Jim’s Kites

General advice

First of all, I would say: “Buy quality.”  Cheap, unbranded kites don’t usually fly well or last long. And certainly there is no back-up service if things go wrong.  See the page on where to buy.


Secondly, my advice would be: “Buy big.”  If you start with a small kite and get interested, you will soon want a larger one, so why not start with the large one and save money and time?   (I learnt this the hard way!)   Flying a large kite is usually no harder, and is often easier, than flying a small one.  Sure, a big kite pulls more, but even something like a 12ft delta is very manageable for any adult or mature teenager.  


Thirdly, in order to enjoy this wonderful hobby from the start, I advise: “Choose a simple style to start with.”  Some exotic-looking kites can be attractive, but may be difficult to assemble and to fly.  If you don’t want to get discouraged, the delta is probably the best type of kite to start with, as it is so easy to assemble and flies reliably in a wide wind-range.  Don’t go for anything under 7ft unless you want to quickly become bored.  The delta conyne is another good choice, but there is not the wide selection that there is in deltas.  


There are kites designed specifically for light winds, like the genki, and others such as the standard box kite which are more suitable when the wind is stronger.  Then there are soft kites such as the parafoils that you can stuff into a small bag and take with you anywhere.  And of course the “fancy” soft kites which come in sizes up to the truly enormous (with prices to match!) and are popular at kite festivals around the world. There is definitely a kite to suit everyone - although one is never really enough once you get bitten.


My fourth tip would be: “Have a selection of lines.”  For example, if the recommended line for your kite is 200lb, then certainly that is needed in the upper part of its wind range.  But if you are trying to fly it in very light breezes, don’t be afraid to use line at half that strength, and weight, which will make it much more likely that you will achieve lift-off.  Keep an eye on the wind, however, and don’t hesitate to bring the kite down and replace the line if conditions change.


My fifth pearl of wisdom is: “Don’t ignore tails and line art.”  Delta kites fly well most of the time without tails, but really they are naked without them.  Tails can make such a difference to the appearance of the kite, adding color, design, and movement and increasing the sheer size of the spectacle by taking up more sky.  A delta with a 12ft wingspan is a big kite, but when it’s 200 feet up, it is much less impressive without tails.  For line art, or line laundry, see the page devoted to it.


The most important thing of all, however, is just to have fun.  If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong!      For more specific advice, see the Buying and Flying pages on this site, and the Kite Reviews pages with information on lots of different kites.


And join the American Kitefliers’ Association, wherever you live, for lots of information and contact with other fliers, four glossy magazines each year, and a 10% discount at most of the kite dealers in the USA. If you buy a few kites, the discount will quickly pay for your subscription!