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.

Death slide

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.

Tieing off

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 thing inflating.


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.

Failure mode

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.