Multi Dowel Barn Door Kite:
A high flight finale

by MBK Flight Reporter: Craig Ensey
(Shedd, OR, USA)

Quality time with Brennan at the beach!

Quality time with Brennan at the beach!

Quality time with Brennan at the beach!
In flight at 400 feet
Getting overpowered by the wind!
Boy Howdy! I've got some line angle!

Yesterday was my first Sunday off in seven weeks and I wanted to do something useful with this day. After coming home at noon from the early Church service we were shocked at how unbearably hot it was in our house! On searing hot days like this, there is but one solution... beach trip!

Away we went preparing for the trip. Sarah was in charge of the food and towels, while I scrambled to our garage/print shop to gather some kites!

No beach trip is close to complete without procuring as many kites as you can fit in the trunk. For me, this included a PLT box kite, my trusty Rhombus box kite, and my latest: the Goliath Multi-Dowel Barn Door Kite or MDBDK for short. Lastly, but in no way least, was my collection of stunt kites and my foil kite! I'm sure I missed a few in the list somewhere.

After half an hour of planning, we loaded into my Nissan and headed West toward the beach. The Nissan isn't really a healthy car but it made it. Barely.

Once we arrived 90 minutes later in Newport, we set out to get more tape and crepe paper for my MDBDK. This turned out to be a good idea as you will soon find out.

The kite should have been setup in a sheltered place to make things easier for us, but this did not work out in my favor. As an alternative, we found some moist sand and got to work. 10 minutes later we had accomplished the tedious task of setting up this kite.

A moment later I had it up in the moderate breeze but once again it needed lots of adjustments to the bridle. There seemed to be a tendency to lean to either side no matter what I changed. In this case it may have been winds that were too fast. In fact the wind was high enough that it would pull the kite down wind at the expense of my line angle.

Yesterday I was anxious to see it fly so I just hooked a 30 foot loop tail from either corner on the bottom edge of the kite since the tail ensured stability on the smaller dowel barn door kite. This tail was quickly detached on the right side to stop a right leaning tendency. I also added a smaller 10 foot tail up on the left wing tip only to remove half of it ten minutes later because it was now leaning left!

While I was attaching these tails I was getting the tow point set to get more line angle. It flew OK the first time out with no adjustment, but I could tell right away that the tow point needed to go up to get some altitude out of this flight.

Little by little I was able to raise the tow point and get the kite to go up to 45 degrees or so. While this angle was unsatisfactory for me, the kite was now dancing side to side which means that the tow point is getting too high so I let it be.

(A note to readers... The e-book Making Dowel Kites will be handy if you decide to have this kind of experience for yourself one day - Tim P.)

After getting all these little adjustments out of the way, I was finally able to get it up to a few hundred feet AGL. However, it was now leaning to the right about 20 degrees. This aspect of the flight was quite frustrating but I was no where near finished. I kept letting line out and giving it some slack every time it tried to lean past 90 degrees to the right. It looped into the sand twice, but remained unharmed.

Moments later, I saw a small black object fall 100+ feet to the sand but I paid no attention to it. It turns out that this black piece was one of my lower spar pockets that had torn loose from the sail! As a result of this the spar began to protrude out of the bottom of the kite as it keeled over into the sand again. I was just launching when one of the pockets came loose from the wingtip. This was also wrapped back together with black tape for the time being.

I fixed it and let the kite out to 300 feet or so while I headed over to the surf to visit with Sarah and Brennan. The Barn Door was stable enough that I could pay less attention to it and enjoy the water.

I continued to let line out 50 feet at a time as the kite asked for it until it was waaaay out there. There was a lot of leaning and not as much line angle as I would like to see. I figured now was a good time to let all 1000 feet out and hope for the best.

The kite was a speck at 1000 feet away but it was still at a reasonable altitude. In fact, it was acting a little better with the line angle but the leaning started to look like a power dive! The thought crossed my mind that this kite would land in the bay if it went down so I started to crank it back in.

I was able to relax once it was inside the breakwater, but not long after that it headed straight down. Fortunately it righted itself and recovered to 3/4 of the original altitude. This happened one more time with the same loss of altitude. Fortunately I was able to get it under control before it looped again and crashed into the beach.

Some of the pics show the distance very well. They also show the suffering line angle while it was on the way in. It got within 50 feet of the ground on the last loop so I consider myself lucky!

The altitude record was 707 feet according to some basic right triangle trig. At first it didn't look that high, but when you consider the size, I guess it was. Again, don't tell the Feds! Overall, this was a fun outing with much needed excitement!

I must admit that the Multi-Dowel Barn Door kite is a real attention grabber! Lots of people stood in wonder at it's size and altitude. There were also a number of pointing arms and excited kids. It needs a new sail, so I think I will use the spars for my super sized rhombus box kite. I hope to get a box up there with a KAP rig next!

Download the e-book Making Dowel Kites here.

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A high flight finale

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Jul 08, 2013
The Goliath Kite
by: Craig E

I still plan on rebuilding it with a new sail, but the summers here in Oregon are very, very windy! I'm planning on flying it more when the wind slows up. Right now it's Box kite weather! BIG Box kite weather!

It is good to hear that the BDK is a leaner. I must say that I was getting hesitant to go through the setup just to have difficulty flying it. I will give it another try in lighter winds.

Thanks for the input, Craig

Jul 07, 2013
Barn Door Antics
by: Tim Parish

Just about all my Barn Door designs have had a peculiar flying characteristic...

Somewhere near the top of their wind range, there is a tendency to fly sideways for quite a long way, in either direction. It's like a second stable zone. No trimming necessary, just sit back and watch the kite's travels :-)

First one diagonal spar lays over and seems to become the new 'horizontal' spar, and then the other one, as the kite flies back in the opposite direction.

A slight lull will pop the kite back into the conventional straight-up mode, with higher line angle, somewhere near the middle of the flying window.

Too much extra oomph from the breeze will of course bring out a bias in just one direction and cause looping. Or perhaps some sort of failure, as happened to your kite on this occasion.

Anyway, it seems like it was a reasonably good day out with the 'behemoth'! Are sure you don't want to wait for lighter winds to get a really spectacular almost vertical high flight out of it, before scrapping? Up to you I guess, we all have our different approaches to building, flying and enjoying the hobby...

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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