The Dowel Sled Kite

Just Hanging As The Sun Goes Down

The winds were very light outside, giving the big Dowel Sled kite a chance for a good high flight. Sunset was not far off.

The Dowel Sled kite in flight.

This kite isn't the best for inland flying, since it doesn't take much of a bump or ripple in the air to collapse it! We headed off for a reserve near a local Primary School. Soon after we arrived, the Sled was in the air on a few meters of line.

The air certainly was light, and the gentle gusts coming through were just enough to fill the sail and start it climbing. As the shadows crept across the grass, we backed further and further towards the far side of the reserve, coaxing the orange sail up and up, and occasionally recovering from a collapse. A couple of times it went all the way to the ground.

The kite never went to its maximum flying angle, due purely to the lightness of the wind. A lot of the time it hung up there at around 40 degrees or so. Far short of its usual 65 - 70 degrees! There it is in the video, with the setting sun illuminating the Sled from the left.

As the minutes ticked by, the wind dropped to almost zero at ground level, and the orange Sled was right at the bottom of its wind range. At times filling, then narrowing, in response to slight changes in air pressure. An aerial manta ray!

At least I managed to let out 50 meters or so of line, which is probably as high as the Dowel Sled kite has ever gone. One day we'll have to take it down to the beach and put it up to 400 feet - as long as the sea breeze isn't too fresh!

Eventually, flying the kite became a towing exercise, and there was no way even this very-light-wind kite would fly.

The sun dropped almost to the horizon, and the air 'glassed off' as they say in some flying circles.

Even at over 100 feet there was almost nothing. Leaving the winder on the grass, I pulled in line slowly, just enough to keep the sail inflated, until finally the Dowel Sled kite came down near my feet.

Not bad flying really, but it left me wanting more!

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!
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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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Kite-making e-book: Simplest Dowel Kites

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Download it now!

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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