What else can you do with a kite?March 9, 2009
Kite surfing, THE top extreme sport of the moment, has been written about regularly on our blog, as have many of the other uses you can put your kite to such as kite board and kite ski-ing on snow or sand, kite with all-terrain roller blades or mountain board, and kiting with a hydro-foil board.
One sport we haven’t given much coverage to, as yet, is parakarting – or kite buggying, said to be one of the most popular forms of power kiting.
This sport combines the force of the wind using a large power kite and a 3-wheeled buggy with no brakes but a whole lot of speed! Sound like fun?
The buggy is single-seated and has one steerable front wheel and two fixed rear wheels. The driver sits in the seat in the middle of the vehicle and accelerates and slows down by applying steering manoeuvres in coordination with flying the kite. He is not strapped in. Thanks to ventoactivo for posting this video.
Kite buggying has an interesting history. It is thought to have been invented in China around the 13th century and was introduced into the western world by George Pocock, an inventor in the UK in 1827. Kite buggies became commercially available in the US and UK in the late 1970’s. Peter Lynn is generally credited with the modern popularity of buggies and kite buggying when, in the early 1990’s, he designed a strong, lightweight, affordable buggy.
If you are a newcomer to this sport it is adviseable to start with a relatively small kite in relatively low wind conditions (e.g. 2 to 3 m² kites in winds of force 2 to 3) and progress to bigger kites or higher wind conditions as ability improves. Novices should first master full control over their kite before considering the next step – the actual kite buggying bit.
Buggying can be done on a number of surfaces including grass, sand, ice and tarmac. The speed achieved in kite buggies by skilled drivers can range up to around 110 km/h (70 mph), and for this reason protective clothing is advised – including a safety helmet.
A more extreme version of this sport is buggy jumping:
This involves the pilot being physically attached to the buggy by means of a lap belt and uses a relatively large kite. He flies the kite overhead to generate maximum lift and is then—with the buggy—hoisted up to tens of feet into the air. Very advanced pilots even perform aerial manoeuvres such as 360° (or more) spins, sidewinders, pendulum swings and reverse landings.
Kite buggying can be classified as an extreme sport. Wind is the only power source and is often very unpredictable. An attitude of caution and respect towards the wind is essential, for the novice as well as the advanced pilot.
Remember, a frequent cause of accidents is flying a kite too large for the wind conditions and for the experience of the pilot. In such a case, buggy and pilot tend to be pulled downwind, often skidding and sliding sideways with a high risk of the pilot entirely losing control of kite and buggy. This can be avoided by flying kites small enough so that they allow the pilot to safely stop the buggy by turning it through the wind and driving upwind.
supermanred shows us all the thrills and spills of buggy jumping…