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Airdynamics

How to fly Chinese Dragon Kites

Get ready

First - check the wind! Dragons will fly in most winds, but are at their best in medium, steady winds. They don't like air turbulence - so keep away from trees and buildings.

Next, pick your space - the dragon tails are deceptively long, so pace out your flying area to make sure you have enough room.

Finally, don't fly in the wet! Hand-painted silk is not waterproof!

Small and Medium dragons have their horns permanently attached - bigger ones have removeable horns. The trick is to insert the front bamboo into the little hole at the top of the head - and inside the head you will find a small tube - make sure the bamboo goes into that tube. Next, clip the long bamboo onto the frame at the back of the head. (This can be quite stiff when new - you can attach with elastic bands at first.)

Attach your flying line - quite short line will do - just enough to get the dragon above ground turbulence. Then secure the head with a ground stake.

Now you can get the tail section organised. Attach the bottom two hooks to the loops inside the head. Leave the top one loose for the moment.

Now use the bamboo carrier and 'pay out' the segments one at a time - laying them flat on the ground. Lay out the complete tail in a straight line. With the bigger kites, get some help to hold down the segments in case the wind changes!

Finally, go back to the head, and attach the top hook to the matching loop. This raises all the segments into 'ready' position.

Launch

There are several ways to launch. First the cautious way; hold the dragon bridle above the knot and raise the head off the ground - keep it angled forward - and all the segments will gently rise. A variation is to get your helper(s) to raise the tail section.

The brave way is to grasp the bridle and flick - like a whiplash movement -  the ripple will go all down the tail and take off. Spectacular but risky!

Once the kite is in the air and up to 30 degrees or so, move your hand to the main attachment point - this will allow the kite to develop full power and a very high angle in the air.

Now you can let out some line and enjoy the dragon in flight.

Land

Have some helpers standing by! Bring the kite in until you can reach the bridle - and now you can grab underneath the tow point. This changes the angle of the segments and the whole tail will come down.

If the wind gets up and that proves difficult, you can grab above the tow point, turn the head upside-down and drive the whole tail to the ground.

As soon as you have landed, secure the head and remove to top link so the tail lays flat.

Now gather up the tail - you can either put it immediately back into the bamboo cradle (neater), or simply gather up the top line (between each segment) in your hand - you can put it in the cradle later. This is faster. Either way, make sure you tie a bow around the top line sections to stop them tangling.