How to Fly a Parafoil Kite

Updated July 20, 2017

Parafoil kites come in many different sizes and styles. You can use them to advance your kite flying technique or practice kite surfing and kite boarding. Parafoil kites employ principles of aerodynamics using their wing-like shape to create more lift and power. Single-line parafoil kites steal the show at kite festivals with their beautiful colours and intricate designs. Two- and four-line parafoil kites range in size from 1 to more than 10 square meters and have more maneuverability. Flying a parafoil kite takes a little practice.

Choose a windy flying area with minimal obstructions. A wide area away from tall trees and buildings is ideal.

Set the kite on the ground with your back to the wind. Walk backwards and unwind five to 10 feet of kite string. Pull the string taught; the kite will lift off the ground and begin to fly. If the wind isn't strong enough, have someone hold the kite in the air for an assisted launch.

Feed out string from the kite winder, allowing the kite to fly higher. Walk backwards if the kite begins to descend. Note that the wind is generally stronger higher above the ground.

Raise the kite to the desired level. The parafoil design is inherently stable, and with consistent wind, the kite will stay aloft until you reel in the kite string.

Find a suitable flying area with minimal obstructions and without people. Large parafoil kites are dangerous and can cause serious injury to bystanders if they are not flown correctly.

Place the kite on the ground with your back to the wind. Slowly walk backward and unwind the full length of the kite lines.

Attach the lines to the kite handles or kite harness if they are not already. Check the lines for twists. Put on protective equipment including helmets and knee pads.

Pull back evenly on the kite lines; with enough wind the kite will rise off the ground. Recruit a friend to help with an assisted launch if there isn't enough wind. Instruct him to hold the kite off the ground while you pull back evenly on the lines. Step backward to apply the initial tension to the lines.

Raise the kite above the ground and into the wind window. The wind window is an area directly downwind of you where the wind is the strongest and creates the highest amount of force on the kite. Keep the parafoil kite in or around this window to maintain flight.

Steer the kite by pulling slightly more with one hand. A slight pull with your right hand turns the kite to the right, while a pull with your left hand turns the kite left. Fly the kite back and forth through the wind window for best performance.

Land the kite by taking the kite to the edge of the wind window, where it will slowly descend. Four-line kites have the advantage of brake lines. Pull gently on the brake lines while landing the kite.


Wear protective equipment while flying larger power foil kites. Large power foil kites create enough force to lift you off the ground, sometimes without warning.

Things You'll Need

  • Kite winder
  • Kite handles
  • Harness
  • Helmet
  • Knee pads
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About the Author

Originally from Colorado, Thomas Allen currently resides outside Seoul, Korea and has been writing since 2007 for blogs and magazines covering topics including travel, photography, adventure sports and many others. He holds a Bachelors of Arts in philosophy.