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.
Photo courtesy of Craig Wilson.
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
My collection of real-life Box kite stories is 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
You might have noticed that this site has a monthly newsletter...
For single-line kite fliers and builders, it's always been a good read. But if you are interested in KAP and/or large home-made kites you won't want to miss it!
So sign up today, and download the free 95-page e-book "What Kite Is That?" straight away. Info-packed and fully photo-illustrated.
And there are even more free resources, such as a kite-making e-course, waiting for you in the next issue of this newsletter.
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.
Apologies for this site's current lack of video when viewed on mobile devices...
For now, please view this site on a Desktop or Laptop computer to see the videos. And there's plenty of them!
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