Glider Flight

by Les Chatfield
(Brighton, Sussex, England)

Despite the title this IS a kiting story. I love kites and have flown a large variety of kites from simple "classic" kites to stunters and box kites.

This story concerns a box kite which we obtained purely for the "sport" of dropping things from on high. This was accomplished by means of messengers, wind lofted devices that get blown up the kite string. When the messenger reaches the bridle a catch releases the payload and the empty messenger returns down the line ready for another lift.

After releasing various paper cups, bags full of dirt (looks just like an AA flak bust in the sky) and a toy parachutist called "one jump Vincent" for obvious reasons, my brother suggested releasing a balsa wood glider attached by its rudder to the messenger. Up it went, the wind furiously tugging at the tiny plane whilst the messenger continued its long climb to the distant tiny kite almost lost in the azure blue sky. Would it survive the ascent as the glider and messenger climbed and climbed?

Eventually the pair reached the kite... And the glider dropped clean away in a dive (due to it being hung tail up from the messenger). The glider then pulled out as smoothly as if a human pilot was at the controls! It then slickly leveled its wings and ... flew away! Apparently not losing any height at all it just glided away perfectly steady looking exactly like a real aircraft steady on its course to who-knows-where. It looked wonderful up there in the lovely blue sky that was now its home steady on course.

Suddenly a loud CRACK! Announced the arrival at ground level of the messenger that had returned a good deal faster than it had ascended. I was so startled that I nearly released my hold on the kite reel!

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Caught my eye...
by: Tim Parish

Being an ex-sailplane pilot, your title did get my attention! Good story - and who knows, maybe that paper plane ended up thermalling away once it got downwind a bit! I actually lost a (free-flight) model glider that way once. It came off a very modest line tow, straight into some rising air. 10 minutes later my father and I were still watching it disappear into the distance, being tossed around in thermal turbulence over 1000 feet up. Never saw it again...

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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