The Mortal asks:
Amazing, astonishing Kite Oracle who's image would burn mine eyes, please
spare thy humble supplicant a mere morsel of thine great wisdom...
I have for long enjoyed the pleasure of flying small single-line kites, but
I feel that it is time to graduate to something more serious - I'm about to buy
a big parafoil. I'm a responsible and experienced flier, but would appreciate
any hints for handling bigger stuff.
The Kite Oracle Replies:
You seem to be starting with the right approach: experience and caution.
However, here are some things to consider some of the following:
Think about how you are going to get it down before you put it up. You may
need a team of people to pull the kite down. You may want to consider an
extra line to pull down the leading edge, to make the kite fall from the sky.
Don't long-launch in too much wind. If you simply anchor a 100m lenght of
line, put a big kite on the end and launch it, it will accelerate up into the
sky, putting massive strain on the kite and line as it responds not only to the
real wind but also the apparent wind due to the movement of the kite. If the
line or anchor doesn't give way, then there may be sufficient strain for the
kite to rip it'sself apart. It is safer to launch the kite by the bridle, then
walk back towards the anchor, letting the line out as you go.
Handling a line with a ton of tension is a job for responsible,
experienced adults. Don't use kids, do matter how willing. Keep the team to
one side of the line, such that if you were to let go, the line would pull
away from the team, rather than have it hit or drag people. The team should
agree that if they are loosing control, they must all release the line
together. If nine people let go and one remains holding on, then the
remaining person is likeley to leave the field by ambulance.
Whilst gloves can offer protection against small burns from small
to medium kites, they of little use against the sort of damage that a large
kite can inflict. The heat from a fast-sliding rope will cause the glove
to melt onto your hand. Even with gloves, you must either hold the rope
firm or let go - don't let it slip. There is a respected (but not universal)
school of thought that maintains that gloves are in fact a hinderence,
causing you to loose sensitivity to what the line is doing, leading to you
holding on when you should be letting go.
When walking up a large kite with a carabiner or pulley, to get
used to the tendancy towards the light-footedness and to moonwalk as you go.
Whilst this is amusing, beware that you are just short of the point where the
kite lifts you completely clear and you come back down the line by
death-slide. People who have done this tend not to want to do it again.
Whilst it can be difficult to launch a big kite when required,
they do seem to be remarkably capable of launching themselves at the most
in-opertune time if simply left to themselves. Avoid this by taking an bunch
of leading edge and tying it off on a loop of the flying line to stop the
Kiddies enjoy trying to launch your big kite while you're not
watching. Serious injuries have resulted from this sort of tom-foolery.
It is your duty to protect them from themselves. Shoot them on sight.
Whilst you may point the kite at the sky when launching, you can be
assured that if there is anything interesting within the reach of the
kite-line, the kite will swing for it. Take care to remove all old people,
mothers-with-children, hot-dog-stands, mayors and idiots from the range
of the kite.
If the kite pulls too hard, something will break. Either
the anchor will give way, the line will break, the bridle will go, the
spars will snap or the kite will tear it's self apart. It is a good idea
to choose your point of failure in advance. The anchor is a bad choice
for failure - a heavy metal peg flying throught the air or a car sliding
across a field can hazerdous to your health and wealth. No-one ever
wants to break their kite-kine. A typical bridle failure mode on soft kites
is to symultaneously rip every single one of your myriad of bridles from
the point where they attatch to the kite - this is tedious to repair.
Ripping the kite or beaking spars isn't such a hot idea either. A good
approach is to make the bridle attatchment line weaker than the flying line
so that this short, easy to replace piece acts as a fuse, breaking first.
You owe the Kite Oracle your insurance pay-out.