Each year tens of thousands of people participate in the world’s most popular kite sport “powerkiting”. Powerkiting, is a popular form of kiteflying that uses a steerable kite to perform tricks and stunts. Powerkiting is also a prelude to traction kite sports. Traction kite sports include; kitesurfing, kite buggying, kite sailing, and kite ATB (all terrain boarding). Traction sports refer to the kite providing the traction, or pulling power.
Powerkiting does not require a board or a buggy, powerkiters simply play with the power of the kite and as the name suggests, and play with the power of the wind.
Power kites are not toys, because power kites are capable of generating enormous power and lifting the flyer off the ground, either intentionally or unintentionally. Power kites are steerable and require some skill to fly. Powerkites are flown on fields, parks, beaches, and dunes. Basically any open area with good clean wind can be a potential powerkite practice area.
There are different types of powerkites but one of the most popular powerkite types is the ram air, or “foil” kite. The foil kite looks like a modern paraglider wing, but much smaller. A powerkite may range in size from 1 square meter up to several square meters. A lot depends on the winds, and the weight and skill of the operator. Power kites can use either handles or a control bar (similar to kitesurfing) to control the steering.
Powerkiters have clubs and there are local and national kite flying events that combine competition with social events. There are many kiteflying clubs, and also some specialty kite flying too. There is estimated to be 10 times more people powerkiting in the US than people Kiteboarding. Most kiteboarders get a brief exposure to powerkites when doing their initial, kiteboarder training. The foil kites are popular among kiteboarding schools, to use as a “Trainer Kite” for kiteboarders. Students learn basic kite flying skills on a two or three-line foil kite. The foil kites offer a cheaper and safer alternative to learning on the expensive kitesurfing gear.
Also the foil type “trainer” kites are available in much smaller sizes that regular kitesurfing kites. A small kite means less power, and ultimately a safer learning tool.
Many kiteboarders get their start in powerkiting, or other kite sports. One thing that every kite instructor agrees on is the more powerkite experience a person has, the better kite flyer they will become, and this is vital, when using any kite in a traction sport (like kitesurfing or snowkiting).
There are Powerkiting courses available through the IKO International Kiteboarding Organization, and courses in other Traction kite sports as well. For kite events and other kite hobbies contact your local kite club, or the American Kiteflyers Association.