Kite Shapes

by Cheryl Hsu
(Houston, TX, USA)

Q:

Why do kites have different shapes? I wonder whether it is anything related to the history.

A:

What a huge question :-) I guess the simplest answer is... 'because every human being is different' That includes every kite designer of course.

But, for a more satisfying answer, let's have a look at some factors that affect kite shape.

1) Tradition.

Yes, this is close to your idea about 'history'. Various cultures have discovered, over hundreds of years, shapes that worked as kites. The most successful of these tended to stay much the same, getting passed on through the generations. The Sode Dako, or Kimono kite from Japan is an example.

So, some kite shapes are tied closely with a particular culture of the world.

2) Purpose.

Parafoils, and other types that look like a big 'C' generate lots of pulling power. So they are used for extreme sports like snowboarding and kite-surfing.

Simple flat kites such as the Diamond. Their purpose is to be quick to construct and reliable in the air for a beginner to fly. Another example that suits this purpose well is the simple 2-stick Sled.

Complex art kites, where the shape (and color usually) comes first. The purpose is purely for the kite to be a thing of visual beauty. Then, the designer has the challenge of tweaking the design so it actually flies properly!

3) Human Creativity.

This gets back to my initial point about all kite designers being human, and thus unique! Some people create a kite of a particular shape simply to do 'something different'. It's a challenge to make it fly stable. It's satisying to create something new!

Never has this factor been more evident than now. Just go to a big kite festival and check out the immense variety of kite shapes! So many designers, so many different shapes. Or clever variations inspired by more traditional shapes.

--------------------------------------------

Well Cheryl, I hope that gives you something to think about. It was a simple question, but quite a wide one really.

If anyone wants to comment, perhaps to add another category or 2 to my answer, please go ahead!

Click here to post comments

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What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Sea-sick Barn Door Kite

    Jul 28, 14 05:06 AM

    This was an experiment with mounting a camera directly onto the kite. With winds gusting to over 30kph up high, the Fresh Wind Barn Door kite was selected...

    In a word, it was tricky. I mounted the camera as close as possible to the center of gravity of the kite, but it still ended up quite a few cm closer to the trailing edge than I would have liked. It was only practical to mount he camera - on its bendy tripod (!) - near the diagonal spars crossing point. Electrical tape secured 2 short tripod legs to the diagonal spars, holding the camera upright with the kite sitting on its trailing edge.

    It was a struggle to get enough lift to gain much height, and the kite swung dangerously from side to side. Might try the drogues next time! I did my best to urge the kite higher in mid-swing.

    Eventually, for a few seconds, the kite got to around 100 feet on almost 200 feet of 200 pound Dacron.

    A video clip will of course be forthcoming on Facebook. And only seasoned kite fliers will bother watching it all the whole way through, possibly wrestling with sea-sickness all the while. Hence the title of this post. Still, it was an interesting, if slightly nerve-wracking, outing! At shoulder level, the breeze measured around 9kph gusting to 18.5kph. Some low cloud over the hills was absolutely tearing along, perhaps up around 40kph.

    Huge Homemade Kites And Aerial Photography: This is often the topic for posts which appear here. New things are always being tried so sign up for my newsletter to stay right up to date with the latest developments!

    Read More







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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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