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Author Topic: Fighter kite safety  (Read 624 times)
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timothymcmackin
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« on: March 18, 2014, 12:07 PM »

On Saturday some of my local kite-flyers and I were at our field and got treated to a big fighter-kite battle run by the local Hindu temple. Well, actually, we didn't get to see much of the battle; we got to see the loose kites drifting into our field from the temple, which is across the lake from where we fly. (Kind of a bummer that we missed it; I would have liked to watch, but didn't know about it ahead of time.)

The problem is that those loose kites were each dragging 50-100 feet of abrasive line in a 10-12 mph wind. (I've not done much with fighters; I figured that they would get cut closer to the kite and drag way less line.) One of our group who was there early said that some of the first kites had manja (glass coating) on the line, but the 8 or 10 I cleaned up later that day didn't. Regardless, there were dozens of kites flying by, laying their lines across our field, which was full of kids, a volleyball game, some informal soccer playing, and a lot of people and dogs just out enjoying the day, not to mention our kites. By the end of the day we had quite a pile of scratchy yellow and purple line to throw away.

The park ranger talked to the temple about this, but in the interest of encouraging kite flying, I'm wondering if there's anything we can do to make their kite festival safer. Is there a way to modify the kites (in this case, traditional Indian-style diamond fighters of extremely thin paper and wood rods) so they won't travel far when their lines are cut? Is there a way to catch them before they drift away? Or is the only safe fighter kite battle a touch-only battle?
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mikenchico
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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2014, 09:46 PM »

Here in the US, and other places I'm sure, we don't use cutting line for exactly the reasons you pointed out. There have been many injuries and even deaths in those countries that practice fighting with glass coated lines. Since you saw many kites without cutting line I would wonder if they were playing a little "Sheep & Wolf", that is done here at some festivals to demonstrate traditional fighting where one or two experienced fliers will fly with cutting line using the "Sheep" without cutting line as the target kites to be cut loose. Cut kites are "Finders Keepers" by tradition and it's always a fun demo for the kids (and grownups) chasing after the cut kites. Since you didn't find a lot of Manja they may have only accidently cut down a Wolf or two.

The eastern tradition of kite fighting involves everybody flying and fighting at once, our fighter competitions are run one on one and we just count line touches for the win. That probably breaks to far away from their traditions and is slower without as much excitement so suggesting that probably wouldn't get far. But a ban on cutting line during free competitions keeps everybody equal and you can still cut other lines with the proper technique and a bit more work although there will be more crashes due to tangles but it's workable.

I would talk with the organizers and express your concerns before an accident causes a halt to it. But be sure to also voice your excitement at witnessing the tradition and see if you could be invited to attend next year. A skilled fighter with a traditional kite is a joy to watch, but not so much to compete against for a Noob like me   Shocked   

We do hold kite battles where cutting is acceptable but cutting line is banned in our Rokakku battles which are a free for all as per their tradition and are always a crowd favorite at festivals.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xu6EqTK-1Y0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veHCWrz6Mz4

« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 10:00 PM by mikenchico » Logged

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Allen Carter
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« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2014, 10:36 PM »

They just need to post a few people down wind to chase loose kites. Fun for the runners, safer for everyone. The people need to take care with manja line, maybe even wear gloves, but it's the kind of thing that's not too dangerous with awareness, but gets people into trouble when they come in contact with it unawares.

Big Rok battles at U.S. kite festivals can have the same problems, thought without the coated lines. Positioning runners is part of the setup.

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timothymcmackin
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« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2014, 06:13 AM »

How much line do you typically let out in your fighter kite battles? I was surprised to find 100 feet or more of line attached to some of the cut kites, which suggests to me that the kites were very high. To get to our field, the kites traveled about 3/4 of a mile, from the looks of a map. (Another mile or three and they'd be at the airport.) They also cleared some high trees that separate the temple from the lake, and of course they covered the lake itself to get to us. So having kite runners won't fix the problem -- they'd have to cover a great distance. Here's a map.

I'm wondering if we could ask them to limit the height of the kites. Then the cut kites might get caught in the trees rather than clear the trees and go who-knows-where.
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ezme6
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« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2014, 07:20 AM »

about 300 ft...
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Allen Carter
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« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2014, 12:19 PM »

It's pretty easy to see where the kites are going to go, and in this case having even one person in the park would have solved the problem. They need people down wind if they are going to be cutting kites out of the sky regardless of how high they fly. Keeping kites out of the lake, or out of the park, whichever.

It's just a case of people not being aware there is an issue. Letting them know there is a problem and giving them some ways to deal with it, all in the spirit of kite enthusiasm is the way to go. Even if the kites posed no threat to safety, they would still be a pile of litter in the end and they should be responsible for them. Both the danger and the litter issue are cultural perceptions. What is a downed kite that represents fun and festivities in one city represents someones lack of responsibility in another.
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Allen, AKA kitehead
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