool carefully if the kite is run out to the end of your string. A kite at the full extension of its leash can run away (for good) if the flyer loses his or her grip. This is very easy to do if the string runs out, and it was not secured to the spool.
Once you begin reeling a kite in, you will find that it was generally much easier getting it out than bringing it back. Simply start to wind the string back around the spool, shortening the string until you can effect a soft landing by giving it some sudden slack.
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KiteFlyerInfo.com was created primarily to highlight some original kite designs using basic materials such as newspapers, dowels, and packing tape. But it has also become a repository of other useful information about kite flying. Use the navigation links at the top of the page to find out about some of the many different kinds of kites. Just above are links to some of our kite designs as well as some interesting info we have gathered.