Sky Guys, Fly Guys
- wind measurement
- flying line
- anchor points
- line laundry
I'll stick to single-line kites for now. Once upon a time it was simple, wasn't it. Buy a kite, the reel and flying line came with it. End of story. Anything else was up to your own imagination and creativity.
Sky Guys, Fly Guys
Was the line too short? Well, get some fishing line off that
fishing rod over there and try again. Anchoring the kite? Well, just
loop the line around a post, or drag that big stone a bit closer and
trap the winder behind it.
Hey, I've actually done both these things myself not too long ago!
But now... Where there are people, the merchants follow. With
kite flying as popular as ever, and a larger population than ever before
on this planet, there is definitely a market for bits and pieces of stuff associated with kite flying. A kite accessory for everyone's small needs and wants.
Browsing around the Web, I noticed all the rather predictable
types of accessories on offer. You know, stuff like kite line and
colorful spools to keep it on. However, a few interesting ones came up...
Even some of the names were rather intriguing, like the ermm Sky Guys already mentioned.
Further down this page are some random comments on the little survey I did.
Kite Accessory Categories
Winders and reels. You do know the difference between them don't you? Winders
are flat, with the line going around the two ends and lying flat in
between. Many of these have a hand grip for extra convenience. The mass
produced ones are plastic while there are a few nice hand-made polished
wooden ones for sale too. Spools on the other hand are simple
round hubs with sides to keep the line in place. The most common ones
now seem to be made of shiny hard plastic. One online shop called a
spool a 'winder'. Tsk tsk tsk, tut tut tut!
Wind measurement. To keep things simple, you can just stick up
a small windsock to get some idea of the wind strength and direction.
Flags can also be used for the same purpose. With practice, either of
these can give quite good estimates of average wind strength and
direction. For example, whether or not the bottom edge of the flag stays
straight out, together with how fast it ripples can tell you an
approximate wind range. Windsocks would be a little tricky to make at
home, but a simple flag would be easy.
The other more precise approach is to buy a portable wind meter.
This nifty little electronic kite accessory will give an accurate
indication of wind speed, and a thousand other things too that you
probably don't need.
Knowing wind speed is particularly handy for home-made kites that
might not have the huge wind range of shop-bought kites which use
space-age materials. On the other hand, why not just take out 3 kites
that cover all wind ranges between them. I sometimes do exactly that
with my MBK kites!
Flying Line. Ho hum, yes, there's plenty of line
available. Mainly in Nylon and Dacron for single-line kites. The usual
range for these kite lines is from 20 pounds right up to 250 pounds
plus. Why on earth is it always in pounds and not kilos? My guess is
that the very well established U.S. kiting market has something to do
with it... Having said that, I did notice that Kilograms are often used
for kite surfing and sport kite gear. That isn't so surprising
considering how popular those activities are in Europe.
Good old-fashioned cotton line is still available here and there,
sold on simple winders ready-to-fly. These would be quite handy for
home-made kids' kites.
Anchor points. There are definitely some handy kite
accessories here. In particular, what do you do down at the beach when
your kite is happily up there at 300 feet and your kid needs a nappy
change or something? Or perhaps you would rather watch your kite from
the shade, so the Ozone Hole doesn't nuke your bald patch... Down here
in South Australia, we're not that far from the dreaded Hole.
So, you can buy some simple plastic tent pegs, one of which could be used to tether your kite. The older metal ones would be fine too, they just weigh a bit more to carry around. In fact steel ground stakes are available from kite shops too. Perhaps this kite accessory would be better for really big kites. Thick hollow ground stakes are also available, which I guess hold a bit better without being too heavy to carry around. Finally, another kite accessory is the corkscrew ground stake which is designed to grip the ground better than a simple peg. All these can be used on normal ground or at the beach. You could be in trouble if the ground is extremely dry though, as is often the case in South Australia! A hefty hammer and a sharp steel peg would do the trick when the ground is like concrete.
Tails. It's not hard to whip together something colorful that works, for example by cutting up some orange and some green garbage bags. However, for a touch of class there's some really eye-catching artistic stuff that can be bought. Also, some of the shop-bought tails are designed to be quite efficient at producing the needed drag without being excessively long or heavy.
Line laundry. This type of kite accessory is anything you might decide to attach to the flying line of a kite, for extra spectacle. Flags, banners, tubes, spinners, inflatable shapes and characters and so on. If you have ever been to a kite festival you will know what I mean.
OK, I've kept you in suspense long enough about a certain example of this. Sky Guys are inflatable human figures, with faces, that dance and float about while dangling from the flying line of a decent sized kite. Sometimes they are called Fly Guys. There's a red one in the photo. Not only that, but they can easily be linked together for an even more eye-catching display. Just one small example of the creativity going on in this area of modern kite flying!
The phrase sky art is sometimes used for these creations, and it's entirely appropriate! There's too much variety to even attempt to mention each individual type of kite accessory for sale.
There is nothing to conclude, it's just been a bit of a ramble really.
Perhaps mildly entertaining for you in spots, perhaps not. Actually, not
many people read this far down a Web page, so I believe I'll get away
with waffling on here, finishing up my kite accessory page :-)