All About Kite Buggying

 

All About Kite BuggyingThere’s kite flying, and then there’s kite buggying. It is one of my favorite things to do, and here’s why:

  • It’s like driving a car or a boat, but with kite power. Most kite buggies are three-wheeled The driver uses his feet to steer the front wheel in the direction he wants to go and uses his hands to control the kite.
  • Some people can go pretty fast. I’ve heard of people going 100 km/h or more. I haven’t quite hit there yet but it is a definite goal.
  • Buggy jumping. You strap yourself in, generate as much lift as you can and then up you go!

Ok. So now you’re interested, right? Of course you are. And you should be, because it’s awesome. Here’s some other stuff you need to know:

  1. The kites you need aren’t just regular old kites. They’re called traction kites, and you should already be pretty good flying a kite before you even head out there. A good place to start is a 4 line kite between 3 to 4 m. Keep in mind that there are no brakes on the buggy, and that’s what you need the lines on the kite for. With 4 lines, you get two for braking and two for steering. That’s just good math.
  2. There are two main types of buggies: freestyle or racer. Freestyle tends to be lighter and smaller, while racing buggies have a wider base and are built for stability. I recommend testing out a quality one in both styles before purchasing one; sometimes you can do this at kite buggy festivals.
  3. There is room for lots of customizations. More (or less) wheels, changing the width of the axel to add stability, different tires for different terrain, and adjusting the downtube, will all give different results. Before messing with any of this stuff, learn what they do.
  4. You probably should at least wear a helmet. You are riding in a vehicle unequipped with brakes. They also make harnesses, which can make life easier, more comfortable, and safer, but I’ll leave that up to you.
  5. If you are going to be kite buggying on the beachor any other public place, make sure you have the right to be there. Usually, this involves permits. If you are part of a kite flyer’s association, they may already have one and then all you have to do is follow the instructions on the permit, which is pretty straightforward. Typically it tells you the area you can operate in, how far you have to be from other people, whether you can mark off an area to alert people to what you’re doing so they can safely avoid you, and that any crash between you and people is going to be your fault so just expect it.Basically what I am telling you is to check the rules of your location before you go kite buggying, learn those rules, and then actually follow them. One big jerk can ruin it for all of us. Don’t be a big jerk.
  6. Now that you’re interested, click hereor here and get yourself started.

You are welcome.

Experimentation

A beautiful balmy day. There is a slight bit of wind arising. You better believe that the kite flyers are out in droves. Everyone has a favorite spot whether it is the beach or a nearby park. What is the great attraction? Probably being outdoors enjoying the weather and a bit of personal rest and relaxation. It is also the challenge of getting that thing in the air, and keeping it afloat. It takes a bit of skill. It also depends on the type of kite, in other words, its design. There are a million varieties. I like to take a few with me and see what works best under the circumstances. I hope you would say I am beyond the novice stage. While I venture into kite boarding and kite buggying, sometimes I like the good old fashioned type, you know, the kind kids use. I know kids who build their own and I am proud of them. That can be something to master; but when you are successful and the thing is buoyant in the air, there is a special kind of pride.

A friend of mine and I went out together to fly something he had personally crafted. This might give you a good laugh. We elected to try a little experimentation. We took along a large portable electric fan to see if it would help control the kite better. No kidding! This seems implausible, but there may be some science to it. You can imagine that we got many stares from startled kite fans. A few ventured up to ask what on earth did we have in mind? It was a nice way to meet some new people.

You may be thinking about power but we had that figured out. We took along a small generator so we didn’t have to worrying about where to plug the thing in. I don’t know the physics of what we were doing, but amazingly, I do think the outdoor floor fan helped get the kite moving in the right direction. It wasn’t that there was no wind that day, there was. It was in the interest of pure experimentation. Heaven knows who came up with the idea first, but we were collaborators in this venture together. We had a fun day moving the fan about and placing it near to the kite as it began to sail away. We at the very least had a good story to tell.

When we got home, we realized that we had left the fan in the park. Yikes! After all our efforts, we had to get it back. We drove in a frenzy hoping it would still be there and that no one made off with it in the hopes that they would have similar luck. But alas. It was safe and sound. As we approached the spot, we did have one person ask if he could borrow it. Our experimentation seemed to have some new takers.

So Embarrassing

This blog is about casual footwear and the reasons for choosing a particular kind. Let me explain. I always wears socks and sneakers while flying kites on the beach, believe it or not, which I hate because of the sand, but I am afraid to wear sandals or go bare foot lest someone see the horrible truth right before their very eyes. I have a case of good old-fashioned common enough toenail fungus. I can think of worse things to have, but it is right there staring you in the face in all its yellow black ugly glory. In case you have never had it, it has an unpleasant odor and appearance. Your nails go dark. I personally don’t go around looking at people’s feet. I fly kites and that gives me something better to do with my time. But I know, self-conscious that I am, that someone is no doubt looking at mine. It’s so embarrassing when you are discovered and the condition is revealed. Okay, I may not be the only person on earth who has contracted this malady, but I may well be the only beach kite flyer who has. Just kidding! Surely someone else is in the same boat.

So I am going to stick with the cumbersome footwear I have chosen to hide my condition: socks and sneakers. I hate when the sand gets inside and it inevitably does. Then when I get home and shake out my shoes and socks, it gets all over the place. I have to get out the vacuum and spend all kinds of time I don’t have cleaning up. I really, really prefer sandals. Yes, a lot of it has to do with looks. Going without footwear is the inevitable option except that when I run with my kind in the sand, I sometimes trip over some kid’s abandoned toy.

I am on a search right now to find a cure for toenail fungus. I am going to nip this problem in the bud right now. I am going to get rid of the socks and sneakers for sure. I bought some sort of paint-on topical treatment at the drugstore, but got no satisfactory or immediate results. Then I went online. There is oddly enough quite a bit in print on the subject. Experts say to go to the dermatologist and get a prescription. That seems excessive and expensive. One said you need a liver test before you qualify. So I looked for home remedies. There were abundant choices.

I found everything from a sticky balm to a liniment you can whip up in the kitchen. All you need is some vinegar, some bleach, some camphor, and a few essential oils to mask the odor. You can give your homemade brew your personal touch and scent. Plus, some essential oils like lemon are curative. Needless to say, I was not thrilled with the smelly results. I think I will give that drugstore treatment one more shot.

Kite Flying Tips for Beginners

First, the obvious step: choosing a kite. Don’t go for something huge and flashy if you have no idea what you’re doing. Pick a good beginner’s kite. If you aren’t sure, try a kite store or look around online. They make easy-flyer kites, so those are a good choice if you see ‘em. They have tails attached and usually are in a diamond or delta shape (think stingray). The bigger they are, the harder they will pull, so keep that in mind. Try a single line kite to start, it will be a lot easier. Check the line recommendation if you’re going to be giving the kite to a child. If it recommends line stronger than 20ish kg, I would look for something with a little less muscle. Let’s not scar anybody for life here.

OK, once you’ve found your perfect kite, you may have to assemble it. I can’t help you here, that’s what the instructions are for! Maybe you’ll get one preassembled, who knows. Whatever you like.

Next, let’s get that baby in the air.

Here is a shocking tip I tell everyone who wants to learn how to fly a kite: don’t run with the kite. I don’t know where that crap started but please don’t do it. It can make the kite unstable and you’re likely to trip because where are you looking? Either at the kite behind you, so you run into something or at the terrain in front of you and the kite gets caught on something. It’s dumb. Don’t do it.

Instead, go outside in a nice open area with winds around 10 km/h and you should be fine. You may want to bring a buddy (or help a kid) the first couple of times. The flyer holds the string (this is important. Really hold it. Seriously. I have seen parents go out and within the first five minutes have a screaming kid because somebody didn’t expect the line to move or whatever, it gets knocked out of their hand and bye bye kite). Stand with the wind at your back, and the other person holds the kite facing you so that they are also facing the wind. Have them walk backwards while you unravel around 20 m of string. Wait for a gust, then signal your kite holder to let go. If you pull on the string, and your buddy lets go at the right time, the kite should go right up. Make sure the wind is always blowing from the direction of the kite flyer TOWARD the kite. Releasing more string will make the kite fly higher, but be careful—sometimes the string isn’t actually attached to the bridle and then bye bye kite. So there’s that to look forward to.

To get the kite back in, reel it back in gently.

And that’s it, how you get a kite up in the air. Once you’ve got this mastered, you can experiment with different styles of kites and more lines.

Enjoy!

Kite Festivals Around Australia

One of my favorite things to do is attend kite festivals. It’s always a nice day to be outside with other kite enthusiasts, take some time to admire other kites or maybe pick up a few pointers, and just enjoy this great hobby. I recommend these kinds of events to everyone, even if you’ve never put a kite in the air. There are so many colorful kites to see, new people to meet, and activities for the whole family that it is worth the trip no matter what!

There are loads of kite festivals around Australia, but here are a few that you might find of interest:

The Adelaide Kite Festival, located at Semaphore Beach, is held annually and is typically over Easter weekend. They had a photographer at the festival this past year and his pictures were amazing.

Less than an hour outside of Melbourne, the Rosebud Kite Festival held somewhere around the middle of March, had a land kiting demo this past year with kites so big they needed to be anchored to vehicles. They also had kite buggying for the first time!

There’s also the newer (this year was the first year) Murray Bridge Kite Festival. This kid-friendly event took place at the end of April this year, had a lot of community involvement, and hopefully will become an annual event.

Festival of the Winds at Bondi has been a part of the Australian Kiteflyers Society’s activities for 38 years. Held in early to mid-September, the Festival of the Winds is the largest kite festival in all of Australia. It attracts kite flyers of all levels and pros from all over the world. This colourful event has kite making workshops and children’s rides. This is kite festivals at its best, and honestly, if you only get to attend one, make it this one. It is amazing. I have been going on and off for a few years and it is always a bit of a heartbreak when I can’t make it.

The first Gold Cost International Festival of Kites was held at the Kirra Foreshore at the end of this past September. This was a well-organized festival lasting two days, and I certainly hope it continues every year so that I can make one or two.

In mid-October, there is the Brisbane Kite Festival, hosted at Murarrie Recreation Ground. This event, sponsored by local Rotary Clubs, the Phoenix Kite Collective, and the city council, typically attracts about 2000 people. I can’t think of a better way to spend a day than eating good food and flying my kite alongside a pro!

The Marulan Kite Festival, at the end of October, will be held at Tony Onions Park. They are having a Children’s Pet Show, a vintage car display, as well as a cake and cookie competition. Seriously. Kites, cakes, and cookies. What’s better than that?

Those are some of the biggest and best kite festivals in the area, but there are always more. Local kiting associations likely will put on more events worth checking out throughout the year, so pull up your local group’s calendar to see what is happening in your area.

Kite Flying Safety

Kite Flying Safety

The Kiting Associations of Australia were clever enough to develop an acronym to create a mental safety checklist.

C stands for conditions. Know the weather conditions before you head out. It sounds silly to say this but know what the weather is anticipated to be like before you go out and put any kind of kite in the air. This is probably the number one rule of kite safety. You can’t just look out your window, see the sun and think you are set.  Unfortunately, the weather can turn on you quickly and you are pretty vulnerable out there, especially because the safe, flat open spaces best for kite flying become dangerous locations in a storm. The last thing you want to do is become a giant lightning rod. A good resource is the Windfinder website, where you can find everything from temperature and weather conditions to wind direction, high and low tide, and air pressure. The Bureau of Meteorology has a pretty good website as far as putting out warnings on weather conditions and the like. Trust your gut, too. Even if you’ve been given the all clear by weather reports, if you think conditions are starting to turn, pack it in. Also, for heaven’s sake, don’t use metal lines or any metal in your kite.

L is for look. Just pay attention out there. Operate in a safe area that is free of things like powerlines, trees, and away from airports. Make sure there aren’t giant holes in the ground you can stumble into and hurt yourself. Stay alert to your surroundings. Be aware of people, because they will likely be looking up at the kite and not at you. They might come too close and risk injury if the wind were to suddenly change. Also, check behind you every once in awhile. It sounds like common sense but everything can go out the window once your kite is in the air, because that’s all you want to focus on. Don’t.

stands for equipment. Check your gear before you go. Make sure the kite is in good condition for flying without any rips or tears, and be sure that the lines aren’t tangled or fraying. If you’re going to tether yourself to anything, be sure you have a quick release option and KNOW HOW TO USE IT. Practice til it is instinct because if you need to use it you will likely be panicky. You want to be able to do and not think. Be sure you know what the limitations set by the manufacturer of your equipment are. Those warnings are NOT suggestions, as much as I’d like them to be.

is to remind you to have a good attitude. People are going to be interested when they see a cool kite in the air. Be polite but above all, be safe and remember that you are responsible for their safety. If you are still learning, listen to more experienced kite flyers if they are trying to correct or guide you.

stands for respect. Respect the area that you are in, especially public spaces. Other people want to enjoy the beach or the park or the nice day as well, and you need to be courteous. Respect the air space of other kite flyers and follow all right of way rules. Be respectful of the environment. Don’t trample flowers, litter, or make a general nuisance of yourself.

For additional safety information, check out this handy list.

Favorite Kite Flying Locations

What makes a location good for kite flying? It’s a pretty good question and hopefully you will be able to find a good location using the tips below:

First, the things you want to stay away from:

  • power lines.
  • airports and flight paths.
  • trees or other things that like to “eat” kites like snarly thorn bushes and dogs.
  • Roads.
  • Locations packed full of people/vehicles/animals so that kite flying would be a nuisance.
  • tall buildings that will block the wind.

Yes I am aware that rules out a lot of places. But you’ll avoid damaging your kite and other people’s property, while also avoiding interfering with planes, being run over, electrocution, and breaking the law. So you’re welcome for that.

And now on to the things you should look for:

  • A wide, open space with enough room for you to fly.
  • Somewhere with good wind access
  • A space free of anything you’re afraid the kite might crash into and break/damage (windows, vehicles, and that sort of thing).

I’m not as lucky as some people in that I don’t have access to a lot of land where I live, and the land that is around tends to have lots of trees or people or roads too close by, so I travel around to fly my kite. I don’t mind, but that does mean I prefer sites that have amenities because I’m planning to hang out there for a good bit of time. Personally, I am a fan of flying kites on beaches because you’re close to the water, there are usually facilities there for eating/drinking/restrooms and parking.  I went to the Coolum Kite Festival a few years back and got pretty hooked on flying out by Stumers Creek. It’s a beautiful place to spend a slightly windy day. Parking isn’t too bad, either. The only thing you have to watch is dogs. Usually, safety is the concern of both fliers and dog owners, but hey, dogs want to swim too, and sometimes they get excited. So you’ve been warned.

I also really like Pelican Park. Free parking is something I can always get behind, first of all. The field is grassy and the water is right there next to you, something else that I love, especially if I don’t feel like dealing with the hassle of beach sand for whatever reason that day. I don’t typically have any trouble with the winds when I am there, either. I can fly for awhile, sit in the shade if I get too hot, use the facilities and get back up in the air without having to leave the site.

If you are just getting started kite flying, you should check out the Kite Map site. They have great kite flying locations all over the globe that works with google maps, so you can really see the area if you’re unfamiliar with it. You also get all the weather information you could possibly need right there on the site, too. They will let you know if any kite flying associations fly there and if so, when they meet. You’ll also find out what the parking situation is (always good to know, especially if it costs money).

What about you? Where do you like to fly?