Use A Wind Gauge

Or Just Watch The Trees!

Some kite fliers find a wind gauge handy. However, if you don't have one, observing trees and leaves is a fair substitute! After a few years without one, I finally got one on the 25th December ;-)

There it is in the photo down there. Love those little spinning cups! It seems the mechanism is very accurately made, and also extremely light. Operation is completely silent and vibration-free.

This has given a new dimension to the flight reports since I can now quote precise numbers to accompany the hand-waving narrative! Visitors to this site now have more accurate info on how the MBK kites behave at various wind speeds. Well, at least they will have when we get around to posting a new flight report for each and every MBK kite design.

Most portable wind meters fall into 2 categories, tubular and electronic. In this day and age, there is a very wide range of electronic models to choose from.

This Handheld Weather Meter on Amazon seems to have satisfied the many reviewers!

The Electronic Wind Gauge

Wind Gauge - Rotating Cups

These are all the rage with a variety of wind-related outdoor sports people. The handy little devices are used in sailing, windsurfing, paragliding, you name it. However, these things are often far more than just meters for wind speed! More like complete little weather stations, informing you of everything such as altitude, dew point, temperature, chill factor and barometric pressure.

From a kite-fliers' point of view, the ability of a wind meter (or anemometer as they are also known) to monitor average speed seems like a great feature. Again, though, how do they do in extremely light conditions when your 2-Skewer Dopero is hanging up there and hardly a leaf is stirring? Surprisingly well, it turns out. The best of these devices are able to measure reliably over quite an enormous range of wind speeds. From almost nothing to 150 kph or so.

The Hall Wind Gauge

Wind Gauge - Hall Wind Meter

This simple mechanical device is just a clear tube with a light disk which floats up and down on a central spindle. You just point the small air inlet into the wind, and read the wind speed off the scale printed on the wall of the tube. I can remember seeing something similar in my childhood, when my father used to be responsible for a small meteorological station.

Having never actually used a gauge of this type, I have to wonder how they perform in extremely light winds. Also, you would have to guess at the average wind strength, based on the movements of the disk over a minute or so.

On the plus side, you never need to change batteries! Also, the device is so simple that with good care it should keep working forever.

Trees And Leaves As A Wind Gauge

Before getting a good wind meter I used to just go by the motion of trees and their leaves. Also, the sound of those leaves! This actually gives useful information over a very wide range of wind speeds. From personal experience, the following list sums up the behavior of gum trees in winds of various strengths...

  • Dead Calm. No motion, no sound. Duh!
  • Very Light. Some leaf motion, no sound.
  • Light. Frequent leaf and twig motion, very little sound.
  • Light-to-Moderate. Small branches in motion, obvious leaf noise during gusts.
  • Moderate. Larger branches in motion, constant leaf noise.
  • Moderate-to-Fresh More motion, more noise.
  • Fresh. Most of the tree's branches are moving, with plenty of leaf noise.

That's just off the top of my head. Anything more than 'fresh' isn't of much interest to most single-line kite fliers. One day I'll probably do some observations with wind gauge in hand, to compile a more definitive list...

Oh, one little complicating factor - not all trees behave the same! For example, pine needles hardly budge until the wind really picks up. At the other extreme, palms and other plants with fronds tend to be much more sensitive to wind than most suburban trees.

E-book special of the month (25% off)...

The Dopero is someone's clever idea to combine 2 Roller kites! Double Pearson Roller is where the name comes from. The resulting flat portion of sail in the middle makes this a very efficient design in light wind.

Even more so than the Roller before it, this kite has an attractive aircraft-like appearance in the air. This MBK version also excels in light winds.

If you have made Diamonds before, this kite takes somewhat more time to make. With the help of my instructions, it's still do-able by a beginner.

Get the e-book for making the MBK Dowel Dopero kite. After making your first one in plastic and seeing how it performs, you can try soft Tyvek or rip-stop nylon for your next build.

This Dopero can fly in quite a wide range of wind speeds thanks to the 4-pont bridle. The bridle lines keep the frame more rigid than a 2-point bridle could. Tail(s) are entirely optional, but may be added for looks.

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. Dual Line Parafoil Kites

    Mar 29, 17 09:00 AM

    A previously published page which introduces the beginner to dual-line parafoils. Soft stunt kites in other words...

    Read More


Plenty of fun kite info, photos and videos - there's definitely too much here for only one visit! Feel free to leave your impressions of this site or just this page, below...

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Kite-making e-book: Simplest Dowel Kites

This one's FREE
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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.

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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