Balinese Long Tail Kites

by Robert
(Victoria, Australia)

Q:

I have just returned from Bali and saw these amazing kites with long tails. I am looking at these from a commercial point of view that on the tail section advertising could be placed and flown from over the business.

Do you have plans or details on how these are built? I am thinking a 10 metre tail would be about the size required.

Here is a YouTube link for these kites...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ql_WqjvHs3I

A:

Saw your video - spectacular! Guess you must have caught the Bali International Kite festival. Those very big kites are one of the local traditional designs, made from bamboo spars and cotton cloth sails. For example, the Bebean or Fish Kite which has a forked tail. Perhaps you saw some of them too? Those long tails are probably cotton also, judging by how they ripple in the wind. Did you hear the 'hummers' as they flew?

Unfortunately for you, I'm not sure whether detailed plans or instructions even exist on paper or the Web. Most of it is in old guys' heads, I suspect! If anyone reading this knows better, feel free to drop in here with a comment on this post.

However, any large stable kite should do the trick. You could try doubling, or even tripling up all the dimensions of my Dowel Rokkaku, and then attaching a long rectangular sheet of fairly light material of appropriate width to the lower edge of the kite sail. Spinnaker nylon perhaps. Or drop-sheet plastic.

I suggest the Rok because it is quite a straight-forward build, and very stable. For the size I suggested, you would want to fly it on no less than 150 pound line.

A warning - don't expect to put up a big kite and then assume it will stay up all day. It might not, for any number of reasons. Too little wind, and it will drift to the ground. Too much wind and something could eventually fail, bringing the kite to earth rather quickly! Or, due to inaccuracies in construction or variations in the spar dowel, the kite could start to loop to one side as it approaches the limit of its wind range.

So, whatever lies beneath the kite - roads, houses, the ocean (!), powerlines (!!) - is a potential landing spot ;-)

Having just said all that, it could still be a good idea in some situations as long as the flight can be monitored from time to time. I can imagine it would draw plenty of attention! Actually, the sail area of a large Rokkaku can itself be a canvas for advertising. A local kite shop sometimes does just that with its own large Rok, at our Adelaide Kite Festival over the Easter weekend each year.

Hope I haven't put you off the idea entirely, anything half-feasable is worth a try...

P.S. Just noticed on a web page by a certain free online encyclopedia, the kites you videoed would be the Janggan form of traditional Balinese kite which "has a broad flowing cloth tail that can reach more than 100 meters in length".

Comments for Balinese Long Tail Kites

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Aug 03, 2012
Thank You
by: Robert

Thank you Tim for your help there, you have given me lots of ideas.

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