Lowering Kites Under High Tension

by Brian MtDandy

Q: G'day from Brian in Australia. Delta Stowaway kite and long tails. Using a Hengda Kite Reel For Big Kites with Strong Kevlar Line 9 inch Diameter with 1,000 FT-Yellow (from the Amazon product description).

I have recently purchased and used this kite reel a dozen times now. I used it in some stronger gusty wind the other day and when I was rolling the line back onto the reel from 500+ ft (yes its illegal at that height but hey....that's kite flying :) I was hearing a grinding noise coming from the bearings part of the reel.

Under heavy tension from the kite flying at great heights I would find it hard to simply hand over hand the line with gloves on and walk toward the kite and get it to come back to the ground as the football oval I fly at is surrounded by houses and when the kite finaly came to the ground it would be in someones back yard I imagine.

My question is, HOW CAN I LOWER THE KITE AT THAT HEIGHT under a lot of tension without crushing (eventually) the Hengda reel bearings or at least wear out and or groove into the plastic and make the reel unusable, which I think may be happening.

Do I need to purchase a heavier duty reel maybe.. ( any suggestions without being an over the top price) Any assistance most welcome thank you.

A: Firstly, I note from the Amazon product description that you might be flying on Kevlar line. Great for the kite but it would be a good idea to only use it when flying on your own. Kevlar is abrasive and will slice through most other kite lines if there is a tangle!

500 ft plus? Ahem ... movin' right along...

OK enough tut-tutting :-) Regarding getting the kite down, you might have to resort to pulling in hand over hand - so no tension on the reel at all...

A little trick I have used, with or without gloves, is to twist my wrist inwards as far as possible before gripping the line, then twisting outwards as far as possible while drawing the line in. With that hand down, your other hand moves up to grip the line and do the same thing again.

This technique puts more than half a turn of line around your hand during the pull-down and hence helps prevent slippage of the line through your fingers. As well, the twist can easily be released - particularly when the other hand has taken some of the tension.

Mind you, this method has it's limitations. Think of it as something to try when you find line slippage is preventing you from doing a simple hand-over-hand pull-in of the kite.

Some related points:

  • Be careful about pulling down onto a big pile of line in one spot. If you attempt to wind onto a reel from the bottom of a pile, you can expect tangles. Easy solution is just to move around a bit while pulling-down so no big piles of line develop.

  • Have a look behind you (upwind) for a potential anchor-point. Then bring some line down hand-over-hand - but at some point stop, bring the line back to the anchor point and tie off. This buys you some distance - perhaps you will now be able to do the hand-over-hand pull-down within the available area downwind.

  • Have you tried latching a carabiner over the line, then walking out to the kite, slipping the line through? Works brilliantly although you might have to slow down somewhat when you feel extra tension coming on, during gusts.

  • A note about reels and winders... In general, reels and even simple winders are best used for just line storage. Fly the kite from your hand or a solid anchor point to save wear and tear. And money ;-)


Comments for Lowering Kites Under High Tension

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Apr 08, 2019
Bike Wheel
by: Peter Weston

I fly at great heights with permission quite often. To get in my kite line I favour a mountain bike with the line onto the back wheel without the tyre on it.

Get an inside house bike stand and start peddling, struggling to peddle then change gears. My bike came from the scrap yard for a few pounds and the rear wheel has had electrical tape put in it to protect the line from the spoke nuts.

You can organise a hand crank version if you wish.

May 13, 2018
Quality Reel
by: Mt-Dandy

Thanks Thelongrange. Yes, I've discovered those reels and looking at purchase soon. There is a new design plastic and metal model that looks great also. Ideal for big Deltas. I'm in the process of making a 10 ft kite. 10.6in Large Kite Reel

May 11, 2018
Steel reel
by: Thelongrange

For about 100$ you can buy a steel kite reel from ebay that will withstand high tension.

I run 1000 metre line and wind 3 metre deltas in under pressure in up to 30km hour winds.

Investment for the long term. :)

Mar 19, 2018
Lowering Kites Under High Tension
by: MtD

Thanks for the suggestions T.P. they were what i was after.

I wasn't after a policeman's answer to this question, just an ideal way to get the kite down from height and in high winds. The carabiner idea and walking the line in with the end of the line tied off is a good way for me to attain this.

I fly on my own. Trees around here (second tallest in the world) are 200ft tall and make kiting even more testing.

Mar 19, 2018
Lines under tension
by: Tony Sangster

Please never use Kevlar again and stay within the CSA regulations for maximum height for kite flying. If your kite crashed and wrapped around a human being, a pet or similar severe injuries or death could occur. You have been warned. Please do not give kite flyers a bad name.

Second: I agree with Tim's suggestion about using a carabiner or similar to 'walk down' the line under tension. That way you can retrieve your kite and then wind up your line without risking the structural integrity of your reel. If you run out of space to walk your kite, move off at an angle to the line's direction.

(If there isn't too much line to bring in that last suggestion is certainly the quickest and easiest! T.P.)

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