Giant Kites

3 Amazing Examples!

Perhaps you have seen some truly giant kites at a festival. Whether it's a super long Dragon kite or a huge inflatable show kite, they certainly are attention-grabbers!

Giant kites like this Blue Whale inflatable can often be seen at kite festivals.

It's all pretty relative. I started making a range of tiny kites from bamboo BBQ skewers, some years ago. Then I doubled the spans by using 2 skewers butted together, for another series of kites. These had spans of 58cm (2 feet).

Later, I doubled the spans yet again, to 1.2 meters (4 feet) using 5mm Tasmanian Oak dowels. By now I felt the kites were quite impressive in size! The designs in these various sizes were (and still are) available free from this website.

Finally, the time seemed right to come out with ... you guessed it ... 2-Dowel kites with the spans doubled yet again to 2.4 meters (8 feet). This is closer to most people's idea of a 'big' single-liner for personal recreation.

The photo up there shows probably the biggest inflatable kite we have personally seen at a festival. Very appropriately, it is based on the Blue Whale, the largest mammal on the planet.

This Large Whale Parafoil on Amazon doesn't have any reviews up there, at this writing. But if it flies at all, this 2 meter long (8 feet) design is surely not bad for the price!



For the rest of this page, I have decided to seek out and share some details on 3 exceptional kites in particular. Each of these is truly large in its own way...

  • Most Sail Area - The Peter Lynn Mega-Kites
  • Most Length - Zhang Tengyun's Bee Kite Train
  • Most Weight - The Giant Kites of Sagami, Japan




The Peter Lynn Mega-Kites

One of the Peter Lynn Mega-Kites.

There are 3 of these in existence in 2009, as far as I know. Unless some millionaire somewhere has put another 1 or 2 on order! All these giant kites are identical, apart from the decorative work. All have flown at least once at an international kite festival. The picture on the left is of the Mega-Moon which was made for a Japanese owner. Thanks is due to the people at GombergKites.com for that photo.

Airborne, one of these kites appears much like a giant mattress, sedately floating at a modest height off the ground. The construction concept does not look complex from a distance, with the kite looking similar to a flat parafoil with all the internal cell divisions missing. Instead, the bridle lines go right through and anchor the upper surface to the lower surface. Despite the apparent simplicity, I'm sure it's a different story when you get up close to have a look!

With a surface area of about 900 square meters (10,000 square feet) each, and a sizable gap between the top and bottom surfaces, I would say that these giant kites also take the record for sheer volume as well!

On the topic of figures, here's a few...

  • Flying line (rope?!) breaking strain: 9,000 kilograms (20,000 pounds)
  • Flying anchor: Nothing less than a dump truck with a load of bricks!
  • Weight: 180 kilograms (400 pounds) For it's size, that's actually pretty light.

All three Mega Kites, the American Mega Flag, Japanese Mega Moon and Kuwait's Al-Farsi Mega Kite have flown at the same time on at least one occasion. Despite the great size, these kites only require modest wind strengths of around 12 kph and up to fly successfully.





Zhang Tengyun's Bee Kite Train

How's this Bee Kite train!

Previously, the honor of being 'The World's Longest Kite' probably went to one of the many massive Dragon kites which have been made in China for centuries.

However, since June 2008, another incredible kite has taken out the title.

The Chinese specialize in the centipede style, where a large number of smaller kites are strung together to form a long 'tail'. This Bee kite might just as easily fall into the 'kite train' category though, since from the pictures I saw, the kites are connected with just the one flying line. See how this amazing creation floats away into the distance, in that photo! Thanks to the people at china.org.cn for that picture.

The individual small kites each represent a bee, being a somewhat stylized design with yellow body and 2 green 'wings'.

Anyway, those details aside, this flying creation is immensely long. No less than 3,500 meters! That's 3.5 kilometers (about 2 miles). That's probably further than some people travel in their car to the local shops haha!

Again, some figures...

  • 2,034 individual kites!
  • More than 10,000 meters (33,000 feet) of bamboo strips.
  • 88,000 meters (288,000 feet) of kite string.
  • Uncounted bolts of cloth for the sails.
  • People involved in construction: 160
  • Time taken to construct: 2 years!

The construction and flight of this kite were part of the Chinese celebrations at hosting the 2008 Olympics. In fact, the first 26 kites on the line represent the 26 ethnic groups in Yunnan Province, where the successful second flight occurred. The remaining 2,008 kites represent the year of the Games in Beijing.





The Giant Kites of Sagami, Japan

A traditional 'Shindo' kite from Japan.

To me, the most interesting thing about these kites is that the entire huge sail is made from hand-made Japanese paper! For one thing, that would seem to be a pretty delicate material for such a huge kite. Mind you, for it's thickness, this type of paper is supposed to be very strong.

Also, can you imagine the man-hours required to just make enough paper for one of these massive bowed kites! The picture up there was obtained from sagami-oodako.com, with permission. On the topic of 'massive', is it any wonder they weigh as much as they do... See the list of figures further down.

Traditionally, a large kite is flown each year at the Sagami Giant Kite Festival. This event is held on May 4th and 5th in Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.

Do you think that your local kite festival has a fairly long history? It probably pales in comparison to the Sagami festival. This event is a tradition that has been held since the Tenpou period (around 1830!) in the Edo era. I wonder if anyone has added up the total number of square meters of paper used in the sails of these giant kites over those years...

Here's some figures for the largest example, named 'Shindo'...

  • Dimensions: 14.5 x 14.5 meters (47.6 x 47.6 feet)
  • Weight: 950 Kilograms! (2100 pounds)
  • Length of a control rope: 200 meters (650 feet)
  • Thickness of a control rope: 3 to 4 cm (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches)
  • Length of a tail: 85 meters (280 feet)
  • Team size to fly: 80-100 people!
  • Minimum wind speed required: 36 kph (22 mph) That's quite a breeze!

In 2001, a Shindo set a duration record for these traditional giant kites. The mammoth structure stayed airborne for no less than 6 hours and 7 minutes. That would add up to a lot of tired arms, unless the flying crew changed shifts a few times!

Another impressive view of one of these giant kites...

Another view of a Japanese 'Shindo' kite.

Photo courtesy of Kazunori Matsuo.

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What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Using A Kite Log

    Aug 20, 14 03:30 AM

    A new page going up soon on this site will feature some discussion on using a Kite Log. Just as pilots of all types of aircraft log their hours, so do some fliers with kites at the larger end of the scale. According to one site visitor who contacted me, more of us should be keeping logs!

    Accordingly, I have put together a small PDF and called it a Kite Log Book Sheet. Today, with a log sheet printout in a pocket, I went out with the Multi-Dowel Diamond kite to test it. The log sheet that is, not the kite ;-)

    The breeze was very light to begin with and the big Diamond had a brief flight to about 100 feet before sinking back to the grass.

    On a second attempt the kite managed to stay in the air. But not without a lot of help from the guy working the line down below! With plenty of weak convection going on, there were periods of faster air and areas of rising air coming through occasionally.

    Eventually I worked the kite up higher and managed to get 75 meters (250 feet) of line out.

    Some video was taken as the Multi-Dowel Diamond kite drifted slowly this way and that at about 50 degrees of line angle. A tension test revealed that the kite was only pulling 2.5 kg at most.

    In fact, on my first attempt to measure the tension, the kite sank out to within a meter (3 feet) of the ground. I promptly put down the scales and hauled the Diamond back up again!

    Time was limited, as usual, so the kite was soon being pulled down. Otherwise, it might have stayed up for another 20 minutes or so without any intervention.

    About This Post: These days, most flight reports are in the short format you've just seen, above. However, longer format reports are done occasionally, which also feature photos and video taken on the day. Here is a link to all those full flight report pages on this site.

    Read More





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