Power Kiting

Insider Info

Power kiting combines the fun of kiting with some of the coolest extreme sports around. Attach a kite to a dune buggy, a pair of water skis or a surfboard and you're on your way to excitement. And you'd better believe it: power kiting gives the phrase "go fly a kite" a whole new meaning!

For most people, flying a kite brings to mind an open field and an afternoon of relaxation. Getting the kite in the air and keeping it there is the whole idea. For people who power kite, getting the kite up is just the start of the fun.

Power kiting uses a kite that is usually shaped like a parachute. Instead of staying in one spot, you use the power of the wind in your kite to move you.

You can be pulled along in a buggy (this is known as kite buggying), on water skis or on a surfboard. It takes an open area, imagination and willingness to try something new.

Kiting goes a long way back, and kites have been used for many reasons over the years. In 1749, Scottish scientists Alexander Wilson and Thomas Melville fastened thermometers to kites in order to record the temperature of the air at high altitudes.

In 1901, Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the wireless telegraph, used a kite to loft an antenna 120 metres in the air in order to receive the first radio signal ever transmitted across an ocean.

There is even a theory that the Egyptians may have used kites and wind power to build the mighty pyramids!

Dave Lord is a kite buggy hobbyist. "People have always been fascinated with the power produced by the wind," he says. "Kite buggying was started in 1990 by Peter Lynn. It came about as an offshoot of kite sailing on the water."

The type of kite you would buy at your local department stores is not what power kiters use to propel themselves.

Dual line kites are flown with two lines and can be flown in many different ways with practice. Quad line kites are flown with four lines and are more difficult to fly.

Attaching the kites together with equal lines between them is called stacking. The more kites you have, the more difficult it is to manoeuvre, due to the power or pull on your lines.

The size of the kite used depends on the wind. The faster the wind blows, the smaller the kite or sail should be.

Did you know April is National Kite Month in the U.S.? This began in 1999 as a promotional program by the Kite Trade Association and the American Kitefliers Association.

As with any sport, there are dangers and precautions that need to be taken. Raphael Baruch works for Kite Surf. "Know your limits and those of the equipment," says Baruch.

"As you cannot control your environment, choose it carefully to try to have the safest ride. The common injuries are cuts and bruises from the lines, mostly due to inattention."

Power kiting is just for the young -- the young at heart, that is! Seventy-year-old Lord takes part in this hobby and has seen a change in the number of people involved.

"When I started, there were only four or five people in Washington who participated," says Lord.

"There were maybe only 25 or 30 people nationwide who rode kite buggies. Now there are 40 or 50 participants in Washington, and maybe as many as 250 nationwide. There are several hundred kite buggy enthusiasts in Europe."

Overall, more males participate in this sport than females. For now, that is. With more and more people catching on to the fun, this may change in the years to come.

As for the future, Baruch says that he sees it going "far, very far." Lord is a bit more specific. "It will continue to grow, though slowly. The main limitation is finding a place to do it," he says.

"The very best venue is the smooth dry lakes in the southwest. The next best place is the ocean beaches. And the least attractive are soccer fields. Unfortunately, this activity is not allowed on many of the beaches."

The skills required to power kite include good hand-eye coordination, some athletic ability and upper body strength. A willingness to try new things and to be persistent will be advantages, too.

The ability to fly a kite will come with practice, just like the ability to judge wind direction does. Flying kites with multiple lines also takes practice. Just like your mom always told you, practice makes perfect!

Working with kites is a dream come true for some. If you're one of these people, think about these occupations:

  • Kite designer or manufacturer: Create kites for others to enjoy
  • Customer service representative for a kite store: Share your enthusiasm and knowledge while making money for your employer
  • Travel guide or instructor: Work with travellers who like a bit of adventure (and maybe get some new power kiters hooked in the process)

Getting Started

If you've ever taken part in sports, you'll know that the equipment is very important to your safety and performance. Kite buggying isn't cheap. But the money is worth it if you ask Philip Chase, a kite buggy enthusiast from Gainesville, Florida.

"The minimum requirements are a buggy [$400 to $500], a helmet [$35 to $80], a medium-sized kite [$250 to $400], [and] high quality kite line [$20 to $50]. I tell most people to budget about $800 to get started in the sport and to assume they will spend $1,500 if they like it."

Power kiting takes place in different locations, depending on whether you're being pulled in a buggy, on a pair of water skis or across a frozen lake in the winter.

Stefano Rosso, a kite surfer from Brazil, recommends traveling to the south of France or Hawaii to view the best locations.

Depending on your level of interest and the level of your bank account, traveling can also be a cost involved in this sport. Chase says that two good places in the U.S. to go are Ivanpah Dry Lake and El Mirage Dry Lake, both of which are in the southwest.

Speaking of traveling, a big event for kite enthusiasts is the annual American Kitefliers Association's Conference. The AKA convention is an annual five-day gathering of kite enthusiasts, artists, and competitors. About 500 members attend to see things such as workshops, competitions and displays.

Power kiting is an exciting new sport that combines our childhood fascination with kites and the adventure of speed and power. The next time someone tells you to go fly a kite, tell them you'd be glad to!


American Kitefliers Association
352 Hungerford Dr.
Rockville , MD   20850-4117

Kite Trade Association International
P.O. Box 115
Rose Lodge , OR   97372-0115


Power Kite Site
Links, photos, and how-to information

Dave Lord's Kite, Kite Buggy and Land Yacht Page
Provides a discussion page for technical issues and lots of photos

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