Flying to very high altitudes may be the most visceral of emotions for the new kite flier. It’s so easy to just continue to let out line until your kite is out of sight – only you know that the line you’re holding is connected to a flying object far out of sight. After this first experience, most of us move on, saying, “Been there, done that,” and really never test the upper limits of our personal flying spaces. But some continue to find ways to go higher and higher. Like all kite fliers, this group is limited by their environment – you just can’t “casually” fly above 10,000 feet when you’re surrounded by controlled airspace and the rules and regulations that come with it.
So the attempts to fly to very high altitudes are as much about finding an appropriate place to fly as they are about the logistics of flying line, reel, and kite. Finding a physical location that is appropriate for numerous high flight attempts, where you are away from controlled airspace, and where line breaks or kite crashes can be handled safely, is no easy task.
As an aside, I remember flying with Professor Ben Balseley on an Air Force gunnery range where we could legally fly to 18,000 feet within the area’s boundary. Flying on Kevlar line, we had a line break (a splice came loose on our capstan) and were extremely concerned with catastrophic possibilities surrounding the trailing line: caught by a passing car or truck on the highway, caught in expensive farm equipment, or simply dragged across property, pulling up fences and plants.