Ok, so you want to get into kiting? Good choice my friend! In this series of guides we're going to take you through all the basics of power kiting and maybe even beyond!
First, consider the implications!
We don't want to put you off, but, you should consider what you are about to let yourself in for.
Power kite flying with large kites is an extreme, high risk, high power sport. Serious injury is quite common, and even death is not unheard of at the more extreme end of the sport. Only with extreme caution and prudence can you hope to regularly take part and progress in this sport. Make no mistake, this is not for the faint hearted, or easily damaged!
We're not talking about a kite on a string here! The right kite in enough wind and we're talking about flying a machine that is capable of violently tossing you into the air and throwing you back to the ground without a moment's warning if you get it wrong!
Because of this, power kiting is also highly addictive and will have a severe impact on your wallet, work, family life and driving skills (you will be constantly watching the trees for signs of wind!) - I am not exaggerating!
Still with us?
If you're financially responsible for anyone, including yourself, you may wish to consider taking out some kind of hazardous activity/life insurance that will pay you a wage if you have to take time off work. Chances are, you'll be OK, but even a sprained ankle can see you off work for a few days. Your call.
Without question, you should absolutely definitely get yourself some third-party-liability insurance. However unlikely it may be to happen, if you were to accidentally injure a passer-by when launching your first kite for the first time, or your last kite for the last time, it will be YOU that is liable for any damages caused; and that could be millions! Also, most flying locations require you to have a recognised third party liability insurance policy before you are allowed to fly there. Get insurance first!
(Which insurance policy you go for is up to you, but be aware that different locations have different requirements. Ask in the forum which policy best suits your location and aspirations.)
Still want to be a power kiter?
Good, you're still here. Didn't want to put you off, but wanted to make sure you knew what you were potentially in for. Get ready for the experience of a lifetime! The high energy, high octane sport that can seriously change your life.
So what's next...
Choosing your first kite.
Choosing your first kite is a hard but important decision. There are so many kites on the market, from beginners kites to professional kite surfing kites - from cheap and second hand kites, to the latest "in thing". Which do you go for?
If you get a kite which is too big kite, you will probably not improve very quickly (if at all) and you'll almost certainly injure yourself severely. On the other hand, if you get a kite that's too small, you will not enjoy kiting to its full potential! It can be a fine balance - and it depends very much upon the wind conditions you're going to be flying in, your weight and your aspirations in the sport. At the end of the day though, the first thing you're going to want to learn, regardless of which branch of the sport you're aiming for, is how to (safely) launch, land and fly a four line power kite.
The ideal beginners kite is a moderately slow, low lift, relatively small and cheap quad line power kite that you can get used to controlling and flying in low winds, when it will not pull too much. Later on you can use it in stronger winds and it will throw you around like a rag doll when you are more experienced - or you can sell it on Ebay in order to upgrade, and probably lose very little money overall in the process.
Make absolutely sure that you get a kite with "kite-killers". Kite killers cause your kite to completely lose power and drop to the ground should you let go of your control gear. This is 100% essential for a beginner. Do not even consider for a moment flying a kite without them! Even if you never use them, the added confidence they give you will help no end. Without them, if you have to let go, you will probably lose, or at best damage, your lovely new kite.
Don’t be afraid to talk to local kite flyers for advice, or come and talk to us in the forum... in fact, do that now - we're friendly, free and happy to help...
Choosing Your Safety Gear.
When kiting, at any level of expertise, it is advisable to always wear protective gear. The most important pieces are a helmet and knee pads, as these are what you are most likely to fall on.
They need to be strong, light and not too restrictive. Skate helmets are fine. Full face helmets are safer, but more visually restricting. Get down to your local kite shop (or mountain bike shop) and try a few on.
There are no helmets designed just for land based kiting so, the recommended
Safety Helmet standards suitable are BS EN 1077, BS EN 1078 or BS EN
Knee pads are slightly harder to choose, because there are so many designs. You should look for a pair that's both comfortable to wear and highly protective. Uncomfortable pads end up not being worn and so are worse than useless. Different pads feel comfortable on different people, so go try some on and try falling to your knees. Make sure they spread the impact, and do not focus it in any particular spot.
Where to buy your kite.
At the top and bottom of every page of this site are links to numerous kite shops. These ads are the sole source of funding for Kite-Fantastic - please click on the links to check out their latest kite offers.
That's it. If you've followed my advice, at the very least, you should now be the proud owner of some insurance, some knee pads, a helmet and most importantly, a kite with kite killers. BUT WAIT, don't go flying quite yet. Before you do, learn a little about the wind and weather in our next article - and then decide if it's safe to fly.
Thank you for reading this article and I hope it has proved of some help! When you're ready, please read the next article in this series, Before your first flight...
Written by Richard Lowe (aka Rider In Pink aka :D), 28th August 2005
READ MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS...