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

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to About Kites.




E-book special of the month (25% off)...

This printable e-book takes you step-by-step through making a 120cm (4 ft) tall Parafoil kite. This 4-cell kite performs best in gentle to moderate wind speeds. That's 12 to 28kph or 8 to 18mph. Even in light winds, this kite will hang in the air, although at low line angles. In fresh winds, it pulls firmly for it's size, so small kids should only fly it while supervised!

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.



What's New!

  1. Sky Dancers

    May 24, 17 06:00 AM

    Or Tube Men or Sky Dance Puppets or a raft of other names. Everyone's seen one flailing away somewhere. Find out a bit more about these hilarious air-driven things at this previously published page!

    Read More









 


E-books


Kite-making e-book: Simplest Dowel Kites

This one's FREE
Download it now!



More E-books...





Testimonials
(unedited)

"Love the easy to understand step by step instructions, made from next to nothing materials and above all so much fun to fly... cheers Tim for sharing your well thought out pdf kite designs with the whole world.

Very satisfying making your own and watching them get air-born for the first time."

_________________

"I've just bought your super e-book and spent most of last night pouring through all the great stuff in it!

Very detailed and USEFUL information - thanks for such a great book."

_________________

"30+ years ago, I tried making a kite using the 'instructions' in a free kite-safety booklet. What a disappointment for a young boy.

 Your instructions and methods are wonderful. You help the builder to focus on accuracy, without making it hard. Also, you use materials that are durable, yet cheap!"

_________________

"omg i made a kite from this site and i fly it ....... booom i didnt expect this bc in the other sites instuction are trash

thank you"




Kite-making e-book: Simplest Dowel Kites

This one's FREE
Download it now!



More E-books...





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