Pilot vs Flyer, Is there a Difference?

Explore more
Ever since I rediscovered kite flying back in 1998 I’ve heard the terms kite pilot and kite flyer being used. But is there a difference between the two?


I was only 34 years back in 1998, when I kind of re-discovered kite flying. I was in Denmark on summer vacation with my family and the weather was, well, kind of questionable. Not quite like the summer weather we hoped for. Pretty much overcast every day, and …windy!

So finding myself inside a local toy shop I ended up in front of this wall with kites hanging all over the place. Why not get one I thought. Something to do on the beach when it’s windy and not quite “bathable”. So I did and another passion of mine was born!

Flying a kite
Flying a kite

Kite lingo

Now, almost 25 years later I still have that kite flying passion and throughout the years the words ‘kite flyer‘ and ‘kite pilot‘ have been showing up frequently. And they both describe kind of the same meaning, a person that flies kites! Or…? Is it as simple as that?

Do those phrases mean exactly the same or are they differentiated in any way?

Well, seen from my narrow perspective, I interpret them slightly differently and if you’re game on some nerd stuff, just continue to read!

Flying a kite
Flying a kite


Pilot … let the phrase sink in a little and… what comes to mind? Well, for me, the first association that comes to mind is “manoeuvre”.

According to Thesaurus.com, the phrase “manoeuvre” has several synonyms, like ‘action’, ‘movement’, ‘manipulation’, ‘stunt’ and ‘trick’.

Let’s do the same thought experiment but this time we focus on the term “fly” and once again turn to Thesaurus.com for synonyms. Now we come up with synonyms like ‘circle’, ‘climb’, ‘lift’, ‘glide’ and ‘operate’.

As you can see, there seems to be a slight difference. The phrase ‘pilot‘ seems to include some kind of manipulation of a flying object. The phrase ‘fly‘ on the other hand seems to lean more towards an object that …. kind of flies by itself, no manipulation involved.

Are we getting somewhere now?

Well, yes, I think so. If the phrase pilot is associated with terms like action, manipulation, stunt and trick, I think it’s not completely wrong to state that this tends to fly a kite in a somewhat more active way.

A kite pilot is manipulating the flying lines to have the kite do stunts and tricks, you know, making the kite perform an action in the air. So from my narrow perspective, a kite pilot is a person that actively manipulates the flying line/s to alter the kite’s position in the air.

So what about the kite flyer? Well, based on the same assumptions this person is not manipulating the line but rather tethering the kite and “leaves” the kite to sit up there painting the sky, to lift, fly, soar and glide based on the fluctuations in the wind speed and direction only. No active manipulation of the kite line by the person on the ground.

Kite pilot or kite flyer?
Kite pilot or kite flyer?


So based on the above, I’m just to make some kind of conclusion.

Kite Pilot
The way I see it is that a kite pilot is actively manipulating the kite ine/s to alter the kite’s position in the air, to have it doing tricks, stunts and/or patterns in the air.

Kite Flyer
A kite flyer on the other hand is a person that will not do this active manipulation and rather have the elements playing with the kite

…if you see what I mean!

And as always, there’s no one truth, and you might have another opinion and another conclusion. If you do, please let me know in the comments field below!

Listen to this!

Click to listen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that no comments will be published until it’s approved by the moderator.

Share and spread the word!

Learn to Fly!

check out our tutorials!

Do you want to learn to fly? At AERIALIS Kites you will find an increasing numbers of tutorials teaching you all you need to know to fly and to get the best fun out of your kite. Everything from the basics to the more advanced skills!


follow us on social media

Like and subscribe to our So-Me channels!


We use cookies and Google Analytics to provide website functionality, to analyze traffic on this website, personalize content and to enable social media functionality.
For improved user experience we also enable cookies form YouTube and Facebook. Our Privacy Policy provides more information and also explains how to update your cookie settings.
If this is fine with you, please click the "Got it" button to continue to the AERIALIS Kites website!