A recent event with a breakaway kite clearly illustrates the danger that can occur when kites get loose and drift out of the control of the kite flyer.
A large box kite being flown on a 'braided plastic rope' line somehow broke away from some youngsters who were flying the kite in very gusty conditions in Shreveport, LA.
Having seen kites break their line on a number of occasions, I am always amazed at the path they can take, the distance they can travel and the serious mischief they can sometimes get into when they are out of the control of the flyer.
In this instance, the kite soared towards the runway of the Shreveport airport where CFI Kevin Morris (flight instructor) was taking off with his student pilot in a Cessna 150.
A VWeb, an Internet aviation magazine and news service, reported:
As Kevin looked up after a brief gauges check at about 500 feet MSL he saw the box kite looming. "No problem," Kevin told AVweb. "A big box kite is easy enough to evade." If only that was all there was to it. As he took the controls from his student pilot to maneuver around the kite the prop caught the rope, wrapping it up like a winch. A significant drop in power and severe vibrations followed, but Kevin was able to nurse the plane around to Runway 23 and set it down safely.
Although there was damage to the cowling and windshield of the plane, Kevin Morris managed a safe landing.
All of this reminds us of the need to fly safely. We often view our kites as mere things of beauty, simple devices that are under our total control. We can be lulled into lapses of caution when we fly because we have had a wide range of experience with kites.
Make no mistake about it - a breakaway kite can be a dangerous thing. It is not often that a kite line fouls an airplane propeller and almost causes a crash, but it is easy to imagine a breakaway kite drifting down on a roadway creating a major distraction for drivers or luring a young child into harm's way. There are frequent power outages in Pakistan, India, and other nations where loose kites cut in aerial dog fights are a regular occurrence. Such shorts and outages can happen here in North America as well. The summer 2005 edition of AKA's Kiting magazine has a dramatic photo of the mess created by the carbon filament rod frame of a kite when it landed on electrical supply lines cutting out power to a neighbourhood in the ensuing blackout.
So, CAUTION and SAFETY are necessary at all times. Be certain to use line with sufficient strength for the size of the kite and the wind condtions. Check your flying lines for wear and fraying. Check bridle points and attachments as well. Hours of flight time in the sun and wind can create wear and deterioration to your line, bridle and attachment points. Crossed lines with other flyers will create abrasions and nicks that can lead to a break when the line is under stress. Safety is a must and as responsible kite flyers we must exercise care and caution at all times.
Another frequent problem that I see at many flying events is the lack of forethought by kiters to have some proper equipment in use and in place to assist them when the wind suddenly comes up and creates control problems. Necessary items include:
- proper gloves to handle the hard pulling kite. Cuts, burns and abrasions are not only painful but can lead you to letting go of the line and creating a flyaway, out of control kite.
- ground stakes or anchors to tie your kite off if it starts to pull too hard. Several of these should be in place ready to use at a moment's notice. Indeed, some kites should only be launched after first being tied to a secure ground stake.
So, fly safely and be responsible!
Thanks to Carl Bigras of Ottawa, ON for the tip on this story.
Source article: "Killer Kite Stalks Shreveport Pilots" by Liz Swaine.