Why Do Kites Backstall? Understanding The Angle of Attack!

Kiteboarding kites fly due to the forces of lift and drag, which are generated by the shape, angle, and orientation of the kite. The angle of attack is the angle between the leading edge of the kite and the direction of the wind, and it plays a key role in determining the lift and drag forces acting on the kite.

The angle of attack is an important factor in kiteflight because it determines the amount of lift generated by the kite. When the angle of attack is increased, the lift force is also increased, which can cause the kite to rise higher in the sky. This is because the shape of the kite’s wing (in this case, the kite itself) is designed to generate lift when it is angled relative to the wind. As the kite is tilted and the wind flows over the top of it, the wind creates a region of low pressure on the top surface of the kite, while the wind flowing under the bottom of the kite creates a region of high pressure. The difference in pressure between the top and bottom of the kite creates an upward force, or lift, which helps the kite stay aloft.

However, if the angle of attack is too steep, the kite can “stall” or lose lift, which can cause it to fall out of the sky. This is known as “backstalling.” Backstalling occurs when the angle of attack is so steep that the flow of air over the top of the kite is disrupted, causing the lift force to decrease. This can happen if the kite is over-sheeted (pulled too hard) or if the rider is not generating enough power to keep the kite aloft. When a kite backstalls, it can fall out of the sky and lose altitude rapidly, which can be dangerous for the rider.

To prevent backstalling, it’s important for kiteboarders to monitor the angle of attack of their kite and make adjustments as needed to maintain lift and control. This can be done by controlling the angle of the kite relative to the wind using the control bar, or by using body weight and edge control to generate power and maintain the kite’s position in the sky. By maintaining a proper angle of attack, kiteboarders can avoid backstalling and ride with greater stability and safety.

The challenge of backstalling kites is explained with detail and example during IKO Level 1 lessons.

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