Account with full sized images HERE
A squall was approaching the launch in southern Florida a few weeks ago. The wind had been a light 10 to 14 mph and had just dropped below 5 mph. Two kiters rigged big on large boards had come in as the wind had just died, ("the lull before the storm**"). A third rider had launched walked 50 ft. off the beach and was standing in the shallows with his 16 m flat kite near the vertical. A squall was visible moving towards the launch. I understand he was warned about going out.
The guys on the beach saw a white cap line rushing in and yelled "don't go." The kiter with five years experience kept the kite at the vertical, didn't depower or drop his kite to the side of the wind window ready to Emergency Depower in this short interval. He stood there unaware bare seconds of action might make all the difference. Suddenly, the wind gusted up to around 30 mph with the squall and the rider was lofted airborne. The temperature dropped by ten degrees, perhaps more. By all accounts once the wind hit he had no time to react, no one would have. The time to react was before the wind arrived.
He kicked his board off once he was about 20 ft. up and then pushed his bar out all the way and held it. Despite this the kite apparently didn't depower and he continued to rise. Pushing the bar out decreases the angle of attack, which appears to have little influence when the kite is flying mainly upward. He was seen to go almost straight up for an interval perhaps related to ridge lift from the wind passing over land. He then pulled the bar in and really went up.
To his credit and survivorship, he stayed calm and unlike others didn't kite loop slamming into the ground. He flew the kite as stably as he could with light control inputs. He started to pull on the right side of the bar to try to make back to the water but continued to head inland. He wondered if he might go completely across the island (over 4000 ft., unlikely but at at time like this, who knows). Apparently the squall wind shifted and steered him from ESE to SSW and back towards a narrow corner of water bounded by land. He had traveled roughly 600 ft. inland and by several kiter witness reports had risen to 80 to 100 ft. off the ground prior to turning.
He was concerned about being flown past the water and into a fence beyond. He pushed out on the bar and this time he dropped rapidly while substantially increasing speed. He was stretched out horizontally doing the "superman glide" despite trying to get his legs beneath him. He managed to strike about 1 1/2 ft. of water in an explosion of spray. This was just after high tide, a couple hours later he would have struck bottom or even exposed land. He immediately set his kite free which was promptly caught by a palm tree in a parking lot beside the landing area. He had missed land and some rip rap boulders by about 50 ft. He managed to abrade one finger tip when he released his kite but otherwise was unharmed, an amazing outcome. He had traveled another approximate 500 ft. for an distance of around 1100 ft. largely over land.