Jim’s Kites

Flying   your   kite

Find a nice open space to fly in, away from buildings, power lines and trees.  Trees really do eat kites, and even experienced fliers fear them.  They also disrupt the flow of the wind for a considerable distance.

Almost all kites come with instructions. READ THEM!  If you just rush to assemble the kite and fly it, you may miss something vital which results in the loss of, or damage to, the kite, or at least its failure to fly.

Kites do NOT need a lot of wind.  Most are happiest in steady winds between 5 to 12mph (8 to 20kph) but will fly safely up to about 20mph (32kph).  Above that, you are probably best to find something else to do.

It is never necessary to run with a kite; usually, if the wind is suitable for flying, the kite will launch straight from your hand.  In light wind, prop the kite against a fence or anything handy and walk away about 50ft or more. Pull the line tight, then walk backwards while pulling hard, and the kite should rise into the air.  You then persuade the kite to climb by alternately letting out line and then pulling it tight.  In sufficient wind, the kite will want to climb anyway as long as you keep letting out line.

Kite line can cut and burn your skin, so it is probably a good idea to wear gloves. (I don’t, usually, but most sensible people do.)  Leather is best, and ones with the finger-tips open make it easier to tie knots and do other necessary tasks.

The line you use should be suited to your kite and the wind conditions - not too heavy or too light.  Dacron line is really the only way to go, braided not twisted, and all good kite dealers sell it either ready spooled onto reels or in bulk for you to put on whichever winder you choose.  Take care of it, as cuts and abrasions can weaken it and cause the loss of a valuable kite. Smaller kites come with line, but you may need to replace it as it is often cheap twisted nylon and almost useless.

To attach your line to your kite, use a pigtail on the kite and a larkshead knot.  This method is far better than using a metal swivel or tying the line directly onto the kite.

If you tangle your line with that of another kite, walk towards the other flier. When you meet, the tangle will be at ground level and you can quickly unravel things. Don’t just keep pulling, as things will get worse!

And when you’ve gained some experience in this fascinating pastime, pass on your knowledge to those just starting out, and try to encourage others to take an interest.

Flying my Morea in an off-shore wind and hoping it won’t drop into the sea!

My car and a lot of kites in a festival at Ashburton, home of the famous Peter Lynn kite factory. I used the car as an anchor for some kites.

Most kite dealers provide good advice on their websites about kite flying and safety.  Here are a few general points that may be useful to the new flier.

To learn more about the different types of kites and how they fly, see my Kite Reviews pages.