Monday, 16 June 2008

People have been flying kites for over 2000 years, but thereís definitely some skill involved. The more sophisticated your kite, the more skill required. Whether youíre looking for a nice way to spend a breezy afternoon with kids or that special someone, or just to getaway on your own, we find out more about buying and flying kites.


The Basics

  • Kites come in thousands of different shapes and sizes. From basic diamond and delta designs, to box kites, cylinder kites, animal-shaped kites, and even ones that look like ships, you can find anything to please your mood and your budget.

  • The most basic kites are single-string. As they get more complex, they require in double-string and even multi-string features.

    • Single string kites are much more manageable for starters.

    • Two-string kites work well in lighter winds, but they are a little trickier to fly.

    • A simple inexpensive mylar (extremely durable plastic) kite will fly in the lightest of breezes.

  • Since you’ll likely crash your kite, look for one with soft, fibreglass rods, which are more flexible when it hits the ground. Advanced kites tend to be stiffer and so are more likely to snap when they crash.

  • Bigger kites fly easier, but can be hard for just one person to get started.

  • Many beginner kites come with line included. Try to make sure you get at least 300 feet.

  • More advanced kiters like to used different lines for different weather and kite sizes.

    • Smaller kites on light breezy days are good on a 30-pound line.

    • Bigger kits on gustier days fly better with 50-200-pound lines.

  • A wrist strap can help take the load off your hands, especially in stronger winds

  • More complex kites usually require winds of at least 10 knots to really get going. If your area is not so windy, stick with simple, light kites.

Other Considerations

  • We learned some flying tips from a few expert kiters:

    • Look for a large open field to fly your kite. Stand away from trees and power lines, houses, etc.

    • Stand with your back to the wind and hold the kite up in the air until it catches the wind. In a lighter wind, try having a friend launch the kite from about forty meters away. As the kite is released, bring in the line a little, then let more out once it gets some altitude.

    • To improve your kite flying, use about 20 feet of line so you can really see what the kite does with each different pull and maneuver on the line. Then when you try again with a longer line you’ll have more control.

  • If your kite gets wet, let it dry before storing in order to avoid moisture creating mildew.

  • If your kite falls into salt water, try and rinse it as soon as possible with fresh water.

Be Aware

  • Flying a kite near an airport (within 3-5 miles) is actually against the law in most places.


We invited a kite-flying family to give us their opinion on a group of low-tech kites. We tested:

  • Premier (simple diamond kite design): $30
  • Spectrum Conynes (modified box kite): $27
  • Prism (two-string kite): $75
  • Go Fly A Kite (boat-shaped kite): $27.95

Flight Test

  • It was a pleasure to watch the experienced kiter fly the more complex two-string kite, but we recommend getting the hang of a one-string before investing in a two-string.

  • As beginners, we really enjoyed flying the Spectrum Coynes box kite; it was really steady and didn’t crash on us as much. It also had a good weight to it and the handle was easy to hold as you let the line in and out.

  • Our more seasoned flyers preferred the Prism two-string kite for its versatility for doing tricks.

  • The simple diamond kite from Premier got off the ground easily but liked to nose dive a lot. (We weren’t sure if it was us or the kite’s design.)

  • The boat-shaped kite from Go Fly A Kite was a fun novelty, but was a bit tricky to get off the ground.


For beginners, we liked the Spectrum Coynes box kite, as long as you have a partner to help you launch it. Otherwise a diamond or delta kite might do the trick. More advanced kiters will be challenged by two-string or multi-string kites of all shapes and sizes.




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