BEGINNERS TIPS - CHOOSING A SINGLE LINE KITE
Most people have flown a kite at some time. Perhaps your own memories are of home-made diamond kites like the one flown unsuccessfully by Charlie Brown in the Peanuts comic strip.
Today’s kites, if you choose a reputable brand, are better than ever before. Strong materials (ripstop nylon and spars of fiberglass or carbon) mean they will stand up to a lot of use. Good design ensures that they are easier to fly. And the variety of shapes and patterns is ever-increasing. All except the cheapest models usually have the pattern sewn in (appliquéd) rather than printed on.
For a first kite, choose something simple, and if it is for a child, one that will not pull too hard. An indication of pull can be gained by the line recommended for each kite. Anything over 50lb would not be good for a small child, for instance.
Almost everyone starts with a single-line kite, and there are many to choose from.
Diamond Kites: are one of the simplest kites to assemble and fly, and come in a huge variety of colors, patterns and sizes. They almost always need a tail to fly well, and although this is usually supplied, you can change it or add to it if you wish.
Delta kites: are just as easy as diamonds and make great first kites. These triangle-shaped kites again come in many patterns, and an even greater range of sizes. We have them right up to a 19 foot wingspan, with enough pull to give anyone a good work-out on a windy day! Smaller ones, in the 4ft to 6ft range, are ideal for children, and need only the insertion of one strut to be ready to fly. Deltas fly without tails, but look better and are more stable in higher winds with one of the many types of tail available.
Easy-flyer kites: are a variation of the delta, with permanently-attached tails. They are ideal for children, and are so stable that they are almost guaranteed to fly in all but the most unfavourable conditions. Once more, they come in many patterns, and some designs are very amusing.
Cellular or Box Kites: are interesting structures that, with a good wind, can fly well. There are even ones which revolve in flight, making a fascinating spectacle. Most of these kites need more assembly than the three previous categories and are not quite as easy to fly. There are some, however, that are pre-assembled. They just pop open and are then ready to launch immediately.
Parafoils and Sleds: are kites that rely on the wind to inflate them, rather than on spars (sticks) to keep their shape. All but the smallest sleds usually have very thin, flexible spars built in to them, while parafoils are entirely soft. Large ones can pull very hard, but the smaller ones are perfect for a child, and pack up so small and light that you can take them anywhere with no trouble. Flying them is easy, but they are not always quite as stable as the sticked kites.
There are many more specialised types of kite that you may want to explore once you have mastered the art of kite-flying.
FLYING YOUR NEW KITE
First, read the instructions that came with it! Make sure that you know how to assemble it and be careful not to lose any parts.
Then, find a nice open space to fly in, as far away as possible from buildings, power lines, roads and trees. Trees really do eat kites, and even experienced fliers fear them. And all structures interrupt the flow of the wind, making conditions turbulent for a long distance downwind.
Kites do NOT need a lot of wind. Most are happiest in steady winds between 5 to 12mph (8 to 20kph). If the wind is strong enough to blow your hat off, it’s probably too strong for kite-flying!
Assemble your kite, then tie the line on very carefully. You don’t want to lose your new kite on its first flight.
DO NOT RUN with the kite. This is never necessary, and in fact makes the kite very unstable. In a steady breeze, most kites will easily launch from your hand, and then you just need to gradually let out more line as the kite rises. Keep some pull on the line as you do this, as the kite will not fly without it. If the wind is very light, have someone hold the kite about 50 feet or more downwind, pull the line tight, and then signal your friend to let go. At the same time, step backwards and pull the kite into the air. You can then encourage it to climb higher by alternately pulling and releasing the line.
Once your kite is in the air, it will usually stay there as long as you want if the wind persists. When you take it down, wind the line carefully back on the spool to avoid tangles, and pack the kite away to await its next adventure. Don’t lose any spars or other parts!
Once you have really mastered the art of single line flying, you may wish to try the excitement of controlling a two line or even four line kite, of which we have a very good selection. For flying these, see the Tips and Tricks page.