The Dowel Roller Kite

Successful Test In A Cold Breeze

The Dowel Roller Kite is finally proven, after a test flight in trying conditions! After making a new version and shifting it's balance point to the rear a little, we finally had a stable kite. However, cold wet weather had closed in and more was forecast for several days to come. Despite this, there was a sunny patch this afternoon so we ventured out to try and get some photos and video of the Roller.

First test flight for the Dowel Roller kite.

On the way to the reserve, things seemed promising with only slight movement in the tree-tops.

By the time the Roller was set up on the ground, it was clear that the average wind strength was in fact a bit high.

Fresh gusts were coming through.

A layer of dark cumulus scudded by to the East, showing up the brisk breezes up around 2000 feet or so. Just remnants of rain clouds, against a backdrop of much higher strato-culumus which glistened white in the sunlight.

One of the sail ties kept coming undone as I tried to attach re-attach it. I resolved to change the ties later and use small loop knots to hold the slip knots, instead of the simple double knots.

Eventually, the Dowel Roller Kite was ready and it was easily launched in the next gust that came through.

The air was rough!

As you can see in the first few seconds of the video down there, the kite would sometimes suffer a sudden drop in wind speed. Next would come a tail-slide as the kite lost a few meters of height and then recovered.

Down low, the lulls would not have enough wind speed to keep the kite airborne, but higher up the wintry gusts would test the kite to its limits, occasionally bending the horizontal spars beyond the fixed amount of bow.

That is, the bow strings would go slack! At these times, the trailing edge of the upper sail would flutter furiously, as if the kite was grumbling about the excess wind speed.

Despite the trying conditions, the Dowel Roller Kite did pretty well. Once or twice the kite was forced to the ground in a large loop.

Eventually, I managed to let about 50 meters of line out. The kite then used a large amount of sky, hunting far to the right and left, and occasionally up to a steeper line angle when the wind eased a little.

I'm sure we'll get some much more satisfying flights from this kite when the weather is more ideal. In the meantime, it's nice to know that it is stable and has pretty respectable performance.

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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This printable e-book takes you step-by-step through making a 119 cm (4 ft) wide Parachute kite. It's not quite that wide in the air since the canopy takes on a distinct curved shape when inflated. This 14-cell kite performs best in moderate to fresh wind speeds. That's 20 to 38 kph or 13 to 24 mph. In gentle winds, this kite will hang in the air at fairly low line angles. In fresh winds, it pulls firmly for it's size, so small kids should only fly it while supervised!

Every kite design in the MBK Soft Series satisfies the following points...

  • Materials are plastic sheet, tape and line – and nothing more!
  • Tools are a ruler, scissors and a marker pen - and nothing more!
  • All cuts are along straight lines.

For the greatest chance of success, I make recommendations regarding the materials. For example, the type/weight of plastic, type/width of tape and line type/strength. Close enough should nearly always be good enough, since the design is well-tested and should be tolerant of small differences from my original.

Get the e-book for making the MBK Parachute kite. After making your first one in plastic and seeing how it performs, you can try soft Tyvek or rip-stop nylon for your next build.

The e-book is a PDF file - which means printable instructions to refer to while you make the kite. It also means convenient off-line access if that suits you better.

What's New!

  1. The Classic Cody Kite

    Aug 23, 17 06:00 AM

    This previously published page gives a quick insight into the structure and materials of the original 'War Kites' by Samuel Cody. Plus some history and photos of course. Intriguing stuff...

    Read More


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...

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Wind Speeds

Light air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2    

Gentle breeze
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3    

Moderate breeze
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4    

Fresh breeze
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5    

Strong breeze
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7