A power kite or traction kite is a large kite designed to provide significant pull to the user. They come in three main forms: foils, leading edge inflatables and Supporting Leading Edge. There are also rigid-framed kites and soft single skin kites. There are several different control systems used with these kites which have two to five lines and a bar or handles.
Power kites are generally used in conjunction with a vehicle or board, such as in
Kites of related design are used for sailing, including speed-sailing. The world record in the early 1980s was reportedly held by a kite-powered boat.
Power kites should be flown with caution, in clear safe areas, and with the proper safety equipment. Complete beginners should seek instruction from a qualified trainer. If not flown with due care and attention, these kites can be dangerous to the user and also to other people in the vicinity. People flying beyond their capabilities or in unsafe conditions can easily be carried off in strong windy conditions, with the risk of collision against water, buildings, terrain or power lines. Stationary vertical objects are the most dangerous. Even in water, a helmet is recommended when flying a power kite, because a gust can lift the user very quickly, to great heights. On land, serious power kiters use a full set of pads as well.
There are many sizes and makes of power kites as well, ranging roughly from 1.5 m² up to 23.5 m². All kites are made for specific purposes: some for water, land, power or manoeuvrability. Shops and internet forums can help the new participant to choose the right kite to avoid getting one that is too powerful for the level of experience or for the intended purpose.
Even though power kites are considered an extreme sport, the sport is aimed at almost everyone, as there are different skill levels for every individual who decides to take up the sport. For beginners it is recommended that you try out some kind of training programme that some power kite shops and companies provide; this is very useful as there is some level of training required to really get you started in your new sport.