Lessons Learned

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Tree Time - Part One of Two

Trees are hungry for any wayward kite in the skies above the Wind Watcher proving grounds….
Latest chapter….in 2021…..Tree eats kite….

I put up my Into the Wind 9 foot Levitation delta kite fitted with the new adjustable dynamic spreader from Mike LeDuc into the skies above Wind Watcher proving grounds. The adjustable DS is used to fine tune any right or left flying bias in the delta kite in addition to the main purpose of providing a dynamic response to gusts.

As per normal operating procedures …. I put the kite up several hundred feet into the air above Wind Watcher proving grounds. As with most days… wind direction was from the West – North West with flight paths above tall 100+ foot trees. These flights are at more risks for kite eating trees….compared to flights with South winds where a large empty field provides a good safety box for any emergencies.

The wind was a bit squirrely in both direction and velocity with winds gusting up to 25 mph.

The Levitation delta fitted with the DS can withstand strong gust up to the mid 20’s mph.

I have found the adjustable DS is a bit more sensitive to the max gusts it can withstand. The original DS (non-adjustable) provided a bit wider range of gust protection with the upper end approaching 35 mph.

The Levitation delta kite fitted with the adjustable DS can take on interesting flight paths in heavier winds…..I call it grand barrel rolling…. That can take your breath way….

Per standard operating procedures….I tied off the kite line on my back fence and added a few streamers for visibility and returned to my home office for work. My office has a good view of the flying line tied to the fence….but I can not see the kite in the air from my office when the wind is blowing from the West North West….but I can see the kite line with the streamers which are there to give me a waring if the kite is getting into trouble….

The kite was flying fine when I left my home to run a few errands.

Upon returning home I could not spot the kite in the air where it was flying earlier…. My heart began to sink as there was just tall trees below where the kite was flying….

I immediately returned to the tie off point in my back yard and observed the streamers stretched out on the ground with the kite line tightly stretched out to the very top of a 100+ tall tree in my neighbors yard about 400 feet away…..and…..the Levitation delta was still flying just a few feet above the top of the tree!

Emergency recovery operations began immediately! I tried several attempts to pull the kite line free from the very top of the tree while trying to keep the kite free flying. I tried letting line out to gain altitude to avoid trapping the kite in the tree branches. This worked to a point but no freeing the kite line.

A closer inspection revealed the kite line was wrapped around the upper tree trunk way high in the tree with no way to get a good angle to free the line.

The wind remained squirrely with the wind speed ranging from ~ 5 mph to 25 mph. I almost lost the kite to tree branches during several of the lulls with the wind speeds dropping to ~ 5 mph. The kite actually floated down during one of the lulls and rested in the top branches. luckily a gust came in and lifted the kite free of the tree branches…. I played out line during the gust to give a bit more altitude to recover from the next lull.

I was running out of ideas.

I decided to tie off the kite line again and view the kite from my neighbors tree and see if I could develop any strategies to recover the kite….

Brief side note. INTW kites has been out of stock for the 9 foot Levitation delta kites for over a year! Factory issues in China seem to be the issue but I have no firsthand knowledge. Thus I am trying to be a bit more careful with my #1 KAP kite….

Upon inspecting the kite and the kite line wrapped around the tall tree, I did not see any way to free the line…. A full 360 degree wrap of the line prevented me getting any angles to fee the line….
The area directly under the kite was heavily wooded with no free landing areas…..but the nearby road and yard offered a very small space….that with a bit of luck…. I may be able to drop the kite into. The wind began to shift a bit more out of the North opening up a drop to the road recovery strategy.

Working against this was the wind direction and speed were highly variable…..

Complicating factors:

  • The line wrapped around the tree added friction and reduced the speed one could let line out….

  • Darkness was falling with the setting sun…..it is near impossible to recover a lost kite in the dark…

  • The weather forecast was flat out scary …. A storm front was approaching within a few hours with winds predicted to be near 50 mph…..

A recovery attempt … if one was to be mounted …. needed to start immediately while there was still light and before the storm strong winds began screaming through the tree branches.

Emergency recovery plan….. drop the kite into a small window of open space near the road about 100 feet from the tree during a lull in the wind.

  • Lower the kite to just above the tree tops…..not too low to get trapped in the branches … not too high to have the kite fly away….
  • Enlist the services of my wife ….. with a pair of scissors to cut the line
  • Take position down wind of the kite near the small open space window with good view of the kite & tree
  • Wait for a lull in the wind
  • Call my wife on her cell phone …. And tell her to cut the line when I observed a lull in the wind speed
  • Pray the kite would float down in the lull and hit the small open space window.

PS - this story is split due to size limit on forum.... story continues in part 2 of 2.


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