Wind, of course, is the most important condition needed for flying a kite. Ideal winds for kite flying are around 6 mph to 17 or 18 mph. Below these wind speeds, specialized kites that are designed for light winds are required. When the winds are blowing at 20mph or more, kite flying becomes an aerobic exercise!
Not all kite flying locations are created equal. This activity requires an open area with nothing to block the wind strength. Below are a few highly recommended locations on the Outer Banks.
Jockey’s Ridge State Park
Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head is as good as it gets … anywhere in the world. At this height, there is literally nothing to stop the wind, and the view from the top of the ridge is breathtaking. An additional bonus is that a very well stocked kite store, Kitty Hawk Kites, is located directly across the road.
A few recommendations to make for a more enjoyable kite flying experience at this state park include sunscreen, water and shoes. There is just sand, no trees or buildings and therefore, no shade, so sunscreen is a must to protect your skin. Secondly, bring water, especially during the summer months as it gets quite hot on the dunes. Lastly, protect your feet. Sandals or shoes are a must, because the sand temperature can be up to 40 degrees hotter than the air temperature. Second degree burns on the soles of your feet will put a damper on your vacation plans.
When conditions are right, there is no greater joy in life than flying a kite on the beach, and the wider the shoreline the better. However, beach flying can be a bit challenging. The best winds will arrive from SSW to North. North and Northeast winds are often associated with colder weather so dress accordingly.
The homes, businesses and hotels that border the beach create a barrier to the wind. In the summer, when Outer Banks winds are typically from the southwest, flying a kite on the beach can be difficult. As the breeze comes over the structures, a wind shadow is formed where there is little wind, and at the edge of the wind shadow, the air is turbulent.
Flying a kite in these conditions will demonstrate this principle. At low altitude, the kite will bob, weave and dance uncontrollably. If the kite can rise above the turbulence, it will fly beautifully. A single line kite will perform much better under these conditions than a stunt kite.
Please be aware of beach goers. Generally people are not aware of kite lines and don’t recognize they can be dangerous. A courteous warning goes a long way. In the summer, if the beach is crowded, it’s best not to attempt flying your kite until fewer people are around.
The Whalehead Club in Corolla is a great northern location for kite flying. Featuring an open grassy field, conditions aren’t quite as good as Jockey’s Ridge, but they’re definitely conducive to success when flying a kite.
Especially during the summer months, the Whalehead Club is a great location for kite flying since the majority of the open field faces southwest. With the wind arriving off the Currituck Sound, conditions are often ideal and the site, especially with the sun setting over the Sound, provides spectacular views.