What Happens If You Let Go Of A Kite?

Have you had a kite string snap on you before? Or did you accidentally let go of a kite string? I have been in both situations before, and let me tell you that it’s a whole well of mixed emotions when you see your kite bobbing away!

What happens if you let go of a kite? When you let go of a kite, tension in the kite string is removed and the kite will fall. The rate at which it will fall depends on a variety of factors, including wind speed, direction, weight of the kite, and obstacles.

Kite fallen to the ground
This usually happens when you let go of your kite…usually.

Have you ever thought “and just how far will my kite go if I let go of it?”? It’s something I’ve thought about when I was much younger enjoying kite flying. Would it fly across the ocean to another country? Would it maybe fly to the neighbouring suburb and another kid would pick it up and enjoy flying it just as I did?

How Far Do Kites Go If You Let Go Of Them?

Or more simply, how far can a kite fly untethered? The possibilities are endless here – it really depends on a number of factors such as:

If you’re lucky, your kite will land within sight after you’ve let go of it. If your kite has flown out of sight, there are a few different places that it could have flown to; we discuss this later in the article here.

Wind speed

Wind speed is a big factor in keeping a kite afloat when it is untethered. With strong winds, a kite could potentially cross big distances in the wind. Updrafts will also increase how high it flies off the ground; at the same time, downdrafts could push the kite downwards towards the ground.

Below is a guide on wind speeds and how it can affect kite flying. This is based off the Beaufort Wind Force Scale, or the Beaufort Scale for short. It is one of the first scales created to estimate wind speeds. The scale was devised in 1805 by the Irish hydrographer Francis Beaufort, a Royal Navy officer, while serving on the HMS Woolwich.

0 to 7 mph winds

On days when there is little to no wind, your kite will most likely struggle to stay afloat when you’ve let go of it. Your kite should not fly out of sight when untethered, and instead should float to the ground. However, certain kites will do well with light winds.

Beaufort NumberDescriptionWind SpeedLand Conditions
0Calm< 1 mphSmoke rising vertically.
1Light air1-3 mphDirection of wind shown by smoke drift, but not by wind vanes.
2Light breeze4-7 mphWind felt on face; leaves rustling; wind vane moving.

8 to 24mph winds

If you have a light beginner’s kite, these wind conditions are perfect for launching and flying kites. Letting go of your kite in such wind conditions will cause your kite to float and skip along. Hopefully your kite will snag on an obstacle and come to a stop unscathed!

Beaufort NumberDescriptionWind SpeedLand Conditions
3Gentle breeze8-12 mphLeaves and small twigs constantly moving.
4Moderate breeze13-18 mphSmall branches and loose paper moving; raises dust.
5Fresh breeze19-24 mphSmall leafy trees beginning to sway.

25 to 38 mph winds

These wind speeds are when you’ll start to struggle using an umbrella in. These are generally less-than-stellar conditions for beginners to fly a kite in. If you let go of your kite, you should expect that it will fly away and will disappear from sight very quickly.

Beaufort NumberDescriptionWind SpeedLand Conditions
6Strong breeze25-31 mphLarge branches start moving; whistling sounds.
7High winds; moderate to near gale winds32-38 mphWhole trees start moving; walking against the wind will start to prove difficult.

39 to >73 mph winds

What are you doing out there flying in the below conditions? For your own safety, you should stay indoors and prepare for any damage. Visibility can also be affected. That said, letting go of a kite in these conditions will most likely see your kite either gone in a blink of an eye, or torn apart. Please do not go out in such weather!

Beaufort NumberDescriptionWind SpeedLand Conditions
8Gale39-46 mphTwigs breaking off trees; walking in this will be quite difficult.
9Strong or severe gale47-54 mphSome structural damage (i.e. chimney pots and slates can be moved).
10Storm; whole gale55-63 mphTrees uprooted; considerable structural damage. This is seldom experienced inland, and more on coastal regions.
11Violent storm64-72 mphWidespread damage; rarely experienced inland
12Hurricane force>73 mphDevastation; heavy structural damage
I don’t mean to scare you with this table , however flying a kite should be the last thing on your mind if you’re experiencing such harsh weather conditions!

Wind Direction

If a kite is flying in the same direction as the wind is blowing, it will bob along just fine. However, a sudden change in wind direction can cause the kite to either fall to the ground, or to change the direction it was flying in. What causes winds to change direction? There are 3 primary factors that affect both wind speed and direction.

Pressure causes change in wind direction

Pressure diagram
Air will flow counter-clockwise into a low-pressure region,
and clockwise out of a high-pressure region

Air will always attempt to balance out pressure levels. As such, air will always blow or flow from high to low pressure areas. A high-pressure system next to a low-pressure system will always cause air direction that flows in a clockwise direction and out towards the low-pressure system. The low-pressure system causes air to flow counter-clockwise and inwards. The difference in pressure levels can affect how fast air flows from one system to the other.

You will also notice that air will flow in circular motions; this is also referred to as a cyclonic flow. A cyclonic flow is one of the elements that can lead to the creation of a tropical cyclone, also known as hurricanes or typhoons.

The Coriolis Effect

If air is always attempting to balance out pressure levels, why does it flow in a spiral instead of directly from a high-pressure system to a low-pressure system? This phenomenon is known as the Coriolis effect. It is defined by the National Weather Service as allowing the “calculation of the apparent effects on moving bodies when viewed from a rotating Earth.”

Imagine looking down on 2 children on a counter-clockwise-spinning merry-go-round, tossing a ball back and forth between the both of them. From the top down, it looks like the ball is moving in a straight line. However to the children, it would seem as if a force is moving the ball to the right of where it is thrown. This video is an excellent example of the Coriolis effect.


Friction created by wind

Surface-level winds are mostly influenced by wind, as this is where wind will encounter various surfaces (i.e. structures, moving traffic etc.). For example, when the wind blows towards a building, it can either rise above the building, or flow around the building in either direction. This causes a change in wind direction and pressure. Wind speed can also be decreased by a more varied surface, and vice-versa.

Weight Of The Kite

Your kite may seem weightless when it’s floating along in the sky, however there are a number of factors that keep it in flight.

Weight is the downward force generated by gravity of the Earth on the kite. The force of weight pulls the kite downwards, but the kite is kept afloat by the wind as it exerts a force on the kite.

Once the weight of a kite is more than the force exerted on the kite by wind, the kite will start falling towards the ground. However, if you let go of your kite, there is less ‘weight’ on the kite, and more force exerted by the wind. As such, your kite will fly away. If your kite is made from heavier material, it may stand a chance of landing closer to you.


Like our example above with friction affecting wind direction, any obstacles in the way of the kite will decrease the speed, or even change the direction of the kite.

A commonly-seen obstacle are trees – kites and kite strings are commonly found entangled in the branches of trees. Other obstacles could be structures such as high-rise apartment blocks or highways, and above-ground power or telephone lines.

Certain obstacles can be dangerous to try and retrieve a kite from. For example, if you are flying a kite and it gets stuck in above-ground power lines, electricity can travel from the power lines down the kite string and potentially cause severe injury or death. In such cases, you should always contact your local power company, who will have plans in place to remove your kite.

There are various factors that will dictate how far your kite will fly if you let go of it. Remember, safety should be a top priority when retrieving your kite. If it looks dangerous, it usually is too dangerous to risk for a kite. Now, as our landscape is varied, we move on to discussing where do kites land if their string snaps or if it was let go.

Where Can Kites Land If Let Go?

As mentioned above, I’ve had my kite string snap on me before. It was during a fairly windy day, and there were many people out flying kites on the beach. The beach was surrounded by a park with many trees. My kite string became tangled with someone else’s, and their kite was much bigger and stronger than mine, resulting in my kite string snapping.

Girl saying "oh no!"

I remember standing there and watching helplessly as my beautiful kite fluttered over the tallest trees in the surrounding park area. Unfortunately I never was able to retrieve my kite – it flew out of sight so quickly, and there were too many areas that it could have flown to, including the nearby roads and highway.

However, if you’d like to try your hand at retrieving a fly-away kite, below is a list of obstacles that kites are most likely to fly into. Do remember that safety should be your #1 priority when retrieving your kite!

Kites can either snag onto, or fly into/onto the following places:

  • A neighbouring suburb/town
  • High-rise apartments
    • Note: kites can block air vents, or get sucked down them if they land on the top of apartment blocks
  • Trees or shrubbery
  • Power lines
  • Onto roads or highways
  • Into the lake/sea/ocean

This list isn’t limited to the above, so keep that in mind when you accidentally (or on purpose) let go of your kite!

Now that you know what will happen when you let got of a kite, we have articles below that discuss the ideal weather, and safety tips for flying a kite, and various types kites.

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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