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 Post subject: Serious Flat Kite Accident
PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 3:39 am 
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An experienced kiter was launching a new 9 m flat kite for the first time in strong, very gusty side onshore winds. The rider had many years experience with C kites but reportedly had less than two sessions with flat kites. A group of riders had visited this launch from out town and had setup up outside of the approved area. The wind record shown below suggests winds 22 gusting to 30 kts. around the time of the accident at 2:30 pm and substantially higher prior. Squalls were reportedly not present with winds resulting from a powerful cold front.

Image

Other experienced kiters were out on 7 m and 9 m flat kites and heavily powered. A bridal line was wrapped around a wingtip without the knowledge of the kiter or his assistant apparently when the kite was picked up to launch.

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How the bridle may have been wrapped over the wingtip.

After the kite was released it began to immediately spin out of control, fully powered up looping in the power zone dragging the kiter. The rider had attached his leash above the chicken loop and dropped his bar to fully depower the kite. The depowering mechanism relies upon the leading edge bridle which was snagged in place by the tangle eliminating the depower function. So despite dropping his bar the kite did not significantly depower as he was dragged along.

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Another view of how the bridle may have been tangled.

The kiter that had launched him ran forward and jumped on him to hold him in place. Both were subsequently dragged until the helper was knocked off breaking a finger. Another well experienced kiter ran up when the kite hit the ground and grabbed one line to try to depower the kite. The kite relaunched causing a serious cut to the man's little finger and hand.

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Hand injuries

The rider hit several objects during the dragging including two other kiters standing on the beach and breaking a 4" x 4" timber embedded in the dune with his shoulder.

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A similar section of beach with stakes used to rope off the sea oats as well. Smaller timbers are shown in use here than at the scene of the accident.

The kite struck a palm tree, ending the dragging after the rider had traveled about 150 ft. up the beach. Aside from cuts and bruises the rider and other participants were reportedly OK. The one man that grabbed the kite line received stitches for his hand laceration.

FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi


Last edited by RickI on Mon Feb 26, 2007 4:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 3:41 am 
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Location: Florida
Several things come to mind from this accident:

1. Never use new or unfamiliar gear in extreme conditions no matter how experienced you are.

2. Rider and helper must verify that lines and bridles are correct before releasing the kite. The kiter may not be able to see something like this during launch.

3. Avoid using kites near the upper end of the recommended wind range (32 kts. in this case) and never when new to the gear.

4. NOTE: Carefully evaluate where to attach your kite leash on flat kites, particularly when near shore. Reportedly, if attached to the Oh Shit Handle this kite will substantially depower, as long as the flight line doesn't break. If attached to the chicken loop as was done in this case, the depower may be disabled by breakage or snags. There are still other options with other kites, speak with manufacturer's reps if necessary. Spend some time on this and choose well.

5. Never grab a line attached to a powered up kite.

6. Rehearse mentally and physically dealing with a overpowered emergency by totally depowering the kite and finding and releasing the leash attachment to the kiter (should the later prove to be necessary in an emergency).

9. Always wear a good helmet, impact vest, hook knive, gloves and other gear as appropriate.

10. Always research where to ride before going to a beach. Preservation of access concerns us all.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 3:42 am 
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This rider was incredibly lucky to have suffered fairly minor injury in a flat kite accident which could have EASILY been fatal. Other kiters on the beach might have also been seriously injured as well. He couldn't see the kite being launched and the helper may not have been all that familiar with flat kites. Some things to think about related to assisted launching and past accidents appear HERE

Both are very experienced with C kites. Hanging on to a kite for launch in high wind and blasting sand isn't all that easy a proposition particularly when the kite is near its upper wind limit. The time to experiment with new gear is not in such extreme conditions. Also, avoid "soft" leash attachment clips, for a good reason why click HERE

Another kiter had advised the rider not to attach his leash to the chicken loop but instead attach it to his Oh Shit handle and shift it over once well offshore. The rider was not that comfortable with this as he was used to suicide leash attachments on C kites through the chicken loop. NOTE: There are significant DIFFERENCES between flat kites and C kites, learn what they are by carefully reading the user manual, talking to other kiters and carefully building experience with the flat kite under controlled circumstances. Just because you are used to attaching your leash to the chickenloop or even the bypass leash attachment, doesn't necessarily mean this is a good place to attach to while near shore. In the current case, attaching to the Oh Shit handle until well offshore and then moving it to the chicken loop would have made more sense. What happens if a bridle breaks? Maybe something not all that different.

Make sure you know where your leash attachment quick release is and be familiar with activating it. Too many kiters ignore this simple step in self preservation along with even practicing totally depowering their kite. "I'll figure it out in the emergency," unlikely.

A stopper ball can simulate some of what happened in this accident. Don't engage stopper balls on flat kites nearshore or when you might potentially crash (i.e. before jumping).

Experienced guys don't need helmets or impact vests because ... ? Luck is great while it lasts but some basic safety gear may stretch your luck when you unexpectedly get dragged south at lightspeed someday. Overconfidence can be a killer not only in kiting but in many action sports. Flat kites may reduce kiting fatalities but the capacity to injure and kill is still there. Be careful out there.
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