Good topic Mike.
Another thing you can do is use a bridle line to tether the kite (if it is an SLE) while landing or launching. It important to know exactly where on the bridle system to hold on. It is also important to pay attention to where your hands are as you "walk" the leading edge to place the kite in an upright "C" position...so that you do not snag the bridle with your arms/hands. Every SLE has a different bridle so some are easier to manage the bridle lines as you assist a launch. It's not unusual that the bridle will catch your hand as the kite gets launched so just be aware of this.
Also, as an assistant launcher it is good to look at all the lines to make sure they are not catching on a wingtip or tangled in some way or another before you release.
It is also nice if the assistant launcher can shake any sand out of the canopy and keep the kite wingtip off the ground as much as possible to avoid having the wingtip scoop up sand and potentially contribute to a difficult/or botched launch. Wait for the thumbs up signal and do not be shy about delaying for a few seconds to make sure that is the intention of the pilot...and DON"T throw the kite up into the air. If the kite does not launch properly then the pilot is either trimming wrong, standing in the wrong spot, or not enough wind for the kite. STAND BY for a few moments to make sure all goes well and be prepared to scramble if something goes awry.
If the kite feels soft when you pick it up, let the pilot know before you launch it. And if you think the kite is too big for the conditions, or if you think it's a bad time to launch (weathre moving in, too crowded, etc.) don't be afraid to say so or refuse to launch.
While it is primarily the pilot's responsibility to position himself properly for a launch it can be helpful if the assistant recognizes any problem and either signals the pilot to move into proper position or move the (kite into the) proper posiiton for a smooth launch. And if someone has inadvertently set up for a launch with dangerous obstacles directly downwind help them/advise them to move to a better position. e.g. if the kite is trying to "bowl over" the assistant the pilot is positioned too far upwind (how man times have we seen this?) and maybe sheeting in too hard.
As for the "etiquette" of landing a kite for someone else- I prefer if someone catches the kite and then walks toward me to take tension out of the line (and I walk toward them to do the same). At the same time this is done the kite will easily roll onto it's back automatically into the easy to carry position - and then I just want the "catcher" to hold it there until I unhook and come to attend to the kite myself. I'd prefer to flip the kite myself in the spot I want it and then anchor it in the manner I prefer. Sometimes people will catch a kite, slam it down like a jiu jitsu move and it might be on top of some beach detritus that can harm the kite. And not everyone wants you to put sand on their kite automatically. Let the pilot/kite owner decide on his anchoring preferences.
Avoid launching/landing/anchoring kites over the top of other peoples lines or anchoring it in the middle of a tight launch zone. And it's also nice if people can consolidate the miscellaneous gear left on the beach, stow away pumps & hoses, and generally keep the launch/land zone free from anything that might snag a line or trip someone.
Always watch the pilot when you catch and hold the kite, especially if the pilot is in the water because if a wave or current sweeps the pilot one way or another and tensions the lines up things can go pear shaped in a hurry.
In general I advise that people only ask others to assist a launch if that person KNOWS HOW to do it. I strongly advise against asking an innocent bystander or uninformed person to do this. Many times with students I offer to show their girlfriend/boyfriend how to do this so they can help and not have a nice beach day turn into a panic and ultimately some of the "silent treatment" afterward.
Last edited by 4w7s
on Sat Jun 02, 2012 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
PASA Level II Instructor