It's an archive of sorts, although there are no dates and times. Kite
flying is timeless, don't you agree?
I trust there is plenty in here to educate, inform, and often entertain!
These short flight reports once appeared as posts in the site-blog page, although that page is no longer present on this site. Below, the latest posts come first. Just scroll
down and stop at any heading that appeals :-)
Multi-Dowel Barn Door Kite
Big Barn Door Slipped Tip
Once again, I used the field with the archery targets.
After several hot days, today was much cooler, but the air was still very active. Rigging the big Multi-Dowel Barn Door kite proved tricky, even behind a bush, with gusts catching the sail.
MBK Multi-Dowel Barn Door
Bright sunlight was phasing in and out as puffy clouds steadily moved across the sky.
start with I took video of the kite on just 15 meters (45 feet) of my
200-pound Dacron line. Although the big barn door is a very stable kite,
it still moved around a lot in the swirling wind-shadow of some large
There was more open ground further downwind. I soon headed off, drawing line off the old hose-reel winder.
on 45 meters (150 feet) of line, the kite was reasonably clear of
nearby tall trees and a clubhouse. There was a nervous moment as rising
air pushed the kite right overhead. It could go anywhere from there!
yet further from the reel and also letting the kite take more line, it
was soon flying on 60 meters (200 feet). At this point I found a very
handy but unusual anchor-point.
A locked metal box mounted above
the grass had a large padlock right on top. With several turns of
flying line around the shiny U-bolt, the line held fast, tucked in
against the body of the lock. The arrangement looked (and proved to be)
quite secure! Meanwhile, I scampered around getting more video footage
from underneath and downwind of the kite.
Although a weather
station was registering 17 kph gusting to 20 kph near the coast, there
were stronger gusts at this inland field. Curvature in the sides of the
big kite's sail indicated gusts into the mid or even high 20s. There
would have been a few kilos of tension in the line at those times.
Multi-Dowel Barn Door frequently came close to overflying, followed by
steep dives or swoops to one side or the other. But there always came a
pendulum-like correction with plenty of height to spare. This has always
been one reliable kite!
Failures on this kite have been rare, but
today I noticed about 5 cm (2 in.) of the horizontal spar dowel poking
through one sail corner. This was a toll taken by old tape and stiff winds :-|
It caused some drifting to the right in the final stages of the
flight, but the kite was taken down with no further mishap.
It was a good flight, if not a little hairy at times due to the rough conditions!
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The Big MBK E-book Bundle is a collection of downloads—printable PDF files which provide step-by-step instructions for many kites large and small.
Every kite in every MBK series.
Huge Barn Door Kite Soars in Weak Winter Thermals
had a few friends along this time, and nearly everyone got to
experience the feel of the mighty Multi-Dowel Barn Door in full flight.
my 7-year-old Aren insisted on having a go. There he stood, with the
noises coming forth indicating that he really had his hands full!
of course, also had the line in hand in case the little lad suddenly
let go. Aren did OK considering the kite was pulling at around a quarter
of his body weight!
Initially the kite required several attempts
to get it into faster air. On the second attempt, I sat the kite on its
trailing edge and backed away, managing to balance the kite there in the
very light ground-level breeze.
A short tow on about 20 meters of line was not quite enough to contact faster air.
the third attempt, with at least 30 meters (100 feet) of line laid out,
there was immediate success. This launch point also took the kite
further from the trees upwind, so the air was less disturbed.
this, the climb out was rather slow but just a few minutes later we had
90 meters (300 feet) of line out. The wind speed over 200 feet up was
For the next 20 minutes or so we just watched the big kite
do its thing. Often a patch of weak lift would make it pull harder and
soar up to 70 degrees or more. Conversely, areas of sinking air would
occasionally cause the line tension to slacken right off as the kite
Very little sunlight filtered through the whole
time, but the big pale-blue sail certainly stood out against the white
areas of cloud up there.
The wind-speed meter on its little tripod
registered an average of 2.1 kph with a maximum gust to 9.8 kph. Up
higher, it felt like winds were around 10 to 15 kph.
Night Flight With Light
Yes, "light" singular and there'll be more on that in a moment. It was late in the day and there seemed to be enough time to just fit in a spot of flying before the sun went down.
There were thoughts of going down to the beach with the PP stunt kite, since the online weather stations were reporting gusts to just over 30 kph at a couple of coastal locations.
However, with the autumn sun closing in on the horizon, and rather light winds in the local vicinity, we changed plans and headed for a nearby field. Both the big barn-door kites were on board, to cover a wider range of wind strength possibilities.
On arrival, it was clear we had frittered away more time than realized since all sunlight had disappeared, and the park lights were on! It was necessary to rig the kite right beneath one of those lamp posts to see what was what.
Aren, my 8-year-old, had a small compass with built-in LED lights. What was the logical thing to do? Clip it to the kite bridle of course! For the first time, we were about to go night flying with lights. Err ... light.
Soon the huge barn-door rose up in the cool light breeze which was almost perfect in strength. With the drop-sheet-plastic sail getting a little baggy from plenty of flying hours, I was surprised to see how efficiently the big kite still flew. It just sat up there in the night sky, almost invisible, save for the little flashing red LED suspended from the bridle. We didn't bother letting out more than 60 meters (200 feet) of line, since that would have made the light harder to see.
A second flight was launched with the LED light set to continuous white illumination. The cool thing was, while May was bringing the kite down, the white light played on the grass below. It was surprising how much light the tiny LED was putting out, as we watched the distinct circle of light move around eerily over the dark ground.
For once, my wife and son probably spent more time holding the line than yours truly. Aren also did a good job winding on all the slack line as we brought the kite down on both occasions.
It was an interesting and enjoyable little kite-flying excursion. A couple of light aircraft with night lights on went over, past the crescent moon with earth-shine visible. The kite itself spent much of its time flying up and down through or near the constellation of Orion.
Cool Gusts Power Barn Door at Sunset
There was a chance to pop out for half an hour or so before sunset, so off I went to a nearby school reserve. Several multi-dowel kites had been hibernating in the car trunk (boot) since before we went to Singapore! At the field, the Fresh Wind Barn Door was pulled out, due to the hefty cool gusts disturbing the treetops.
The kite, which has a deliberate gaping hole in the center, was soon steadily on its way. It was completely comfortable in the 20+ kph gusts that were going overhead, high up. In fact, I'm looking forward to seeing how this kite does in much stronger wind. The aim was to do KAP on days when the larger Multi-Dowel Barn Door would be completely overpowered.
As the wind strength varied up and down, the kite rose and fell between 30 and 55 degree line angles. Several turns of the flying line secured the kite to a handy sapling with my kite bag preventing the loop from unwinding. I didn't think to do a tension check, since it was all a bit rushed on this occasion.
As the sun dropped, so did the wind strength. Inevitably, the barge-like barn door sank lower and lower. Ever hopeful, I encouraged it back up at one stage but just ended up with a lot of line lying around on the grass. If this kite flies at all, it manages to pull the line quite flat nearly all the time, leaving very little sag in the 200-pound-rated line.
A couple of firm pull ins at the right moment helped the kite to touch down softly on its trailing edge before flopping face down to the grass.
The wind meter was not forgotten, registering an average of 10.1 kph gusting to 17.4 kph while perched on a large rock, which was about chest high.
It was a pleasant enough flight. But where is the really windy weather when you want it?!
How to Calm the Wind
How do you calm the wind from fresh to light in 12 minutes flat? Just go out with a giant 2.4 meter (8 feet) long box kite that requires 10 minutes to rig and nearly 20 kph of breeze just to lift off, and ... the breeze will magically die. Well, it's worked three times out of three now!
However, this time I was determined not to miss out on a decent flight, so came prepared with a backup—the trusty Multi-Dowel Barn Door kite. The box was left sheltered in a grove of trees, fully rigged, just in case.
The huge 2.4-meter (8-feet) span barn door lofted easily in the first gust that came through. Wind speed was a bit light even for the barn door down low, so a little encouragement via line tugging was required. Soon, the big blue dowel-and-plastic craft bit into some slightly faster air and went sailing away, up to high line angles.
I just let the big kite do its thing on 60 meters (200 feet) of line for a while. Over 100 feet up, the air was just perfect for this design with its 9.5 mm Tasmanian oak spars. Line tensions were light enough to hand fly without gloves. Just occasionally, with the sun peeping through mid-level cloud cover, regions of sinking and rising air would affect the kite. Turbulence too, would buffet the sail from time to time and make the frame shudder.
Finding some extra room in a nearby parking lot, I let another 30 meters (100 feet) of line out. The Multi-Dowel Barn Door kite eagerly took advantage and was soon straining away in noticeably faster air. The line was very tight now, and within minutes the kite soared directly overhead. As often happens at 90 degree line angles, a tight but slow 360-degree turn was the result.
Not long after this, the general wind speed started to increase and boy, was it a hard job getting the kite down! At the risk of getting more blisters I started bringing the line in. With half the job done but no let-up in line tension, I resorted to taking a wrap around each hand in turn as the big barn-door reluctantly lost height.
Checking the wind meter shortly after packing up, it had registered an average speed of 5.8 kph with a maximum gust to 16 kph. However, toward the end of the flight I would say the breeze was in the high 20s, several hundred feet up.
Less Than Stellar KAP
The sun was in an awkward position and the camera was too far from the subject. Here's what happened.
The Happy Valley Reservoir beckoned, since I thought it was about time I got some better shots. The last time, the wind was barely enough to get the camera up. The only usable shots of the reservoir itself were stills taken from some movie footage from the highest flight.
This time, the launch site was being used by others, so I ended up driving around to the opposite side of the reservoir. This new location was a lot further away from the water, but worth a try. First up was the Fresh Wind Sled, but the breeze was not quite enough for it. So, it was on to the backup kite—the Multi-Dowel Barn Door. Soon, it was away, but the camera direction was off. So it was down with the rig, twist the cradle a bit, and then up again without landing the kite. A little bird tried to land on the line but backed off after touching it!
Up high, the breeze occasionally pushed the big barn door hard, but it coped well. Areas of sinking air would also make the kite drop suddenly. The twin drogue 'chutes did a good job of pulling the kite downwind on an even keel, while line tension came on again.
At the highest line angles, the camera in its cradle remained quite steady most of the time, capturing an image every 10 seconds.
A second flight was done with the camera direction adjusted again. And a third flight was done with the EV setting changed from -0.7 to -1.3.
On all flights, I used my small son's Christmas present to me—a steel carabiner to slide along the line to bring the kite down!
Although this KAP session went pretty smoothly, the images obtained were nothing to write home about. It was good to discover a new flying location though. With the camera much higher, and in a morning time slot, it might just be worth another try. The 2-meter span Carbon Diamond flies happily with the KAP rig just 15 m (50 ft.) from the kite. Hence, it should just be possible to get the camera over 300 feet up with the kite fairly close to the legal limit.
Super Light and Variable in Victoria Park
Victoria Park adjacent to the Adelaide CBD in South Australia, that is. This large grassed area which forms part of the eastern parklands of the city is used for various events from time to time. This has included, in the past, major horse racing and a section of a Formula 1 Grand Prix track.
An invite had gone out to various kite enthusiasts to meet and fly, since the weather looked good. We arrived after lunch, only to discover very light winds. A lone R/C flier was enjoying the easy conditions with his 3-channel electric trainer. That's like a tiny Cessna, if you're not familiar with model aircraft.
For a while it seemed we were alone, before spotting a power kite in the distance, making brief forays into the air. Victoria Park is rather large!
It actually turned out to be quite an enjoyable outing, with the 2.4 m (8 ft.) Multi-Dowel Barn Door kite just scraping into the air. But then, thermals were everywhere. It wasn't long before the large pale-blue kite went right overhead! At other times, I simply toyed with the barn door, floating it way out on a long line then pulling it up to over 200 feet.
Another RC flier was now having success launching his glider, finding thermals, and gaining height in them.
We were eventually joined by two other AKFA members including the president. A couple of ripstop-and-carbon light-wind kites went up, with plenty of success. By now the breeze had come across the park from just about every point of the compass. Variable indeed!
In the distance, someone had been lofting a large but light-wind parafoil. It was interesting to see it sink out as an utter "bag of washing" during a dead calm spell! Someone else had some success with a small blue delta for a while.
All up, it was a worthwhile day IF you were flying lightly-loaded kites! However, there was no luck for Mike with his power kite and skateboard.
Drogue Effect Experiment
The sun was having a hard time providing much illumination through the cloud cover today, a situation not ideal for KAP. However, a couple of pairs of drogue chutes were waiting in the kite bag. Perhaps this time, it would be an idea to just check the effect the drogues have on the Multi-Dowel Barn Door kite.
Soon after pulling up, spots appeared on the windscreen. Oh-oh. Dark clouds were blowing closer by the minute and tell-tale wind gusts signaled a nearby rainy cell in the atmosphere. I went ahead and rigged the big barn door anyway, very optimistically. Small rain drops started to pelt the plastic, so I hurriedly found shelter for the kite, the kite bag, the garden reel, and yours truly.
Fast forward this story by at least 40 minutes...
Despite ominous areas of sky still persisting, there was now blue mixed with the palette of grays in the upwind direction. That'll do, I thought.
The huge blue barn door was quickly rigged and very soon had contacted a good 20 kph of breeze on 60 meters (200 feet) of line. The plan was to take movie footage with and without the drogues. A minute or so of movie was duly taken and the kite pulled down. A few pauses were necessary to prevent overflying. It didn't take long to get the kite back to the anchor tree where I could keep an eye on it while fishing around in the bag for the drogues.
With drogue lines tied on with a couple of Half Hitches each, up went the kite again. At first it was hard to tell if there was any difference, but the kite seemed to handle the gusts better than before.
Interestingly, the kite was much easier to bring in on a short line—until the drogues touched down. Freed of the drag, the kite promptly tried to overfly and came close to nosing in! With a bit of slack fed into the line, the barn door just floated face down for a second before easing back downwind. No problem.
As a few more raindrops started to fall, the kite was hastily packed away.
Back home, the movies showed up a definite difference in the smoothness of flight with drogues added. But they could still be quite a bit bigger it seems, for even more effectiveness. The current ones looked much smaller in flight than on the floor at home!
KAP Foiled at Doggy Park
On arrival, just two dog owners appeared to be using the reserve. One was sitting right in the center of the grassed area with her dog. Odd. At least to this single-liner nut. Oh well.
I brought out the Fresh Wind Barn Door kite. This decision was based on the almost fresh gusts ripping across the tops of the tallest surrounding trees. The morning rain had well and truly cleared, and the midday sun had powered up some thermals.
Unfortunately for the barn door, the average wind strength was much lower. After quite a few failed attempts to keep the kite up above treetop height, I gave up and rigged the huge Multi-Dowel Barn Door instead. I knew that the thermal gusts might push it a bit hard at times!
By now the wind direction was clear. Annoyingly, it had shifted away from due west, which would have given the nicest perspective for the aerial camera. The large Happy Valley Reservoir was just over the road from the reserve. Anyway, it was a chance to loft the huge barn door and at least do a bit of flying for relaxation's sake.
A man settled down to watch from the edge of the reserve, seemingly in awe of the big kite's flight as it was rapidly worked up from several feet to over 300 feet altitude. The kite ended up almost directly above, in a patch of rising air.
As expected, the barn door was punished from time to time but fortunately remained just within its limits. It experienced extreme tension when the wind speed got up a bit high and a good deal of shaking when this was combined with patches of turbulence. It would have been a little dicey up there for a KAP rig! As well, the number of dogs and their owners had now swelled to eight or so. Fiddling around in the center of the grassed area with a camera and cradle was not really a good idea, now. So there was no KAP today :-(
With all the tall obstacles around there was no point in taking wind-speed readings. According to weather sites, the gusts were up in the mid-twenties, in kph. That looked about right. The huge barn door had a short but spectacular flight, managing to drag a few people's attention away from their dogs from time to time!
The weather seemed a bit marginal, in that gust speeds were around 30 kph. This is the top limit for the Multi-Dowel Barn Door kite. However, I was hoping that as evening approached, the wind would moderate somewhat and allow some KAP action.
Within ten minutes or so the first few tasks were completed. Lay out 30 meters (100 ft) of line, take a couple of panorama shots of the field, and attach the cameras rig. Those wind gusts were still a worry though!
Soon the kite was rigged and sure enough, as soon as it got a bit of height the trouble started. The huge barn door stayed in the air but occasionally was stressed to the point of shaking—not side to side, but in and out as it tried to dump excess lift and drag.
During lulls, the big kite soared up high but sometimes it actually lost height when the wind speed dropped off even more. Super gusty! Perhaps this was related to the range of low hills several kilometers upwind. Sometimes the weather forecasters do speak of "fresh winds, gusty in the south and around the foothills".
Despite all this, a gingerly attempt at aerial photography was made. With the camera still less than 50 feet off the grass I decided to play safe and not go any higher. Very soon I started bringing the kite back down. It was just too hairy up there.
The wind meter parked on the grass was showing an average of 7.2 kph with a gust to 23 kph. It was easily hitting 30 kph up at 100 feet judging by the kite's behavior.
The photos actually weren't bad. The latest change to the rig was the use of a much longer Picavet line—the one suspending the rig from the flying line. Also, I remembered this time to set the focus to infinity. This uses a lot less battery power since the optics aren't being adjusted with every shot.
KAP—Finally, the Horizon!
Once again, there was a one hour window for kite flying. Now-a-days that means a kite aerial photography (KAP) attempt. With the breeze gusting right into the 30s (in kph) earlier in the afternoon, it was looking like the box kite might finally hoist the KAP rig aloft.
Well, I had walked just halfway across the reserve before realizing that the wind had dropped somewhat. Although hefty gusts were indeed coming through, a quick check with the wind meter confirmed that perhaps the box would struggle to stay up most of the time. So it was back to the car, to pull out the ever-reliable Multi-Dowel Barn Door, yet again. This kite will possibly turn out to be my KAP workhorse for quite a while yet! What followed was a fairly typical KAP session...
First was a smooth liftoff by the skewer tetrahedron, followed by some swinging and jiggling higher up as the huge barn door did its best to cope with the cool and gusty breeze. Despite it being late afternoon, thermals were still about too. The camera had an interesting ride and was even flung around and over the flying line. At least twice! Would the half Picavet continue to function? It seemed to, which was good.
To cut this story short, the rig was landed gently with no problems. The camera continued to take shots of the grass in fuzzy closeup as I derigged the kite. OK, so maybe just 30 frames will be enough in future! Also, 100 shots is quite a drain on the camera battery.
Most of the pictures had the kite's anchor point either near the bottom of the frame or just out of frame down there. Hence several shots had the horizon visible.
However, in my rush to get the camera up, I had forgotten to set the focus to infinity. That will have to wait until next time now. This should cause less battery drain and possibly more sharp photos. We'll see.
The wind meter, nestled amongst the trees, recorded 5.2 kph gusting to 15.6 kph. My guess of wind speeds in the high twenties was later confirmed by a couple of weather sites which had recorded a maximum of 28 kph at a height of 10 meters (30 feet) That's about the upper limit for the Multi-Dowel Barn Door.
More KAP Weight Education
This time, the barn door was packed into the car, along with the green canvas "kiting support" bag. The breeze was gusting into the mid-twenties according to the weather stations. This was nothing the versatile Multi-Dowel Barn Door kite couldn't handle.
The northerly wind direction meant only the width of the reserve was available downwind. But lately, the flights have been low-ish anyway, with the KAP test weight bobbing and swinging about.
With the hose reel installed over a bollard and the Windtronic meter whirring away on a hillock, the huge barn door came together quickly. I must be getting used to it now!
Launching was easy, but dicey as rough air came tumbling across the patch of trees upwind. A nervous moment ensued as the huge barn door took a gust and arced over to the right, threatening to slam into the ground. A quick let-out of a couple of meters of line settled things down, and the climb resumed.
Shortly after this, I gingerly took in some line, right up to the Double Loop knots 15 meters (50 feet) from the kite, and attached the 280 g KAP test weight. Up and up it went, the kite not seeming to notice the extra weight at all.
Eventually, with 45 meters (150 feet) of line out, the gustiness eased somewhat due to the higher altitude. However, it was just after the middle of the day. This is the worst possible time for smooth flight, with thermal lift and sink everywhere. I made a mental note to avoid this time of day in future, when doing KAP.
Up at this height, the breeze was stronger and occasionally the KAP weight and the kite seemed to interact causing the kite to pump rapidly in and out. I don't think it was just turbulence. Perhaps the weight needs to be further from the kite.
After a few minutes, soaring around at high line angles, the flight became pleasant enough with no more dramas. However, this is now three occasions out of three where I am glad there was a weight up there and not my camera! There's so much to learn.
Winds near ground level were 1.5 kph on average, gusting to 5.8 kph. As mentioned earlier, gusts higher up were in the mid-twenties. And that's what it felt like.
Big Blue Barn Door Buffeted at Beach
Being the second Sunday of the month, we drove up to the beach near Fort Glanville. Would the Adelaide Kite Flyers be there? It turned out they weren't, most likely because of the Royal Adelaide Show which was in progress. I did actually hear reports about large kites flying overhead, although we didn't go to the Show this year.
A quick wind-speed check confirmed that the Multi-Dowel Barn Door might be a reasonable choice. Down on the sand, I found a slightly grassy patch near the dunes that was convenient for rigging the kite without dry sand going everywhere.
Soon the big blue behemoth was airborne and rocking around in turbulent air. A large peninsula of damp firm sand extended downwind. This could be an emergency landing area, should the need arise, free of lapping sea water!
Turbulent air was the problem down low, due to the wind direction. Houses, a number of large trees, and the sand dunes were upwind. And all that at a height quite a few meters above sea level.
It was straightforward to let more line out so the barn door kite was soon flying smoother, on about 45 meters (150 feet) of line. However, another problem then emerged. The breeze was almost too strong up there, with gusts really testing the dowel frame from time to time. Near the top of its wind range, the sides of the sail become vertical near the tail end, from the kite flyer's point of view. The two diagonal spars begin to bend in a downwind direction, below the point where they cross over.
It was a pity, but there was no choice but to bring the kite down lower. For a while I just flew on 30 meters of line. This was a little hairy, with the kite flexing and straining in the rough air. It was also scooting quite a way from side to side, so it paid to keep an eye out for unsuspecting beach walkers who might have wandered into range!
After a few minutes of this "kite stability demo", I decided to quit while I was ahead and bring it down. This proceeded with no problems and soon the upper bridle lines were in hand.
So, it wasn't a huge high-flying experience, but certainly better than nothing!
Multi-Dowel Barn Door as a Light-Wind Kite
A light-wind session was not the intention today. The weather site was indicating double-digit speeds gusting up to around 22 kph. That looked pretty good for the purpose of trying the half Picavet rig with a test weight, while flying the Multi-Dowel Barn Door kite.
Looking back, I probably should have put up the Multi-Dowel Rokkaku which had also been brought along. Anyway, the barn door was soon rigged and hovering around just a few meters up. It had its "slow pendulum" thing going which indicates "more wind speed please!"
This was about mid-morning and thermals were just starting to stir. A slightly stronger puff came through which let me climb the large blue kite right out to 60 meters of line. For once, a glove didn't really seem to be necessary, for protection against line burn.
Curiously, I'm finding it harder to justify letting more line out with these huge Multi-Dowel designs than with my earlier Dowel Series designs.
For example, if I had been flying the Dowel Barn Door, which is just 1.2 meters (4 feet) in span, I would have let the line right out to 90 or 120 meters! Perhaps it's the nagging feeling that if the huge kite does go down unexpectedly, the consequences might be greater. Like a ding in the roof of someone's parked car, for example!
As the flight progressed, it began to have all the features of an interesting "very light wind and thermals" flight, like my best light-wind kite experiences. These would include slow climbs, wind-shifts, pull ins and low saves, delightful sorties up to very high line angles, and so on.
The slightly odd twist was this—the kite was a huge, slow-moving barn door which felt somewhat barge-like nearly the whole time. When just barely hanging in the air, this kite is still pulling a good kilogram (2.2 pounds) of tension in the line.
There were no KAP weight tests unfortunately, but it was a fun flight never-the-less! The wind meter recorded 4.6 kph gusting to 10.0 kph. The flight only ended when it was not possible to keep the kite airborne any longer.
MD Barn Door Kite in Rough Air at 300 Feet
About half an hour beore heading out to one of the usual reserves to fly, the weather website was recording 11 kph gusting to 18 kph. This was quite ideal for the big Multi-Dowel Barn Door kite. Also, the flying line was set up to take a half-Picavet KAP rig. It's time for some weight tests before committing an actual camera to the sky!
On arrival, the breeze was warm and seemed very gusty. Having not had a relaxing high flight from this kite yet, I decided to leave the KAP tests for a bit. Not only that, I had made some more small adjustments to the 5-leg bridle and needed to be sure the kite was in good trim.
Launching in the lee of some trees was a little interesting as the huge kite bobbed way over to the left and right. Finally, with some judicious tugging on the line at the right moments, the huge 2.4 m (8 ft.) span barn door soared up into cleaner air. In no time, 30 meters (100 feet) of line was out. So far so good, so I continued to let out line until the 60 meter (200 feet) flag came off the garden-hose reel.
With the line tied around the trunk of a small tree, it was time to just stand and observe the big kite doing its thing up there. It felt rewarding after all the previous constructing, redesigning, and adjusting. Despite being buffetted by thermal turbulence and lofted to nearly vertical line angles, the kite behaved rather nicely, never once doing a complete loop. However, the attachment points for the KAP rig looked very close to the kite, being only 10 meters (30 feet) away from the sail. The thought of a camera swinging around in rough air was not very appealing.
Finally, it seemed safe enough to let line out to 90 meters (300 feet). Even so, the huge barn door kite promptly went vertical again! Great long ripples slowly twitched the 200-pound Dacron line from side to side. A guy in his car, leaving the reserve, stopped for a while to gawk at it.
Soon after this it was time to pick up Aren from school, so the kite was "walked down" with the aid of a canvas glove.
Close to the ground, and somewhat sheltered, the wind meter recorded an average of 3.6 kph and a maximum gust of 9.3 kph. However, the kite at times was getting 20 kph or so, as evidenced by the 4-kilogram pull on the trusty spring scales at one point!
Half-Picavet Tested Under Barn Door Kite
Rather fresh gusts blowing around the house, plus bright sunshine, tempted me out with the repaired Multi-Dowel Box and the Multi-Dowel Barn Door kite as a backup. The aim today was to give the half-Picavet arrangement a tryout, in combination with the tetrahedral Skewer KAP Rig—perhaps even with a camera.
The initial half hour was frustrating, as I tried to get the big box kite to stay up on 30 meters (100 feet) of line. The wind speed was awkward, since it was barely enough to keep the box up and yet gusting to levels that would stress the barn door. So, with the wind appearing to moderate a little, I gave up and decided to pull out the barn door.
"This will be up in a flash" I thought. And so it was. Although the late afternoon was drawing nearer, the air was still quite rough up there. Plenty of thermal activity remained to shake and power the huge barn door all over the sky.
It would be a little hairy for KAP, but with every passing 15 minutes I knew the overall picture was improving. Average wind speed was fine, but a fraction less gustiness would allow some camera work.
A few minutes were spent flying the Skewer KAP rig with the test weight, so I could photograph the new half-Picavet in action. Then it was the camera's turn. The intention this time was to angle the camera away from horizontal, so it faced more upwind.
After pressing the shutter button, the camera was set for a 5-minute delay before firing off 60 images at 15-second intervals. Everything went well, with photos being taken while I steadily let out line to 120 meters (400 feet). I paused for several minutes on 60 meters (200 feet).
Back home, I realized the camera was not angled nearly enough to get the desired images. All the images were not too sharp either, probably due to the rig jiggling about under a twitching line. Never mind, I have more ideas to fix that ;-)
All in all, it was an interesting little KAP excursion, while the somewhat sheltered wind-meter on the ground registered an average of 5.8 kph and a peak gust of 16.7 kph. I think gusts up higher were in the low to mid-twenties.
Multi-Dowel Barn Door Takes to the Sky!
The new 2.4 m (8 ft.) span Multi-Dowel Barn Door kite was given a test fly today, after being mapped out on paper only a few days ago.
The air was warming up noticeably as midday approached. The sun's UV danger was lurking so Aren and I both had our protective hats on. Although it almost seemed dead calm, things were soon to change.
At least the wind held off while the big barn door was rigged. That's convenient for the first on-field rig! At first, the kite was clumsy to handle and kept contacting the ground due to lack of breeze. As the minutes ticked by however, stronger and stronger gusts started to come through. The wind strength had been predicted to build towards evening, but it seemed to be coming on quite suddenly.
For a while I experimented with towing point position, sliding the Prusik knot a centimeter or two this way and that. When the kite started climbing more willingly, I let out about 30 meters (100 feet).
Thermal drafts were pushing the kite overhead from time to time, where the intense sunshine would light up the blue drop-sheet plastic. The sheer strength of some of the gusts pushed the big barn door to its limits, as it threatened to arc back into the ground. Stability was there though, although more bow in the horizontal spar is needed it seems.
With a glove on my right hand, and a wrap taken around my left hand, the big kite was still trying its best to yank more line out!
At last, the kite keeled over to the left during a strong gust, as one of the corner ties started to give way. I quickly let out line to slow down the impact, and no extra damage was done.
Oddly, the diagonal spars flexed back and forth near the leading edge of the kite while it was still quite high and under a lot of tension. This tells me that bridle attachment points need to be added between the leading edge and the horizontal spar. Let's see—this design might end up with a 6-leg bridle! That's two each on every spar.
The corner-tie area is easily beefed up a little more so the shoelace tie doesn't pull through. More bow is simply added by putting a few knots into one of the bow lines. Once the extra bridle bits are added in and adjusted, we'll see how this kite goes in 25 kph gusts!
The story or stories above document actual flying experiences.
My write-ups are definitely "warts and all" since things don't always go totally as planned. However, half the fun of kiting is anticipating the perfect flight. When it happens, it's magic!
As mentioned earlier, there's more kite-making info here than you can poke a stick at :-)
Want to know the most convenient way of using it all?
The Big MBK E-book Bundle is a collection of downloads—printable PDF files which provide step-by-step instructions for many kites large and small.