Tied to the Sky / wind window

What is a Wind Shadow and how it impacts Kites

What is a Wind Shadow and how it impacts Kites

Choosing an appropriate flying location for your kites is often given little thought.  For many, they look at the trees or a flag flapping in the breeze and decide to head to their local green space to fly kites. But did you know that the landscape (topography) of the flying locations has a huge impact on your kite performance?

Trees, hills, and buildings affect the quality of the wind you have in the typical flying zone and can thwart the successful launch of even some of the best kites.  On the prairies, I often describe the wind as "trashy" and by this mean it is not smooth, rather it is gusty or rolling and choppy. 

There is another term to describe this phenomenon - Wind Shadow.  Wind Shadow is the term used to describe the disturbed airflow downwind of obstructions like trees, hills and buildings.  

Think of it this way; have you ever stood behind a tree or a building to escape  a cold wind?   The obstacle blocks the wind forcing the airflow to go around, under or over the obstacle. It is this air movement that creates disturbed (flakey, choppy, trashy) air flow.  This wind is often swirling and rotating which can sometimes create down drafts that can keep your kite from taking flight.


Learn more: Understanding the Wind Window


Flying field selection is key and this means being aware of what's around you.  The rule of thumb is a wind shadow is approximately 7 times the height of the obstacle.  So, if a building is 20ft tall, it is a good idea to launch your kite 140ft down wind of the building.

 

Wind shadow affect on kites

Careful flying field selection and paying attention to recommended kite wind ranges becomes even more important when we fly performance stunt kites - where we are looking for smooth steady airflow. It becomes a significant safety consideration when flying large traction kites.  Being aware of the impact of the Wind Shadow can go a long way to making your kite flying successful!

At Great Canadian Kite Company, not only do we we pride ourselves in providing a variety of quality kites for many different interests, ages and abilities, we also want to do our best to make sure your kite flying experience is great, and that means we do our best to provide a selection of kite flying tips and advice in our Kite Resources section. Browse our online Canadian kite shop to buy your kites online. We ship throughout Canada.  

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Stunt Kite Flying Basics

Stunt Kite Flying Basics

Have you seen our stunt Kite flying manual?

 Flying stunt kites is an exciting way to enjoy the fresh air, get some exercise and relax.  Many people like to learn the latest tricks, while others like to fly their kite listening to music on their iPod.  Stunt kites are a wonderful way to spend your leisure time with friends and family. The following is our illustrated start up guide for flying two line stunt kites.  This material was collected from a variety of sources and presented here for your information and interest.

These basic tips will help you get in the air faster and enjoy more success as you take to the skies with your new kite.  Also have a look in our resource section for some great online kite fly tutorials to help take you to the next levels!

 Click on images to enlarge

Kite flying instructions.  How to fly a stunt kite

 

How to Fly a trick kite - two line kite

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Kite Jargon - Know your Kite Terms

Kite Flying, Kite termsLike many things in life; our professions, hobbies,etc.  there is a jargon that a community uses to communicate. Jargon is the technical terminology of a special activity or group.  As we learn the kite jargon, we can get a better understanding of our hobby of kite flying.  One of the challenges of serving folks well, as a Canadian kite store is helping people find the language to communicate what it is they need or want to do - whether it is anatomy of a kite, kite parts, and kite flying; basic kite flying to more advance kite flying tutorials.

There are a variety of terms that are used in the sport of Kite flying.  Here is a short list to give you some common lingo and their meaning!

Bridle:  the lines which connect to the kite sail and frame to help support the kite and/or to orient the kite at a proper angle to the wind.


Carbon / Graphite:  Stunt kite frames are made of carbon fiber which is relatively are rigid  material and light weight.    Can be in a rod or tube form.  Popular graphite products include: Sky Shark, Icone and Revolution. Wrapped or extruded.

Centre T:  Where the spar for the spine and lower spreaders are joined.

Dark Side (The): An affectionate term for those Kite enthusiast who have embraced flying the quad-line stunt kite by Revolution Kites.

Dual Line: Refers to two line trick or stunt kites. The two lines allow for the control of the kite. (There are Quad line stunt kites as well)

Dyneema kite line: A brand of synthetic fiber used in making performance kite line. It's best advantage is it's very strong and yet very thing and doesn’t stretch much.  Not all spectra lines are created equal!  Spectra fibre is used to make popular premium flying line.  These brands may incorporate unique braiding of the fibre, coating with agents to reduce friction and sometime to make them resistant to UV and salt water.  All of which enhance performance and line life significantly.

Fiberglass: This is a kite material which combines strength and flexibility with relative light weight. It comes in several forms from solid fiberglass rods and hollow tubes.

Flying Straps: A loop made of webbing that attaches to your kite line.  You then slide you hands into the loops to hold the kite while you fly. These are ideal for performing the modern slack line kite tricks. See them here

Frame: The skeleton of the kite.

Freestyle: "Freestyle" kite is typically a good performer, capable of a wide range of tricks while still very stable and predictable. Freestyle is performing a variety tricks of one after another in succession.

Foil Kite:  Foil kites look like a parachute and use the wind itself to give structure to the kite.  These kites can be two, three and four line kites  in a wide variety of sizes.  These kites can genrate a great deal of power.  Obvoiusly the larger the kite the more power / pull with the same wind speed.  You will see smaller recreation ones to the very large which pull the pilot in a buggy, a snowboard or kite surf board.

Ground Stake: A handy tool which allows you to stake your kite handles or flying straps to the ground while you walk to reset or adjust your kite for launch.  This tool helps to ensure your kite doesn’t blow away.

Icarex:  A brand name of a type of ripstop fabric made from polyester fibers. It is lighter and more fade resistant than nylon ripstop fabric. 

Kite Party: Informal gatherings of kite flyers, who meet to fly kites, socialize with other kite flyers  and get their Kite on!

Leading edge:  The name for the part of the kite which runs from the nose to the wing tip.

Line Set: The lines which are used to control the kite. They come in a variety of test weight and lengths. Stronger weight lines being used for stronger winds and bigger kites.  Line sets are made of a variety of fibres.

Quad Handles:  Handles made specifically to fly quad line kites like those made by Revolution.  Lines from the top and bottom of the kite are attached correspondingly to the top and bottom of the flying handles which changes the shape of the wing and creates flight. See Them here

Quad line: Kites with four lines for control. Not only can you maneuver left and right, but you can fly sideways, spin like an airplane propeller, and forward or backward in the wind window.

Ready to Fly / RTF:  Many kites are sold with everything you need to get started.  Ready to fly means all you have to do is assemble the kite, attach the included line and add wind!  Many high end kites are sold as Kite only.

Rip-stop:  Typically used to make kite sails.  It can be made of nylon or polyester.  Hence ripstop nylon or ripstop polyester. Rip-stop is the process that weaves smaller fibers with larger fibers creating squares of reinforcing fibers in the cloth which make it resistant to tearing. The idea being that a tear will stop at one of the reinforcing fibers.

Sail: The cloth material of the kite. The material is usually made from rip-stop nylon, polyester, Icarex.

SkyShark: Is a brand of high quality performance carbon fibre tubing used to frame performance kites. Made in the USA.

Sleeving: A cover which encloses the ends of flying lines and helps to preserve strength and prevent wear.  Typically where the line sets are tied.

Soul Flying:  This is term referring to a style of stunt kite flying where you express yourself freely with your kite - Whether to music or to silence, precision or full on tricks you are in effect flying your Heart via your kite!

Spar: A generic term referring to the framing material used as the frame of a kite.

Spectra®:  A brand of synthetic fiber used in making performance kite line. It's best advantage is it's very strong and yet very thing and doesn’t stretch much.  Not all spectra lines are created equal!  Spectra fibre is used to make popular premium flying line.  These brands may incorporate unique braiding of the fibre, coating with agents to reduce friction and sometime to make them resistant to UV and salt water.  All of which enhance performance and line life significantly.

Spine: The center rod that runs lengthwise down a kite.

Spreader: The spars which run horizontally across the span of the kite holding the wings open. 

Stand-offs:  Are typically carbon or fibreglass rod which holds the trailing edge of the sail back from the lower spreader.  You may be able to fine-tune the performance of your kite in different wind conditions as their position affects the amount of lift the kite generates and thereby it's speed, turning, and precision.

Tail: Attached to the kite for visual effect or to cause drag on a single line kite.  Made of Ripstop or plastic.  Also a term to describe the lower end of the spine.

Tow point: The part of the bridle where the flying lines are attached using a Larkshead knot.

Winders:  For ease of use, lines are stored on winders.  With line(s) together, wrap the lines around the winder fairly snuggly. Some flyer prefer wrapping the lines in a figure eight motion, others prefer a simple wrap.  With care, either will work just as well.

Wind range: The range of wind speed that a kite will fly well in. Can be given in Kph, mph, or beaufort .

Wind window: 
 A 180 degrees in which the kite flies.  It’s size is determined by the length of the flying lines. At the edges of the window the kite will slow and has a tendency to stall and makes for a great place to land.

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Intro to Stunt Kites - The Wind Window

The wind window is an important thing to understand.  To become familiar with the wind and being able to determine where it is strongest and where it is lighter.    Obviously, as you fly your kite through the window the flight speed and characteristics can change.  With the wind at your back (yep, have to say it - n'uff said ;)) you will find the power zone directly in front of you.  You will find your kite is fast and pulls the hardest in this area.   

As the kite approaches the zenith or the top of the window the kite will slow down and generate less power.

As you fly to the outer edges of the window, left and right sides, the speed and power will diminish also.

In higher wind days, I will often launch and land towards the outer edge of the window.   This allows for a slower, more controlled launch or landing.   I also tend to trick there on the higher wind days - I try and find the sweet spot where I can get enough wind at the right speed to play.

Be aware of what is up wind from you.  Trees and buildings can have a dramatic impact on the wind quality.  The air moving through trees or around building can make for some trashy wind as opposed to smooth and steady.  Trashy wind buffets the sail and doesn't fill or stay filled properly and this affects flight.   Hills and valleys can also produce some interesting wind that rolls.   Personally, my favorite wind is ocean wind - smooooooth - but as a land-locked prairie boy you learn to take what you can get!

While we are talking about being aware, check for overhead power lines - flying into power lines is a recipe for a really bad day!  It can kill ya and vaporize your kite in short order.  Ben Franklin flying his kite with a key makes for a cute story but flying kites in a lightning storm is a special kind of stupid! Seriously though, please fly safe, we want kites to be a fun healthy activity for you!

Two last things.  Watch out for people.  Stunt kites and foils can get going pretty fast and sometimes people don't see or think about the lines.   Kite lines under load with speed can really hurt someone.  Be aware other others using the space.  

Last thing... DOGS.   I have had several flyers share stories of how a dog playfully attacked their kite and caused significant damage.  I know... dogs are supposed to be on a leash and the owners are responsible for them but I have yet to see a dog owner compensate a flyer for a DDK (Dog Destroyed Kite). 

 

Fly safe, have fun and smooth winds!

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