The Simple Sled Kite

Chilly High Flight On The First Outing

We were down at the usual large reserve, with a spanking-new Simple Sled Kite made from dark orange 2-ply plastic garden bag. Very expensive stuff compared to the cheap lighter plastic I used for the prototype a week or 2 ago. Must be almost 1 dollar's worth ;-) The weather was cool, almost cold, by Adelaide standards. I guess that would be more like a pleasant Summer day in England or Canada...

Simple Sled kite - posing for a photo, on a short line.

The wind was almost calm at ground level, with just occasional light gusts blowing through. After 2 or 3 hand-launch attempts it was clear there was just not enough wind down low.

No problem. Tossing the winder on the grass, I moved downwind 20 meters or so, pulling the line off as I went.

Turning up-wind again, it was easy to hand-launch then jog slowly upwind while letting the line slip through my fingers.

By holding just enough tension in the line, the MBK Simple Sled climbed steadily to around 40 feet where it found the air unobstructed by trees and buildings. Since it was easily holding its height, we moved to a better position near one edge of the reserve to give the kite more room.

With a little more line let out and the kite flying nice and stable, it was time to get the video and still shots to grace the How To page on the website. Plus this page of course. Plenty of camera zoom was necessary since the Sled wasn't exactly low down, and it was a pity about the totally blue sky.

Kite pics are more interesting with a cloudy background! At least, today, the kite was illuminated from the side by the late afternoon sun.

The Simple Sled Kite with a somewhat heavier plastic sail seemed to be just a fraction less stable than the super-light prototype. However, it was still quite adequate. The heavier plastic is better for beginners since it is much harder to damage in any way.

After the camera work was finished, it was quite straightforward to climb the Sled all the way up to 400 feet. It was just a matter of letting line out several meters at a time, then waiting for the line to tighten up for a few seconds, before repeating the process.

Aren, my 3 year old boy, enjoyed seeing the little color-coded flags go out.

Yellow = 60 meters (200 feet), Blue = 90 meters (300 feet) and finally Black = 120 meters (400 feet). With the black flag out, the Simple Sled Kite surged up to around 350 feet of altitude at one point, helped by a few scraps of rising air.

Line angles hovered around 50 to 60 degrees as the MBK Simple Sled did its thing in the light to moderate breeze up around 300 feet. We let it stay up there for 10 minutes or so, before starting the process of getting it down.

At last it was down to 40 feet or so, from where it promptly folded up and flopped to the grass! At that height, the wind couldn't even hold the sail open, let alone keep it flying.

So, the MBK Simple Sled Kite had a great first flight really. Never mind our cold hands as the air temperature drifted down.

No-one should have too much trouble making and flying this kite, unless perhaps there is way too much wind.


The story above was an actual flying experience with the described kite. My write-ups are definitely warts-and-all since things don't always go totally as planned. However, half the fun of kiting is anticipating the perfect flight. When it happens, it's magic!

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  1. Flight Report:
    KAP Mystery Solved

    Aug 25, 14 03:57 AM

    Last week I came home from a KAP (Kite Aerial Photography) session down at Brighton beach, here in Adelaide, South Australia. The photos were a disaster, being totally washed out. Over-exposed, to be a little more technical. At the time I thought the problem was purely the position of the sun, relative to the direction of the camera...

    Well guess what. Down at the same beach today, the photos had the same problem - and this time it definitely wasn't the sun. Camera damage seemed a small possibility since the rig had hit the sand at some speed last time, during a white-knuckle experience with the kite in rough air! Which turned out OK, but that's another story.

    Anyway, once back home today, I did a little investigating with the camera, taking some test pictures from the back yard. It was a great relief to find the explanation for the bad images...

    It seems that setting a fixed ISO is not a good idea for this camera in very bright lighting conditions. It can cause the camera to run out of adjustment room for other parameters, like shutter speed or aperture. When the camera was allowed to set ISO automatically, the exposure problem disappeared. Whew!

    The Tyvek-sailed Carbon Diamond performed wonderfully today. It was, for the first time, hoisting the KAP rig into the air. Never has the rig been so steady for so long. Sway was almost non-existent. But whenever I handled the line the camera twisted back and forth due to the rather steep line angle from the rig to the kite. Without enough horizontal separation, the suspension lines do not provide the maximum resistance to twisting. It might be an idea to separate the attachment points even further, on the flying line.

    The 2 meter (7 ft) Diamond was struggling to lift the camera in the fairly light winds coming off the ocean. At times, people on the beach had to duck under the line from me to the camera! The camera was behaving as a sort of aerial tether point, with the kite flying at a steep line angle from there.

    Measured at shoulder height, the on-shore breeze was about 4.5kph gusting to just under 7kph. More of a day for the Multi-Dowel Sled really, which hardly feels a 280g weight on the line!

    "Simplest Dowel Kites": A free but very useful kite-making e-book. Make a super-simple Sled, Diamond and Delta - step-by-step with photos. Sign up for the e-book and get an emailed series of messages called "MBK Tips'n'Ideas". If you don't need the e-book, consider signing up anyway... You won't believe what's on offer in that message series!

    Read More





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