How to Fly a Kite
What could be more fun than a wide open field, a warm breeze, and a dancing kite?
For young fliers, it's an educational adventure. You can learn about science, physics, history, culture, weather and ecology -- without even thinking hard. And for adults, it's a chance to feel young again.
Kite flying is a special joy - and it's easy when you know how.
CHECK YOUR FLYING SPACE FIRST
Kites like lots of room. The bigger your flying space is, the happier your kite will be.
As the wind goes around trees, buildings, and hills, it gets bumpy. This bumpy wind is called "turbulence". You can't see it, but it's very difficult to fly a kite well in turbulent wind. So stay far away from obstacles that cause turbulence.
The "rule of turbulence" is that wind will be bumpy for ten times as far downwind as an obstacle is high.
Also look out for obstacles behind your kite. Ever hear of a "kite eating tree"? Because the wind gets turbulent as it gets close to large objects, kites may get drawn in and crash. So don't even let your kite close to trees downwind.
And of course, stay far away from roads and dangerous electric power lines.
The best places for flying are large open fields, parks, and beaches. The more room you have, the more fun you can have flying.
CHECK THE WIND
Before you can fly your kite, you need wind.
The amount of wind you need depends on the kind of kite you have. Some kites are heavier and need more wind. Others are especially made to fly in light wind. But most kites are made to fly in average winds of between four and ten miles per hour.
If you can feel the wind on your face, there is probably enough to fly. Look for leaves rustling and flags waving. That's another good way to measure the wind.
If leaves in the trees are hardly moving, then the wind may be too light. And if the whole tree is swaying, or if you can hear a flag flapping in the wind, there may be too much for most kinds of kites.
A good, experienced kiteflier learns to watch the wind, even though it is invisible, by watching how it affects things around them.
CHECK YOUR KITE
There are many different types of kites. Each has been designed to do something different in the sky.
Before you try and launch your kite, make sure that yours has been put together properly. Is it adjusted for the wind? Does it need a tail? Is the flying line attached well. Once everything is right, you are ready to launch.
Running with a kite is fun, but it's not very smart. You can't watch where you are going, and watch the kite too. That makes it easy for you or the kite to crash. Instead, try launching the smart way.
Always keep an eye on your kite while it is flying. If something goes wrong, you want to see it and fix things before a crash. Don't be tempted to let out too much line. One or two hundred feet is plenty. It's hard for people to see and enjoy if a kite gets too high. Accidents can happen way up there. And besides, the more line you let out, the longer it takes to wind in.
If your flying line becomes slack, bring in a little. If the kite begins to pull too hard or act unstable, let some line out. The idea is to fly the kite, not to let it fly itself.
If the wind gets strong, you can tie the flying line to a solid anchor. Walk toward the kite, pulling line down as you go. In strong winds, you should wear gloves to keep from hurting your hands.
Remember that as you pull in, the force of the wind increases on the kite. This will make it climb higher and pull harder. If the kite is unstable, pulling makes it more unstable. Letting out line will temporarily stabilize things, but sooner or later, you have to come down.
If the kite starts spinning in big loops, closer and closer to the ground, about the only thing you can do is wait until it approaches the ground, and then let out line very quickly. The extra slack will let the kite fall down gently. Now aren't you glad you didn't let out too much line?
You can buy good kite flying line at the same place you buy kites. Often kites will even come with line attached.
Special line is usually better because it is lighter, stronger and thinner. All of these things will help. Thicker line will drag in the wind and make your kite fly lower. Heavier line will need to be lifted by the kite. So remember to use the thinnest flying line that is strong enough to hold your kite.
ADJUSTING FOR DIFFERENT WINDS
TAILS and BOWS
Many kite designs come with tails. A long tail fluttering behind almost any kite adds beauty and fun. But tails have a special purpose too. By adding drag at the bottom of the kite, they keep the nose pointed to the sky and add stability.
So if your kite is unstable, try adding tail. If your kite is getting dragged back to the ground, try reducing the length of your tail.
Remember to keep things properly balanced. Put tails in the center of the kite. If you add them in more then one place, make sure the tails are equal in length and equal distance from the center of the kite.
When the wind gets stronger, try increasing the amount of bend by tightening the bow string. In lighter winds, loosen the bow. But always be careful when making adjustments not to break the sticks in your kite by bending too much.
Even the best kiteflier sometimes ends up with their line in a tangle or their kite in a tree. Don't panic. Just be patient and smart, and everything will be fine.
Kite in a tree? Don't climb the tree. Falling out can hurt! And don't tug on the line either. That may break the kite. Instead, just let the wind carry your kite past the tree and let out enough line to bring it to the ground. Then disconnect the kite and pull the line back through the tree.
If your kite line wraps around another kite line, just walk over to the other flier and say hello. Amazingly, the twist will come right down to where you are standing and can be easily undone.
And what about knots and twists? Usually you can avoid this problem by carefully managing your line on the winder or on the ground. But if you do get your line tangled on the ground, about all you can do is patiently undo the mess. Life isn't perfect.
KITE WON'T FLY?
Not every flight goes well. If your kite isn't flying right, maybe you have one of these problems: