'Fly A Kite' Workshop

by Joanna
(Washington, DC, U.S.A.)

Q:

I work at a museum in DC and we are participating in the Blossom Kite Day during the 100th anniversary of the Cherry Blossom Festival in March 2012. I would love to offer a family workshop outside amongst the kite flying.

Keeping in mind that we would like kids from 6-16 years old working with their parents outside to make kites, which design would you suggest? Could I find that suggested design in your book?

Thank you.

A:

My Simple Series of kites springs to mind immediately :-) This a short series of just 3 kites that were designed to be absolutely quick, simple and easy to make and fly. As far as materials go, you just need plastic garbage bags or garden bags, insulation or packing tape and wooden dowels (48" long, 3/16" in diameter) that you should find at most hardware stores.

Several reels of 30 pound line, each on a Stake Line Winder
from Amazon will go great with these kites. There's 500 feet on each winder so you could save some money by cutting some of them down to 100ft lengths and winding on to some small cardboard boxes or short wooden off-cuts. But leave at least one line at full length, so someone gets the thrill of seeing one of these kites going to 400 feet above the gound! All 3 kites are capable of it.

And yes, my latest eBook Making Dowel Kites does cover the 3 Simple Series designs. Being a PDF file, it would be a simple matter to refer to the index and print out just the pages containing the Simple Series kites. Do some photocopying and some stapling and you could have a number of booklets available on the day.

I would suggest you try at least one of the kites for yourself, during some spare time before the event happens. I could then help you with any minor hiccups to minimize the chance of any disappointments on the day!

Finally, some suggestions regarding age...

The 6 year olds will have fun helping to cut out the tail for the Diamond. Apart from that, they could decorate some sails with colored permanent marker pens.

The 16 year olds should be capable of making the entire kite by carefully following the instructions. The Delta is probably the trickiest, and the line must be connected accurately for it to fly well.

In between - I guess you just help out where needed :-)

The only thing that will really hinder flying success is too much wind. If the weather is calm, at least the kids can tow the kites up by running around.

Hope all this is helpful!

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E-book special of the month (25% off)...

Click to get 'Making The MBK Parachute Kite'

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.



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Testimonials
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"Love the easy to understand step by step instructions, made from next to nothing materials and above all so much fun to fly... cheers Tim for sharing your well thought out pdf kite designs with the whole world.

Very satisfying making your own and watching them get air-born for the first time."

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"I decided to run kite making as an elective again on this camp in the past week - so I bought all your e-books, a bunch of materials, and then took a group of 10 high school students through making the kites over 4 days. We built a diamond, a Barn Door, a Delta, and two skew delta kites. Again - every single kite flew."

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"I've just bought your super e-book and spent most of last night pouring through all the great stuff in it!

Very detailed and USEFUL information - thanks for such a great book."

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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