The Multi-Dowel Sled Kite

A Learning Experience With A Truly BIG Kite

5 to 10 knots from the South-East were the forecast winds for today. Perfect for a second outing with the huge new Multi-Dowel Sled kite! The first outing was in very marginal conditions when wind speeds were barely enough to keep the kite aloft.

The Multi-Dowel Sled kite in flight.

As before, rigging the big Sled today was super-quick and easy. It takes more time to unroll the bridle from around the bundle than it takes to join the spars and attach the flying line!

Today the line was stored on a garden hose reel, to avoid getting twists in the line. A couple of small tent pegs were easily driven into the rain-softened earth, to allow line to be dragged off as required.

There was just a bit of breeze coming through.

Raising the bridle lines with my gloved hands near the towing points was enough to get some air lifting the leading edge. In no time, the whole sail had filled and the Multi-Dowel Sled kite was standing on its trailing edge, about to take off.

With the kite a short distance from the ground, I carefully let it move out to the full length of bridle. It felt a lot safer with the gloves on!

This huge kite is the BONUS DESIGN that is included in the e-book up there on the right. Full 3-view plans, hints and close-up photos provide all the info you need, after you've got all the fun you can out of the smaller Dowel version!

Soon, the line was out to 30 meters. The wind was obvious stronger than the very light gusts of first outing. Hanging onto the 200 pound Dacron line was somewhat slippery using the gloves. I soon found myself taking a wrap or 2 around a gloved hand whenever I wanted to pause for a moment and watch the Sled climb a bit higher. With just light to moderate strength wind, the huge Sled had no trouble pulling line off the somewhat stiff garden hose reel. No fancy ball-bearings there!

This is when all the video was taken. A couple of photos were taken too, but it turned out later that the camera had failed. Movies still working fine, but still photos - no!

The only way of managing the camera work was to put a turn of line around my left foot. Just treading on it was not enough to prevent line slipping out. At quite a pace sometimes!

After a while I decided to go to 60 meters of flying line, half expecting a towing-point tape to fail at some point. All that was holding the kite was 4 thin strips of packing tape. However, it didn't happen. They are quite strong under tension, particularly when stuck together!

Since the tension in the line was getting uncomfortable, it seemed the right time to find an anchor for the line. However, with the reel pointing downwind, it wasn't straightforward to simply walk back to a handy tree and wrap some line around it. I would need to get a whole lot of slack line on the ground first. Conclusion - in future it might be a good idea to always set up the reel a short distance upwind of the intended anchor point! The reel itself is no good for this job, since only a couple of tent pegs are holding it back. They could easily give way.

While at 60 meters of line length, I paused for a while, to see just how stable the Multi-Dowel Sled kite was during stronger gusts. Thermal activity was evident by now, and some of it was quite strong. This had me planning how I would keep the kite and flying line out of trouble if something suddenly failed.

The bigger the kite, the bigger the variations in line tension it seems. After all, a big kite will go right to almost zero tension while it is floating down in a lull or copping a gust from behind. Then, the tension can come back on very suddenly!

For the first time with this kite, the flying line could be heard whistling and buzzing during moderate, perhaps almost fresh gusts of wind. The video over there only shows the ground, but the sound track is the thing... The line was in contact with the camera case, right next to the lens. Eerie! Also, at other times some trailing edge flutter could be heard for a moment or 2 as the strongest gusts peaked.

The huge Sled kite was proving very predictable, so it felt safe to try going to 90 meters. Mind you, I was still prepared to run up-wind or cross-wind in a hurry if necessary! Once there, at 90 meters, the thought did cross my mind 'how straightforward will it be to get the thing down from here?'

A bird zoomed past, higher and slightly downwind of the kite. This wasn't really a coincidence, since the bird was not flapping, and the kite was in rising air, pulling like an ox. At one point the Sled went directly overhead, and continued to pull line through my tightly gripped glove - taking meters of line off the stiff-running hose reel as it went!

Then, it was decided to go briefly up to 120 meters of line, before starting to take the big Sled down. The kite got to 350 feet alright, on 120 meters of line. But then I found that getting it down again was not going to be easy! To cut a long story short, I had to resort to taking double or triple wraps around each hand in turn, to get line in without slippage. This was awkward and slow. In future, it should be a lot easier to take the Multi-Dowel Sled kite down with the line properly anchored somewhere. Then, it's just a matter of walking out to the kite, effectively shifting the anchor point out to it as you go. Apparently, some like to tread on the line to do this, but that can't be very good for the flying line!

I know, how about a 50 pound de-power line attached to the top of the center spar. That would do the trick, wouldn't it! Just pull some tension onto it and watch the 2 Dowel Sled kite nose over, collapse and fall...

Bringing the kite in, things got a bit easier when it got under 50 feet of altitude. Finally, I started bringing the bridle lines together, hand over hand until the sail collapsed inwards and sank to the grass. I'd call it a very successful flight, despite a few awkward learning moments!

The Windtronic wind speed meter, which I reset after winds seemed to pick up a little, showed an average of 2.8 kph and a maximum of 7.5 kph near ground level. I'm itching to suspend it from the bridle line one day, to see what's really happening up there, but the thing is worth $100...

Here's a 30 second video, showing the big 2 Dowel Sled kite in some fairly rough air at around 50 feet altitude. The kite flew smoother up at 350 feet.

The story above was an actual flying experience with the described kite. My write-ups are definitely warts-and-all since things don't always go totally as planned. However, half the fun of kiting is anticipating the perfect flight. When it happens, it's magic!


You might have noticed that this site has a monthly newsletter...

For single-line kite fliers and builders, it's always been a good read. But if you are interested in KAP and/or large home-made kites you won't want to miss it!

So sign up today, and download the free 95-page e-book "What Kite Is That?" straight away. Info-packed and fully photo-illustrated.

And there are even more free resources, such as a kite-making e-course, waiting for you in the next issue of this newsletter.


What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Sea-sick Barn Door Kite

    Jul 28, 14 05:06 AM

    This was an experiment with mounting a camera directly onto the kite. With winds gusting to over 30kph up high, the Fresh Wind Barn Door kite was selected...

    In a word, it was tricky. I mounted the camera as close as possible to the center of gravity of the kite, but it still ended up quite a few cm closer to the trailing edge than I would have liked. It was only practical to mount he camera - on its bendy tripod (!) - near the diagonal spars crossing point. Electrical tape secured 2 short tripod legs to the diagonal spars, holding the camera upright with the kite sitting on its trailing edge.

    It was a struggle to get enough lift to gain much height, and the kite swung dangerously from side to side. Might try the drogues next time! I did my best to urge the kite higher in mid-swing.

    Eventually, for a few seconds, the kite got to around 100 feet on almost 200 feet of 200 pound Dacron.

    A video clip will of course be forthcoming on Facebook. And only seasoned kite fliers will bother watching it all the whole way through, possibly wrestling with sea-sickness all the while. Hence the title of this post. Still, it was an interesting, if slightly nerve-wracking, outing! At shoulder level, the breeze measured around 9kph gusting to 18.5kph. Some low cloud over the hills was absolutely tearing along, perhaps up around 40kph.

    Huge Homemade Kites And Aerial Photography: This is often the topic for posts which appear here. New things are always being tried so sign up for my newsletter to stay right up to date with the latest developments!

    Read More

New! Comments

Plenty of fun kite info, photos and videos - there's definitely too much here for only one visit! Feel free to leave your impressions of this site or just this page, below...

Apologies for this site's current lack of video when viewed on mobile devices...

For now, please view this site on a Desktop or Laptop computer to see the videos. And there's plenty of them!


Return to A Flying Kite How To Build Kites from The Multi-Dowel Sled Kite

All the way back to Home Page


  • follow us in feedly
  • Add to My Yahoo!
  • Add to My MSN
  • Subscribe with Bloglines

Are you just

holding the string?!

For so much more, try

MBK Tips'n'Ideas


Kite Book - Making The MBK Dowel Sled Kite.

"Making The
MBK Dowel Sled Kite"
(see flight video!)

all the Dowel kites, including the one above...

Kite Book - Making Dowel Kites

"Making Dowel Kites"

ALL the e-books.
Best value of all...

Kite Book - The Big MBK Book Bundle

Download the
"MBK Book Bundle"


"Love the easy to understand step by step instructions, made from next to nothing materials and above all so much fun to fly... cheers Tim for sharing your well thought out pdf kite designs with the whole world.

Very satisfying making your own and watching them get air-born for the first time."


"I've just bought your super e-book and spent most of last night pouring through all the great stuff in it!

Very detailed and USEFUL information - thanks for such a great book."


"30+ years ago, I tried making a kite using the 'instructions' in a free kite-safety booklet. What a disappointment for a young boy.

 Your instructions and methods are wonderful. You help the builder to focus on accuracy, without making it hard. Also, you use materials that are durable, yet cheap!"


"omg i made a kite from this site and i fly it ....... booom i didnt expect this bc in the other sites instuction are trash

thank you"



to try these books