Lessons Learned

Had an epiphany? Stepped in a metaphorical cow pie? Share the experience here.

Tree Time - Part Two of Two

Part 2 of 2 ...
Reality and the wind gods had different ideas……
Facts have a way of distorting the best laid plans of men….and of kite recoveries….
What happened next…

  • A lull came….
  • Called my wife….
  • Who cut the kite line with a pair of scissors …
  • Then nothing…..the kite kept flying in the lull….
  • Not enough pull during the lull from the delta kite on the cut line to overcome the friction of the kite line wrapped around the tree…
  • Kite and line remained stuck in the tree 100 feet off the ground…. Darn….
  • The wind speed picks up
  • The increased force from the delta kite begins to pull the line slowly up with the kite gaining altitude….bit by bit….higher …. and higher into the sky….
  • The wind speed continues to gain strength and the delta is pulling harder …. and harder…. Flying higher into the darkening skies above….
  • The strategy of dropping the kite into a small open space window next to the tree during a lull…..was rapidly evaporating….into the thin air high above the tree…..
  • Higher and higher the kite flew….till the end of the now cut kite line freed itself from the top of the tree….
  • The delta kite was now flying free about 400 feet above the trees dragging about 400 feet of kite line with it as it drifted rapidly downwind in gusty air with me running after it loosing all hope of ever seeing this kite again…
  • I watched in despair as the delta kite disappeared over the horizon flying free over a forest, power lines and a busy road….
  • I pulled out my cell phone and snapped a few pictures as it floated away in the wind…..
  • Certainly this was a low point for me….after putting three different kites into trees during 2020 …. I was hoping for better times in 2021….
  • Kite flyers….are a hopeful and fearless breed…. I needed both of these characteristics on this day….
  • I decided not to give up hope ….. next steps….
  • Taking the snap shot of my last sighting of the kite and pulling out google maps and estimating direction of flight and distance traveled….I put together a rough ideas of where the kite may have drifted down after I lost sight of it.
  • I raced back to my home and got in my car and drove off in the general direction of where the kite disappeared.
  • I drove in wooded neighborhoods with power lines looking for any signs of the kite or kite line in the darkening skies. I was hoping the kite line may have snagged on a tree, powerline or structure with the kite remaining in the air where I might get it back.
  • After 15 minutes of searching there was no sign of the lost kite….
  • My emotions were down and spent….as I was getting ready to head home….I prayed a brief farewell prayer for the lost kite and headed home….
  • Prayers do get answered….as I turned the corner to head home the headlights of my car picked up the shape of the delta kite sitting plainly in the front yard of a home almost 3000 feet from my home!
  • I was able to recover the lost kite with no damage. I was also able to recover all the kite onto my spare Stratospool that I keep in the car.

Pure miracle that I was able to recover this fine kite!

Perhaps….just perhaps….2021 will be a better year on a number of fronts!

Below are a photo showing last view of the kite and few google map snap shots showing:

  • Tie off point and tree that trapped the kite
  • Rough open space I was hoping to drop the kite into
  • Ultimate landing point 2700 feet away.

Keep flying and fly safe!

Avoid flying kites near trees.....

Tree Work - Last Kite Sighting
Tree Work - Planned Drop Zone
Tree Work - Stuck Kite
Tree Work - Actual Drop Zone


  • Scissors are one way to solve this. A chainsaw is another! B) (Can still use the tree for a cosy fire then)
    Anyway, glad to hear you got your kite back!

  • Very interesting Jim. I note you had to split the tale in two - currently the maximum length of a post is set at 8K characters. Do you think I should increase it (to 16k or 20k)?

  • edited March 3

    Fun story, but I have to wonder if the lesson has actually been learned. Every single one of your kite loss stories that I remember have been because you let the kite fly on its own while you did something else. It's not hard to figure out that if you do that without an adequate safety box, the kite will very likely be lost, especially when it's happened over and over.

    That said, it's your kite, so you can do what you want with it, and we get to enjoy the fun stories as a result. :)

  • Dave, recommend 20K. Thanks.

    All, yes I am a slow learner when it comes to losing kites in trees. 100% my error for leaving kites flying free un attended ...

  • I've said you should write a book about your adventures with trees and kites, Jim - well now you've almost done so just with this one example. You were very lucky that it didn't drift a lot further.
    Can you explain the logic behind your "proving flights"? I can understand the urge to check a kite's behaviour in different conditions, but leaving it to fly unobserved for hours while you work or go shopping seems to do nothing except use up valuable hours of its life, since no kite lasts for ever. Such extended periods of flying will undoubtedly weaken the fabric, perhaps stretch it, and almost certainly fade it. With a currently-irreplaceable kite like the Levitation, that seems somewhat foolhardy.
    The fact that you lose so many kites to the nearby trees is surely another reason not to fly the kite without watching it. When it does crash or do strange things, if you're not watching it you learn nothing of the reasons behind the event, but do end up with a lot of trouble and sometimes the loss of the kite or at least damage.
    You are undoubtedly (in my eyes) the master of KAP, flying in many difficult situations around the world. Clearly, you need to be confident in the kites that you use, but I wonder at just how much these long, unwatched flights can help in that. To my way of thinking, all those unproductive hours in the air would make it more likely that a kite might fail when you are using it to produce your great aerial photos.
    And while losing one kite to a tree might be classed as bad luck, doing so on a regular basis seems to be something else entirely.

  • edited March 3

    I kind of get it. One of the cool things about kites is that they can fly indefinitely, given the right conditions of course, which is something you can't do with a drone. It's kind of fun to just set them up and let them fly on their own. The problem is that as time approaches infinity, the probability of the conditions not remaining right approaches 1. Maybe Jim's kites are more stable than mine, but I'd never expect to leave a kite, do some errands, and return to find it still flying.

    Anyway, I'm glad you found your kite, Jim. It must have been quite the rush to finally come across it at the last minute. If you want to leave kites flying unattended, may I suggest one made out of a plastic drop cloth/bag and wooden dowels? There are some excellent designs on https://my-best-kite.com (for the record, I'm not affiliated with that site, I just find it really good and so recommend it a lot). They only cost a few dollars and a few hours to make, so losing one is no big deal. I even lost the plastic one you see in this photo during the flight when it was taken due to -- you guessed it -- something going wrong while it was tied off. (There was a lull in the wind, and my priority was keeping the ripstop one in the air. Meanwhile a spar slipped out of its strap on the plastic one, and it spiraled into the trees before I could save it.)


  • Agree....leaving kites attended in the sky has risks..
    Yes the kite fabric can stretch and fade with may hours of use....
    The proving grounds flights are mostly for fun and relaxation..... if not most of my kite flying and KAPing.

    In years past I have had kites up for multiple days at a time..... (in my younger and wilder days).....
    I picked up this interesting habit (flying kites for multiple days) while traveling the world for work...including some economically depressed areas .... where I would see simple home made kites flying for days if not weeks at a time.....never returning to the ground.

    I fly and tie off kites at my home several times a week year round....just for fun and relaxation....and on occasion .... some excitement with trees. Kite flying helps me to relax while I am working....I can just look out my window and see the kite and or kite line with streamers....puts a smile on my face every time.....well worth a stretched and faded kite (some of my favorite kites ....were the most faded and stretched!).

    I have tried some low cost kites....but for high frequency flying I found it better to use higher quality kites with some reinforcement for durability and wind range. I routinely swap out standard spars for SkyShark wrapped carbon tubes and where possible add the Dynamic Spreaders.

    Kite line use has evolved with time....used to fly only Dacron or Polyester kite line..... Now I use a mix of Dyneema for light wind days and Dacron / Polyester for high wind days. I have Stratospools dedicated for Dyneema and for Dacron. I let the wind pick the kite and kite line.

    Like the comment on the two Doperos....one fails while you are holding the other one....multiple kite triage can be exciting...which one to save .... Crossed kite lines is one area that does make me nervous .... https://research-benton.ced.berkeley.edu/discuss2/index.php?p=/discussion/4706/lost-at-sea

    Future wish list....
    - Partner with interested individuals with some IoT / electronics skills....to develop simple sensor that would monitor the pulling force on the kite line (from the tie off point) and send a warning message to my phone to alert me that the kite is:
    - getting too little wind
    - getting too much wind
    This is version one.
    Version two....has some simple AI built in ....
    - getting too little wind - power up auto winder to quickly retrieve kite
    - getting too much wind - power up auto winder to slowly retrieve kite during mini lulls and hold during gusts

    Market potential ....limited, Stress reduction ..... priceless!


  • So it's mostly just for fun - makes sense! I think in your position I'd keep my best KAP kites put away for their intended purpose and use other kites for the marathon flying, but certainly in the environment you live in I, too, would be tempted to have kites in the air whenever possible and for as long as possible. A kite's only really a kite when it's in the air!

  • edited March 5

    One hell of a story Wind Watcher. Believe it or not I can relate. lol. The last couple of weeks I have been tying off 3 kites in a train formation in an open field behind my development and riding back to my house, leaving them up for a couple of hours. I just think it's fun to do and gives the people in the neighborhood something to look at while they're out walking etc. Just yesterday I thought of leaving the kites up overnight, but I was afraid. But today I decided to go out around noon and put them up. As I got them up, I monitored them for about 20minutes and as I was about the head back home, the line snapped. lol. I saw all three kites start descending form about 400ft. Luckily for me, there are a couple open corn fields next to where I fly, but the bad part was there are still many trees on the boundaries of these fields which one of the kites was stuck in. So the middle kite was stuck, one was still flying above the tree and the other kite was on the ground. Eventually I managed to retrieve all 3 kites so I live to fly another day. These were all small kites though and not the ones I use for KAP. It's been too windy here to KAP so that's where the smaller kites come in. These experiences, while stressful at times just add fun to the whole kite flying experience, for me at least . I still want to try leaving a kite up overnight though. lol.

  • Great story and kite recovery. Kite line snaps are always exciting affairs!!

    Enjoy sticking those kites up into the air.
    The kites I fly above my neighborhood every week aways bring smiles on many faces.....

    It has been a tough year with Covid-19.... Kites in the air bring hope. I have a few new children in the neighborhood who are interested in flying kites.

    Wind blows... kites fly!


  • Wind blows...kites fly! Statement to live by. lol.

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