Why Make Your Own Kite?

5 Reasons!

With shop bought designs so cheap, why make your own kite? There are plenty of rewards, including these top 5. At least, just about all the experiences I have had with kites seem to fall into these categories!

It's rewarding to make your own kite, like this Roller!

The more often you make your own kite and fly it, the more discoveries await. In a 21st Century world of high-tech devices, who would have thought that so much could be gained from something as simple as a single-line kite?

It's true that some can't appreciate single-line kiting, labeling it 'boring'. However, you're here reading this page so I don't think that applies to you!

In any case, very young kids almost always find the idea of flying a kite exciting, after they first spot one flying high and steady! There's my boy in the photo, flying a home-made Roller. On a short line, so I could fit everything in the frame.

For flying line, something like this Stake Line Winder on Amazon is ideal for kites that are 1 or 2 meters (3 to 7 feet) in span. You just can't DIY flying line! Dacron, particularly the braided variety is great stuff for single line designs.




Make Your Own Kite For...
Building Pleasure

Some of us are just 'builders' at heart. Can you remember getting into Mechano, Lego or other building block systems like that, and really enjoying the creative process? While making a kite, you see a miniature aircraft taking shape before your eyes. The anticipation of flying builds as you approach the final steps.

A close-up look at the MBK Dowel Roller in flight.

People vary a lot when it comes to just how much complexity they are willing to cope with in a kite design!

At one end are the school teachers and mothers who just want a small and colorful kite which comes together in 15 minutes or less. As long as it rises up a little as a small child tows it around the back yard or other grassy area, they are happy. For the child, helping with decoration and attaching the tail can be rewarding. Not to mention the huge buzz of seeing it actually fly outdoors!

At the other end of the building spectrum are the people who are talented and perhaps even professional artists and craftsmen. These creations look stunning and fly reliably over a wide wind speed range. Cellular kites, inflatables, whimsical artistic works, the variety is breathtaking. Some of these high-end kites might take hundreds of hours to complete.

But many of us are in the middle ground. We just want a kite that looks OK, flies high, flies reliably and doesn't take too long to build! Is that you? If so, you'll be glad to find my Making Dowel Kites book!

A morning or afternoon on the weekend is enough time to set aside for making something which will return hours of enjoyment. As long as the wind strength is somewhere in the 'light to moderate' range, which most of the time, it is.





Make Your Own Kite For...
Flying Satisfaction

Let me briefly list 4 different types of flying which can be particularly fun to do with a single-line kite! Like the home-made Delta down there.

The MBK Dowel Delta in flight.
  • Low-wind flying is a challenge. Occasionally, there will be barely enough wind to keep the kite up. Staying in the air will require constant attention to the kite. However, this can be fun when it happens! Stick at it and sharpen up your kite-handling skills. If you have few chances to fly, this will result in less disappointment.
  • Confined area flying can be a laugh from time to time! With a cheap expendable home-made kite, it's fun to attempt flying from a very small backyard, for example. The aim being to never actually let out enough line to lose the kite over the fence. On a larger scale, you might enjoy dicing with danger down at a small park, where tall trees are liable to reach out and grab your kite. The keys to this kind of flying are quick reel-ins and quick sideways running to head off disaster! Just getting the kite in the air at all will require timing. Wait for that next gust!
  • High altitude flying is satisfying, although I am careful to stay below the legal limit of 100 meters (330 feet) here in South Australia. Still, that's high enough to enjoy seeing your own flying creation floating about, so removed from the ground-level existence we experience most of the time. One day I would love to get into China where apparently you can fly kites as high as you like just about anywhere!
  • Thermal flying is a buzz with light wind kites. Thermals are patches of rising air that occur due to uneven heating of the ground. Soaring birds such as eagles and hawks use them all the time to avoid having to flap their wings. As an ex-soaring pilot myself, I used to think thermals were very big and quite rare in cooler weather. However, kite-flying has taught me that small patches of rising air occur practically everywhere, nearly all of the time that there is any direct sunlight at all. If you make your own kite that is light enough, it's possible to tow it into rising air on an almost calm day, and watch it get gently lofted overhead in a passing thermal! Often, the effect of rising air on your kite is more subtle, and it takes practice to recognize and exploit it.




Make Your Own Kite For...
Family Fun

With all the modern emphasis on beach kites and kite flying for kids, this aspect is pretty well-known. It's not just fun for kids, since the whole family can get involved.

Our big Dowel Rokkaku in flight.

Making the kites at home provides an added dimension to the experience for kids, since they can get involved in the simpler aspects of construction. For example, as already mentioned on this page, doing simple decoration and adding tails. It's satisfying for them to see their own efforts up there in the air.

With a mid-sized kite, a wide age range can take part in the flying. Picking light-wind weather to fly in also helps here, since the pull on the line is more gentle. We had our 3 year son hanging on to a 1.2 meter (4 feet) span Rokkaku one time! It was just to get a photo of him, and the wind was very light. There's the Rok in the photo.

On another occasion, we had him flying a small box kite. However, the wind was in the 'very fresh to strong' range, and the little fellow struggled to hang on! By the way, if you want to make your own kite, Deltas are known for their relatively light pull, for any given size of kite.

Unless there is a lot of room to spread out fly, it's probably more practical for a small family to share a single kite when going out to fly.





Sky Knowledge

It just happens, if you make your own kite and fly it often enough! You learn stuff you never intended to learn.

Here's a list of just some of these things...

  • Knowing when you have 2 minutes to get the kite down before rain hits.
  • Knowing that the wind will moderate when that low, dark patch of cloud scoots away.
  • Judging wind strength from leaf noise and branch-waving.
  • Realizing that most local bird species have a level of curiosity about your kites, and often fly in closer for a look!
  • Realizing that when you make your own kite there are probably a dozen or more possible reasons why it wants to loop left or right when wind gusts get too strong.

And so on. There's no end to it!





Educational Aspects

This is not the place to go into aerodynamics or physics in any depth, but you might be interested in these few general points...

The simplicity of kite flight is an illusion! To fully explain or simulate the flight of a simple, single-line kite is actually a big task. It's a 'glider on a string', with the tethered aspect providing all sorts of extra complications. But it's not necessary to consider this fact at all, in order to enjoy single-line kiting. Any twit can hang on to a kite line :-)

Many schools include kite studies to help teach very basic aerodynamics and physics to the students. With the practical side of kite making and flying easily within reach of even young teenagers, it's a fun and engaging way to pass on knowledge.

Even without formal studies, making and flying kites will teach you more and more about why and how things fly. Get out there and make your own kite!

Pair your kite with strong, light line, such as the stuff wound onto this Stake Line Winder on Amazon, and you will really make the most of your efforts.

 

What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Paper Sled Antics

    Nov 23, 14 10:53 PM

    This was a rushed affair, so we just had time to grab the Paper Sled and camera. Although there was only very light air movement, I figured we could always tow the little kite up for some video if nec…

    Read More





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