Line Weight For Kites

Q:

1. What's the best type of string to use for flying?

2. Is there a rule of thumb for what line weight to use depending on wind strength?

A:

I'll make a big assumption here and assume you are flying single line kites...

1. The general favorite for flying single-liners is Dacron, which is a polyester. This material combines reasonable cost with superior strength compared to cotton and nylon. It does have some stretch, but this is of little concern for a stable single-liner. People who fly single-line fighter kites probably prefer less stretch in order to feel the kite better. Any keen fighter kite pilots want to comment?

More exotic line materials do exist, for even greater strength and less stretch, but you pay for it. For example Dyneema and Spectra. People who are trying to break altitude records with single line kites use this kind of stuff! Performance at any cost. Due to the low stretch, these kinds of lines are particularly suited to traction kites. That is, multi-liners used for land boarding and kite surfing.

2. I've found that lighter winds tend to vary much more in strength than heavier winds. Hence I wouldn't fly any of my kites on much less than half the weight of line I usually use.

After a little research I found a KAP (kite aerial photography) enthusiast who had an interesting approach to line weight. He routinely measures the pull of his kites, and chooses line accordingly.

You could use an ordinary set of fish-scales for this. Anything with a pull-spring arrangement, so you can just put a few wraps of line around the hook, point it at the kite and read the tension off the scale. I would do this for a minute or 2, in order to make a reasonable estimate of what pull the maximum gust strength might generate over the next hour or 3.

Whatever figure you arrive at, multiply it by 6 to give the minimum strength line you should use. For KAP, this guy upped the factor to 10 for extra security! No point in losing expensive cameras.

This might seem a little more bother than a true 'rule of thumb' for line weight, but I think this is an excellent method for getting the most out of your kite in the conditions, while retaining a good safety factor!

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What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Using A Kite Log

    Aug 20, 14 03:30 AM

    A new page going up soon on this site will feature some discussion on using a Kite Log. Just as pilots of all types of aircraft log their hours, so do some fliers with kites at the larger end of the scale. According to one site visitor who contacted me, more of us should be keeping logs!

    Accordingly, I have put together a small PDF and called it a Kite Log Book Sheet. Today, with a log sheet printout in a pocket, I went out with the Multi-Dowel Diamond kite to test it. The log sheet that is, not the kite ;-)

    The breeze was very light to begin with and the big Diamond had a brief flight to about 100 feet before sinking back to the grass.

    On a second attempt the kite managed to stay in the air. But not without a lot of help from the guy working the line down below! With plenty of weak convection going on, there were periods of faster air and areas of rising air coming through occasionally.

    Eventually I worked the kite up higher and managed to get 75 meters (250 feet) of line out.

    Some video was taken as the Multi-Dowel Diamond kite drifted slowly this way and that at about 50 degrees of line angle. A tension test revealed that the kite was only pulling 2.5 kg at most.

    In fact, on my first attempt to measure the tension, the kite sank out to within a meter (3 feet) of the ground. I promptly put down the scales and hauled the Diamond back up again!

    Time was limited, as usual, so the kite was soon being pulled down. Otherwise, it might have stayed up for another 20 minutes or so without any intervention.

    About This Post: These days, most flight reports are in the short format you've just seen, above. However, longer format reports are done occasionally, which also feature photos and video taken on the day. Here is a link to all those full flight report pages on this site.

    Read More








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