If you have ever thumbed through a kiteboarding magazine or brochure, chances are you have seen some dynamic
photo of a kiteboarder performing a big air move with a palm tree-lined beach in the background or a kitesurfer slashing the top off of an emerald green wave. These photos were probably taken on Maui’s north shore, the most photographed and well-known kite boarding destination in the world. If you have had the opportunity to kite here, you will understand that this reputation is well-deserved.

Maui’s north shore is without question one of the world’s ultimate wind sports playgrounds. The faithful trade winds and offshore reef breaks combine to create sensational conditions that foster epic moments and memories. However, some of the kiters who live on Maui and many of the kiters visiting are not aware that having an airport in the middle of our playground is a huge problem. Our precious “right to kite” on Maui’s north shore is a tenuous situation due to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rule that prohibits kite flying within five miles of the airport. Kiting is only made possible with a waiver granted by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA’s Code of Regulations part 101 translates to read that no kiting shall take place within a five-mile radius of an airport unless a waiver is granted. This five-mile radius around Maui’s Kahului Airport (OGG) is essentially all of Maui’s accessible north shore, from Kahului Harbor to the famous Lanes, next to Ho’okipa.

We are fortunate to have a waiver in place, which is granted to and held by Joel Richman, fellow kiter , father of pro kiters Shawn and Jesse Richman and president of Maui Kitesurfing Community. The FAA has granted this waiver under this condition: No kites are permitted in the no-fly zone, a one-mile wide area that extends from the end of the runway, to two miles into the ocean. It is the responsibility of Maui’s Kitesurfing Community to continually educate all Maui kiters and to monitor the compliance of the rules and regulations established by the waiver. This means no launching from Spreck’s (Euro Beach) or Camp One, and when doing downwinders, stay two miles offshore as you pass the airport. Most Maui resident kiters are aware of this no-fly zone, but many visiting kiters are not.

FAA officials from the airport control tower can, and do, contact MKC board members with runway no-fly zone infractions on a regular basis. This is a real issue for air traffic control personnel. Kites visible from the control tower can be disruptive, as they can impede air traffic. Repeat violations threaten our ability to maintain the waiver.

The right to kite Maui’s north shore is something that no kiter would ever want to lose. The Maui Kitesurfing Community was established in 2004 with the intent to educate, monitor and generate memberships for the protection of our kiting privilege and to make kiting a safer sport. We use membership monies to educate all kiters by erecting signs at the various beaches, printing brochures with guidelines/rules and for legal and administrative needs. Our main goal is to raise enough awareness and support to be able to lobby for a permanent solution, rather than a year-to-year waiver.

We are kicking off 2011 with a membership drive aimed at the various shops, manufacturers, publications, internet sites, kiting schools and fellow kiters.

We encourage all to join and support this most worthy cause, by offering individual and commercial memberships. There is power in numbers.

By viewing our website all kiters and businesses can have access to the rules and guidelines and to applications and rates for membership.

Please help us to keep the “Right to Kite” Maui’s north shore alive and well. When visiting Maui please visit one of our many kiteboard and surf shops to learn about specific issues at the various beaches you plan to use and don’t forget to ask about the no-fly zone before you hit the water.

Much aloha from the Maui Kitesurfing Community.