Some of the recent accidents, particularly those in higher winds have supported making the setup process more reliable and less open to chance and dramatic short powered flights and injury. This same process of small mistakes amplified into major accident and incidents plagued powered flight and hang gliders. The way that they got past this problem in flying was to develop and religiously follow a preflight checklist, EVERY SINGLE TIME they got ready to go up.
I put the following checklist together. I welcome input on it. When it is in final (hopefully in a more concise but just as meaninful), form I will upload it to the FKA site and am planning on putting it on small laminated cards along with the kitesurfing guidelines for distribution to riders. We need to work to reduce the avoidable accidents in that vein please see the comment at the bottom. The unavoidable accidents will always be there if we still want that kind of excitement. I say lets fly smart as we can.
FKA KITESURFING PREFLIGHT CHECKLIST
1. Is the launch open, free of downwind hard objects, nearby power lines, buildings or large walls and bystanders?
2. Check your kite for tears or leaky bladders. If you have leaky bladders or tears in your kite, repair them before flying.
3. Check your pigtails, center line loop and leaders for wear and abrasions. If the sheathing shows any breaks or the lines cuts, replace
them. The pigtails should be replaced no less frequently than every 6 months.
4. Check your flying lines for knots or cuts. If you have either and you can't easily free the knot without damaging the line, replace your lines.
5. Are all your larksheads firmly seated and are your lines free of tangles? Make sure your flight lines and leaders are of equal length. Flight lines stretch unequally during use so check this before each launch.
6. If you are solo launching make sure your kite is properly anchored with sand and is draped downwind so as not to prematurely launch.
7. Just before launch pick your bar up and carefully look down the lines for tangles.
8. MAKE SURE that there are no bystanders beside your kitelines or kite. All bystanders should be at least two kiteline lengths away or more in the downwind direction.
9. Avoid hooking or snapping in while onshore or near hard objects.
10. Make sure you have proper safety equipment, i.e. a kite depowering leash, good well fitting helmet, impact vest, gloves and hook knife.
11. Announce your intention to launch and then launch promptly.
12. Bring your kite only high enough off the beach to clear obstructions. DO NOT BRING YOUR KITE TO NEUTRAL WHILE NEAR (two line
lengths or more) HARD OBJECT to try to avoid lofting.
13. Once your kite is in the air go offshore WITHOUT DELAY.
14. If there is are waves where you need to put on your board consider body dragging outside the breaker zone first.
(Pre-flight List Feb. 13, 2002)
An expanded comment on #9, If you must connect to your centerline loop upwind of hard objects, having one or more safety releases and frequently rehearsing on how and when to release them is imperative. The same applies to hooking into the centerline or chicken loop. In doing this you must accept that some launch accidents can happen so quickly that you will not have adequate time to react and safely release. This fact suggests that the use of a snap shackle or hooking into the centerline loop near hardnobjects is a questionable practice at best. If you don't connect it means you will likely have to use a smaller kite, will have a lower wind range for a given four line inflatable and other considerations. The tradeoff for this reduction in performance is more assurance that you will be able to safely depower your kite if things go wrong by simply letting go of your bar.
Sorry to bring up this loop thread again but I don't think that it was fully, accurately and reasonably resolved last time. We will always have risk in this sport. How can we reduce the avoidable risk?