Kite Flying – Single Liner Tips – Part 2

These tips assume the kite itself is in good condition and flies well. Even in that case, things occasionally get interesting. Oh yes! All sorts of unexpected things can happen when you’re kite flying with a single liner. Part 1 covered 4 issues. Here are another 4, with a little discussion and suggestions for each.

Last Second Saves Or Cushioning The Impact

Sounds dramatic hey? This kite flying situation usually occurs when the wind is really a bit too strong. Most of the time it’s OK, but then a stronger gust comes along… There goes the kite, looping and diving. Oops, now it’s heading directly for the ground, and fast! Don’t panic. One of 3 things can happen, if you know what to do. The kite will either…

  • recover by itself, in the slower air near the ground, or
  • recover with a little help from the flier, or
  • hit the ground softly, with no damage done – with a little help from the flier!

Those last 2 points involve the flier, that’s you, thrusting the reel or winder at the kite. You don’t have time to let line out, you just shove the reel or winder at the kite, without letting go. You can take a step or 2 towards the kite too, which will make this action even more effective. The idea is to suddenly take all the tension out of the flying line. Kites just flutter and float if left to themselves for just half a second or so.

Getting The Kite Flying Well Above Tree Height

Always a good idea when kite flying in a park, provided the line is not actually near any trees. This goes for other obstacles as well, such as houses and other buildings. The air is much smoother up there, and your kite will behave much more predictably. About the only spot where this doesn’t apply is on a wide smooth beach with the sea breeze coming in off the ocean!


Oh yeah, make use of that rising air! Single line kites often get caught up in thermals, which float them up to very high line angles for a short while. However, it’s fun to recognize what’s happening and make more use of it. Some kite pilots have the opportunity to fly very high in places where air traffic regulations aren’t as strict as they are here in Australia. Large delta kites are commonly used to explore thermals.

Even limited to 400 feet above ground, as I am, it’s always a pleasure to occasionally bump into a thermal while kite flying. It’s a buzz to let the string slip through my fingers just fast enough to climb the kite almost vertically until there is no more line to let out! There are some kite pilots who actively search the sky for thermals by maneuvering their kite. Single-liners aren’t directly steerable, but there are some ways of helping them drift this way or that. Pulling a bit of extra tension into the line will help a delta accelerate in the direction it happens to be pointing, for example.

Winding In Without Tension

A must unless the kite is hardly pulling at all due to weather or the size of the kite. To be convenient, this requires 2 people. One to pull down the kite, and the other to wind on line off the ground. This way, the line goes onto the reel with very little tension, and the reel will live to fly another day! Don’t try struggling to bring down a hard-pulling kite while winding onto a plastic reel loop by loop. The reel might be totally crushed by the experience! 😉 I once got caught out this way, while kite flying with just an average sized Delta. Despite trying to wind on with reduced tension. Even a small amount adds up with each loop.

If a second person is not available, it’s still do-able but not quite so convenient. You have to lay out line as you pull down the kite. Not in one great heap, since that is a recipe for an enormous tangle! Just lay it out in a regular pattern. Alternatively, just walk out towards the kite, pulling it down as you go. After the kite is down, walk back to the reel and wind on all the line as you approach the kite a second time. Hey, it’s good exercise! The older you get, the more you need it I’m finding…

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