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Letting out line during a dive

Some time back, I was given advice that when my kite goes into a dive, I should let out line. This was the first time that I had come across this advice though the purpose behind it was never explained. In a more recent thread I started (the KAP one) I mentioned that I did let out line during a dive and nothing happened. Oddly, no one else in the thread made any comment about why nothing happened and what should have happened instead. So I'd like to bring up the subject again.

I am actually curious. Is letting out line during a dive meant to save a kite? Though nothing like that happened in my case. The kite continued to dive despite me letting out line. Are there cases of diving kites returning to regular flight after letting out line?

I did a google search on this subject and not much comes up at all.


  • I think there are two principle reasons for that advice. Firstly, if the kite is diving and you continue pressure on the line it will almost certainly continue on its downward course with increased velocity and therefore the risk of serious damage when it crashes. Secondly, taking off the pressure and leaving a little slack line sometimes allows the kite to recover itself and continue flying. This isn't guaranteed, and didn't work for you, but the resulting crash was probably less damaging than it would have been had you carried on pulling the line.

  • Ah so it works sometimes at least. I see it's worth trying every time there is a dive.

  • Another time when I give the line some slack is when the kite is flying behind me. Tension on the line causes the kite to go in the direction it’s pointing, and I don’t want the kite to crash land in back of me.

  • edited June 2022

    Sometimes I've found that if the kite continues to dive after letting out line, tightening it up enough to give it a light tug will get it to right itself. It probably depends on the kite and bridle setting.

  • Interesting to know that a light tug can work on some occasions after initially letting out line. When my Levitation Delta drops due to the wind decreasing, I can get it right back up by putting some tension on the line. And that's something I learned on my own.

  • Any experienced kite-flier and even most children know, of course, that in light wind a tug on the line will help to keep the kite in the air, or even persuade it to climb. (Children often love to not just tug the line but run with it). Such a pull is effectively increasing the wind speed temporarily. This is quite different from tugging on the line of a kite which is diving despite there being sufficient wind, which can be very counter-productive as already discussed.

  • edited June 2022

    NZFlier: "Any experienced kite-flier and even most children know, of course, that in light wind a tug on the line will help to keep the kite in the air, or even persuade it to climb."

    Well a family member of mine certainly didn't know that. I passed the line over to her so that she could have a go at flying the Levi Delta. Within seconds of her taking possession of the line, the wind dropped and so did the kite and she had no idea how to correct the situation. And down the kite went. And by the way, this was an adult woman who I handed the line to. There are probably quite a few people who don't know what to do in that situation.

    "This is quite different from tugging on the line of a kite which is diving despite there being sufficient wind"

    Yep, a completely different scenario.

  • Dragonblade: The reason for a persistent dive in most circumstances is because the kite has encountered wind speeds greater than its design allows - the frame flexes, the aerodynamics go haywire and a stable dive (usually to the same side) results.
    By paying out line or running down wind effectively reduces the airspeed over the kite for long enough for stability to be restored. The physics is simple and provides the explanation!

  • Hi all
    when a DELTA has decided to dive it is always difficult to convince that this is not best chance for surviving...
    more seriously the key feature that can prevent WELL that a DELTA kite dives is POP-FIN well used and explained by DL
    in several conditions when a delta has no pop-fin the only reasonable action is slack-line but...

    if there is wind enough in the good standard direction most probably the DELTA has good chances for recovery
    if the wind is too strong or too weak the DELTA dives until ground... until finds a good tree... until dies....

    wish you all the best possible... and maybe use another kite... a ROKKER doesn't dive
    SMAC from Italy

  • edited June 2022

    I should probably be more specific about the circumstances in which giving the line a light tug can help to stabilize the kite. It's not when the kite is diving because the wind is too strong, but rather if it gets put into a dive by turbulence or a thermal. For example, after riding out a thermal, the kite may be directly overhead with little tension in the line. Sometimes it will dive as it turns downwind while the line is still slack. Usually, my kites will eventually self-stabilize when that happens, but sometimes they need a little encouragement in the form of a light tug on the line. A similar thing can occur when turbulence due to rapidly changing wind direction causes the line to go slack.

    However, if the kite is diving because the wind is too strong, you just have to let out more line. Sometimes it's not possible to let it out fast enough. A drogue or tail can also help if you're trying to fly in conditions close to the top of your kite's wind range.

  • Dragonblade: In your eagerness to counter what others comment, you should perhaps be a little more careful. My comment that you quote clearly says "experienced kite-flier", but you give an example of your family member who obviously has no experience whatsoever, judging by her reaction. While children seem to react by instinct, those of us who came to kite-flying as adults certainly need experience to learn the ropes, and it's a learning curve that never ends.
    Montagdude's advice is good, and I'd certainly support his advice that a suitable tail can help in many circumstances. Sometimes it can totally transform a kite's behaviour. The type of tail is important - for an extreme illustration of this see my video here.

  • Montagdude, yea I had been considering a tail like I mentioned in an earlier thread. I figured that a tail would likely reduce the chance of a dive.

    NZFlier, yes I have watched your video on kite tails before. Very informative and you can clearly see the difference a fuzzy tail can make. It was that video in particular that influenced me to obtain a fuzzy tail. For a little while, I was thinking of making a fuzzy but looking at youtube videos on how to make them, it seemed like a bit too much fuss. I think I'll buy one instead.

  • For DELTAs Dan Leigh recommends fuzzy tail not drogue
    the fuzzy tail adds a pure drag at the end of spine that has a stabilizing effect ; a drogue is changing the angle of the DELTA
    SMAC from Italy

  • Smac, yes I would definitely add a fuzzy tail. I do get the impression that most people do not use any kind of tail with a Levitation Delta. However, these kites can have a tendency to dive on some occasions. So adding a fuzzy tail would certainly help to keep it in the air.

  • The last time I tried a tail on my Levitation Light it didn’t really help, and I promised the kite I’d never do it again. Your results might be different.

    It may add a bit of weight to the back end to encourage the kite to orient itself properly. It’s worth a try. It couldn’t hurt.

  • SMAC: I don't understand why there should be any difference in the effect of a fuzzy tail versus a drogue tail on a kite's stability. Surely they both simply provide added drag and inertia?

  • @Aeronaut :
    sometimes it's a good choice to accept the experience of a man that has devoted most life time to DELTAs... if Dan Leigh says "use a fuzzy tail not a drogue" ok maybe that the difference is not understandable but the experience tells that is better a fuzzy tail ; stop thinking...
    if you want an engineering comment take into account that drogues act more near the horizontal line while fuzzy tails are adding a force at an angle more similar to natural inclination of a flying DELTA

    wish you all the best possible
    SMAC from Italy

  • Chaz, that's interesting. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Out of curiosity, what type of tail did you attach to your Delta? Was it a fuzzy tail or some other type?

  • I used the fuzzy tail. I was going back and forth between the Levitation Light and the Dan Leigh Trooper trying to find the happy medium.

    The fuzzy tail, being heavier than a drogue, might just be the thing to keep the kite pointed up. It's probably worth trying in your case, and it couldn't hurt. Either way, the fuzzy tail is a good thing to have in your KAP bag. I always use one on my DL Trooper.

  • I have no technical knowledge, but I do have thousands of hours of flying experience with many different kites, and I can guarantee that in almost all cases a fuzzy tail will do a better job of stabilising a kite that anything else I've tried. For proof of how good they are, see my video linked in my previous comment, which shows just a couple of examples of many I've tried. Drogues can sometimes be effective, but often aren't. For example, Into The Wind sold their Parafoil 10 with a small drogue, and having found it unsatisfactory, I replaced it with a fuzzy tail which transformed the kite into a much more stable item. Premier Kites sell all their sleds with drogues, which make great bags for the kites but do almost nothing for their stability.

  • edited July 2022

    I'm sure it depends on how big the drogue is. The drogue I made for my kites does a good job stabilizing them. It wouldn't surprise me if most drogues included with kites are mainly just for looks.

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