How Do I Bring a Kite Down Quickly?

There are many reasons as to why you need to bring a kite down quickly. It can sometimes be because there is a storm approaching, or your kite is flying towards a form of danger. Either way, safety should be your number one priority when retrieving your kite.

To bring your kite down, it is best to put your reel on the ground behind you, and anchor it with either a sandbag, or tie the reel to a railing. Then quickly pull in your kite hand-over-hand – please note that this can cause rope burn or cuts if the winds are exceptionally strong. Alternatively, you can walk towards your kite to lower the tension in the kite line and then start reeling it in.

Why Would I Want to Bring My Kite Down Quickly?

Kites on the ground

As previously mentioned, there are a variety of situations that could have you wanting to bring your kite down quickly and safely. We will detail some situations here.

A Storm Approaches

If you see dark clouds on the horizon, and the weather report is signalling storms are approaching, it’s best to bring your kite down quickly. Wind conditions can change very quickly and that can cut short your kite-flying session.

Another reason that falls under this category would be that you’ve decided to go kite flying even when the forecasted weather conditions are not ideal. In such cases, once the wind picks up, you can be sure that rain is not far behind.

Either way, you will need to bring your kite down quickly, or risk getting struck by lightning! If you want to know what is good weather to fly your kite in, check out our article here.

Your Kite is Approaching Danger

Damaged Kite in Tree
Damaged kite caught in tree

If you are flying in a park, on a beach, or near buildings and/or structures, there are a few dangers and obstacles that you should be looking out for:

  • Trees
    • The branches of a tree can easily snag your kite line and tear holes in your kite sail.
  • Overhead telephone or electrical poles and wires
    • If your kite touches or wraps around these obstacles, it can conduct an electric current towards you, potentially causing electrocution. Even if you don’t get electrocuted, there is the possibility that you short out or damage the system and take out the lines. This can sometimes result in hefty fines for causing damage to city property.
    • If your kite gets caught in overhead lines, DROP YOUR SPOOL / WINDER AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AND TAKE COVER. Do not attempt to retrieve your kite and contact your city council or electrical company immediately and let them know what has happened. Keep others away from the spool or winder.
  • Building and structures such as statues, cell towers, or even overhead traffic lights
    • Apart from the fact that the rough surfaces or sharp edges of buildings can cut your kite line, or rip holes in your kite sails, if your kite is flying high enough above buildings, it can be sucked into vents as well.
    • At speed, your kite can cause damage to windows or roofs, or even injure people in these densely populate areas.
  • Other kites and kite fliers
    • When there are other kites in the area, you should always watch where your kite is flying. Your kite line could potentially tangle with others and either get cut or cut other kites’ lines.
    • When it is gusty, and you are still new to controlling your kite, you could potentially injure someone, or cause damage to their kite.
  • Spectators (non-kite-fliers, but in your immediate vicinity)
    • Kites can be very hypnotic to watch when flying in the sky. Spectators can unknowingly step on your kite line and get tangled up in it.
    • The video below shows an accident where a child was picked up by the trailing edge of a large kite at a kite-flying festival. Note that the video shows distressing footage. Viewer discretion is advised.

How to Bring Your Kite Down Quickly and Safely

In the video below, you can see how to bring down your kite quickly if you are using a spool or reel. Note that this will work on single-line kites only. Here we are assuming that most people looking for an easy way to enter the world of kite flying will start with a single-line kite.

If you have a winder instead of a spool or reel, it can be very difficult to wind in your kite quickly especially in high-wind situations. Instead of trying to wind it in, throw your kite reel to the ground, then pull your line in hand-over-hand as quickly as you can.

You may also want to walk downwind (the way the wind is blowing away from you) – this is known as “walking the kite down” – but don’t just leave your reel, spool, or winder on the ground. Try and secure it with a sandbag or anchor it to a railing. This is best for larger single-line kites, or if the winds are very strong.

When your kite is within arm’s reach, grab the kite by either the bridle line or keel where it is attached to your flying line, or on the leading edge or front of the kite. These are 2 spots on your kite that will allow you to keep your kite under control, preventing any fresh gusts from taking it out of your hands.

While holding on to your kite (either pre-launch, or when you have retrieved it from the skies), make sure that the wind does not suddenly catch your kite, which will put unnecessary strain on it. If there is a large amount of strain on a specific point on your kite, the spars or frame of your kite could break, or the kite sail could tear.

If you are an advanced user, it can be good to keep some small pulleys and carabiners with straps in your kite-flying kit to quickly retrieve a large and strongly-pulling kite. To do this, put the pulley over your kite line, and snap your carabiner through the holes. Holding on to the strap and the pulley, you can then safely lower and retrieve your kite.

Kite Pulleys and Carabiner
Image Source: | The orange one is a climbing pulley sold by Gomberg Kites ($15) and the tin one is a modified pulley from Tractor Supply (~$7)

It is very important to note that you should NEVER wrap any lines around your hands, wrists, arms, or any other part of your body. This is because kite lines, at tension, can cut through flesh. You should always be able to fully release yourself from the kite in the event of an emergency – so no wrapping kite lines around fingers, hands, wrists, arms, or any other part of your body. In your mind, you should also tell yourself that safety is your number one priority, and be prepared to let go of your kite in case of an emergency. Remember: the cost of a new kite and a kite-flying kit is always cheaper, and less painful (or lethal)!

What to Do After Bringing Your Kite Down

When the kite finally is on the ground or in your hands, take some time to wind all the line back onto your spool, reel, or winder. It may not be possible to check for knots, tangles, or twists due to the change in weather or light conditions. If so, pack up as best as you can and seek shelter immediately.

Packing up

Unless you are staying the night on the beach or in the park, there will always be a time when you have to pack up and head home. Generally packing up is simple – you reverse the order in which you assembled your kite.

We recommend following the steps below to pack up if there is no rush for you to leave the area:

  1. Once you have retrieved your kite, check both your kite and kite lines for any damage. While you may not be able to fix it on the spot, you can always make a note to check and repair any damage when you are home.
  2. Anchor your kite – disconnect any flying lines from the bridle(s) or keel, and if necessary, tie them off. You may need to get someone to help you with this if you are in a hurry or if the wind is whipping your kite around.
  3. Hold up the bridle lines, and check for any tangles before laying the lines on top of the kite.
  4. Disassemble your kite according to the manufacturer’s directions, if any. You may then finish with either folding or rolling the kite up and placing it in its bag.
  5. Check that all parts of your kite, especially its spars, are in your bag. If you have other people around, keep your spars in your hand as bystanders may accidentally trod on them and break them if you lay your spars on the ground. This is the same for any other parts of the kite that can be easily broken.
  6. Once your kite is put away, wind up your kite line(s). If you wind with your right hand while holding the winder in your left, you should unwind in the same way to prevent twists in the line during the winding and unwinding process.
  7. Gather up your belongings, and leave the area.

More Haste, Less Speed!

Sketch of person running fast with the typical 'speed lines' behind.

It can be difficult to remember the above when threatened with a storm. The following are some tips to remember for when you are packing away your kite, or when you have reached home safely:

  • If your kite’s bag has a zipper, run your hand on the inside of the zipper while zipping up. Be careful to ensure your kite does not get caught in the zipper.
  • Make sure your lines are not tangled before you pack them away. This will help you when you get home and unpack everything.
  • People tend to purchase spare parts for their kites not because the parts were broken, but because they got lost or forgotten in their haste to leave. Always do a last check of all your kite-flying kit before leaving.
  • A commonly used kite sail material is ripstop nylon, which can become moldy or rot when damp. If your kite is damp or wet (perhaps due to a storm), make sure to remove it from its bag once you get home and let it dry out fully before storing away.
    • We recommend drying your kite on indoor clotheslines, without any heat (i.e. do not use a hairdryer, and do not put it in the dryer), as it can change the shape and size of your kite.
    • Do not lay it out on the lawn to dry as
      • your kite can fly away if not secured, and/or
      • dew/moisture can still gather on your kite and prevent it from drying fully.
  • If you have been flying your kite on the beach, you should check your kite for any salt. Evaporated saltwater will rub your kite sail and lines, and often cause fraying or a ‘sanding down’-like effect on its material. Rinse out your kite with freshwater after flying on the beach, and then let it dry fully before storage.
  • If your kite has pockets where the spars go, always check for sand or salt residue in these pockets, and dust them out.
  • Be aware of both the limitations of your skills and strength. It is best to not fly anything too large for the current and forecasted conditions. Definitely do not try anything complicated near others that you are not 100% positive you can handle. If you want to practice, it’s best to go with a local kite flying club so that someone can act as your ‘spotter’.
  • Be aware of the power and limitations of your kite(s)! Novelty kites can be very pretty in the air, but they also require set up and constant monitoring. Always be aware of the wind conditions, and always be prepared for any sudden gusts or unexpected changes.

Kite flying can be deceptively strenuous! Expert kite fliers make kite flying look simple because they have had a lot of practice. Remember, safety should be your number 1 priority. If you get too tired, you may not be able to safely take your kite down. In turn, this can cause serious damage to your kite, or serious injury to yourself and/or others.

Have you been in a situation that required you to retrieve your kite quickly? Let us know in the comments what the situation was, and how you took your kite down!

Lee & Cameron

We have always loved flying kites in our childhood. When we grew up, we realised that kite flying is slowly being taken over by technology, and it was difficult for us to learn anything about kites. After years of trial and error, we bring to you what we've learnt.

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