The Box Kite, Not The Radio!
I won't even mention the original Gibson
Girl, this being a kite site. Instead, let's just perpetuate the kiting myth of the Gibson Girl
Box Kite. You see, it was actually the hand-cranked radio transmitter in a sea-rescue kit that was given that name.
During the Second World War, a downed U.S. Navy crew-member would
loft the kite to get the aerial up to a working length. If a friendly
craft was within range, and picked up the Morse SOS signal, the guys in
the sea stood a chance of being rescued. In light winds, the aerial
could be lifted with a balloon instead.
A short while after starting this page, and seeing a few photos
of the war-time kite, it struck me how the dimensions were so similar to
my own MBK Dowel Box.
Standing on end, the historic box kite is just above door-knob
height. About as long as the 1.2 meter (4 feet) long MBK Dowel Box. The
gap between the upper and lower cells is slightly less than on my
design. Even the original metallic spars look quite thin and spindly, as
do the 5mm (3/16") dowels on the Dowel Box kite.
However, the Gibson Girl was made of relatively heavy and strong materials and thus was a moderate to strong-wind kite.
Quite a contrast to my original Dowel Box which was capable of floating overhead in a thermal, but hated even fresh wind!
To fly your own
box kite, this Traditional Box Kite
on Amazon seems like a good ready-to-fly option. Judging by all the reviews on there.
Specs And Other Details
The American version of this historic kite was the latest, and
followed the original German and English versions. The Germans actually
used a winged Box based on the French Military kite! As usual, the
details are spread far and wide over the Web in all sorts of sources.
Also as usual, I have thrown it all into a melting-pot and boiled it
down to just one info-packed list, for your convenience...
- Color: Bright yellow for maximum visibility.
- Longitudinal spar length: About 1.2 meters (48 inches)
- Cross pieces: Pre-fitted, to be later folded and snapped into position like an umbrella.
- Spar material: Aluminum.
- Sail material: My original guess was silk, since the military would have used plenty for
parachute manufacture. However, a FaceBook commenter has chipped in and it seems cotton was the material used. Treated to make it water-proof.
- Flying line and bridle: Apparently very similar to the sail material, which was cotton. It was even the same bright yellow color.
- Cell panel dimensions: About 0.4 meters (along spar) x 0.5 meters (15 inches x 20 inches)
- Wind Range: 13 - 64 kph (7 - 40 mph)
- Adjustable bridle: Recommended towing point position was marked onto the sail for a low (7 - 20 mph) and a high (15 - 40 mph) wind range.
- Military serial number: Kite M-357-A
Out In The Field
Box kite stories of my real-life flying experiences are worth checking out!
Illustrated with photos and videos, of course.
While looking all this up, I came across some first-hand accounts of guys who actually owe their life to this kite. Fascinating.
And yes, the image near the top of this page is of an original Gibson Girl kite. It's
still in almost as-new condition, after having been packed away for
more than half a century.
Military enthusiasts like to collect these
E-book special of the month (25% off)...
e-book takes you step-by-step through making a 119cm (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
38kph or 13 to 24mph. 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
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 Parafoil 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.
Jun 24, 17 08:27 AM
It was down at Knox Park on the last Saturday of the month, as is my custom...
Except that the weather has not cooperated on the last couple of occasions. Even today the breeze was barely there. A frie…
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