You Mean Big Or Positively Giant?
Without delving into too much detail about specific large kites, here's a few notes about the very biggest such creations in the world. But just before I start on that, here's a photo of the biggest kite my family has seen so far, a Blue Whale inflatable...
Several Asian cultures have been flying truly enormous kites for
centuries. For example, in Japan, rectangular giant kites are flown on
special occasions. Each kite has dozens of lines attached all over its
face. A large team of men is required to hold the lines as the kite
soars up in a fresh breeze. These are not light-wind kites!
Peter Lynn the well-known kite designer has created several very
large 'soft' kites that compare in size to an entire football field!
These have been flown at various International Kite Festivals around the
world. In contrast to the Japanese giants, these kites require
relatively light, smooth winds.
Big kite festivals almost always feature impressively sized inflatable kites which are popular with the crowds. The most common theme seems to be sea
creatures. This has a lot to do with the intriguingly realistic movement
these kites exhibit as they gracefully distort and sway in the air. The
impression is like swimming. Although not a real creature, my favorite
was an extremely detailed and long Dragon inflatable which I saw at the Adelaide International Kite festival in March 2009.
Now, something like this 9-ft. Teknacolor Delta kite
would qualify as a 'large kite' for you or me to own and fly, I'm sure! I have a home-made Delta of similar size and it has no trouble pulling most of the bow out of a 200 pound Dacron line in light to gentle breezes.
Costs Of Large Kites
Size alone doesn't determine price. However, for a given kind of
kite, this is true since the costs of materials goes up with increasing
size. If the wing span is doubled, the total sail area is 4 times
greater. Complexity is another factor. Some of the single-line parafoils
require huge numbers of stitches, and have complex bridles. Hence the
labor costs push up the prices of these big kites.
A few general categories regarding cost...
- For just a few dollars, you can put together your very own
impressively sized single-line kites from widely available materials.
For example, the largest of our own MBK designs which you might have bumped into in the Kite Making section of this site. This approach is probably more about the fun of building rather than saving money. It's satisfying to see your own large kites up there!
- For around the $10 - $20 dollar mark, kite shops will sell you some reasonably big mass-produced kites.
Obviously, for this price, great build quality and performance cannot
be guaranteed! It's not much to pay for an introduction to the hobby
- Quality kites from shops, whether single-line or multi-line,
can cost a lot more. Talk to the sellers to find out the strengths and
flying characteristics of a particular kite. The inflatables stand out
as the most impressive and expensive kinds of kites. Don't try
hand-flying one of these on its 500lb line!
- Finally, there are a fairly small number of dedicated craftsmen
out there who produce and sell their own specialized designs. These
guys tend to be known for just one kind of kite. For example, Codys,
Roks or Deltas. While these large kites are small enough to be
hand-flown by an adult, prices can still be in the 100s of dollars. In
some cases you are paying for dozens of hours of skilled art-work. In
other cases, top-quality materials and superbly accurate construction
explains the cost.
Here's a photo of one of those inflatables mentioned earlier.
It's a Maxi Ray by Peter Lynn. The size isn't evident from the photo, so
here are the figures - spans 9.8 meters (32 feet) and is 29 meters (96
Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Burka.
Owning Large Kites
Let's consider what owning large kites might mean. Four things came to my mind ...
- You won't be able to fit it in your car when fully rigged. Hence, it
should break down to a manageable package. Parafoils just stuff into a
bag. Easy Peasy.
- The kite will pull strongly in moderate breezes and become a real
handful in fresh winds. Of course, if you are into flying big stunt
kites, this might be half the fun!
- The impressive size and perhaps colorful design will be sure to draw
attention. Particularly if you are flying an inflatable creature kite
of some kind. I wonder if these are some kind of kiting status symbol -
they sure cost a bit.
- It might cost quite a bit, but some sizeable single-liners are surprisingly cheap...
That list at the top also touches on 4 common types of large kites...
- Single-line parafoils or flow-forms. Li-lo's (inflatable mattresses) in the sky!
- Single line Deltas or other flat and bowed types such as Rokkakus.
- Dual-line Delta stunt kites. Very popular!
- Those incredible inflatable creatures you see at kite festivals.
Actually, many of these are made in smaller sizes too, bringing the
costs down a lot.
Talking of single-line Deltas, the 9-ft. Teknacolor Delta kite
supplies Delta performance and an eye-catching colorful appearance for a reasonable price tag.
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.
Sep 27, 14 08:43 AM
I am spoilt for choice, however the mini-Photon is the pick of the bunch for me. It is a superbly made kite of micro-size carbon fibre, spectra laminate
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