Is it a bird? Yes, it’s the BELCo Bird, ably accompanied by ‘kite man’ Cornell Dunkley. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Is it a bird? Yes, it’s the BELCo Bird, ably accompanied by ‘kite man’ Cornell Dunkley. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4: On Good Friday, many islanders will be putting their kite flying skills to the test.

Don’t worry if you’ve never flown one before or always struggle to get it airborne — we have some valuable tips and tricks.

First off, you have to find or make the right kind of kite.

Birdies and boxies fly the best.

Birdies are easy to put up and require little to no effort.

Boxies are kites made in the shape of a box with fennel sticks and brown paper.

Again, they fly with little effort.

If you want a traditional Bermuda kite, made sure it has plenty of tail to fly high.

Now that you’ve got your kite sorted, let’s talk about places to fly.

Where to fly

BELCO’s kite man, Cornell Dunkley, said beaches, school fields, parks and playgrounds are the best places to fly kites.

You should never fly your kite near an airport or in a storm or if it’s raining. Always fly away from other people and remember to be considerate of others.

If you tangle lines with another kite, don’t yank the line or it might break. Fliers should walk together and the tangle will slide right down the line to where you can unwrap it.

Last week, the Department of Airport Operations issued a warning to kite fliers to stay away from the Causeway, Kindley Field, Clearwater Beach, Ferry Reach and any other areas close to the airport.

Now that you’ve got your kite and your location, it’s time to get it airborne.

Mr Dunkley said it’s best to have three people to help with getting the kite up in the safest way possible. Also, make sure you have enough tail.

The best position is to have your back towards the wind so that the kite can go up easy.

But if your kite comes down and gets tangled in the power lines, Mr Dunkley said you have to let it go.

He said as your first option, let the kite go and then call 955 for BELCo to deal with it.

But most of all, have fun flying kites over the weekend and more importantly be safe, whether you choose to fly a birdie, a boxie or a traditional colourful Bermuda kite.

 

How to fly acrobatic sport kites

• The Safest Start: Lay out your stunter and lines completely before you launch. Check all connectors, unsnarl and straighten lines and tails.

• Check the Bridles: Be sure they are adjusted correctly for the present conditions.

• Enough line? Use at least 60-100 feet — so you have enough time to react. Be sure your flying lines are even. If one line is shorter, your kite will think you are pulling on that line and spin in that direction.

• To Launch: Step backwards and pull both handles to your side. Be sure to check behind you for obstructions or hazards before backing up.

• Control: Pull the left line to make the stunter turn left. Pull the right line to turn right. Hold them even to fly straight. Try not to over-control. Learn to ‘fly loops’ instead of just spinning tight circles.

• Lift and Speed: The more to the side of the wind the stunter flies, the less lift and speed it has. While learning to fly, keep the stunter downwind. As you get better, explore the more subtle levels of performance.

• Safety: Always stay away from spectators or passers-by. You are responsible for the safe operation of your stunter. Sport Kites should never be flown in crowded areas.

Flying advice

• About 5-25 mph is best for most kites (when leaves and bushes start to move, but before it really starts to blow).

• Flying is most fun when the wind is medium so you can do more than just hold on. You can make your kite dance across the sky by pulling in and letting out the line.

• Flying space should be a clear, open area. Stay away from roads, power lines or the airport. Open fields, parks and beaches are great. The more room you have, the more line you can let out.

• As the wind goes over and around trees and buildings, it gets bumpy and difficult to fly kites in.

• No storms: Never fly in rain or lightening. Electricity in clouds is attracted to damp kite lines and foolish kite fliers.

Single line kites

• Stand with your back to the wind.

• Hold your kite up by the bridle point and let the line out. If there is sufficient wind, your kite will go right up.

• Let the kite fly away from you a little, then pull in on the line as the kite points up so it will climb. Repeat this until your kite gains the altitude necessary to find a good steady wind.

• Light Wind? Have a helper take the kite downwind and hold it up. On command, the helper releases the kite and the flier pulls the line hand-over-hand while the kite gains altitude. Practise this high-launch technique.

• No Helper? Prop the kite up against a bush, post, or wall. Reel out enough line for altitude and simply pull the kite aloft.

• If the kite sinks tail first, there might not be enough wind. If it comes down head first or spins, there might be too much wind.

• Bridles: If your kite has an adjustable bridle, move it higher (nearer the top) in higher winds, and lower (towards the tail) in lower winds. (Adjust no more than 1/2” at a time.)

• Tails: Adding tails to your kite helps it remain stable in stronger winds. Use light-weight materials.

Information courtesy of nationalkitemonth.org