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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
And so on. There's no end to it!
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!
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.
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"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."
"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
to try these books