I’d say that straight line flying is one of the most important basic skills you really should learn. When you combine straight lines you create geometrical patterns in the air and if you’re like me, cutting razor sharp lines in the air is very satisfactory. It’s also a useful skill for making the most (fun) out of your sportkite.
There’s no absolute position for where to keep your hands when flying straight lines. However the most common one is to keep them side by side approx 20-25 cm in front of your lower chest. But sometimes – like when you fly a horisontal line – you must compensate for gravity by steering the kite at a slight up-angle. When done correctly, this angle is almost unnoticeable.
When in the middle of a vertical line, the wind will try to push the kite toward the power zone, the center of the wind window. To compensate for this effect, you must steer your kite at a slight angle into the wind. This angle will become more visible the closer to the edge of the wind window you’re flying.
Actually the only time you fly a straight line with your hands placed exactly side by side, is when you fly your kite straight down on a vertical line.
When you practice horisontal passes, try to fly them as far as you can to each side of the wind window before you make the turn and head back in the opposite direction. Place your hands close together, let them even touch eachother and make only small adjustments to keep the line straight. If you rest your index fingers on the flying lines, it’s sometimes enough to add just a little more pressure to the line with the index finger to adjust.
First you should concentrate on keeping the lines straight. When you gain more experience and your skills improve, you can take the ground pass lower and lower and lower. When you really get the hang of it, you should be able to fly the kite consistantly just a whisker above the ground every time.
This article was first published at AERIALIS-DOT-COM on October 24th 2005