Kite Flying Basics
Kite flying really isn't a complicated undertaking, but still many people will tell you they've just never had any "luck" with kites. While luck may play a small role, at least as far as Mother Nature's cooperation, with the right kite and a basic understanding of what to do and when to fly, practically anyone can find success on the kite field! Really, all you've got to do is get out there and do it!
Pick Your Kite
If you are new to kite flying, whether single-line or sport kites, its usually best to keep your choice of first kite simple. Early successes build your enthusiasm, limit your frustrations and teach you the skills needed to handle more specialized kites. Mother Nature has her moods, and not all kites will perform equally well in every condition. By choosing a design that has a broad wind range and stable flying characteristics you will be able to fly more often and have the most fun possible.
There are many kites available that fit these characteristics, but be aware that at the very lowest and highest wind speeds in their rating, while flying is possible, it may be difficult.
Our first choice for novice flyers is almost always a mid-sized delta kite. In fact, there's always a delta kite in the kite bag for those days when most other kites won't fly, and even one handy in the trunk of the car for those moments when the wind is right and the urge just hits. However, there are certainly other kites that will fit the bill just fine.
Kite Line & Winders
Hoop winders are a great choice whenever flying single-line kites as they are comfortable to hold and make kite retrieval much easier than stock plastic handles. Tangle resistant braided kite line is also highly recommended, as the stock twisted kite line or cheaper cotton kite line, while a lot less expensive, has a nasty tendency of tying itself into impossible knots that will soon send it to the trash can. Braided kite line will still occasionally 'birds nest' as well, but the knots are many times easier to untangle. Also be aware that the better wind is usually higher up. Fly too low and you will be fighting turbulence. Most often 200 to 500 feet of line works best, but occasionally putting a kite up on as much as 1000 feet of line can be a real thrill (don't forget you've got to reel it back in though, it can be quite a chore!). There are laws however concerning where and how high you may fly, so check for any local restrictions. Breezchasers has a list of common restrictions.
Tails & Line Art
Although many modern single-line kites will fly well without a tail given the right conditions, adding a tail will often extend the wind range and provide added stability for your kite. As a rule of thumb, for light to moderate breezes, no tail or only a short tail is required. For moderate to strong breezes use a long tail. Besides adding stability to your kite, tails come in many styles and sizes and add size and color, helping your kite stand out in the sky.
Dual-line Stunt Kites
The world of kite flying appeals to all kinds of people, and many people desire a greater challenge than single-line kites can provide. This is where stunt kites come in to play. Also known as sport kites, and trick kites, you'll find dual-line kites a challenge and an exhilarating sport that gets more addicting the more you practice and master the complex and seemingly impossible tricks they are capable of.
Novice-level Stunt Kites
A good novice-level all-around stunt kite is the best bet for a novice flyer. They are built tough, will fly in the broadest wind ranges, are capable of loops and many advanced tricks, and will let you gain experience in handling sport kites with the least frustrations. Depending on your confidence and patience with learning new things, intermediate-level all-around kites can also make excellent first stunt kites.
Advanced-level Stunt Kites
In order to do the fantastic things they do, the more advanced stunt kites are designed to be inherently unstable and require a good understanding of how kites react to maintain control over them. They are much less forgiving and fragile than an all-around kite, and typically more expensive, so they are not generally recommended as a first kite. As with advanced dual-line kites, quad-line kites are best to grow into, and not recommended for novice flyers. With some flying experience you will discover just what type of kite flying interests you and will be able to select the appropriate kite. Experienced kite flyers often have several kites in their kite bag, including all-around kites, advanced trick kites, quad-line kites, and ultralite kites for days when their is only a hint of a breeze.
Tails are a great addition to a stunt kite, especially for a novice flyer. They trace fantastic patterns in the sky and will slow the kite enough to make learning basic tricks easier. Typically, the smaller the kite the faster it flies, so a smaller less expensive kite will often be more difficult to learn on than a larger one. Adding a tail can help you overcome this.
Pick Your Kite Field
Picking a good kite field is an important decision for a kite flyer. Safety is of utmost importance, and you should pick an open location with good exposure from all directions such as a park or a field, far from buildings, cars, crowds, power lines and airports. Not only are trees and buildings potentially dangerous to a kite flyer and their favorite kite, they create turbulent areas of strong updrafts and downdrafts that can make kite flying next to impossible. Never fly stunt kites with other people within your flying range. These kites can reach extreme speeds and can seriously injure an innocent bystander. Ocean-side beaches or lake fronts are prime locations to fly, as the open body of water often will usher in steady undisturbed breezes that are perfect for kite flying.
Pick Your Day
The wind can be quite fickle, and making plans to fly kites can be a challenging prospect as you are completely at the mercy of Mother Nature to provide good winds. It will sometimes seem that there are more poor kite flying days than good ones. Don't let that discourage you, but learn how to recognize good flying conditions - keep an eye on flags and treetops for clues. See Breezchasers Judging The Wind section for helpful suggestions. The weather should also be clear with no rain in sight - remember, lightning can precede or follow a storm by more than 10 miles, and carbon kite spars are good conductors of electricity.
Share the fun!
Whether you prefer relaxing with a single-line kite or taking on the challenge of stunt kite flying, you'll find this to be a fun and addictive hobby. And best of all, the fun only grows the more you share it!
This article originally appeared on Breezechasers. Republished with permission.