Single Line Kite Basics
Modern materials have changed the shapes of kites and the way they are built. Even the games we can play with them have changed. Today’s kite flyers can choose between stable flyers that soar into the sky or kites that move and dance around in the air.
Let’s start with an explanation of the basics of kite flying and some ideas that might help you find some new and exciting ways to play with your kites.
No more waiting for those blustery spring days. Modern kites are intended for nice days and medium winds. Watch for those days where there is enough wind to move leaves and bushes without being too strong. Kite days are ones you want to be out in.
Smooth, steady winds are what we seek. Onshore ocean breezes are the best! That’s why so often you see kites at the beach. Modern kite designs are efficient and durable. We still need a bit of a breeze, but not as much as we might remember.
Large, open areas are what to look for. The most popular spots are beaches of course, and also soccer fields (when there is no game) and other large grassy parks or open fields.
The area upwind of the flying field is important too. Obstacles like buildings, trees or hills can cause turbulence far downwind. Single-line kites can rise above low-level turbulence.
Kite Shape and Design
Single-Line Kites are usually built to be stable in medium winds and are easiest for kids. They can go up into the sky and hang there. They come in a variety of shapes:
- Delta (triangle)
- Box Kites
- Delta Conyne - A hybrid between a box kite and delta kite.
- Art Kites - Many different shapes available including birds, fish, animals, people and just about anything else that you can think of.
- Parafoils - Ram-air inflated soft kites.
- Sled Kites - Ram-air inflated soft kites know for their exceptional lifting ability, different from a parafoil in that they use spars or sticks to help give the kite its shape.
- Rokkaku Kites - Large traditional Japanese fighters.
- Dragon - With a long tail)
- Fighter Kites - Controllable single line kites.
Each design has a distinct personality and their favorite winds. Larger delta wings often fly in lighter winds. Diamond kites are a reminder of traditional childhood kites. Box kites, originally designed to be stable in strong winds, built with modern materials can be very efficient. Dragons have long shimmering tails that dance in the breezes. Parafoils are soft kites and with no sticks, are durable and convenient.
Flying Line and Line Laundry
Most single line kites have a steady pull and the bit of stretch of Dacron or polyester lines is not a problem. The line is inexpensive, knots are easy to tie and it is very durable. Be careful to use the correct strength line for the kite and conditions. Remember the more string a kite lifts, the more drag so the next heavier line can be your insurance for your kite.
Video: How to Tie Knots for a Single Line Kite
The higher a kite goes, the smaller it looks. That can get boring after awhile. Many kite flyers lift streamers along the line as well as lifting tails or windsocks attached to the kite. The spectacle is much greater and there is more “to do”.
Line Climbers or Shuttles are another fun kite game. They run up and down the kite line. Some are capable of dropping a payload when they reach the top. A whole subculture of kite flyers enjoy dropping stuffed teddy bears with parachutes from high-flying kites.