If you are planning to fly a power kite you likely have one main goal in mind – generating power. Power kites can best be identified by their foil design. Absent are the spars and rods that are found in most stunt and single-line kites. Power kites frequently resemble a parachute and are designed with a curved leading edge and a convex shape.
The shape of the kite allows it to harness as much of the power of the wind as possible.
Power kites are used for a wide range of recreational activities including kite-surfing, buggy boarding and kite skiing to name a few. Due to its power the kite is even capable of pulling the flier across sand at the beach.
Land versus water kites can be distinguished by its leading edges.
A water-activity power kite has pre-inflated leading edges that allow for easy re-launch if the kite happens to fall into water. Alternately, a land-activity power kite inflates through the flow of air into its cells and is not suitable for water activity.
Another difference among power kites is the number of lines for control; they are available as dual-line or quad-line.
A quad-line power kite will generally include brake lines; this safety feature is intended to give the pilot ability to depower while in flight. Quad-line kites also tend to move slower through the air than dual line and are therefore more stable. Consequently, these kites are generally recommended for traction sports.
Dual-line kites will tend to move faster through the air and be slightly more unpredictable than quads. These are suited to more recreational use (i.e. kite surfing, kite skiing) when usually fewer added dangers exist. The video below of the FW Mighty Bug (dual-line) shows how quickly these kites move through the sky.
More than any other type of kite, size matters when it comes to power kites. A larger is be able to harness more air within its sail generating significantly more energy. This is an important consideration when using dual-line power kites because there is no included system to depower the kite. The only way land a large power kite is to fly it to the edge of the wind window where the pull is minimized.
It is important to consult the manufacturer recommendations for wind speed and skill level before selecting any power kite. Due to the power of these kites, they are generally not recommended for small children.
The control system of a power kite is similar to that of a traditional stunt kite. Due to the extreme pull of the kite, shorter and stronger lines are recommended for power kites. Most power kites will come equipped with lines between 60 ft. and 100 ft.
Padded handles are often the pilot control system of choice for power kites. As previously noted, many large power kites include brake systems that allow the pilot to depower the kite when necessary. These braking systems force the kite to spill wind; therefore, the force on the kite is drastically reduced allowing for rapid landings.
Some will also include harnesses to ensure the kite does not escape the grip of the pilot. Any kite that contains a harness should also include a quick-release system for the pilot.
It is important to follow all manufacturer recommended safety instructions when flying any power kite.