Sled Kite Stability - Vents and Leading Edge



I've built several sled kites over the years, but have never tried the V shaped leading edge or vents. Are they useful enough to warrant their inclusion? I see you have them in some but not all of your sleds.

I'm in the process of collecting materials for a 4' sled and will be using some rectangular model airplane spars from a hobby shop and a Tyvek like material that I got free from a lumber yard. They use it to cover lumber while transporting it on trucks.

TIA for any info.


Good to see another Sled kite enthusiast in action! I'm surprised more people don't make their own since they are so quick to make and convenient to fly. I guess the main downside is that many designs are prone to collapse in rough air.

The V-shaped leading edge is supposed to reduce the tendency for the middle section to begin curling under at negative angles of attack. For example, when a patch of turbulence comes along when the kite is at a high line angle. This seems to be a good idea, and my Simple Sled with this feature is particularly resistant to collapse. Despite this kite being just a bog-standard 2-stick design with no other fancy features.

A 3-spar design like the 8-foot Multi-Dowel Sled has no need for a V-cutout since that 3rd spar is propping up the leading edge. I have noticed tiny curl-unders happening on either side though, from time to time. But these are so minor that they have not caused any problems at all so far.

I'm not so sure about vents! In theory they provide extra drag near the trailing edge which can only be good for stability. However, a well-proportioned Sled is already extremely directionally stable in flight. I've kept the cut-outs on the Dowel Sled mainly because some feedback indicated that kids loved the look of it!

That lumber yard material sounds promising. I've had a heck of a time trying to get hold of Tyvek at the right size/quantity/price here in Oz.

One thing I would recommend with Sleds is to experiment with making the trailing edge shorter than the leading edge. This really helps to hold the sail open in difficult conditions. Not only that, but the kite will pop open much more willingly after a collapse. If you are into KAP it could save your camera!

Comments for Sled Kite Stability - Vents and Leading Edge

Click here to add your own comments

Aug 03, 2013
Thanx For The Info.
by: Terry

Thanks for the info Tim, I appreciate it.

I'm of the same opinion on vents. I haven't seen much improvement with them. Some references indicate that they are important, but they haven't proven to be so in my experience.

I'll try the leading edge V and the shorter trailing edge on my new 4 footer.

Yesterday I created a simple spreadsheet for designing Sleds of various sizes, and thought I'd share it with you and your readers. All that's needed is to input the length of dowels you wish to use, and the spreadsheet does the rest. It's here

Thank you again and happy flying.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to About Kites.

E-book special of the month...

Barn Door is a traditional American design, and this MBK version has delighted many of this site's visitors over the years.

If you have made Diamonds before, this kite is only a small step up in difficulty.

Get the e-book for making the MBK Barn Door kite. Down to a mere $2.95 for this month.

The MBK Barn Door is a reliable flyer over the Light to Moderate wind range. Tail(s) are entirely optional, if the kite is made according to the instructions.

The e-book is a PDF file - which means printable instructions to refer to while you make the kite. It also means convenient off-line access if that suits you better.

What's New!

  1. Flying A Kid's Kite

    Oct 26, 16 07:00 AM

    A previously published page which offers some thoughts on how small children relate to kite flying - broken down into age-groups. Partially based on experiences with our own son, Aren...

    Read More



Kite-making e-book: Simplest Dowel Kites

This one's FREE
Download it now!

More E-books...


"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."


"I've just bought your super e-book and spent most of last night pouring through all the great stuff in it!

Very detailed and USEFUL information - thanks for such a great book."


"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

thank you"

Kite-making e-book: Simplest Dowel Kites

This one's FREE
Download it now!

More E-books...

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