When I defined the term years ago on the egroups kitesurf list (See ** below), I was convinced that it might not be that uncommon as kiteboarding grew in popularity.
It was defined as ...
"Lofting is the involuntary lifting of a kitesurfer in a gust and getting blown downwind ..."
When people talk of lofting, sometimes there seems to be some confusion as to just what that implies. Some that I have encountered seem to think it is only the thermal variety which in fact is quite rare thankfully among kiteboarders. I recently heard about an article that indicated that lofting is so rare as to almost be a myth.
When you think about it, lofting as defined above, is quite common at least to anyone that was ever involuntarily lifted by a kite in a gust. They didn't necessaily have to be hurt.
** From: email@example.com
Date: Wed Oct 3, 2001 5:13 pm
Subject: New Hazard was (Stamos)Kitemare - Ch-ch estuary 1, Decay 0
You said a mouthful! We have been kicking around this concept of lofting recently. Lofting is the involuntary lifting of a kitesurfer in a gust and getting blown downwind, near or on land, to a hard to very hard impact. So the kitesurfer knows this, wears a helmet, an impact vest, uses a properly fitted chickenloop snapshackle, trys to avoid circumstances that might lead to lofting and figures well if he gets hurt, it goes with the sport.
What if the lofted kitesurfer blows downwind at speed into some bystanders? Lets say the kitesurfer's board or body, hits someone in the head or knocks them into a car, rock, wall, whatever. That rows bystanders aboard, who probably didn't rationalize about kitesurfing injuries before coming to the beach. Guys, this is serious. Lofting, is not real common, but not unheard of at many launches. If you are lucky, you hit clear sand, get up and say whew! If not, the repercussions for the kitesurfer and sport could be far reaching and devastating. We really need to avoid lofting, particularly in crowded areas. This is a relatively new problem, with higher numbers of kitesurfers and very efficient kites unlike things a few years ago. It is important to note, that once you are airborne, it really doesn't matter how good you are, where and how you land will likely be beyond your control.
For more info read: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kitesurf/message/39636
Of course experience has taught us a great deal about lofting and various ways of trying to avoid it since this old post which was based upon only three loftings (including my own!). To date there have probably been hundreds if not thousands loftings including several fatalities.
As time went on, it seemed reasonable to define various types of lofting based upon various accidents to include:
Uplift lofting = being pulled or popped up while already in flight by the standing pressure wave created by vertical surfaces by wind, e.g. walls, buildings, hills, trees, etc. Dimitri Maramendies had a case of this in OBX a while back as have others including some that were lofted from the water and over vertical surfaces once they flew over land.
Thermal lofting = being pulled or popped up while already in flight by a thermal, or rising mass of warm air. After finally seeing the video and commentary of Eric's lofting in Oahu a few years ago, I suspect that this was a case of uplift lofting instead of a thermal lofting.
Lofting can follow or preceed dragging which is also a potentially dangerous event.
I just heard about a nasty lofting that happened less than a week ago resulting in severe spinal fracture. Then there were the several dragging/lofting related fatalities of the last few months. I wish lofting was a myth. Devising an effective solution short of widespread knowledge, use of good judgment and hazard appreciation isn't apparent at this time. We have a ways to go in effectively managing lofting across participants in this sport. Acceptance of its existence would be a good start.