Category Archives: In the news

Kite headlines from around the world

Four lawsuit filed against maker of kite tubes – Mlive.com

MLive.com is reporting that four separate law suits have been filed against Kite Tube maker SportStuff Inc.

This was inevitable, the lawyers waited until there was blood in the water and then started actively soliciting kite tube victims to file suits. Some of them, I am not sure if they are related to these 4 suits, even used this site to advertise their services. All in all I am not entirely sure how I feel about the families suing SportStuff for their loss or injuries.

On Nov 20, 2006 – Mlive.com writes

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Four lawsuits have been filed against the Omaha company that made a flying tube that has been linked to boating accidents that killed at least two people and injured 39 others.

One of the lawsuits claims a Canadian man died while riding a Kite Tube in Ontario. Another was filed on behalf of a Michigan man who claims he was injured when he was ejected from a Kite Tube and struck the water.

SportsStuff Inc. voluntarily recalled 19,000 Wego Kite Tubes in July in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The commission said it knew of two deaths reported in Wisconsin and Texas.

The company’s kite tubes are 10-foot-wide inflatable rafts tethered to the back of a powerboat. When the user pulls on the handles, the tube becomes airborne, turning the rider into a human kite.

“I think it’s just an unsafe product,” said Ronald J. Palagi, the lawyer handling all four of the lawsuits filed in Douglas County District Court last month.

Palagi said he expects to file seven more lawsuits by the end of the year.

Besides SportsStuff, the lawsuits name a Florida-based marketing company, World Publications Inc.

SportsStuff referred all calls about the lawsuits to Houston attorney Michael Beckelman, who was on vacation and did not immediately return calls for comment.

In an interview with the Omaha World-Herald, Beckelman declined to comment on the lawsuits.

In its letter to consumers, SportsStuff said the company does not believe the Wego Kite Tubes are defective or unreasonably dangerous. But SportsStuff agreed to the recall “in an abundance of caution.”

Other stories about Kite Tube law suits:

Wrongful death suit filed against kite tube manufacturer

Airport Closed due to mystery kite

China Daily has a story about a kite stopping air traffic at an airport in China. Hmmm I am curious why they just didn’t go out and cut it out of the sky… very very expensive kite :)

Airport closed due to mystery kite
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-10-24 08:48

A kite forced the closure of Zhanjiang International Airport for half a day after it was found flying near the runway in the Guangdong port city over the weekend.

The incident took place at about 6:15 pm on Saturday, when a 2-metre-long kite was seen flying in the sky only 200 metres away from the runway.

After failing to locate the people who were flying the kite, the airport authority had to close the airport down. Two departing flights and four arrivals had to be cancelled or diverted to other airports, and 477 passengers were left stranded in airport waiting rooms overnight.

The airport returned to normal operation 12 hours later on the early Sunday morning when the kite fell into farmland nearby.

Guangzhou Daily

Update – Kite altitude record attempt grounded

Correction: I would like to point out that there is an error in the report below.

Richard Synergy’s broke the altitude record in 2000 not in 1995.

The FAA have stopped Richard Crawford’s attempt at breaking the world kite altitude record.

the NPTelegraph writes, click here for the whole story

CALLAWAY – Just days before Richard Crawford was to attempt the world record for kite height, the Federal Aviation Administration put the brakes on his plans.
Crawford, from Milliken, Colo., had planned to put his homemade kite 15,000 feet into the air Saturday at the Callaway Kite Flight.
He thought he had been given the proper FAA clearance and was looking forward to the event. He even had sponsorship lined up to help fund it.
Saturday winds probably would have cooperated, but the issue of air travel safety prevailed. Crawford said he was disappointed but will continue to try to find a way to set the record.
He said it has been suggested that he work with the military in an area already classified as a “no-fly zone.” The closest such location to his home is in Guernsey, Wyo.
The current record for kite height is 13,509 feet set by a Canadian in 1995.

TheStar.com – Kite tubes pulled from market

Here is the latest article from the Canadian Press about the kite tube and the recall. TheStar.com – Kite tubes pulled from market

There are some important things to note for Canadian kite tube owners.
1) SportsStuff has confirmed that the recall affects Canada and 2) Transport Canada is investigating the kite tube.

A spokesman for Sportsstuff confirmed the recall includes Canada.

A spokeswoman for Transport Canada’s Marine Safety division said the tubes just came on the regulatory body’s radar last week.

“It’s a safety concern for us,” said Kristen Goodnough.

“But given that it’s just recently come to our attention, we’re reviewing the activity to see if our regulations apply.”

Goodnough said Transport Canada is expecting a decision sometime next week.

Even this blog gets some play (even if it’s not by name :) )

The founder of a Canadian weblog about kites said he takes issue with the suggestion that users can control the kite tubes.

“From a kite flier’s standpoint, someone who actually builds kites and understands the multitudes of variables that go on there, it’s not going to happen,” said Bill Wilson, 32, a Halifax software development manager.

He found the discussion forums on his website inundated with comments about kite tubing after he made a post in February.

“The majority of people perceive a level of safety that’s not there. Whether you can control it a little bit or not the problem is, all it

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takes is a wind gust, and you’re (seven to nine metres) in the air,” Wilson said.

Cheers,
Bill

Kite Tube Action Shot!

Josh Banks of Banks Photos sent me this picture a few days ago.


Photo by Josh Banks www.BanksPhotos.com
click for larger image

Here is what Josh has to say about the photo…

This photo was taken from our boathouse in Chetek, Wisconsin on July 4,2006. I was walking down to the boathouse with my camera and saw this guy on a kite tube. I took the photo, removed my camera from my eye to watch the action and the next thing I know he slammed into the water. We went out in our boat to talk with him. Although very stunned, the rider was uninjured and unwilling to try it again anytime soon for more photos. Once I opened the image on my computer I was completely surprised to see the rider in the air. The rider was not tossed this high above the tube, actually the tube was at his height about a tenth of a second earlier. When I took the picture I did not realize the rider had been thrown off the tube. To me it looked like the rider was on the tube having a great time. Suddenly, the tube dove into the water and the rider followed, this all happened much too quickly for me to react with my camera for another shot. I estimate that the rider is easily 30 feet above the water. The conditions were quite perfect for a flight to this height. The boat is eading west, into a strong wind at a good clip.

Sportsstuff Wego Kite Tubes Withdrawn from Market after Reports of Deaths and Injuries

Sportsstuff Wego Kite Tubes Withdrawn from Market after Reports of Deaths and Injuries

WASHINGTON,

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D.C. – In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Sportsstuff, Inc., of Omaha, Nebraska is voluntarily recalling about 19,000 Wego Kite Tubes.

CPSC staff is aware of 39 injury incidents with 29 of those resulting in medical treatment. Those injuries include a broken neck, punctured lung, chest and back injuries and facial injuries. Sportsstuff has received reports of two deaths in the United States and a variety of serious injuries. Sportsstuff has been unable to determine the cause of the incidents. Nevertheless, the company has withdrawn the kite tube from the market and is undertaking this voluntary recall out of an abundance of caution.

The Sportsstuff Wego Kite Tube is a 10-foot-wide, circular, yellow inflatable watercraft designed to be towed behind a power boat. A rider in the tube becomes airborne by pulling on handles attached to the floor of the tube. Model 53-5000 is printed on the tube near the product valve. The floor of the tube has black caution warning stripes. The cover for the product bears a skull and crossbones and the statement “Never Kite higher than you are willing to fall.” The tubes were imported and sold through marine distributors, mail order catalogs, and various retailers from approximately October 1, 2005 to July 11, 2006 for about $500 to $600.

Consumers should immediately stop using the kite tubes and contact Sportsstuff at (866) 831-5524 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST Monday through Friday to learn how to obtain free replacement products. Consumers can also visit the firm’s Web site at www.sportsstuff.com for more information.

Sportsstuff Inc. Press Release regarding Kite Tube

A press release from Sportsstuff Inc. dated July 12, 2006 states that Sportsstuff is cooperating with the CSPC’s investigation into the safety of the Wego Kite Tube. The press release goes on to reiterate that in almost all of the accidents they claim the that product was not used as instructed, blah blah, etc.

HOUSTON, TX (PRWEB) July 12, 2006 — Sportsstuff, Inc. has been in the business of selling inflatable towable sporting goods for the past nineteen years and is committed to providing reasonably safe water sport products to its customers. The Wego Kite Tube was the winner of the 2006 Sporting Good Manufacturers Association Product of the Year Award and has been well-received in the water sports market.

Sportsstuff is aware of recent incidents involving injuries to customers using the Wego Kite Tube and other kite tubes as well as the US Consumer Products Safety Commission Advisory Warning with regard to these products. Sportsstuff, Inc. is fully investigating these incidents in cooperation with the CPSC.

It appears preliminarily that many, if not all, of the incidents brought to Sportsstuff’s attention involved serious abuse of the product in direct contravention of the warnings and instructions provided with the product.

Each Wego Kite Tube is accompanied by an instructional DVD, user’s manual and extensive warning labels on the product. The warnings printed on the tube state that the tow boat should never exceed the speed of 20 miles per hour when towing adults or 15 miles per hour when towing children. Media reports concerning these recent incidents state that the boats were towing the kite tube at speeds exceeding 30 miles per hour, a speed far in excess of the maximum towing speed indicated on the Wego Kite Tube.

The Owners Manual specifically states that misuse or improper use of the Kite Tube could result in serious injury or death. Copies of the Wego Kite Tube Owners Manual are available online at Sportsstuff.com.

As with any water sport, kite tubing is not without some risk of physical injury. Sportsstuff, Inc. believes that the Wego Kite Tube is a reasonably safe product if used responsibly and in compliance

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with the instructions and warnings that accompany this product.

Video of Edmonton man seriously injured on Kite Tube

This video should give you a good idea about the unpredictability of the kite tube. This story ran last week on Ottawa’s A Channel news. Dallas Koperski , a 21 year-old from Alberta, is shown skimming along the surface of the lake having a great time. The next second he is 18+ feet in the air and then slammed into the water resulting in serious head and neck injuries.

Click here for the video

Read the complete story here Kite Tube Dangers

Related stories here

Edmonton Journal Family wants kite tubes banned after son’s mishap

City TVNew Toy Proves Dangerous

CTV Toronto – Ontario man dies from new kite tubing activity

CTV Toronto – Ontario man dies from new kite tubing activity

Yet another senseless death of a kite tube rider, this time in Ontario, Canada. While action to investigate and ban the kite tubes is underway a solution can not arrive soon enough. How many more people have to be seriously injured or killed because of this thing!?

A flat kite (whether it’s slightly concave on the bottom is irrelevant) will not be stable with out a large amount of drag on the back of the kite. Couple that with the riders weight and movements constantly changing the angle of attack; How can it be stable? then combine all of that with the boat possibly heading across the wind, and wind gusts and you have an uncontrollable situation!

Don’t do it, it’s not worth it!

EDIT: July 13,2006
Here is a follow on story that is referenced in the comments. The driver of the boat was drunk…

http://www.570news.com/news/local/article.jsp?content=20060705_130848_4612

–Bill