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When flying a kite, there are moments when you need to quickly pull on the string and let it go so that the kite can catch the wind and go up. Is there a word for this action?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

This guide on how to fly a kite uses pumping the line:

If you want to increase altitude, try gently pumping the line. Each time you pull in, the kite will rise a few feet. For more lift, try pulling the line in a few feet and then slowly letting it out.

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+1 for a good find but what is the physical explanation for why this works? – Eugene Seidel Apr 22 '12 at 10:36
@Eugene: My guess is that you are changing the angle of the kite in the wind and so increasing lift. – Henry Apr 22 '12 at 11:57
The common pump works with a push-pull action ('reciprocating' pump) -- just as you pull-release the kite-string. Also, the cause-effect is very similar: with each stroke the kite, like the water, rises a bit. In fact, both pull and release help the kite soar a little at a time. – Kris Apr 22 '12 at 13:16
@Henry: Actually quite a bite of aerodynamics is involved -- not change of angle. An airplane uses forward "thrust" to gain "lift" that helps it to rise (even to stay afloat). Pulling the kite produces similar effect by pressing on the air on its underside. With right design, this creates a "lift" for the kite to rise. – Kris Apr 22 '12 at 13:25

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