Dowel Kite Posts—Delta

(Oak Dowel Spars)

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 :-)

Dowel Delta Kite

Dowel Delta Drifts

It's the MBK Dowel Delta kite this time, in contrast to the 2-Skewer Series version flown recently. Despite a weather site showing 1 kph gusting to 2 kph (!), the neighbor's palm fronds were indicating differently. There wasn't much out there, but it would certainly be plenty for the ultra-light-wind Dowel Delta!

The MBK Dowel Delta kite in flight.MBK Dowel Delta

Aren and I walked down to the local small park and it wasn't long before the kite was rigged and airborne. A gentle gust provided ample lift to get the pale-orange craft up past treetop height. Once there, staying up was fairly straightforward.

For some time now, this kite has required a short plastic tail-let off the port tip to keep it straight. On 60 meters (200 feet) of line however, it soon became apparent that a little more correction was required.

At one point, the kite was pressured into doing a very large, slow, and graceful loop to the left. Fortunately, I happened to be one step ahead, so a safe clearance from the nearest tall tree was assured! After passing within a couple of meters of the grass, the kite soared high once more.

After bringing the delta down and attaching a short length of electrical tape to the end of the tip-tail, another launch was effected. This time the big pale delta performed admirably, holding station much more easily. Despite the changes in wind speed, the air seemed very smooth. Minutes would go by with the kite almost parked stationary at a high line angle. Wonderful stuff!

As happens with deltas, small disturbances occasionally pointed the nose off one way or another. This would result in a drift to a new position for a while. Refer back to the title of this post :-)

Finally, with some video taken, much more line was let off the winder. On around 120 meters (400 feet) of line, the kite was way up there, and well over "tiger country". Places you don't want to land, in other words. But the air was so smooth and the delta was well trimmed by now, so the risk was minimal. It took quite a few minutes to get the kite down before Aren and I walked home.

On this site, there's more kite-making info 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.

Every kite in every MBK series.

Kids Delighted With Dowel Delta

My Aren (9) and a friend of his were with me, while we flew at the grounds of a local school. They had a couple of flying toys, while mine was the Dowel Delta kite! The delta jumped into the air very readily since a gusty breeze was blowing. A quick check with the wind meter revealed an average speed of just over 8 kph and gusts to 18 kph.

On a short line, just 5 meters (17 feet) or so, the kite flew up, down, and sideways in the roughness of the air at that height. Some video was taken, before letting the kite up higher where it longed to go.

On various line lengths up to 60 meters (200 feet) the kite flew up to high angles, as deltas do. Once, it even overflew our position on the grass, with the help of some rising air. This delta is getting on a bit in age, and it soon became clear that it had become out of trim.

Stronger periods of wind were pushing the pale-orange kite way over to the left. It went almost to the grass on one occasion. So, it was out with some spare bits of tail plastic to fashion a "tail-let" for the port-side wingtip. This turned out to be an 80% fix. However, this was good enough to let the kite spend most of its time almost overhead.

After this, I let out the 50-pound line to 90 meters (300 feet) and spent a pleasant few minutes just watching the kite soaring past the mottled cloudy background of the sky. The light-wind delta was straining at times, since the wind was probably gusting over 20 kph up there. However, the kite was still responding to every small change in the breeze's speed and direction.

Before bringing the kite down, a bunch of kids each had a hold of the winder. They had been kicking a football around and hadn't failed to notice the impressively high-flying kite!

Climbing, Gliding, Circling, Drifting

I popped out for a short kiting session before lunch, with the Dowel Delta. It was better done early in the day than later, with a thunderstorm forecast for the evening!

The very light breeze appeared to be from the south east at first. After a while though, it was clear that there was no consistent wind direction at all. That didn't stop the Dowel Delta from having a number of soaring flights on short line lengths up to 100 feet though.

Some video was taken while flying on various lengths of line. More than once, while in rising air, the kite powered past vertical before gliding around and finding its way back downwind again. All this happened while it was less than 50 feet off the ground!

After having this kind of fun on short lines, some longer line flying was attempted, with limited success. There simply was not enough breeze for long enough to help the kite get much higher than about 100 feet. However, it was interesting flying, getting the delta to do a variety of tricks on its single flying line... Climb-and-glide, hover, 360s, constant-angle climbs, and a few launches straight off the ground.

There was "Not enough wind" as onlookers are prone to say—but it was a lot better than nothing!

Don't Do a Lark's Head in the Dark

We were down at Murray Bridge on a short holiday at a bed-and-breakfast (B&B) for a few days. The sun had touched the horizon some minutes ago and a light breeze was wafting across the property. Hey, I thought, why not get out for a brief night fly while there's still a bit of light!

The Dowel Delta seemed an ideal choice. So in just half a minute it was ready, spreader tied on with the shoelace tie at each end. Usually I fly this delta on 50 pound line but tonight the breeze seemed docile enough to go for the 20 pound line instead. It looks like a pretty big kite to fly on such thin line, but it's been proven OK on previous occasions in similar conditions.

Well, in the low light and without the reading glasses on, forming the Lark's Head and slipping it over the towing-point knot of the kite's keel was not quite as straightforward as usual. But it was still pretty easy, really. There goes the kite, up, up, and away. No problem.

After I walked backward and to the side for a few meters, the kite soon went up to a steep flying angle. It sat nicely at around 10 or 15 meters (50 feet) up, in the cool and fitful dusk breeze. With each gentle gust in wind speed, the trailing edge would flutter audibly and the 20-pound line was quite taught.

Why not let some more line out? Rapidly I pulled line off the winder and the kite responded by sinking tail first as it drifted downwind. OK, that's enough now ... mmmm funny ... it's still drifting. I'd better pull some more line in. What—it's still drifting? Uhmmmm ... something's wrong, and now the kite is gliding down in circles! Almost as if ... yep, it's not connected!

To cut this little tale short, the line had somehow let go. I suspect the Lark's Head was not properly secure, as the line was in one piece. We eventually got the kite back, despite it coming to rest on the neighbor's property! Read and see more about this kite on the page How To Make The Dowel Delta Kite. Double check that Lark's Head if you make one and take it out at night!

Soaring Delta Becomes Circling Glider

The weather stations were saying 11 kph gusting to the high teens, so the choice of kites was pretty wide. Geographically, we are close to midway between the Noarlunga and Adelaide City stations so I figure an average taken from them both can't be far off! That's for both mean wind-speed and gust strength.

On the assumption that the wind might hold somewhere above 8 kph over the next hour or so, I picked the Dowel Sode. Also, just in case the breeze died, the Dowel Delta was brought along too—which was just as well...

Down at the reserve, the leaves were barely stirring. OK, that means don't bother with the sode although this kite is very respectable in quite light winds. On this occasion, however, an all-out light-wind design was called for!

The Dowel Delta kite was very quickly rigged. This is a nice feature of delta's, which perhaps helps explain their popularity! In no time it was grasping for altitude in the barely moving air.

Above 50 feet, the going was a little easier, with the kite needing no encouragement to ease up and up to a fairly high line angle. And a superb sight it was, watching the pale-orange sail creeping past cloud after cloud on its way up.

These days I fly this kite on 20-pound line all the time. This has proved to be very adequate strength-wise, and produces stunning light-wind performance with this fair-sized delta!

Disappointingly, no sooner had the kite started floating around at 200 feet or so, the breeze started to die off. Sunset was approaching, which often has this effect around here.

Soon the delta was sagging to a 30 degree line-angle but still flying stable in it's normal nose-up attitude. For a while, this situation held, but then the remaining tension just disappeared from the line. The nose dropped, the kite became a circling slow-speed glider, and the show was over.

Anyway, it was pleasant enough while it lasted! The anemometer registered just 0.3 kph with an almighty gust to 4.6 kph at one stage ;-)

Float-Out Launches With Dowel Delta Kite

Today's flight was a consequence of starting a new e-course. A minimum number of installments will be ready to go when the course launches. When will that be? Don't hold your breath—it will be weeks, perhaps months. Anyway...

The aim today was to float launch the Dowel Delta kite by continuously letting out line and keeping the kite very low—for as long as possible! Then, simply by hanging on to the line, the kite would be allowed to catch the breeze and take off like a homesick angel.

A new twist to this outing was the fact that two cameras would be recording the flight. Our trusty Samsung bottom-of-the-range digicam would take a movie. Also, our somewhat fancier Pentax Optio WG-2 would be snapping stills, one every 10 seconds.

As it turned out, and as expected, a few little lessons were learned. But we got some usable imagery of the float-out launches. Next time, a 5-second delay should get better results for the Optio, while a second tripod would really come in handy. On this occasion I had to do the stills and the movie during two separate flights.

The launching turned out to be more challenging than expected, due to very light wind strengths near the ground.

After all the camera work was in the bag, it was time to enjoy the antics of the delta, naturally. It wasn't long before 90 meters (300 feet) of line was out, with the Dowel Delta doing its thing at steep line angles. That included a few wide loops, fast and with some trailing-edge flutter near the bottom, which resulted when the kite lost air pressure and found itself vertically nose down. But the Dowel Delta kite is quite stable and recovered by itself each time.

During a gust near ground level I popped the wind meter up for half a minute and it recorded an average speed of 5.4 kph.

Dowel Delta 400 Feet, Wind Meter 2 KPH

The sun was out, and high altitude hooks of cirrus ("mares tails") swept the sky. The wind? It was barely a whisper most of the time. There was just the occasional 4 or 5 kph gust from a nearby small thermal lifting off. This was perfect weather for the pale-orange Dowel Delta kite!

Launching was easy, as I let out line just fast enough to maintain a 45 degree line angle. Bravely, I decided to go with 20-pound line to get the absolute most out of the big but light-pulling delta. In these conditions, it's not the wind speed that tightens up the line the most, it's the vertical plumes of air which cause the kite to surge overhead from time to time.

After some pleasant flying, around 200 feet or so, I let a thermal carry the kite almost vertically up to 400 feet. That's  the legal limit I guess tsk tsk tsk.

Corresponding to the sorties overhead were other times when the delta would hang down at around 45 degrees, pulling hard but getting no higher in slowly sinking air. 

A lazy loop would sometimes happen when the kite would get disturbed by a sudden drop in wind pressure and find itself pointed off to one side or even heading for the ground. Eventually it was time to pack up so I took 15 minutes or so to get the kite down slowly, right into my hands. A check of the Windtronic meter showed an average wind strength of 1.9 kph and a peak gust to 5.3 kph.

Dowel Delta Floats Over the Neighborhood

Hey, this sunset flying in the backyard idea is really working out.

Today it was the Dowel Delta, which is reliable in very light winds. After numerous attempts to get it above rooftop height, it finally got helped along by a gentle gust that was perhaps 2 kph stronger than the others. It's not easy when you've got about six paces to run in, and the breeze is so light it can hardly move a leaf.

Anyway, there it was, not shifting left or right by more than a few meters at a time. On letting out even more line I discovered a sharp little wind gradient at about two or three times the height of our rooftop. This added perhaps another 2 or 3 kph of wind speed, all of a sudden. The kite dipped below and climbed above this level several times, so the effect became pretty clear. Sometimes, below this level, a few firm pull ins were required to contact the faster air again, where the sizable pale-orange delta would just maintain height by itself.

A slightly windier period came through for a few minutes, so I pulled the kite down much closer to the roof, just in case. I didn't want the kite to loop over and end up over the neighbor's fence.

After this, the breeze progressively died off as the sun sank to the horizon. But not before the Dowel Delta had gone right out to 30 meters (100 feet) or so of line. Gentle gusts sent it surging almost overhead, directly over our roof.

Eventually all breeze ceased and the Dowel Delta came down helicopter fashion—vertically—as I maintained a little tension in the line. It was a fantastic flight, although not so relaxing since I had to be absolutely sure to keep the kite out of trouble!


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.

Every kite in every MBK series.