Lofted 200 Feet Over a Rock-Hard Hawaiian Island

This story I find as fascinating as it is frightening - a kiteboarder named Erik Eck was lofted over 200 feet into the air after kiteboarding on one of the Hawaiian Islands. He was coming back to shore, hopped over some kite-lines on the ground, and was thrown into the air by a freak updraft.

He sailed up into the air, where he was hit by two more powerful updrafts and was absolutely launched into the atmosphere - over 200 feet high! Thankfully he kept his cool and stayed hooked-in to his chicken loop until he came out of the column of air around 40 seconds later. Once he finally did, he drifted not-so-gracefully to the ground and landed in a parking lot somewhere inland.

The amazing thing is that the whole process was caught on video - check it out below...


So, What the Heck Happened?

Basically, he just got lofted - something that can happen to anyone! If you watched the video all the way through (there is a 3 minute interview after the main shot) they mentioned that the atmosphere was unstable that day. In the shot you can see some towering Cumulous clouds in the background, which can sometimes produce strong downdrafts and updrafts, and could very well be what powered Erik’s slingshot-ride to heaven.

What Can We Do to Prevent Lofting?

There are several simple steps we all can (and should) take to prevent lofting.

  1. Always check the weather conditions at your local spot. If there are any signs of an unstable atmosphere, think twice about riding. Some things that might be a warning are: thunder clouds, gusty winds, or rapidly changing weather.

  2. If you are riding and the wind is gusty or the atmosphere is unstable, keep your kite parked low in the wind window (around 10 or 2). If you have the kite here, you risk being dragged along the beach in a gust, but you can avoid being thrown into the air. Make sure you keep your hand near your quick release and don’t be afraid to release your chicken loop if you have to - better safe than sorry.

 

These are some things you should do to keep safe, you can read about them in more detail in this Kiteboarding Safety page.


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