Flying kites safely

We all want to be safe don't we. And we want to keep others safe too. Follow some simple tips to enjoy flying your kites without annoying or endangering anyone:

  • Don't fly during a storm. Remember Benjamin Franklin's experiment
  • Don't fly near animals. They tend to get scared and can react badly
  • Don't fly over people
  • Don't fly higher than the safe, legal limit
  • Don't fly near power lines
  • Don't fly over roads or railways
  • Make sure you have the landowner's permission and comply with any local byelaws
  • Wear sunglasses and sunscreen and a hat!

Kites and the Law 

It sounds rather silly doesn't it. How can there be any laws covering childrens' toys? It may seem odd, but in UK law kites are considered as aircraft, and therefore have to comply with the rules of the air. In the United Kingdom, these rules are contained in a document published by the Civil Aviation Authority referred to as CAP393, and these embody the Air Navigation Order, or ANO.

There is no immediate need to panic! In its simplest terms, the rules are that no kite may be flown above 60 metres above ground level (AGL). For those of us of a certain age, this equates to roughly 200 ft. Further no kites may be flown within the aerodrome traffic zone of a notified aerodrome. The traffic zone is a circle roughly 2.5 nautical miles from the runway centre. In Kent, there are currently (as at 1st January 2019) only 2 notified aerodromes, these are Rochester and Lydd.

Unfortunately, 60 metres isn't very far above the ground. And so we are able to ask for permission from the Civil Aviation Authority to fly higher than the permitted height. There are various steps to go through, and a form has to be submitted at least 30 days ahead of the required date. I've not known of permission being declined except where there may be some overarching consideration, though restrictions are quite often imposed, and have to be adhered to. Similarly we are able to request permission from an aerodrome to fly within their traffic zone, and indeed we did this with Lydd Airport to allow us to fly at the Lade.

That all seems rather simple and easy to comply with. Unfortunately if you are flying kites that weigh more than 2Kg (about 5lb) the rules become a lot more complicated and there are a lot of anomalies, one of which is that the "pilot" has to follow the rules for flying a light aircraft, most of which are totally irrelevant. The British Kite Flying Association have been working hard with the Civil Aviation Authority to clarify some of the issues and resolve some of the anomalies. It is hoped that an updated version will be issued in due course.