Airplane Kites

A Popular Kids Novelty Kite

Airplane kites aren't model aircraft, but a novelty kite like this looks enough like the real thing to put smiles on kids' faces!

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.

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 something like:

'fairly realistic, nylon and fiberglass kites that are shop-bought and occupy the bottom 1/4 of the overall price range for retail kites'.

Digressing a little for a moment, what do you do when one of these toys turns out to be a bit disappointing? You could always have a go at making your own kite. Heaps of fun, with a great chance of success when the guidance is there...

The Big MBK Book Bundle is a collection of downloads - printable PDF files which provide step-by-step instructions for many kites large and small.

Airplane kites are popular with kids!Mustang airplane kite
Airplane kites are popular with kids!Mustang airplane kite

Getting back to the airplane variety now, 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!


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
  • Spitfire
  • 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 ;-)

Finally, if you ever get a hankering to fly something you made yourself...

The Big MBK Book Bundle is a collection of downloads - printable PDF files which provide step-by-step instructions for many kites large and small.

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P.S. Keep an eye out for books by kite author Glenn Davison, a prominent kite person in the USA.

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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 ...
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3

Moderate ...
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4

Fresh ...
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5

Strong ...
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

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