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 Post subject: 1200 ft. Lofting Overland In 30 mph Squall
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:43 pm 
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The outcome

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Account with full sized images HERE


A squall was approaching the launch in southern Florida a few weeks ago. The wind had been a light 10 to 14 mph and had just dropped below 5 mph. Two kiters rigged big on large boards had come in as the wind had just died, ("the lull before the storm**"). A third rider had launched walked 50 ft. off the beach and was standing in the shallows with his 16 m flat kite near the vertical. A squall was visible moving towards the launch. I understand he was warned about going out.

The guys on the beach saw a white cap line rushing in and yelled "don't go." The kiter with five years experience kept the kite at the vertical, didn't depower or drop his kite to the side of the wind window ready to Emergency Depower in this short interval. He stood there unaware bare seconds of action might make all the difference. Suddenly, the wind gusted up to around 30 mph with the squall and the rider was lofted airborne. The temperature dropped by ten degrees, perhaps more. By all accounts once the wind hit he had no time to react, no one would have. The time to react was before the wind arrived.

He kicked his board off once he was about 20 ft. up and then pushed his bar out all the way and held it. Despite this the kite apparently didn't depower and he continued to rise. Pushing the bar out decreases the angle of attack, which appears to have little influence when the kite is flying mainly upward. He was seen to go almost straight up for an interval perhaps related to ridge lift from the wind passing over land. He then pulled the bar in and really went up.

To his credit and survivorship, he stayed calm and unlike others didn't kite loop slamming into the ground. He flew the kite as stably as he could with light control inputs. He started to pull on the right side of the bar to try to make back to the water but continued to head inland. He wondered if he might go completely across the island (over 4000 ft., unlikely but at at time like this, who knows). Apparently the squall wind shifted and steered him from ESE to SSW and back towards a narrow corner of water bounded by land. He had traveled roughly 600 ft. inland and by several kiter witness reports had risen to 80 to 100 ft. off the ground prior to turning.

He was concerned about being flown past the water and into a fence beyond. He pushed out on the bar and this time he dropped rapidly while substantially increasing speed. He was stretched out horizontally doing the "superman glide" despite trying to get his legs beneath him. He managed to strike about 1 1/2 ft. of water in an explosion of spray. This was just after high tide, a couple hours later he would have struck bottom or even exposed land. He immediately set his kite free which was promptly caught by a palm tree in a parking lot beside the landing area. He had missed land and some rip rap boulders by about 50 ft. He managed to abrade one finger tip when he released his kite but otherwise was unharmed, an amazing outcome. He had traveled another approximate 500 ft. for an distance of around 1100 ft. largely over land.

FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi


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 Post subject: Re: LOFTED 1000 ft. Inland In 30 mph Squall
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:44 pm 
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Lessons Learned

1. Know local weather, what brings useable and unuseable wind. SW winds frequently are gusty due to nearby land wind shadow and are accompanied by squalls at this launch. This is common knowledge supported by many other accidents and incidents here. Checking wind records for the prior ten days would have shown similar wind spikes ten times. It was a daily happening with little mystery. People think they can manage through but in fact sometimes do not. This is the offwind season for this area, no wind to too much is a normal pattern. In short, DO PROPER WEATHER PLANNING AND MONITORING, ALWAYS!

2. The squall showed up on color radar moving from the center of the state as had been repeated for days. Kites should have been secured long before the squall approached. Some kiters routinely ride through squalls, some get messed up periodically as a result.

3. Listen, don't ignore good advice. A number of deceased and injured kiters were first warned, they elected not to take the suggestion. If you are unfamiliar with local conditions ask, learn and ride very conservatively as you gain the lay of the land.

4. DON'T RIG TOO BIG for ACTUAL conditions, shoot for the lower to mid wind range of the design envelop for your kite. ALL KITERS should know what that is from manufacturer provided information. Use it, don't risk losing it!

5. If you screw up and don't secure your kite before the squall looms in, emergency depower your kite immediately. With traditional C kites this was easy, with flat kites less so. As they have some rigidity, they don't flag out as nicely as the old C kites, may power back up, relaunch and spin. Many say, 1. Disconnect your leash as long as there is no one vulnerable downwind (if there is someone, why did you put yourself in this situation?). 2. Drop your kite to the side of the wind window be prepared to push the bar all the way out and force the wing tip into the water. 3. Be prepared to completely release your kite (see #1) if it powers up and/or starts spinning. EMERGENCY DEPOWER by whatever means YOU KNOW works best for the kite you are using, approaches vary. Know this in advance. DO NOT JUST STAND THERE HESITATING! Too many have done this in the past, not all are still with us either.

6. If you really, really screw up and are lofted and aren't too high yet, Emergency Depower. This incident and a few others suggest, this may not always be possible. If you are too high by the time realization dawns, a frequent occurrence, FLY THE KITE stably with minor control inputs. Try to steer towards something less threatening if it exists. arching back towards the water is great, if you can pull it off. Wearing reasonable safety gear like a good helmet and impact vest may make all the difference or not depending on how you hit. Guys have survived by hitting trees and even water but there are no sure things at this point. You surrendered those options by placing yourself in this situation.

7. IF THE WIND DIES and there are threatening clouds moving in, DON'T LAUNCH, RIG BIGGER or otherwise try to get yourself hurt. This is a common occurrence, "the calm before the storm" Lots of guys have missed this to their detriment.


" **CALM BEFORE THE STORM"

You have likely heard the expression the calm or lull before the storm. Imagine an enormous thundercloud approaching, like a huge vacuum cleaner, sucking up huge amounts of warm and moist air at the surface from all directions. Pre-existing winds, those not created by the storm, are relatively light, converging or coming together near the surface from different directions. Air at and near the surface moves upward, causing a pressure imbalance near the surface. This pressure imbalance pulls more air into the towering thunderstorm. Whereas the surface winds under these severe updrafts are lulled into an artificial calm with the air moving up, the updrafts well above the surface gain incredible speed, sometimes exceeding 100 km/h or more. Then comes the nasty part of the storm right behind the updrafts - heavy rain and maybe hail, lightning and thunder, powerful downdrafts that hit the ground, strong gusty winds - all quite turbulent compared to the relative tranquility ahead of the storm itself.

http://www.healthunit.com/article.aspx?ID=11637


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 Post subject: Re: LOFTED 1000 ft. Inland In 30 mph Squall
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:45 pm 
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*** BEFORE NORMAL COMMENTS like what an idiot, how avoidable, we know better ... take a HARD LOOK at these photos. Also, consider the dozens of lost kiters over the years and in in this year alone. TOO MANY KITERS ROUTINELY IGNORE HAZARDOUS WEATHER, apparently worldwide.

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A waterspout with many (way too many) kiters apparently riding around it with indifference in Italy recently. One kiter continued until he was apparently picked up and lofted 400 m inland into a house. Another kite was lofted into the front end of a car, largely destroying it, but survived with serious injuries. A third kiter alone was lofted but managed to Emergency Depower, escaping without injury.

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The waterspout is closer, better formed and yet riders are still close by, having fun apparently oblivious of the hazard.


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This squall was located close to the current accident only about two months in the past. I understand it resembles the squall that led to the current accident. In fairness, that squall was still way out to sea and not close to the racing kiters despite appearance. I had watched that squall approach for 45 minutes and elected to ride several miles side weather away from the path of the cumulonimbus cloud. I stopped, prepared to Emergency Depower and looked back. I saw about 10 to 20 kiters free riding with kites flying vanish into the rain curtain of the squall, apparently unconcerned of the hazards. Some had their kites near the vertical waiting ... to be lofted? Winds reportedly gusted to only 25 to 30 mph in that area then totally died stranding guys offshore. They hardly increased where I was. No one was hurt this time.

I recall five kiters being lofted simultaneously in a squall here on C kites some years back. I think most sent their kites into the trees. None were badly hurt by luck, yet what have we learned?

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Reportedly a rider was late to come in land and secure with this roll cloud moving in to Brouwersdamn, Netherlands about a month ago. He suffered serious injury as a result. Still more severe injury at Strand Horst in the Netherlands in recent time due to a squall.

Kiters have been killed by squalls in Mexico and South Africa in recent months as well. There been many other accidents worldwide and for years in squalls.


From these accidents, incidents and numerous fatalities and severe injuries over the years directly related to squalls, it seems as a community, we are too indifferent or oblivious to squall/storm hazards for our own good, that of our families, bystanders, automobiles, etc. and our sport. Such incidents and accidents seem to be trending up.


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 Post subject: Re: LOFTED 1000 ft. Inland In 30 mph Squall
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:46 pm 
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The rider involved in the incident is Dale, shown below. There were many ways of avoiding falling into the crisis but once it was upon him, he handled things well. In most other similar cases I am familiar with, the rider was killed or severely injured. This may be the longest lofting that has been survived since the one that happened in Cabarete in 2002 with a horizontal distance of 850 ft. being covered.

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Take care Dale, luck doesn't last forever, we're very glad it came through this time for you. Thank you very much for sharing your story, I hope people sit up and take notice.

Critically, the MAJORITY of kiters don't follow forums. I believe we have an obligation to tell the kiting community about things like this. No one wants a fatality, paralyzed kiting victim or even a bad injury at the local launch much less a ban, so please share the story and lessons learned at your launch.

Also, there is more at risk than just the rider, bystanders and our access in general ride with the kiter's choices. Choose well and not to mess around with squalls. They are taking a harsh toll particularly this year.

Do proper weather planning and monitoring always. More at Post #2 at:
http://fksa.org/showthread.php?t=69

Big thanks to Dr.Lightwind for telling me about this incident and doing so much research on it. Also thanks to the several eyewitnesses that spoke to me about this not the least Dale himself. Ride safe guys.

Still more about this incident at:
http://www.kiteforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2358333&hilit=1200


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