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Planning Retirement Online

Out of the box.   Kiting

                                   April 2010

This is our regular OUT OF THE BOX feature where we give suggestions on different things to try.      

If you have tried something unusual or different, tell us all about it - and send in a photograph as well if you can – so that we can share your experiences with others.



This month we look at …… kiting.


kite flyingFlying kites is traditionally associated with childhood, but you don’t have to wait until you become a grandparent to enjoy this fun outside activity.

There have been so many exciting developments in modern kites that today it is becoming a really popular pastime for adults across the UK. Some even get so hooked that they become competitive – yes, there are even kite flying competitions for the ambitious.

Kites must be one of the oldest hobbies in the world – they have been around for nearly 3000 years.

One of its joys is that it is so easy to get started. You can buy kites in a huge range of shapes and sizes and it is also quite easy to make your own.

If you are starting, do buy a fairly simple kite to begin with – the new foil shapes are light years away from the traditional box kites and other shapes of our youth and serious performance kites take real skill and practice to handle. The choice of kites can be overwhelming but there is lots of good advice available.

To start with, you might like a simple single line kite, reminiscent of the kites we used to fly as children. These kites come in all shapes and sizes and when you get them flying, they can sit there steadily in the wind.

However, today, most people prefer a stunt or power kite. Stunt kites are usually delta shaped and can come with two or even four control lines. They can be good to learn on and to use to get experience of a fast flying kite, but they can also be very frustrating and have a tendency to whiz around the sky in all sorts of uncontrolled flight paths until you get the hang of it.

Power kites are the first step to a different type of kiting; they tend to have an aerofoil shape like a modern parachute and the larger kites can create enough force to pull an adult off their feet. In many ways though they are easier to control that the stunt kites and in experienced hands they are certainly more stable.

Step up from here and you will enter the realm of the traction kite. These are serious kites that can pull people on boards across the ground at very fast speeds – 40 mph plus. From here to kite surfing and kiteboarding is just a small step – kite surfing is becoming a huge sport especially with the young who love the ability to be pulled 30 feet up above water.

You really don’t need to go to that level to have tremendous fun with kites. The stunt kites alone have enormous potential; and several being worked together can create dramatic visual displays.

When you obtain a kite, it is always best to read the instructions first. With new kites, these should include proper assembly information as well as basic flying hints and tips. Most of it is common sense; a kite won’t work on a totally still day and is uncontrollable if the wind is too strong; don’t fly near to roads or paths or in crowded areas (kites can plummet to the ground with quite a force); keep well away from overhead power lines; don’t fly kites in stormy weather as static electricity can build up and be conducted down the lines.

There are some laws about kite flying which will rarely affect a novice. For instance, you are not allowed to fly kites more than 60 metres above the ground.

One good tip is to always be aware of what is behind you – it is very easy to be distracted when making the kite fly and keep stepping back as you pull against the wind until you suddenly find you hit a problem!

Kite flying is surprisingly good exercise; laying out the kite and the lines, pulling the lines when the kite is flying and picking it up and relaying it out when it has crashed; it really is a very active hobby. It can also be very social; there are kite flying clubs all over the UK which can give advice, offer special kite flying days, competitions and other activities.

To find your nearest club, visit:

There is also a British Kite Flying Society, more information on


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