Kap kite failure.

edited January 2013 in General
Hi Ned here,
Silly question time, just been reading on some of the kite failures and rig re-joining terra ferma at a rapid pace, is there not some sort of "recovery"system out there to protect the rig/camera? Like a small parachute in tension just below the picavant in the up side down position?

So when the kite fails the rig pulls down straight away causing the parachute to orientate into the up correct position and fill with on coming air and slow it descent?

Or has this been covered and I'm talking old hat?


  • To slow the descent of a rig with camera, I suspect the parachute would need to be fairly large. This is based on several years bear bunging experience (see here for an explanation). The chute would almost certainly reduce stability in the rig and probably get in the shot too.
  • If you are taking the plunge, or the ride up, as it were; putting a camera on a string, you must take as a given, " what goes up, must come down". Not always in the manner intended. Just do the best you can to avoid damage to persons, then
    property, and get ready to get more gear, when a thundershower takes out your main camera, while on holiday!
    Fact is, many rigs survive many crashes, usually hurting nothing more than the pilots aspirations. And then, you just might get to fly another day...
  • Hi Ned

    by and large, kite failures occur when they are over-powered, in other words the wind is too strong for the kite. While some sort of parachute system might protect the rig in such situations, a better plan is to avoid the problem by making sure you're using the right kite, which is why most of us have at least two or more kites. And some of us don't even try to KAP when the wind is strong.

  • Ned, read this thread for inspiration:


    [...I can't agree more with Dave...]
  • practice practice practice is the best insurance. Learn what your kite(s) will do in all sorts of winds before you send the rig up the line.
  • edited January 2013
    If your kite fails its either because you have the wrong kite in the air, or just got really unlucky. It is, as said above, down to experience and having an understanding of your equipment and being able to judge the weather conditions. That said we have all had crashes of one sort or another. Its probably how most of us have discovered where the boundaries are. The more experience you gain the less likely a crash is providing that you understand the conditions. Its easy to be over confident when you start (as I know to well) and to think that you should be able to fly in all conditions, even though you only have one or two kites. Don't be afraid to give up if the conditions are not right there will always be another day.

    I have had spectacular crashes and a many more rough landings but so far i have not had to replace any camera due to an impact. My first KAP camera I rapidly replaced for a more appropriate one. That camera a Olympus tough camera is still fine and well over 5 years later, and my son, now four has been using it for over a year without killing it. Its replacement lasted until the constant shaking it experienced in the air began to affect the battery connections. The tripod bush had also failed and I had replaced it and after a particularly hard landing the front lens cover fell off. It was certainly ready for retirement. The LCD on its secondhand replacement failed and I did have to revive the previous camera again for a short while. I now have a new camera that for now I am looking after very carefully.

  • Another reason for kite failure is lack of maintenance, check the condition of your kite everytime you get it out and put it away, if something needs repairing or the bridle needs retying get on and sort it out.

    (I just need to take notice of my own advice)

    There will be times that the wind conditions are so unstable that you can't fly whatever kite you are using.

    You will find that wind conditions up in the air are very different to what they are at ground level, at some stage it is highly likely you will get caught out with the wrong kite in the air. Conditions can change quickly too.
  • edited January 2013
    I didn't see this specifically mentioned, so I'll just chime in to point out that when a kite over-powers, it doesn't fall out of the sky. It DRIVES out of the sky. POWERS out of the sky. SCREAMS out of the sky. The first time I experienced this, my rig wound up above the kite line for almost a full five seconds. The kite was out-accelerating gravity by a good margin. I'm not sure a parachute would have opened. And even if it had, the kite still would've won the ensuing tug-of-war.

    And to reiterate what everyone else already said, every time I've had a failure, it's either been because I over-powered the kite, or because I had a mechanical problem. And all of my mechanical problems were due to over-powering the kite (e.g. snapped spar).

    If the kite is still sound, you can de-power it by letting out line really fast. Nine times out of ten this will get you out of a dive. Of course if the wind is increasing, that means you now have MORE line to reel down, and the wind is only getting stronger. So not ideal. But it works. It's what saved me that first time I over-powered a kite. I wound in during the lulls, let out during the gusts, and eventually landed my rig and kite without a scratch.

    Which goes back to what Brooks said: practice makes perfect. Eventually that "let line out" thing becomes instinctive.


    P.S. Not a silly question, by the way! This is how innovation happens with KAP. Someone comes up with an idea, there's a discussion, they either pursue it or not based on what's said, and it either works or it doesn't. I've been on the wrong side of kite physics way too many times to ever think I'm 100% right.
  • I agree with what was said above. I just want to add that the kite IS a parachute for the kap rig. It just has a line attached to it to prevent it from going away. :-) When the wind dies the camera should come down slowly if the kite is properly sized.
  • I was thinking more on the mechanic failure of a component like a spar. I have just learnt that if the kite tries to race gravity to the ground, let out the line. I did not know that!
  • With a spar failure, a Rokkaku still acts a bit like a parachute. I've never had a delta spreader fail but I think it's likely to be a weak parachute. They're going to come down, but nearly as fast as a kite in a power dive. In general a decently robust rig is going to survive. DSLR rigs of course have less margin for error (heavier, easier to damage).

    When a rig attached to a line does come down be careful to keep some tension as the line as you approach it. The kite may catch the wind again and drag the rig. Rigs don't usually make good plowshares.
  • Only had one camera bounce when I first started, about 60feet drop as the kite power dived in unclean air. The kite was simply not high enough to attach a rig safely. The camera just about survived but the body was a bit loose in some of the joints. The rig, a simple ali frame was bent right out of shape and took most of the blow.

    As I've gained the experiance, I've had a couple of near's, but these days I'm not that much of a hurry to attach a rig after putting the kite up. Nearly lost a kite after a fishing swivel clip failed, it ended up the canopy of a wooded area but I did manage to recover the kite. Needless to say I no longer use these clips and I larks head the line to the kite.

    Flying experiance is a must, plus giving yourself a safety box around your target. If any doubt niggles away in your head, don't fly at all.
  • Its a tricky balance to get right, but I figure that if the rig is going to come down, I like the frame to flex a bit so that it absorbs some of the shock and protects the camera. Something like the crumple zones in a car
  • edited January 2013
    Ned, if you can't afford the fare you can't take the ride!

    There is a degree of risk in KAP: if you want to place your camera in the sky under a kite it might fall. You have to live with that. If you want decent quality photos then you will be putting a decent camera at risk. KAP technique is all about NOT letting cameras fall out the sky but the risk is always there!

    Many kappers start out lifting a bottle of water with their kite to see what will work, then move onto a cheap camera, get some photos, get excited and then go get a better camera up there, then a better kite and so on.

    Get started! get over the fear and it will all make sense when you see what you can capture from your own new view point!

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