POWER KITE GUIDE
STARTING THE SPORT WITHOUT ANY KNOWLEDGE?
What is a Power Kite and how does it work?
A power kite is usually an aerofoil shaped wing made from high performance fabric and supported by bridles. By steering and manoeuvering the kite with control lines different amounts of power can be generated.
Once a kite is inflated its aerofoil design encourages it to move forward and give lift. Supportive bridle lines keep the kite at the optimum angle to the wind to achieve the speed and power.
Generally, the bigger the kite or the faster the kite travels or the stronger the wind the more power, pull or lift will be generated.
Ultimately it is the flier that controls the kite and bears the responsibility for the safety of self and that of others.
What is the Wind Window?
The Wind Window is the area in which the kite can fly.
By manoeuvering the kite through different parts of this window we get different amounts of power and direction. Power is dramatically reduced at the edges of the window.
If you are unsure of the power that could be generated it is safer for you to launch from the edge of the window.
Keep the kite at the edge and manoeuvre it up overhead dip into the power zone to test whether you can handle the power being generated in safety.
If the conditions are beyond your skill level modern kites have in-built safety systems to let you abort safely without losing your kite.
What is the difference between flying two or four line kites?
Two line kites are simple and easy to use allowing the user to get to grips with the basics of power kiting. They tend to be powered up all of the time and only generally fly in a forward direction.
Four lines enable more control and are best suited for traction activities such as buggying, landboarding or snowkiting.
The top lines are the power lines. By using these it is possible to fly and steer the kite.
The lower lines are the brake lines and allow speed change by altering drag.
The brake lines also allow more responsive steering and enable easier controlled landings and reverse take-offs.
Four Line handles are safe, precise and easy to use and give you the maximum manoeuvrability over your kite.
Four line handles allow you to slow the kite down, stop it in mid-air, reverse the kite, park it on the ground and if it crashes on it's nose - reverse launch the kite back into the air.
This makes them ideal for landboarding, buggying, snowkiting or flying recreationally.
Four line control bars usually have built-in safety systems enabling you to launch and land your kite on your own.
The power of the kite is distributed across both arms for easier flying but at the same time, less control is available due to their overall setup.
Depowerable kites allow you to use a single kite over a much larger wind range. This is achieved by the depower control bar and bridle system that can be adjusted to alter the amount of power generated as you ride. Bring the bar closer to you will increase the kites power. Pushing the depower control bar away will decrease the kites power but also increase the kites speed as the kites angle of attack changes.
A harness is essential for using depowerable kites.
However, you can fly them in light wind conditions without the benefit of depower.
Depowerable kites are excellent for landboarding, buggying, snowkiting and kiteboarding activities as it allows the rider to alter the kite's power as you ride.
Initially you want to make a single kite purchase and it only makes sense to purchase a kite that you will use more often than not. Face the fact that some days the kite will be just too powerful to use.
Big kites lift more and travel slower and are often used in lighter winds. Obviously small kites generally lift less. A kite travelling faster usually generates greater lift. Too much lift and you become airborne, not enough lift and you, the buggy or board will not move.
Most kites need only a small amount of wind to fly and it is even possible to fly kites in no wind.
For people with little or no previous kite flying experience, it is a sensible option to choose a small 2-line trainer kite. For those looking for an imediate challenge then the four line kite could well be your best option. Check out these suitable options below that will get you up and going in no time!
Buggies and Landboards are the craft we stand on or sit in and also accelerate away on using the power of the wind and kite. There are no mechanical brakes, only the steering of your craft and the kite will halt you.
Emergency procedures can kill a kite’s power instantly.
Be aware that different kites of equal size can handle and lift very differently. It is far easier to learn with a smoother, predictable, steadier flying kite than a high performance kite.
Remember that some days the equipment you own just will not be suitable, the wind may be too strong to fly safely - any kite flown in too stronger wind can be dangerous. Some days the wind will be frustratingly light to achieve what you have set out to do. Limits either way may also be determined by pilot skill level.
For people with previous kite flying experience or looking to get involved in traction activities such as kitelandboarding, buggying or snowkiting should consider a 4-line kite between 3 - 4m in size for use in a majority of wind conditions.
A harness is used intially to take the strain off your arms, allowing you to fly in stronger winds and reduce overall fatigue. A harness is not essential when you first start out. Harnesses can be used for either 4-line handles or control bar. Depowerable kites require a harness to function correctly.
Personal preference for choosing a harness is the key. Simply find a harness that is comfortable for you.
Seat harnesses fit around the legs and lower back giving you lots of support and hip protection. These harnesses stop any chance of the harness riding up your body when the kite is overhead.
Waist harnesses fit around the lower back and abdomen giving you freedom of movement for technical manoeuvres.
Do I need safety gear such as a helmet or impact vest?
Safety is paramount and power kiting, as with any extreme sport can be dangerous.
It is recommended you wear a minimum of a helmet for any traction activities such as kite buggying or landboarding.
Safety methods and devices are being reviewed and updated all of the time.
What flying lines do I need for my kite?
Often kite manufacturers supply flying line with their kites but recreational and experienced flyers may demand differing line qualities.
It is important that the line being flown is strong enough not to be broken yet thin enough to retain maximum performance from the kite.
Strong or heavier flyers flying in higher winds will naturally demand stronger line sets. It is not necessary for a lightweight pilot or someone flying in light winds to equip their kite with heavy lines.
By referring to the kite specifications, line recommendations are made.
Often many of the kites on our website are offered as ready to fly versions or have lines included as a special offer making line selection easy.
What is the difference between Ram Air and Single-skin kites?
Ram Air kites have openings at the front leading edge to allow foil inflation and to create the wing shape. The varying wing shapes create differing power and manoeuverability.
Compact bridling systems ensure the kite stays inflated and angled correctly to the airflow. Some look square (usually low aspect) while others look elliptical (usually high aspect). Generally elliptical kites are more efficient whereas square shaped foils are more stable and slower in comparison.
Kites that are thinner (thin profile) are usually faster than thicker profiled kites whereas, the deeper profiled kite usually lift more at lower speeds than a thin foil. Ram Air kites are used mostly for land based activities such as buggying and kitelandboarding.
Leading Edge Inflatable (LEI) Supported Leading Edge (SLE) and Single Skin kites are built mainly for surfing and other water based activities as they do not take-on water. This allows the kite to be launched off the water if crashed.
Normally larger kites are required to fly on water to overcome the water resistance. These kites are very efficient and powerful - to enable greater control depower systems are usually incorporated into the kite. It is imperative that pilots learn on land first and obtain water based tuition before venturing out onto the water.
When flying your bridled foil kite and the wind suddenly picks up or when the situation gets out of hand and you cannot hold the power of your kite, you might want to let go of the handles.
In this case a set of kitekillers helps you keep the kite with you while it slowly falls down towards the ground with minimal power.
A set of kitekillers consists of a pair of comfortable wrist straps that can be easily secured to your wrist with one hand.