Building a Big Kite

by Luis

Q:

Good Afternoon. I have to first start by thanking you for your step by step kite making directions. I am a volunteer for an organization that works with kids ages 5-9, and 10-17. Every year we compete in an event where the kids have to build and fly their kites. I have to say that although we have competed for the last 7 years, unfortunately, our kites have almost NEVER flown.

However, just last week I came across your website. I decided to try out the Delta kite, and with AMAZING results. I've built 5 Delta kites in the last week, and they have ALL flown flawlessly. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you.

Now to my question. In this same event, there is a "Team Kite" competition. The team kite has to be one where the team builds together and flies together. It is a BIG Kite competition, and the Biggest kite takes the trophy home. It is kind of late to ask because our competition is on Sunday 3/3/13, but if you have any pointers at all on how we can build a BIG kite, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you.

A:

I'm glad my site's instructions have been so useful to you! I do try to keep them as clear and simple as possible. Also, each and every design is test flown and modified if necessary before the instructions are published.

Regarding your 'team kite' project...

I suggest you simply scale up the dimensions of any MBK kite you fancy. Perhaps even the Simple Delta which you have already proven (unless it was the Dowel Delta, which has a keel?). Most importantly, you need to scale up the width of the dowels by exactly the same amount.

For example, if the Simple Delta calls for 3/16" dowel and you want to double the width and height of the kite, you need to double the dowel width to 6/16" which is 3/8".

To triple the dimensions, you would need 9/16" dowel which is an odd size that is probably not available. But 8/16" is close, which is the same as 1/2" dowel. The kite will now suit slightly lighter winds and should still be flyable with care. And so on.

A final point. If the kite is going to be rather big but must still be transported to the competition, you might like to attempt one of the Dowel Series kites, such as the Dowel Rokkaku. These kites roll up into a long slim package that is much easier to carry in a vehicle.

Regarding flying line, the strength required is related to the area of the kite sail rather than the span or height. Hence, doubling the span calls for quadrupling the line strength, if you want to maintain the same safety margins! In practice, flying lines used for small kites usually have a very conservative safety margin, so you can probably get away with just doubling or tripling the strength value.

All the best for the big day!

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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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