"Kirby" the Delta Kite

by Mark R.
(The Woodlands, TX, USA)

Flying at about 60 yards.

Flying at about 60 yards.

I used a plain, pink, plastic table cloth as the material, with the recommended dowel rods. A few of my friends and I cut and trimmed the table cloth and rods to the length specified. Overall it took about 3 hours. It was our first kite making experience!

I grabbed some 50 lb fishing line, and we then set out to go fly this kite, which we named Kirby, because it's pink and it flies. Ha...

At first there was hardly any wind, but eventually a nice breeze came along, estimated at around 2-3 mph. Kirby easily took off and soared quite high in the steady breeze. It ended in a crash landing that broke the spreader dowel rod.

I decided that I didn't want that to happen again, so I went back to the hardware store to get a bigger size (2 sized up) dowel rod than the one specified. I re-purposed the broken rod since most of the length was still intact by using electrical tape to support the new spreader rod. This made the spreader extra beefy, and I believe would allow it to withstand higher wind=speeds.

On my second attempt, I visited the nearby lake. The light wind was blowing out over the lake, thankfully away from all the kids that were in the park. I didn't want Kirby to dive-bomb some child, potentially severely hurting him or her.

With his new and improved spreader, Kirby needed slightly more wind to take off, but not much. He soared so high from the steady breeze, that I nearly ran out of my 250 yard spool of fishing line. I got a little ambitious with letting out so much line...

All of a sudden, Kirby decides that he wants to go for a swim...

From an estimated 150 yards of elevation. He starts to turn toward the lake, and goes down... and down... and down. It took what seemed like an eternity. All the while I'm reeling in the loose slack, trying to regain control. Kirby eventually slams into the water and sinks.

Onlookers are vocally worried about Kirby as I begin to fish him out of the water. It takes about 10 minutes to slowly reel in all of the line. Kirby appears from the dark depths of the lake under the dock I'm standing on.

The onlookers cheer that Kirby is retrieved while I check all of the tape and string. Aside from some leaves, the only thing that was different were the leading edge spars. They were obviously soaked, and because of that, they were bowed out some instead of straight.

I attempted to fly him again since I didn't think any modifications were necessary. It took even more wind than normal because it was still wet, plus the leading edge spars wouldn't hold as much air. It still caught and flew for a few minutes before I had to leave. I think with the leading edge spars bent backwards like they are now, I'll be able to fly it in even faster winds, since it won't catch the air as well.

All in all, it's been a huge success, and I hope to build another kite soon.

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Water flights
by: Tim Parish

Great post! Funny, the only time I ever flew over water, the kite (a little 1-Skewer Delta) ended up in it too. With all the sand and water, it didn't fly at all until it dried out and the sand was shaken/brushed off.

Perhaps you missed the reinforcement dowel taped to the spreader? That takes care of any reasonable flight loads. But using a single, beefier dowel for a spreader is OK. The extra weight only makes a small difference to the kite's performance.

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This printable 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 supervised!

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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