Sled Kite Instability
I am looking for a simple, reliable kite to make with visitors at Seacliff St. Park. We are on a very tight budget, and the kite sails must be biodegradable.
I have been building sample Sled kites, carefully following the basic plan available online: 18" x 24", 1/8" dowel spars, and brown paper (similar to the Kinko's bag shown online). I have tried kites with and without tails, with or without vents, and with 2 tails or one looped one.
Each style I've tried goes up a little way - then begins jerking back and forth from side to side. I've been practicing on the beach where the breeze has been light but steady.
Can you give me advice about new things I can try to make these kites work? I'd appreciate your help so much!
Having access to a beach with smooth light winds is a great start!
In general, any kite will fly more stable the more tail you add. It's the drag force of the air flowing around the tail, not the weight, that does the most to keep the kite's nose pointed into the wind.
Also in general, the smaller the kite, the more erratic it's flight patterns. My little 1-skewer designs often flit from side to side, and that's normal. They are just over 11" wide. My 48" wide designs, however, often hover almost motionless up at 400 feet!
So, if you prefer a more steady flier, consider moving up to a slightly bigger kite.
Here's a link to instructions for the Simple Sled Kite. It flies nice and stable with no tail at all! However, there is no problem with adding a couple of tails if you want to, for looks, or to make it even more stable. The looped style of tail gives slightly more stability for a given amount of tail material.
Hope this helps! Feel free to leave a story or 2 later on - you'll see what I mean if you follow that link up there.