How to Fly a Kite

Shoshawna Hoeptner

Gusty Winds and Hand Launching

Want to know how to fly a kite when the wind is gusty and the kite doesn't stay up long enough for you to let some line out? Let's assume the towing point is about right, since the kite tries to fly some of the time. The best approach here is probably to just let a helper carry the kite some distance away, while you let out the line. Then tell them to hold the kite up and let it fly out of their hand when the next gust comes through. If the helper is a kid then just be prepared for them to hold the thing upside down though! Yes, it's happened more than once to us.

Eventually, with some practice, you will be able to get good at hand launches. You dangle the kite from your hand, let the wind catch it and then let line slip through your fingers whenever you feel the kite pulling. If you do it right, the kite quickly gets higher.

Hand launching is a balance. Let line out too slow, and the kite is still low down when the wind dies. Let it out too quick, and the kite loses height, perhaps all the way to the ground! Climbing a kite is a process of letting out line when the tension is strong, and holding on when the tension is light.

Unless your spool or winder is designed to let out line continuously, it is easier to just pull off a fair amount of line onto the ground before attempting to get the kite flying. It's easy to slip line through your fingers when you don't have to try and unwind it at the same time!

When the tension is very light, you might even have to give the kite a hand by pulling line back in! This can be a lot of fun, when trying to keep a kite up in wind that is barely strong enough to make it fly. I can recall several times when I have brought the kite almost all the way back to my hand before managing to climb it away again up to several hundred feet in the air.

Whenever you need to lay line on the ground, try to move around a bit so it doesn't pile up in one spot. Knowing how to fly a kite includes avoiding nasty tangles!

Hand Launching

You have to have balance when hand launching. Going too slow or too quick can make flying your kite more difficult. It's helpful to have someone assist you. While they hold the kite in the air to get the wind to pull it, your holding the winder.

Letting Out The Line

Pull off a good amount of line onto the ground. It's easiest to do that so you don't have to unwind when your trying to fly your kite. Once it's already unwound and the kite wants to go higher, just let the line slide right through your fingers.


You always want there to be tension in the line. When there is very little, pull on the line yourself to help it out. This makes flying your kite so much easier, especially when there is barely any wind.


When unwinding be sure to move from place to place to avoid the line stacking up. If your line stacks up it will most likely become a big messy tangle. We all know tangles are no fun to deal with.




What would happen if you let all your line out in the same place?

How can you describe tension?


Can you connect what you already know to what you just read?

Discuss pros and cons of learning to fly a kite.


What is your opinion of hand launching?

What is the most important thing about letting out the line?



If you let all your line out in the same place it's gonna become a big tangle that is hard to undo!

Tension is if there is any slack or not in your line. You need tension in the line or else your kite won't fly, it will drop slowly to the ground.


What I already knew about flying kites was the basics. I knew you needed tension and to not stack up your line in the same spot. The only trouble is actually being able to to those things. It takes skill and practice to perfect them.

Pros of learning to fly a kite:

-it's a fun activity to do on a windy day

-there is a lot of science involved that you learn more about

Cons of learning to fly a kite:

-it may become frustrating if you can't seem to get it to fly

- you can only do it on a windy day


My opinion of hand launching is you have to do it wether you want to or not. It's a very useful way to get your kite up in the air. You definitely need a helping hand to do it easily.

The most important thing about letting out the line is making sure it doesn't all land in one place. You need to move around and let it go in places away from the rest of the line or else you will get a tangle.


Davis, G. (2007-2013). How To Fly A Kite. Retrieved from American Kite-fliers Association website: