These quite realistic flying toys are a 21st century off-shoot from the 'small model aircraft for kids' scene of earlier decades. We've seen a few at the local kite festival.
( If you purchase the kite recommended below I may receive a small commission - at no extra cost to you )
This P51 Mustang kite from Amazon is a typical retail airplane that anyone can fly, on it's single line. Made from durable materials that can take a bit of rough-and-tumble. This kite does best in smooth air down at a beach or in a large open field.
Mustang airplane kite
Mustang airplane kite
I've done a spot of research to give you an idea of the variety available in recent years...
If I were to try and sum up modern airplane-style kites, it would go
'fairly realistic, nylon and fiberglass kites that are
shop-bought and occupy the bottom 1/4 of the overall price range for
Would you like more detail? Of course you do...
Purely from a kite-shopping perspective, these kites are...
- much more than a design on a flat sail - most of them are truly 3-dimensional
- almost exclusively single-liners
- light to moderate wind fliers (but not too light!)
- generally available in the $10 to $50 price range, with a few exceptions
- Except for being 3D, that list probably sums up nearly all retail novelty kites for children, come to think of it!
When the weather's good and you have the time, it's great to get out with a kite or 3. But what about on bad weather days? Then it's time to pull out...
"Kites Up!" - my downloadable kite-flying board game! Apart from towing indoor kites, doing a spot of imaginary flying is the next best thing :-)
Airplane Kites Look Great
From a looks perspective, these kites are somewhat unique in
that they achieve more realism than most other categories of kids kites.
For example creature kites or ship kites. This might have something to
do with the fact that airplanes are designed to fly too... Actually, the
same could be said for bird kites.
Here's an interesting point. The most seamless marriage between single-line kites and model aircraft would have to be the delta-winged airplane kites! Both aircraft and kites have a Delta class, so it's not surprising that kites based on such aircraft can both look good and fly well.
In aeromodeler's language, most airplane kites could be termed 'semi-scale'. This means that the kite is a good representation of the real thing, minus all the finer details like tires, cockpit detail and so on. Others are somewhat cruder, and the aeromodelers would call them 'stand-off scale'. In other words, stand some distance away and the model looks something like the real thing!
The main departure from reality is the single-surface wings of these kites. They just work better in this application. Also of course, they are easier to manufacture. Sometimes the wings are cambered, like the very first heavier-than-air aircraft.
So Many Aircraft Types
Just about every aircraft which could be called 'very famous' is
represented, regardless of era or type. The marketers have put some
thought into which types get the nod for production! For example, here's
a list of some typical novelty kite products...
- P-40 Flying Tiger
- Red Baron triplane
- Wright Flyer
- Mirage 2000 jet
- Spirit of St. Louis monoplane
- Stealth Bomber
- P-51 Mustang
- Phantom Jet
- F-16 Fighter
How's that for variety! Even so, most people who are not aviation enthusiasts would still recognize many of those names.
Some Additional Touches
Creative designers have taken advantage of some uniquely kite-related ideas, to add to the basic 'aircraft' concept. You might see an airplane kite with...
- Spinning propellers. A natural merging with wind toys!
- Tails representing vapor trails or after-burner flames. Just a little extra design effort has rather cute pay-offs here.
- Twister tails. These add more movement to the overall flying experience.
- Inflatable fuselage. Realistic air intakes provide the air pressure!
- 2-line control. The big majority are single-line, but a handful of 2-liners are out there.
On that last point, I don't think these 2-liners would be any
match at all for a purpose-built stunt kite! More likely, the marketers
realize that kids are thinking 'hey, you can steer it!' and hence might be more likely to buy ;-)
As mentioned earlier, there's another alternative to towing indoor kites if it's just not possible to fly outdoors...
"Kites Up!" is my downloadable board game. It's a PDF file which has all the documentation for the game plus images for all the components. Tokens, cards, the board itself and so on. Anyway, just click that link to see more info :-)