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  If you are a beginner to kite flying, make sure you buy a kite that is easy to launch and control (See About Kites: Choosing a Kite). It's also a good idea to have someone around to help you launch the kite at first!

Some people learn to handle a kite within a few hours but generally it will take a few weekends to master some of the techniques. You can join a kite club if there is one in your area where you will be given a lot of help and support from existing members.


The Right Kite

pic8The classic diamond shape is still the most popular kite chosen by adults and children for a fun afternoon because if the conditions are just right, it is an easy kite to fly in light, pleasant winds. However, many other sport and stunt kites now offer similar advantages of easy flying in more variable conditions.

Kites are controlled with one or more lines. Many starter kites have one or two lines, and quad kites have four. If you are interested in competitive events you need a dual or quad kite. Quad lines usually help you to carry out more complicated moves but dual (two) and single line kites can give you as much flying enjoyment. For quality and strength, Dyneema or Spectra lines are the best to use but they are also more expensive.

If you have never flown a large sports kite, pull is one of the most significant features to look out for. Generally, smaller kites have less pull and larger kites have more pull depending on the wind speed. An adult can manage a kite with a greater pull; a child needs a kite with a light pull.

The kite manufacturer's details should give you the pull, measured in pounds. The most popular sport kites on the market are around 6 - 8 feet and the pull can be rated from mild to strong with line recommendations between 80 - 250 pounds.


Wind Speed

pic9The pull of the kite depends on the wind speed. In light wind conditions (4-10mph), a kite may fly very easily but in a strong wind (15-30+ mph) it becomes more difficult to handle and even a light kite can have a strong pull. On a kite's specifications, the manufacturer usually recommends the best wind speed for the kite. This is called the wind range and sometimes it is given in a Beaufort Scale number. (For example, BFT 1 - 4 = a wind speed of 3-18 miles per hour).

Beaufort Wind Scale
It is difficult to judge the wind speed but it is important to know how strong it is. The Beaufort Scale can help you judge the approximate speed. Most flying is done when the wind speed is between 8 and 15 miles per hour but in can be done in speeds as little as 4 mph or as much as 20-30 mph. The scale ranges from 0 (calm) to 12 (hurricanes).

0 0 Calm Smoke rises vertically
1 1-3 Light Air Smoke shows wind direction
2 4-7 Light Breeze Wind felt on face, leaves rustle
3 8-12 Gentle Breeze Leaves, small branches & light flags move
4 13-18 Moderate Breeze Dust and small paper raised, small branches move
5 19-34 Fresh Breeze Small trees in leaf begin to sway
6 25-31 Strong Breeze Branches move, telegraph wires whistle

Kite Speed
Each kite will have its own top speed and some sport kites can reach 120 mph. Although it is exciting and impressive, kites at this speed need careful handling because they can cause damage and injury to property and people. Some fliers and beginners will prefer slower flying kites because they are easier to control.


Kite Manoeuvres

pic6When you have practised launching and controlling your kite in the air, the next stage is to practise some moves. Some can be accomplished by beginners, others need a lot more practise and maybe the help of other experienced fliers!

Most kites will turn easily because of their design. Some turn quickly and sharply, others make wide sweeping turns. As you become more experienced you will learn what your kite can do and become more able to control and affect its movements.

Tricks and stunts
A lot of kites are designed to make complex moves easy, even when handled by a beginner. The tricks and manoeuvres you can try will depend on the kite design but may include the 'axel', spinning horizontally, the 'float', flying sideways in an upright position, spirals, loops, figures of 8 and dives.

Multi-kite flying
Multi-kite flying involves joining two or more kites in a train to perform more spectacular stunts in a multi-kite formation. 'Tinkers' are used to connect the kites. To launch a train you need an extra pair of hands and a lot of experience if it is to work properly.

(For more information about stunts and tricks see Information: Peter's Kite Site)


The Kite Flier

Here are some tips to make your kite flying more enjoyable.

  • Wear good UV proof sunglasses, a hat and suncream when you fly your kite in the summer.
  • Take care with the line. They can cause nasty cuts or painful burns to arms or hands.
  • Replace broken spars immediately, especially those made of carbon fibre. Most kite shops sell spar removal tools called 'doohickies'.
  • If you are serious about your kite flying, buy kites and especially replacement parts, through a proper kite shop rather than a toy shop. A kite shop will also be able to give you plenty of good advice.

Safe Kiting

  • Never use wires or tie anything made of metal to a kite

  • Do not fly kites in thunder storms - lightening could pass through the kite and down the line to earth

  • Never fly near overhead power cables - they can be highly dangerous. (Also avoid trees, hedges, telephone poles and wires as these can spoil your fun)

  • Do not fly near roads - it can cause an accident

  • Do not fly near airfields - it can cause an accident and it is against the law

  • Do not fly kites higher than 200 feet - it is against the law so most kites are not designed to perform well at this height

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Last modified on: Tuesday, July 1, 1997.