A lot of us are approaching the beginning of our kite season. It’s a good idea to break out your kite and do a quick preseason check to make sure everything is ready to go for when the wind does blow. Go through this checklist to make sure your kite is ready.
BLADDER CHECK  check bladder ends Make sure all bladders extend to the sleeve ends and are secured.  shake down struts Shake the struts down towards the leading edge to make sure that the bladder is still filling the head of the strut and hasn’t fallen back towards the inflation valve.  inflate all the bladders Slowly inflate all the struts and then the leading edge. make sure that all bladders inflate uniformly and that you don’t see any soft areas that would alert you to a twisted or messed up bladder.
CANOPY CHECK  check the area affected by handling. The green area marks the area most affected by handling your kite on the beach, launching, landing, etc. This is where 90% of your small tears will appear. A good habit is to check this area while rolling your kite up after every session.  check the danger zone. The blue area is the danger zone, the high load area. All small tears in this area are patiently awaiting their opportunity to turn into major problems. Tape up even the smallest holes and routinely check to make sure they aren’t getting any bigger. LEADING EDGE AND STRUT SLEEVES  check the topstitch after the leading edge and struts are closed, the seam allowance is folded over and given a top stitch. The top stitching usually fails where it crosses the seams that join sleeve panels. The increased fabric thickness puts more stress on the seam. Have the seam fixed immediately if the stitch has popped.  check leading edge panel seams Newer kites have fewer bumpers to protect these seams. Closely inspect the seam that joins each l.e. panel. If the stitches show wear protect them from further wear with tape. If the stitching has worn through, have the seam resewn and then protect it with tape. fixing canopy tears Canopy tears that are 2” or less that can easily be taped don’t need to be sewn. The exception is a tear that is close to the l.e. or a strut that could cause more trouble. Tears that exceed 2” in length can usually be repaired with repair tape until the first opportunity to have it professionally repaired. Tape tears from both sides sandwiching the tear between repair tape. Round the corners of the tape to keep it from peeling up. Offset the two patches that are on each side so that you don’t create a wear spot. Larger tears may require that you use a temporary tape such as masking tape to hold pieces together while you apply the repair tape.
[a] round corners on the tape and tape over the tear [b] sandwich the tear. Offset the tape on the opposite side.
Casey Houtz is the owner of Airtime Kite Inc., America’s leading kite repair company.