Delta Kite Posts

(Bamboo BBQ Skewer 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!

Try the Making Skewer Kites PDF, if you are interested in making these bamboo-sparred kites. Handy for working offline or from printouts.

These short flight reports once appeared in the site blog page - that's the one you enter via the 'what's new!' site navigation link.

Just scroll down and stop at any heading that appeals :-)

2-Skewer Delta Kite

Delta Dallies In Doubtful Draughts

OK, the title's pretty bad - but here you are ;-) So, the late afternoon was getting later, darker. And the breeze, much to my surprise, had freshened by a couple of kph at least. Well, well, that makes a change around this time of day.

The MBK 2-Skewer Delta

For the first few launches Aren helped out, before being called inside. Ever hopeful, I remained out on the wet back lawn, launching the 2-Skewer kite from a resting-place against a swing-set seat. These launches were spectacular, having only a meter or two on either side until the kite flew clear of the house roof corner on one side and tall bushes on the other.

With enough height there was just enough movement in the air to keep the kite swaying from side to side at the lower limit of it's wind range. Inevitably, control was lost a few times and the hapless Delta got dragged off the verandah roof during some of these episodes. Excitement. Danger. Of sorts.

Finally, I was able to get a decent length of the spidery 20 pound Dacron out. This put the kite right over the neighbor's fence. After some edgy flying - captured on video - a moment of inattention resulted in another loss of control and a somewhat uncomfortable period of scraping and banging across unseen parts of our roof. And possibly the roof of our large shed as well, I don't really know.

Miraculously the bright orange 2-Skewer Delta kite survived unscathed. It popped into view then fell off the gutter as I continued to take line in. That'll do for today I thought. Quit while you're ahead and all that...

2-Skewer Delta Dries Out, Flies Up

Winds were light but just enough for a good Skewer kite. For example, the 2-Skewer Delta. At least that's what the weather station indicated, at a location within just a few kilometers of the flying field.

Wouldn't you know it, the air seemed pretty dead as I pulled up in the car-park. For the next 45 minutes or so, it was a waiting game, interspersed with highly optimistic attempts to keep the 2-Skewer Delta kite airborne.

At last, after a long pull-up on 60m (200 feet) of line, the kite contacted just enough moving air to stay up for a while. In fact, it seemed as though I had launched right into a weak thermal. The kite moved almost overhead and climbed slowly with very little line tension.

For 10 or 15 minutes I just left the Delta to it's own devices.

Eventually the delta simply dropped out of the sky. Just not enough average breeze strength up there. However, the forecast was for strengthening winds over the next few days, so I held out hope and stayed. Sure enough, another chance came along in the form of some weak gusts as mild sunlight warmed the local area.

This time, the kite had no trouble cruising around at about 300 feet off the grass. As well as the slight improvement in the breeze, the kite was now dry from airflow and sunlight. The reduced weight helped the Delta fly in a more stable fashion.

Not long after capturing a long descent and subsequent climb on video, it was time to leave.

Delta Dices With Death

But it pulled through. Two days ago, the sun shone and the wind whistled. A chance to punish the 2-Skewer Delta kite Mk2 in high wind just to see what would happen!

The strongest gusts were pushing near 40kph, although at shoulder height out in the middle I could only record 20kph on the meter. The wildly swaying tree branches on the far side told the true story.

Near the upwind edge of the reserve, great swirls came through and made launching tricky, despite the ample air speed. There were huge changes in wind direction.

Anyway, a couple of videos were taken. One of which I might post on Facebook later. Even with its reinforced spine, the kite was forced into flapping for much of its flight time! The interesting thing was, at even greater pressure, the kite narrowed to a very low-aspect-ratio shape and went steady again. Just for a few seconds at a time.

At no point did the kite get forced into looping. Good!

Amazingly, the spreader put up with all this to the end. Possibly due to it being fairly close to the nose. And the beating was being shared by the leading edge skewers.

It was clear that a more forward towing point would have helped since the kite ws bogging down quite a lot, below 45 degrees of line angle. Never mind, I won't be changing the design since it is supposed to be a light-wind kite after all.

At least this version of the 2-Skewer Delta seems to be durable in unsuitable wind speeds. People will appreciate not having to repair broken skewers when the wind comes up a bit. Or quite a bit!

2-Skewer Delta With Stiffer Spine

Finally, the weather co-operated to allow an outing with the 2-Skewer Delta. With an extra skewer glued onto the vertical spar or spine. The aim was to reduce or completely cure the oscillations that happen when the kite is pushed a bit hard in terms of wind speed.

The sun came out around the middle of the day, so the flights ended up being strongly affected by rough thermal air. Sudden gusts and lulls. At least the strongest gusts gave the kite a good work-out - although I had been hoping for a somewhat higher average wind speed.

At one point it looked like the sail near the nose had been punctured by the bamboo. With a few centimeters of sail pushed back, the kite still flew fine! On landing, it turned out that the tape had simply worked loose. Easy fixed with a bit more tape.

Well, there wasn't much sign of the dreaded oscillations, although I might take it out once more and try it in even stronger wind. Although the little orange Delta was up over 100 feet, it was just possible to hear the sail fluttering as it powered through the gusts.

Forgot to take an anemometer reading, but it was gusting to 19kph before I headed out. According to two online weather stations. The average of the nearest two is useful, since we are situated smack in the middle geographically.

2-Skewer Delta Leaps Into Orbit

Another spur-of-the-moment flight. Having just completed the 2-Skewer Delta Mk2, the thought sprang to mind to go out into the darkening dusk and test the breeze. Not to mention the kite itself!

The first pull-up, utilizing about half the length of our rear lawn, was a calculated risk. If the kite was unstable without a short tail, like the original, it could very easily loop straight into the peach tree before gaining much height. Recoverable, but not the best way to treat a spanking-new kite.

To my delight, the black-keeled orange Delta deftly flitted up, managing to miss all obstacles. A rocket-like launch from being leaned up against the tomato-patch trellis. In a moment the kite was above roof height, where all of a sudden it found no breeze to sustain flight. After a hasty pull-in, the kite flipped and dove to the grass.

'6 seconds Daddy!' chimed in Aren, who had been timing on his stop-watch again.

Several more flights followed. '6 seconds again' ... '11 seconds' ... '31 seconds!' By now it was clear that the small Delta was well-behaved and would flex its spars evenly before accelerating in a straight line. In the direction pointed, like a fighter kite.

There did turn out to be a slight breeze up a bit higher, in a direction which took the kite over the neighbor's yard. Aren was a little nervous about that, but all was under control on the fairly short line. Only 10 meters (35 feet) or so.

Just a few seconds of seeing the Delta sitting there in relatively smooth air was convincing. This kite would later soar to any height and stay stable in light winds!

Don't forget to try the Making Skewer Kites PDF, if you are interested in making these kites for yourself. Handy for working offline or from printouts.

Need winders, reels, flying line?

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P.S. Keep an eye out for books by kite author Glenn Davison, a prominent kite person in the USA.

What's New!

  1. Making Paper Kites - A Step-By-Step Guide

    Sep 18, 18 12:58 AM

    Making Paper Kites is a fully photo-illustrated step-by-step guide to making high-flying Sled, Diamond, Rokkaku, Sode and Delta kites from just copier paper and sticky tape. Even the spars are paper-a…

    Read More


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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 breeze
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3    

Moderate breeze
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4    

Fresh breeze
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5    

Strong breeze
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