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RickI 11-16-2007 11:08 AM

Unexpected Kite Launch
A kiter was recently reported to have had his leg caught in kite lines, was lofted to a considerable height (30 m was reported) and was subsequently dropped to his death near Anapa, Ukraine on the Black Sea during a powerful storm. Gusts on the order of 62 kts. were reported in the area. Several large vessels were sunk or grounded during this severe storm.


Originally Posted by vj
so here comes some details on the accident.........

First of all, it was a really an accident - not because of "irresponsible" attitude to conditions or anything like that.

He measured the wind and realised it was too much for his Takoon Era 7,5. However, hoping that the wind might slow down, so he set up the kite, and was checking the bar setup, with the kite behind him. In a moment a gust moved the kite (which probably was not sanded enough), lines got stretched with one line around the leg and kite went up looping. It was a second and he couldnt do anything - flying up backwards and connected to kite with his leg. Probably it was not 100 ft height.....but the fall was enough to kill him//////////



This tragedy follows others including one that happened 24 years ago in Washington State in the USA. Steve Edeiken was preparing to launch a world record, 14,000 square foot parafoil kite sponsored by Budweiser. After a preceding day of very light wind, a sudden gust of wind unexpectedly launched the kite while Steve was among the kite shrouds. His leg was caught as he was carried about 120 ft. aloft. It was reported that he succeeded in untangling his ankle while still hanging on to the shrouds. The kite then started to oscillate violently side to side eventually throwing Steve away from the kite and to his death. The approximate 2 inch diameter kevlar kite line then parted and the foil folded up and fell to earth.

Life Magazine, November 1983 carried a two page photograph of the tragedy.

RickI 11-16-2007 11:18 AM

Steve Edeiken is well known and respected in the kite flying community. As a mark of respect, that American Kitefliers Association (AKA) established the annual Steve Edeiken Award. Dave Gomberg and Peter Lynn comment on safety considerations for flying of very large kites at:

Regarding kiteboarding, there have been other unexpected launches over the years. In very strong, gusty winds it can be challenging to bury your kite with enough sand. The vibrating of the kite can dig the kite out from under the burden all too readily. The kite lines can readily tangle while strumming in the high wind potentially making the kite overpowered and uncontrollable upon launch. Kites have flown free from the surface and have injured bystanders in years past.

This is the third kiter to have been lost in excessively gusty winds due to tangles within the last few months, including other sad losses in Spain and Hungary. The circumstances of the tangling varied widely in all three cases. The common factor in all of them was high, likely too high wind for kiting within a reasonable degree of safety.

Some considerations come to mind.

1. Don't kite in excessively strong or gusty wind. This seems trite, but it is not, people need to take a hard, cold look at this consideration before rigging up. In some cases it may be for the last time, so think about it. At least two guys have died rigging up in excessively gusty conditions and waiting for a while with ensuing fatal tangles. If in doubt, don't rig up.

2. It is a good idea in stronger winds to attach and carefully preflight your lines last, just before launch. Leaving them on the ground creates a tangle hazard and the bar can "fly" the kite to some degree if it comes free from the ground. The lines and bar of the runaway kite can be hazardous as well.

3. Anchor your kite with enough sand. If in doubt, deflate the leading edge and roll it up until you are ready to head out. Don't leave the kite lying around to be deteriorated by strumming in high wind and possibly to cause problems if it launches on its own.

4. The kiter and assistant should carefully preflight the kite before release. If necessary a third person to walk down the lines preflighting them before kite release.

5. Carry hook knive(s). You may not be able to use them in all emergencies but if you don't carry any they will do you no good whatsoever.

6. Avoid line tangles while in the water at all costs. Wind and wave loads can impart enormous line tensions to cut or simply drown kiters. Stalling a kite over head is one way to get tangled another is to move towards the kite with it on the water and many other ways.

Kiting can be tricky, doing it in very strong conditions can shrink the margin for error to unexceptable levels at times.

RickI 11-16-2007 02:47 PM

I understand the lost kiter was untangling his lines down toward the bar when the kite was lifted free from the ground by a strong gust in the Ukraine. He had decided not to launch based upon wind measurements but elected to rig up and wait to see if the wind eased down. The kite launched suddenly, started looping and caught him by the leg dragging him aloft.

There have been a number of other accidents over the years when the kite has been on the ground, lines attached while the kiter moved along the lines. I recall a kiter was gored by a log many years back in Brazil when he was walking towards his unanchored kite when it suddenly relaunched.

It is best to detach lines from one side of the kite, if not all of them, with a thoroughly anchored kite, before moving down the lines.

Regarding setup, I would recommend attaching your kite lines last, just before launch. There are different approaches but one I learned from Paul Menta six years ago was to tie the flight lines to the board foot straps while stretching them out and untangling as an anchor. I put the board perpendicular to the kite and between the wing tips. When everything is straightened out and preflighted on the ground, I connect the lines to the kite just before launch. That way if the kite takes off prematurely there are no lines attached to cause additional problems.

Some of the time, it may make little difference how you setup. In high wind or in a powered kite incident, it can make a critical difference.

RickI 03-17-2015 09:22 PM

Tragically a similar accident happened recently in Vietnam involving a young boy. The video is particularly graphic and disturbing. It shouldn't be viewed lightly.

"Boy caught in huge kite plunges 20 metres to his death

QMI Agency
Monday, March 16, 2015 6:50:46 EDT PM

A five-year-old Vietnamese boy plunged 20 metres to his death after his leg became caught in the rope of a huge kite that carried him away Sunday. The boy, identified by LiveLeak as Van Minh Dat, was in an area of Ho Chi Minh City where kite-flyers regularly gather and his parents work selling drinks.

Dat was near a kite belonging to the Saigon Kite Club that had a wingspan of 18 metres and went underneath it unnoticed, LiveLeak reported, citing the newspaper Nguoi Lao Dong. His legs became entangled in the rope and when the kite took flight, Dat was carried away with it.

The group flying the kite tried to bring it down safely but were unable. The kite soared to about 20 metres in the air when the rope came loose and Dat plumetted to the ground.

He was taken to hospital but later died.


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