Modern Cody Kites

A Great Old Design Lives On

It's just amazing that Cody kites can still be so popular, given their early origins. Over 100 years old now, the double-box design with bat-like wings and horns is still flying proudly all over the world.

From it's man-lifting origins, kite lovers now painstakingly construct and fly many varied examples of this design. Not everyone tries to be authentic in either dimensions, spar material or sail material, so there is great variety!

Most Codys are flown purely for the fun of it. On the other hand, sometimes the stable, high-lift Cody box is used for KAP (Kite Aerial Photography). Another common use for high-lift kites is hauling up 'line laundry', like inflatable figures, windsocks, ribbons and spinners.

Big, small, plain or fancy color schemes, the design is always recognizable. Of course, the best modern materials are usually used except if someone is trying to construct a perfect replica of the original.

Modern Cody kites with their graphite spars and nylon sails are even more efficient than the originals!

Home-made Box designs tend to be somewhat simpler...

A fine Cody kite we saw at a festival.We saw this Cody at a festival

A fine Cody kite we saw at a festival.We saw this Cody at a festival

Making Box Kites is a downloadable, printable e-book which has instructions for some well-tested Box kite designs. There's nothing like flying something you made yourself!

Regarding the Cody, what I personally find surprising is how such a complex kite could have such a following. Sure, some modern retail versions are quite simple to put together, but the more authentic creations are another story!

Some people just like a challenge while others have deep respect for Cody himself, particularly in England where most of his work was done.



Retail And Home-Built Cody Kites

Let's have a look at a real contrast with the original big Cody War kites. A small, easily rigged 'contemporary Cody'. There's a picture of one down there. But it's still unmistakably a Cody isn't it!

A small, easily rigged 'contemporary Cody kite'.A small retail Cody
A small, easily rigged 'contemporary Cody kite'.A small retail Cody

As with the originals, modern cody-style designs sometimes have a top-sail as well, for more stability and a little more lifting power.

Also like the originals, some keen kite-makers make their own versions that are just as fiddly to set up and break down!

Some people like to stack their Codys up in the air by flying several at a time. Usually all the same design though, unlike the old man-lifting system. Also, as I mentioned earlier, some people use them for Kite Aerial Photography or sending up 'line laundry'.

What about prices? I've seen retail Codys anywhere from under US$25 to around US$500! But this might soon be out of date info. Point is, there's a large price range for this type of kite in the shops.

Great-looking Cody in flight, with a small red top-sail fitted.Another view of the big Cody Box we saw

Great-looking Cody in flight, with a small red top-sail fitted.Another view of the big Cody Box we saw

There are as many different-looking Cody boxes as there are keen builders of this design! Just to give you some idea, I've come across a site that features Codys with sails that are...

  • polka-dotted
  • glowing
  • appliqué
  • bright pink
  • patterned and striped
  • like the US flag, with over 200 red, white and blue panels

Codys come in all sizes these days. Here's a very nice large Cody that we saw at the Adelaide festival some time ago... Yes, it's another view of the same kite featured at the top of this page.

How's this. You can buy a Cody Kite Plan for US$3. If you carefully follow the instructions it takes about 3 hours. You are then the proud owner of a tiny craft that weighs just one gram and has a 25 cm (10 inch) wingspan! So small, it can be flown indoors at walking speed. For this sort of thing, just search on the Internet for 'miniature kites'.

Now for the other end of the scale...

Dan Flintjer has been designing and building Cody box kites for years. I've seen a photo of his biggest Cody. It's black, and the little toy soldier standing near one corner turns out to be a real person when you look closer! A massive kite, it stands nearly 7 meters (22 feet) high and has a 10 meter (33 foot) wingspan. More on Dan further down...



Two Notable Cody Box Specialists

Some people take their kite building seriously. If you are also serious about building and flying the Cody kite then you are likely to come across these names sooner or later. I'm sure there are others too, who have similar kite building achievements but aren't as visible on the Internet.




Lutz Treczoks was born in 1958 and made kites in Lueneburg, Germany, since 1998. He was a keen flyer before then though. After trying his hand at various kinds of kites, he finally turned to box kites, and then the Cody in particular. His 'Extend Wing Cody War Kite' is claimed by some to be 'absolutely the finest Cody Kite on the commercial market'.

A modern day replica of the famous Cody War kite.Photo courtesy of Kyknoord

With a reputation for using the finest materials and great workmanship, Lutz's designs developed a big demand. When you're selling that many kites, it's a bit hard to keep up. As a result, most of the production of his kites was eventually shifted offshore, to Chinese factories in particular. Now people can own an exceptional Cody for less than half the price of the German originals.

Dan Flintjer has been making kites a lot longer, way back to 1983. He is particularly well known for designing the 'Buffalo Cody Kite'. His focus has always been on box kites as far as I can tell, with the Buffalo kites being particularly successful, selling in the thousands through retail stores.

Part of this success is due to his 'tree repellent' and more recently 'power line repellent' that is coated onto his kites. Secret formulas that will never be revealed. Like they say, there's a ... born every minute ;-) I take my hat off to his marketing genius.

As with all successful kite makers, quality craftsmanship can be seen in all his work. And he's still making kites himself, one at a time apparently! And that includes over 900 Codys. Wow.

These days Dan Flintjer is the Assistant Director of Education at the Niagara Aerospace Museum in Niagara Falls, New York. He spreads his love of kites and shares his building techniques in numerous schools and colleges in the U.S.



 


Don't forget to look at Making Box Kites if DIY is your thing!

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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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