How To Fly A 4 Line Kite!You've seen power kites on the beach or on your local field and thought, "Wow, that looks cool!" so you went to Official Pansh eBay UK Shop and bought your power kite. Now what do you do?
SAFETY FIRST.As a beginner, you are more than likely to become overpowered, so use kite killers which mean you can let go of the handles in safety. The kite killers apply the brakes, and the kite should just flutter to the ground, and not fly off into the distance, decapitating people as it goes. This quite skilfully brings us to the subject of insurance. It’s not expensive at around £15 per year, and is well worth having especially for boarding and buggying.
If you are thinking of boarding or buggying then crash hats are essential, and elbow pads, knee pads and wrists guards are also recommended. You may also want to use this sort of safety equipment for static flying also, depending on what you think you may be trying out!! Remember Power Kites are called Power kites for a reason, and not just because they are kites!
Final Words on safety – always take care when there are pedestrians or other users of the field/beach about. They (usually) have just as much right to be there as you do, so be aware of their position, and probable lack of knowledge of kites.
First OffI’m not going to discuss how to get your kite in to the air for the first time – this is dealt with well in other guides. I will try to cover what to do AFTER you have made that important first step.
The first thing to know is how pushing and pulling on the handles affects the flight path of the kite. Pulling on the right handle for example, will make the kite bank to the right. Pull harder and the bank is sharper. It’s really the difference in line tension between left and right that gives the kite its steering ability, so pushing out with one hand and pulling with the other gives a more pronounced effect. But remember, the kite doesn’t act instantly on line changes, there is a noticeable (but still short delay) so you need to anticipate the need to turn.
Practice using the handles like this to find out how quickly your particular kite reacts. Remember, larger kites tend to react more slowly, although that is very kite and wind strength dependent.
It’s important to learn how the kite behaves in different conditions, i.e. When it is likely to pull suddenly, when power is steady, how quickly you can turn the power off using the brakes. Finding out the strength of pull in different areas of the wind window is vital. But be careful – only take out the kite in conditions you are comfortable with, building up to the more advanced techniques and high wind strengths.
One you are familiar with the kite in normal flying, experiment with the brakes. Apply both at the same time to slow the kite down to stationary in the air. Apply on one side when turning to make the kite turn much more quickly, on its wingtip.
Fly to kite to the edges of the wind window to see how it behaves at the extremities. Some kites pull well right up to the edge, some simply start to collapse (luff). You will need to know where this luffing point is as you start to board or buggy.
It’s important to try out the kite killers in a non-threatening situation so you are aware of the implications. Just drop the handles to see how the kite reacts. It should just flutter to the ground, if not then in all likelihood the brake lines needs adjusting.
ManouversFigure of Eight.
Pretty self explanatory. Start with big turns flying from one edge of wind window to other, gradually decreasing turn radius by applying brakes, and see how the power of the kite varies across the window, and how using the brakes can keep the kite in power more easily.
As you use the brake more and more, you should be able to spin the kite on a wingtip, so it travels back along the line it was just on.
Sine Wave/S Curves
Practice flying the kite in a sine wave across the wind window. This will become more important as you take to the board or buggy as it keeps the kite powered up in the wind window, and prevents it luffing as it would when reaching the edge of the window.
Kite Loops (DownTurn)
This manoeuvre produce a lot of power as the kite remains full on in the power zone, so take care, and remember to ‘undo’ the loop to unwind the lines.
Choose conditions with a steady low wind, something which isn't pulling you about, take the kite to the zenith and begin to dive straight at the ground. As soon as you like put brakes on hard, with a little practice you should be able to stop the kite dead and with a little more practice keep it stationary for a few seconds. Then turn back up the right way and do it again.
Landing and LaunchingWith brakes
Practice landing with the brakes. Apply them both and, if adjusted correctly, the kite should float down to a sedate landing.
Edge of Window
Practice Safe Launch and landing at the edge of the window. Remember not to simply take off and then going straight in to the power zone –that negates all the safety aspects of the edge launch. Work your way in to the power zone until you become more confident.
Eventually (!) you will have to launch the kite from an inverted position (upside down). You will need to apply both brakes fully. This should result in the kite reversing off the ground (There needs to be enough wind to do this). Once it’s about 1m in the air, relax one brake line and it should start to turn. At this stage you can either apply both brakes hard, so it settles back down on the trailing edge, or just go for it and let it launch. The first is preferable as you have more time to decide what to do, and avoid any awkward face plants. In this case, you don’t need to let the kite completely turn back over – you can let it fly off to the side of the window directly. You also don’t actually need to let the kite get completely airborne before flipping it over, it can be done quite early on in the proceedings.
Possible Problems you may encounterBowtie/Inside out
Sometime the kite may appear to form a bowtie shape, or appear to turn ‘inside out’. This is usually due to gusty, turbulent winds, which will at some point be travelling in a different direction to the angle of attack of the kite. This leads to the pressure on the outside of the kite exceeding that on the inside and causes the kite to collapse quickly. Any foil kite can succumb to this, although arcs and LEI's don't, as they are less reliant on the wind direction being right to keep the kite inflated.
This problem can be controlled to some degree; it tends to happen at the edge of the window, so simply do what's necessary to either keep the kite away from the edge, or ensure that if you do fly into a problem area, the kite is moving fast enough to stay inflated. Try turning away from the luff prone area before you get there to prevent the kite entering it in the first place.
It can help in really blustery conditions to just tighten the brakes by a knot to help keep it back from edge of window & just below the zenith, although this will depend on the kite.
Overflying in stronger winds
This is where the kite keeps flying behind the flyer, then collapsing in on itself. In higher winds the kite flies faster so that when it nips up to the zenith it has enough momentum and pull to be able to get behind you. Try dabbing both brakes with a turn of the wrists just before it gets there and that will hold it back from the edge. You might find the same thing happens at the edges of the window as well. The same solution applies.
Kite spins on takeoff
If the kite spins on launching, completely failing to get more than a few feet off the ground before spiralling back down again, then there could be a number of possible problems.
Uneven line lengths. If the power lines (or brake lines) are very unequal in length then the kite will spin. Lines can be compared by staking then out and pulling tight. A few centimetres difference is OK, but any large discrepancies will need the lines to be adjusted. Remember not to compare brake and power lines- often they are deliberately different lengths!!
Bridle Problems. If the bridle is incorrectly set up, then spinning can result. Try lifting up the kite by the power and/or brake line attachment points to see if the kite is asymmetrical which may indicate a problem with the bridle. There may even be a tangle or knot somewhere in the bridle that is over tightening part of the canopy and causing the problem. Some kites are delivered with the brake lines leader lightly tied to the power lines leader to stop the bridle becoming tangled in transit – make sure all the lines are free.
Uneven Handle position. The flyer may inadvertently be holding the handles differently from left to right, for example, maybe applying brake on one side and not the other and causing the spin.
Hopefully this guide has been of some help to you.