Modern Cody Kites

A Great Old Design Lives On

It's just amazing that Cody kites can still be so popular, given their early origins. Over 100 years old now, the double-box design with bat-like wings and horns is still flying proudly all over the world.

A fine Cody kite we saw at a festival.

From it's man-lifting origins, kite lovers now painstakingly construct and fly many varied examples of this design. Not everyone tries to be authentic in either dimensions, spar material or sail material, so there is great variety!

Most Codys are flown purely for the fun of it. On the other hand, sometimes the stable, high-lift Cody box is used for KAP (Kite Aerial Photography). Another common use for high-lift kites is hauling up 'line laundry', like inflatable figures, windsocks, ribbons and spinners.

Big, small, plain or fancy color schemes, the design is always recognizable. Of course, the best modern materials are usually used except if someone is trying to construct a perfect replica of the original. Modern Cody kites with their graphite spars and nylon sails are even more efficient than the originals!

What I personally find surprising is how such a complex kite could have such a following. Sure, some modern retail versions are quite simple to put together, but the more authentic creations are another story! Some people just like a challenge while others have deep respect for Cody himself, particularly in England where most of his work was done.

This Lutz Treczoks Cody on Amazon is possibly the best production model around. See further down for more on Lutz the designer.

Retail And Home-Built Cody Kites

A small, easily rigged 'contemporary Cody kite'.

Let's have a look at a real contrast with the original big Cody War kites. A small, easily rigged 'contemporary Cody'. There's a picture of one over there. But it's still unmistakably a Cody isn't it!

As with the originals, modern cody-style designs sometimes have a top-sail as well, for more stability and a little more lifting power.

Also like the originals, some keen kite-makers make their own versions that are just as fiddly to set up and break down!

Some people like to stack their Codys up in the air by flying several at a time. Usually all the same design though, unlike the old man-lifting system. Also, as I mentioned earlier, some people use them for Kite Aerial Photography or sending up 'line laundry'.

What about prices? I've seen retail Codys anywhere from under US$25 to around US$500! But this might soon be out of date info. Point is, there's a large price range for this type of kite in the shops.

There are as many different-looking Cody boxes as there are keen builders of this design! Just to give you some idea, I've come across a site that features Codys with sails that are...

  • polka-dotted
  • glowing
  • appliqué
  • bright pink
  • patterned and striped
  • like the US flag, with over 200 red, white and blue panels

Codys come in all sizes these days. Here's a very nice large Cody that we saw at the Adelaide festival some time ago... Yes, it's another view of the same kite featured at the top of this page.

Great-looking Cody in flight, with a small red top-sail fitted.

How's this. You can buy a Cody Kite Plan for US$3. If you carefully follow the instructions it takes about 3 hours. You are then the proud owner of a tiny craft that weighs just one gram and has a 25 cm (10 inch) wingspan! So small, it can be flown indoors at walking speed. For this sort of thing, just search on the Internet for 'miniature kites'.

Now for the other end of the scale. Dan Flintjer has been designing and building Cody box kites for years. I've seen a photo of his biggest Cody. It's black, and the little toy soldier standing near one corner turns out to be a real person when you look closer! A massive kite, it stands nearly 7 meters (22 feet) high and has a 10 meter (33 foot) wingspan. More on Dan further down...

Two Notable Cody Box Specialists

Some people take their kite building seriously. If you are also serious about building and flying the Cody kite then you are likely to come across these names sooner or later. I'm sure there are others too, who have similar kite building achievements but aren't as visible on the Internet.

Lutz Treczoks was born in 1958 and has been making kites in Lueneburg, Germany, since 1998. He was a keen flyer before then though. After trying his hand at various kinds of kites, he finally turned to box kites, and then the Cody in particular. His 'Extend Wing Cody War Kite' is claimed by some to be 'absolutely the finest Cody Kite on the commercial market'.

With a reputation for using the finest materials and great workmanship, Lutz's designs developed a big demand. When you're selling that many kites, it's a bit hard to keep up. As a result, most of the production of his kites has been shifted offshore, to Chinese factories in particular. Now people can own an exceptional Cody for less than half the price of the German originals.

Have a look at the Lutz Treczoks Cody which is made according to Lutz's standards and specs.

Dan Flintjer has been making kites a lot longer, way back to 1983. He is particularly well known for designing the 'Buffalo Cody Kite'. His focus has always been on box kites as far as I can tell, with the Buffalo kites being particularly successful, selling in the thousands through retail stores.

Part of this success is due to his 'tree repellent' and more recently 'power line repellent' that is coated onto his kites. Secret formulas that will never be revealed. Like they say, there's a ... born every minute ;-) I take my hat off to his marketing genius.

As with all successful kite makers, quality craftsmanship can be seen in all his work. And he's still making kites himself, one at a time apparently! And that includes over 900 Codys. Wow.

These days Dan Flintjer is the Assistant Director of Education at the Niagara Aerospace Museum in Niagara Falls, New York. He spreads his love of kites and shares his building techniques in numerous schools and colleges in the U.S.


A modern day replica of the famous Cody War kite.

Photo courtesy of Kyknoord.

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What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Dowel Barn Door Rides Inland Gusts

    Sep 17, 14 06:33 AM

    Well, it was the same reserve and a similar time of day. A bit closer to sun-down perhaps. Only the kite was different - the Dowel Barn Door kite this time, chosen to suit the 'gentle' strength wind gusts of between 15 and 20 kph.

    The first flight went well, with the kite soaring straight up on around 45 meters (150 feet) of line. The late afternoon sun glinting off the panels as the kite moved about at steep line angles. In the gusts and lulls, the kite had a tendency to pull to the right at times.

    As I was taking the kite down to do a bridle adjustment, the main problem became apparent. The horizontal spar had pushed through the tip-tape on the right corner of the sail, drastically reducing the sail area to the right of center. It was actually surprising how well the kite was still flying, given the gross problem with the sail!

    On a second flight, with the tip repaired, there still appeared to be a slight pull to the right. So, after taking some video footage of the Barn Door's antics, it was brought down once again. This time the bridle knot was taken across by about a centimeter (1/2"). That was better! The 1.2 meter (4 feet) span pale orange kite shot right back up, showing much less tendency to pull across when under pressure.

    After some more video was taken, with the kite soaring around almost directly overhead at times, it seemed safe enough to let out more line. It was surprising to feel the flying line touching my jeans while it was anchored under-foot! How much rising air can there be at this time of day? At the time I was concentrating on keeping the wandering kite in-frame as I took video.

    Finally, after enjoying the kite doing its thing on over 60 meters (200 feet) of line, it came time to pull the Dowel Barn Door down. When within 30 feet or so of the ground it started to float and sink face-down. Then it was an easy matter to pull in the remaining few meters of line, keeping the kite flying until the bridle lines were in hand.

    Weather stations were reporting around 10kph average wind speeds with gusts almost to 20kph.

    "Simplest Dowel Kites": A free but very useful kite-making e-book. Make a super-simple Sled, Diamond and Delta - step-by-step with photos. Sign up for the e-book and get an emailed series of messages called "MBK Tips'n'Ideas". If you don't need the e-book, consider signing up anyway... You won't believe what's on offer in that message series!

    Read More

New! Comments

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