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Flying a Kite - A Balance of Lift, Drag, and Gravity

Greg Gerkens

With experience as a New York school administrator, Greg Gerkens has led programs focused on special education students with behavior management issues. In his free time, Greg Gerkens enjoys swimming and beach activities such as flying kites with his son.

Designed to be as light as possible, kites are still heavier than the surrounding air and stay aloft by taking maximum advantage of available wind lift. The tether typically connects to a bridle that enables the kite to be positioned at specific angles that provide maximum lift.

The ideal condition for kite flying is one in which lift, or the upward pressure of the wind’s force on the kite face, exactly counters gravity and drag, or resistance that occurs during flight. Finding this “path of least resistance” in flight allows a number of creative possibilities for making aerodynamic turns and cuts, which add to the complexity of the activity. Naturally, one essential component of any kite flying session is safety, with kites best limited to places with wide open spaces exist, such as parks and beaches.


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