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Old 10-01-2004, 08:39 PM
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Default Major Lofting - Some Ideas

Originally Posted by flyboychristopher

If you get lofted with the kite near zenith, and you are too high to release, is there any way to slow the decent? One of flysurfers manuals claims that you should just fly the thing like a paraglider and as long as you don't hit anything you'll be fine.

I realize that when you are lofted big, you probably don't have much time to think about options. You are obviously moving forward at almost the windspeed, and since you don't have 'up elevator' you probably have no control over your sink rate?
Some details from:

When it comes to lofting, most of the useful and reliable things that you can try to is to try to AVOID it. This is where a lot of weather knowledge, kite size selection, handling, etc. come into play.

Once you are lofted, depending on the speed, force and violence of it, proximity and nature of downwind hard objects the outcome may be highly uncertain. This is similar to asking the question, "what do you do if you drive off of a cliff?" It is not a good situation. Some loftings start and end before awareness/reaction while others allow the rider seconds to attempt to work for a positive outcome, maybe and build some major apprehension. These longer, sometimes spectacular loftings are the focus of this posting.

There was a post about this that Toby moved to the "Safety" section that may have been lost since September. Bringing things back from memory, some taken from a few of the longer, spectacular loftings:

1. Just like they tell pilots, ALWAYS FLY THE KITE, while you are airborne.

That is don't induce a stall or radical movement by accident. Focus on small control inputs to avoid causing a high speed impact, if you can help it. Some have said it is best to keep your kite more or less overhead ONCE YOU ARE LOFTED, to try to maintain relatively stable flight characteristics.

2. Steer gently towards the least hazardous downwind area that you can find.

If the horizon is uniform you don't need to worry about this as it is all the same. If you have powerlines, buildings, rocks, etc. AND there are less hostile impact areas with in steerable reach, e.g. sand, low vegetation, try to steer away from the hard, more dangerous stuff, IF you can. In the Cabarete lofting, (over 820 ft. horiz. and 100 ft. high, impact speed estimated 30 to 40 kts.+), the rider was heading towards buildings and powerlines but steered into a pine tree. Hitting at that speed there are few other things that would have allowed survival.

3. If you are heading towards a hard object that you don't want to hit, consider doing a transition or direction reversal.

This was mentioned by Vide (I think), in dealing with a major lofting over water in Melbourne sometime back. He was still over water but was flying fast towards a house. He transitioned and eventually hit water without slamming into the building. Reasoning through things by transitioning you may gain altitude and may not fully escape hitting in the area that you were trying to avoid, but you might be able to. If nothing else a transition MAY reduce your forward velocity.

4. If you hit ground or come close to it, IMMEDIATELY depower your kite AT ALL COSTS.

Wind commonly comes in gust sequences and you could be easily (BUT NOT ALWAYS) be hit by additional gusts. Sometimes the first gust is minor followed by more major ones and yet in other cases like the 250 m Cabarete lofting there was only ONE significant gust as it was related.

5. Dropping free from your kite while still airborne?

This goes directly back to what do you do if you "drive off of a cliff." There are few absolutes or assurances of coming out of things intact, you have throw yourself up for grabs in a bet with mother nature in a major lofting. In the case of the major lofting in Spain, the rider free fell from his kite and hit the roof of a two and three story building resulting in his death. It is not known if this was deliberate to avoid hitting other buildings or was accidental. Still if you are over water or even sand, it is up to the rider to decide whether free falling or flying it out will improve surviorship or not. REMEMBER you are moving forward at speed, if you free fall you will not fall straigtht down but will continue to fly forward and hit was some force. This impact could be severe even against sand. Shannon Best recently dropped free over sand and wasn't seriously injured but could have been if the impact came off differently. More at:

6. Be aware of possible uplifting lofting and gust extension of the initial lofting.

Many of us have noticed a jump extended or critically the height increased by a gust while in flight. This can happen in the case of a lofting as well. Also, there are cases of guys being lofted inland only to fly over a land feature, a hill, wall, tree line that creates a standing pressure wave that bounces the rider even higher up. Once past this land feature there may be turbulence/rotor and even dead air that can cause the kiter to sink out or fall suddenly. What do you do? I don't have specific recommendations, just fly the kite and make careful decisions and actions as you can. This happened to Dimitri and to a riders in Oz as documented in the KSI along with most other events that this discussion is based upon.

The key to managing this sort of lofting is to NEVER GO THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Wearing safety gear, e.g. a good helmet, impact vest, etc. MAY help or maybe not depending upon the impact characteristics. You wear it and forget about it for "just in case."

Blowing this stuff off on the basis of a fashion statement and considering using it ONLY for bad accidents isn't likely to work too well. We'll only have minor accidents until xxx, then we'll have a whopper and will gear up accordingly in advance. Uh...yeah that'll do it.

More about avoiding lofting (an older document, under revision) appears
(without images)


in the KSR with images at:

and in the Safe Kiteboarding Guidelines at:

Fly smart and safe,
FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi
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