Dowel Barn Door Kite:
Old School Thermalling

by MBK Flight Reporter: Craig Ensey
(Shedd, OR, USA)

In flight at 150 feet

In flight at 150 feet

As I mentioned last time, the more difficult or time consuming a kite is to set up, the less likely it is to get flown.

This time out, I only had a short time period to fly in.

So I brought three of my Dowel kites from earlier this year. These were the Rok, the Delta, and the Barn Door. I am familiar with all of these kites and know how to set them up quickly as well.

I noticed that the well-worn Rok had a broken spar almost immediately after getting to the field at Linn Benton Community College. This was disappointing, but that's why I brought extra kites.

My next choice was the Dowel Barn Door kite because the prevailing winds were too strong for the Delta.

The winds yesterday were very good up at 200-300 feet, but pretty weak down below the trees. They were also very shifty and were heading straight towards the main campus. I'm not sure if the kite was way out of trim, but I was forced down several times due to bridle issues. It took several 1/2" adjustments to get the kite to fly true. I also added a tail which seemed to help the most.

So far, I had only flown it up to 100 feet or so without worrying that it might come down on the roof or on the runners at the track where I was flying. Getting it stuck on the roof would mean the end of the Dowel Barn Door kite since I will not admit to losing it if this were to happen.

There were also some college kids that were engrossed in conversation directly under my line. I was pretty much stuck to flying straight over their heads.

That's when it happened...

After another bridle adjustment, my kite finally got to a respectable altitude of 150 feet and began to hunt for thermals. It was very cool. Once it found one, it would stay in it and climb for a few seconds. Most of the time it was pretty moderate, but on one occasion, it was as if the kite was in an elevator of rare sorts.

(A note to readers... The e-book Making Dowel Kites will be handy if you decide to have this kind of experience for yourself one day - Tim P.)

Away it went, pulling straight up for another hundred feet in just a matter of seconds. I was amazed at the lift which was hidden in this thermal. At one point it even began to nose over into the wind!

There must have been some turbulence up there to get the Dowel Barn Door kite well past 95 degrees from horizontal. It recovered and remained aloft for a few more minutes until the sun was almost unbearable.

Getting pics of the thermal jump was impossible since I really couldn't look up at the sun to get the shot.

After a bit, I chose to head for home before I was soaked in sweat and before Brennan got cooked. I'm not really a hot sun lover so I get overheated easily.

The field at LBCC looked great, but it has obstacles on all sides. I'm not too sure about going back there for kite flying. Hopefully my next report will come from the Gorgeous Oregon Coast!

Download the e-book Making Dowel Kites here.

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