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Dragged Out Of Control - WHY?

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RickI
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Dragged Out Of Control - WHY?

Postby RickI » Wed Feb 27, 2008 10:00 pm

Here is one set of reasons that all kiters should know to the point of being second nature.

Image

Hybrid or flat kites have brought great performance to kiting such as easier management of reasonable wind gusts, floaty jumps and rapid lessening of kite power in emergencies. Aside from all that, hybrids may be associated with something much more important, fewer fatalities. It is too early to say with certainty but the current indications are encouraging. Can you still kill or maim yourself with a hybrid kite? Absolutely and fairly easily too lacking training, rigging it improperly or going out in poor conditions in particular. Gear failure due to inadequate inspection, preventive maintenance and replacement is yet another way of getting into trouble. Bridle tangles on launching is yet another way things can go bad. “Got to use your head dodo” as has appeared on the wall of a favorite local eatery for many decades.

A violent high wind accident happened with a hybrid kite after the initial preparation of this article. A very experienced rider though new to hybrids assisted by similar kiters launched a hybrid with a bridle wrapped around a wing tip. An accident followed that easily could have been fatal. The kite spun fully powered downwind and failed to depower even when he dropped the bar. The kiter (and a helper for part of the way) were dragged 150 ft., hit several objects including breaking a 4” x 4” wood post in half with his shoulder. Another rider grabbed one of the lines of the momentarily stationary kite, severely slicing a finger when it suddenly relaunched again. Kiters and helpers must fix these problems on preflight and don’t grab kite lines! All a hybrid kite potentially allows you to do is reduce the kite power, if it’s properly configured, you react properly, everything works as intended and winds are not too strong. The “magic depower” may not happen if it is rigged improperly or the wrong thing breaks.

Still for whatever reasons, there have been few kiter losses with hybrids to date with the vast majority having been on C kite designs. It is possible that newer C kite designs with more substantial depowering adjustments may also show fewer losses.

What could derail this encouraging trend? Perhaps the very thing that has brought the benefits in the first place, all that bridling and pulleys. This aside from ever present “operator error” (see above), perhaps age induced gear malfunctions could increase incidents and accidents in older and second hand hybrid kites. Snagged and broken bridles, seized and broken pulleys on hybrid kites sometimes but not always result in spinning, out of control and powered up kites. Something like this can happen with normal aging of kites and can really mess you up and/or your kite if it happens. Preventive maintenance of kites and careful inspection of used kites are key. It is possible that these type of incidents and accidents may increase with the quantity of older and used hybrid kites out there. Pulleys don’t have to seize to cause problems, just impaired movement will heat up and wear bridle lines substantially. This could cause early bridle failure.

So, how to try to keep this positive trend going? Some ideas follow:

1. Avoid bad choices or “operator error.” (i.e. kiting without adequate training, rigging errors, squalls, rigging too big, bad launch/landing areas, inadequate buffers, flying in conditions beyond your abilities, etc.).

2. Regularly rehearse dealing with high wind emergencies. (i.e. sheeting out and/or dropping the bar IF that is what the manufacturer recommends). Know what your kite manufacturer recommends in high wind emergencies and practice it under lighter wind, controlled conditions. Act early. Extended kite spinning resulting in binding lines may impair the ability to depower hybrid kites.

3. Do NOT engage stopper balls if near shore or when jumping to try to avoid problems with bad landings. If you lose it with a stopper in place you are throwing away all those great and costly hybrid kite depowering characteristics.

4. Know where your kite leash attachment is and regularly practice finding and releasing it with a safe downwind buffer. If a bridle breaks or pulley locks up this may be your only choice short of being lofted and dragged into something.

5. If your lines, bridles, pulleys, pigtails, kite or other gear is worn, repair or replace it before flying. Kiting can place tremendous loads on gear causing sudden failures with minimal warning.


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A example of uneven Spectra bridle line wear.


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Ok (top) vs. worn (bottom) Spectra bridle line. Note faded color, broken strands, loosened and enlarged braid in worn lower line.


6. Do not fly your bridles and pulleys covered with sand.

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Avoid premature wear and failures. Wash free of sand before flying and with fresh water after.


What about Preventive Maintenance or PM? It is a given that there will be more downed kites with problems and perhaps some riders too if regular PM is not performed on hybrid kites. I spoke to many manufacturers about kite PM in assembling the following points.

1. EXPECT TO REPLACE bridle lines and pigtails about every 6 months, perhaps longer depending upon wear. Inspect bridle lines, replace them if excessive stray fibers are present, the diameter changes much or if much color loss has occurred.

2. Push the bridle sleaving together and closely examine for wear in the core area.

3. Pull the bridles back and forth through the pulleys to verify free movement before each session. Wash pulleys off with fresh water after use.


Image
Check all pulleys for movement, wear, binding, etc. prior to each session.


4. Consider using Teflon Dry Lube on pulleys to improve movement and reduce corrosion. Dry Lube is less prone to causing sand to stick than normal oils.

5. Chicken loop line breaks eventually can occur. You can increase the term of use of this line by rubbing an unlit candle over it.

6. Inspect bridle attachment nylon webbing at the kite for excessive wear.

7. Inspect your spreader bar for bends or cracked welds. Do not use aluminum spreader bars for kiting. They have broken in the past under routine kite loads.

So, enjoy the gains that the new kite technology continues to deliver. Just be sure to take good care of your gear so that it is there to take care of you. If not, it is pretty much guaranteed to fail on you someday, perhaps when you can least afford it. PM has become even more important with hybrid kites than in times past.

FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi

Article with full sized images HERE

Special thanks to the following for important contributions to this article:
Garry Menk, Paul Menta, Kent Marinkovic, Thomas Gaehwiler

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RickI
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Re: Dragged Out Of Control - WHY?

Postby RickI » Thu Feb 28, 2008 3:57 pm

I've read a number of posts of incidents that sound like they may have been caused by worn component failure. Nothing lasts forever and how many people would be justifiably surprised to a have blowout riding on car tires that have been bald for a couple of months? Preventive Maintenance is important in kiting too.

What have people experienced out there with failure of worn components on Flat Kites?

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Re: Dragged Out Of Control - WHY?

Postby ronnie » Thu Feb 28, 2008 4:32 pm

Dragged Out Of Control - WHY?

Sounds like it was because he did not use his quick-release.

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Re: Dragged Out Of Control - WHY?

Postby RickI » Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:12 pm

Good point, which one though? How long will he have to open his QR(s)? How many cases have there been in which there was insufficient time or QR performance was impeded?

Most importantly, what caused it in the first place? Bad brakes, thin tire tread? We can't afford to ignore this stuff, especially in older gear that may be circulating second hand.

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Re: Dragged Out Of Control - WHY?

Postby ronnie » Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:30 pm

I take your point about maintaining stuff so it keeps working.
I looked around for the safest kite to start on. At that time I worked out it was the Cabrinha Crossbow. Apart from the depower, I figured the Q/R was as good as any and better than many. Now there are several safe kites to choose from.
The vast majority of accidents could be avoided in my opinion. Sometimes that comes down to choosing what to buy based on safety issues.

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Re: Dragged Out Of Control - WHY?

Postby oldtimer » Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:47 pm

some vaild points about making sure your equipment is maintained - applies to all kites, no matter what style, but if your kite design is solid you can still safety the kite even if something breaks

yet, it seems in this case (as in most) there were some mistakes made and this has little to do with the style of kite or a gear failure

bridle wrapped around the tip? 1) both rider and launcher should have noticed this, but hey, mistakes happen, leads me to 2) kite goes up - you say the rider " dropped the bar" - does not indicate that the quick release was pulled.......many kites (even bow/sle) this alone will not depower the kite if the stopper is engaged - you need to pull the safety - easy if you use the right bar, and " which one " to pull is not an issue on the good ones... - or if in doubt, launch with the stopper disengaged already

people need to start taking responsibilty for their mistakes and know how to use their stuff properly......

there are still car accidents even though we have abs, traction control, awd, airbags, blah blah blah - nothing is idiot proof......nature of the world - use your head and take responsiblity - enough with the silly nonsense regarding style of kite - they all have their pros and cons

I've seen similiar incidents many years ago with the simplest 4 line c kites - all operator error - kites lauched with knots whipped into the lines, making one side much shorter, kites launched with a steering line wrapped around the tip of the bar., bars upside down.....all this on basic 4 line c's

use your head -

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Re: Dragged Out Of Control - WHY?

Postby Kosh » Thu Feb 28, 2008 6:11 pm

My main concern when kiting in high winds are always if a line will break or not, what will happen if I initiate a jump in high winds and a line break and the kite starts looping while ascending? Most times when the wind is strong I attach my leash to the front line safety, this way I can easily engange the QR without fearing too much for any problems. But when I have the leash attached below the bar, being free to spin the bar around, engaging the QR will not do anything to stop a looping kite. My only option is then to engage the QR on the leash, but this may not be easy while still in air and the kite is looping...

I guess the only reasonable choice is to have the leash attached to a frontline in high winds, I would need to reverse tricks to unspin the bar, but safety comes first. When launching/landing I always put the leash on the frontline, and have a hand close to the QR.

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Re: Dragged Out Of Control - WHY?

Postby Richard » Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:14 pm

I often self-launch my Cabrinha XBows. How easy is it for bridle-lines to snag each other on launch? It seems there is no way to predict that this could happen while setting kite for launch.

Luckily, it hasn't happened to me. Just wondering if you've heard of many instances of this.

Thanks

Richard

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Re: Dragged Out Of Control - WHY?

Postby RickI » Fri Feb 29, 2008 6:52 am

This was an article prepared for a magazine last year that I don't think was ever published. A recent accident described on the Florida forum sent me looking for it.

It is all about common sense and reasonable precautions.

Some kiters have assumed since the start of this sport that they can use their kite systems to failure. Preflighting and preventive maintenance (PM) were described to try to reduce the avoidable incidents and accidents several years ago.

We have to take a good look at things every time we head out. Some do a careful inspection after sessions are finished to remove the time pressure to go.

It would be good if others could post photos of failed components, e.g. worn chicken loop lines, bridle lines, pigtails, hardware, etc. to help folks to know what to look for. A percentage of folks will blow this off and a percentage of them will trash kites and yet another percentage will trash themselves.

FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi

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Re: Dragged Out Of Control - WHY?

Postby ed257 » Mon Mar 03, 2008 12:33 am

Rick,

I broke a front line on my waroo on a bad jump. Overflew, lines went slack, then it powered up and pop went one front line. The kite spun like crazy and was not controllable. I would not fully depower because the lines were all twisted. I got dragged down wind until I got the kite to sit down in the water. Then I ended up reeling it in on one back line. I did not like holding the line in my hand - but felt that all the other lines were slack - so the kite could not power up. Once I got to the kite rolled up my lines (one big mess) and did the fold over -self rescue.

In your experience is there any better way to handle this situation?

Thanks,

Ed

ps I did not have the waroo bar so there was no way to flag it on a back line. It probably wouldn't have flagged anyway because the lines were twisted pretty tightly.


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