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Kite Mapping Tips

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tips for trouble-free kite mapping

Note: This is NOT a guide for "expert" kite flyers. It's intended to be a QUICK START guide for people who've never kite mapped before, with as few problems and things to worry about as possible.

Equipment & Conditions

Check the wind - don't fly balloons if it's windy; don't fly kites if it's calm or very strong! (Weather Underground has an hourly wind forecast)

0 mph 5 mph 10 mph 15 mph 20 mph
balloon either 9 ft kite 7 ft kite don't fly

Use a delta kite - regular, simple triangular kites as pictured below. Nine foot (2.7m) wide for light wind, seven (2m) for stronger winds

Use a tail - put a 20 foot long FUZZY TAIL (ribbony, as seen here, or make your own) on your kite. It will keep it stable and stop it from diving.

Recruit kite flyers - 8-year-olds and 80-year olds know more than the rest of us


Where to Fly

pick a takedown area Turbulent air currents will bring your kite down when it is low, 15-75' up, plan space for this to happen.

Learn when to quit. If the weather looks bad, don't fly. Start pulling in string at the first sign of trouble.


Launch & Flight

Use gloves - made of cloth or leather for string burns. No rubber!

Running is unnecessary - quickly get your kite up into strong, clean air: work with a partner to walk out 100 feet of tensioned line. Let go of the kite and either pull the line in or walk upwind slowly.

Climb the kite with even tension - if the kite pulls, let it climb up and away from you. Give it as much line as it needs to keep climbing, and an even amount of tension for stability.

Do a test flight - with no camera, to test the conditions. Find the height where your kite is fairly stable. On the next flight, attach a camera at or below this point on the line.

Use ALL your string - fly high! 1000-2000 feet: one large photo of your whole site is far better than 20 you'll have to stitch together later!

When In Doubt, Let Line Out

Learn to recover from dives - If the kite dives sideways or downward, let out line until the kite rights itself. Don't pull!

have a crash plan -carry a knife. If a kite is crashing across a path or road let the line tension out and cut the line. Run along the line and cut it off the path.