The Dowel Barn Door Kite

Lolling About In Large Areas Of Lift And Sink

With the Dowel Barn Door kite in hand, Aren and I walked onto the Wilfred Taylor Reserve in the early afternoon. The grass seemed slightly wet. But I think it was an illusion created by lots of recent growth. Some sunshine at last, today, after very frequent rain over many days.

Our Dowel Barn Door kite in the air.

A gusty very light wind was blowing down low, but at this location there is usually a sharp increase in wind speed just above tree-top height. Anyway, I still decided to shift the towing point back a few mm (1/4").

While standing still there didn't seem to be quite enough wind to launch the kite. So, I just popped it up to about waist height during a faint gust.

From there, it was fun to walk backwards while keeping the kite hovering over the grass at about head height. Letting line out slowly, the whole time. After a minute or so of this, it wasn't hard to climb the Dowel Barn Door kite right up, with about 20 meters (70 feet) of line out.

Time for some photos and video! The kite was close enough to get good images, and yet also high enough to fly reliably in the variable but slightly stronger wind.

After getting all the imagery needed for this flight report, I let Aren (4 1/2) fly the pale orange Barn Door for a while. He's getting bigger and stronger all the time, and more comfortable with flying the Dowel kites in light conditions. Only it wasn't so light up there any more, and he started started complaining about it 'pulling too hard'! I promptly took over.

Now, I often hatch a little plan for climbing out a kite to 400 feet. You know, float it out to a long line length and then let it climb up by itself. Or perhaps climb it out at a constant line angle of 45 degrees. Not today. The Dowel Barn Door kite rather haphazardly climbed to around 300 feet. I just let line out from time to time as I felt like it.

The wind up higher seemed to be gusting just occasionally to near moderate strength, putting a slight bow in the normally straight side edges of the sail. Finally a nice thermal came through, and the Dowel Barn Door kite headed heavenwards.

With more line out, more than 120 meters, the Barn Door ended up floating about at 400 feet. The kite seemed to spend forever at 70-80 degree line angles, the line hanging vertically before arcing back a little to where I was standing. The flying line also formed a long S-bend or 2 as the winds pushed it in slightly different directions, depending on altitude.

At the far side of the grassed area, a guy started to fly an electric RC plane. He seemed satisfied that the model wasn't going to get anywhere near my flying line.

I might as well mention a few other flying things that invaded my kite's airspace too... A few pink and white Galahs, some small but fast-flying birds and in the distance, the sparkle of a sizeable flock of White Cockatoos. No Kookaburras this time, although we heard one here a few weeks ago!

After an hour or so, it became harder to keep the Dowel Barn Door kite up high, and I started to work the line a bit more. The wind strength had dropped off so much that there seemed to be almost no breeze at all down low.

Unfortunately, my efforts to keep the kite up had the side effect of working one of the diagonal spars out of its corner strap! A long slow descent followed, with the kite looping more or less continuously to the right. Slow loops, but fairly tight in radius.

This was a bit odd since sail area was missing at the top left of the kite. Normally a kite will loop towards the side with less area, in this kind of situation, since the side with more area has more lifting force. Perhaps drag forces were dominant with the multi-faceted barn-door sail. Interesting! Or perhaps your eyes are just starting to glaze over at this point ;-)

Sorry, moving right along...

I managed to get the kite down on the grass fairly softly. Soon the spar was back in and the sail re-tensioned. With the wind fading, the Dowel Barn Door kite never made it back up to 400 feet, but it still had some reasonable flying for the next 20 minutes or so. Eventually, I found myself winding in furiously as the kite just sank relentlessly towards the ground.

It wasn't a bad outing, considering the weather has been almost unflyable for weeks, with frequent rain and very fresh winds. It's been the wettest August here for many years.

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!


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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

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