A Manx Kite

by David Roper
(Great Britain)

The name 'Manx' is from the language of the Isle of Man, which is the name of an island off the west coast of England. It is a beautiful place, with its own government but interestingly for this story, is the unique isle of man cat, which has no tail!

45 years ago, a past friend and colleague was very much of an inventor, gardener and bee keeper. He was living in the county of Suffolk, UK and made a kite that he called a manx kite. Because it had no tail.

Harry was his name, and he flew it on the beaches of Suffolk, on the east coast, and nobody had one like it.

As I had two children, and also because I was a close friend, he let me copy it on the condition that I never gave the plan to anyone else as he would be so upset to see another Manx kite flying on those beaches that weren't his or mine.

I made two Manx kites, one for my son and one for my nephew and they would fly in a puff of wind or a gale.

They would stay in the air all day if the line was tied to a post, as I used to do. But the greatest fun was flying it parallel to the ground at about three feet off the ground towards the kids 100 feet away, or more. Just at the moment when they would duck to miss the kite flying towards them, I would tighten up the line. The kite without fail would just instantly leap into the sky, and stay still regardless of the wind strength.

I lost the kites over the years but found the drawing I made, but one of the two pages got lost, so I had to go on memory.

I have made two or three over the last couple of years but they are wrong and will not fly, so I am appealing for somebody to tell me that the Manx kite is a regular model, and help me make one again.

I can only describe it at this moment, but it is possible that if there is some interest, I might be able to draw what I know, and photo copy it.

It is easy to describe.

A single line kite.

Picture a diamond shape kite, but cut off the bottom quarter.

It had a fin that the line was attached to.

But it had NO tail, as the wind drag was from the flapping of the kite material across the bottom 12 inches or so?

Can anyone help me with this please?

I was in Melbourne for three weeks in January visiting my son and three grandchildren and I purchased a kite each for them, but I would love to make a Manx kite to take there when I visit hopefully next year.

Thank you in anticipation,


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Mar 25, 2014
Tail-less Kites
by: Tim Parish

Definitely a 5-star (or 5-kite in this case) post!

Many kite designs can fly tail-less, but it sounds like your friend hit upon a very versatile, robust and stable design there.

Your description immediately brings to mind one variation of the Barn Door kite. However, the traditional Barn Door does not lend itself to the use of a keel, as you describe, since it employs 2 diagonal spars instead of a vertical one.

Here's my suggestion...

In addition to the traditional vertical and horizontal spars of the Diamond, add another horizontal spar across the cut-off bottom edge of the Manx.

Here's the critical bit - pull some bow into both the horizontal spars, by running some line across each spar from tip to tip. Thus the kite will be concave away from you, as the flier.

The keel must also be positioned correctly along the vertical spar. If the exact position is not clear from the drawings, start by putting the towing point 25% down from the nose end of the kite. Experiment by shifting it in small increments either way until the kite flies highest.

Make all the spars as light as you dare. Only use heavier ones if something actually breaks in flight.

Hope this helps!

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