Dowel Barn Door Kite:
Thermals Over Willamette Park

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

The view from Willamette park in Corvallis, OR

The view from Willamette park in Corvallis, OR

This last week, I had three successful flights on two different days! This submission describes the first outing, a typical Sunday kite flying trip at Willamette Park in Corvallis, OR.

The winds that day were light to moderate, but steady, so I brought my MBK Delta, MBK Barn Door, and my Rhombus Box Kite. This gave me a few options in the event that the wind-speed changed.

(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.)

The Barn Door is a fantastic light wind kite, while the Delta is good for light winds and thermals as well. Of course, I was prepared for higher winds with my Box kite.

First up at 1:00 PM while the wind was still light was the Barn Door Kite. I was in a very large park with more than enough distance between myself and two Soccer or "Football" games as the non USA world knows it. We were at least 300 feet away from either game so I was not too concerned about getting in the way of the players. That's not to say I wasn't aware of them.

After a little bit of speed walking, the kite was out of ground effect and was flying quite nicely in the warm air. I had a grove of trees about 50 feet to windward of where I was flying from, so I was prepared for a bit of turbulence. The rough air was surprisingly high seeing as how the trees themselves are well under 50 feet tall. I would say closer to 30 feet tall. I didn't see any smooooth air until the kite was at 75 feet AGL or so.

The Barn Door was soaring in thermals at 350 feet AGL in just a few moments.

I was once again very pleased with the Barn Door's ability to handle some pretty fresh winds while still having very good thermal capabilities. This is interesting since the Barn Door is not a high aspect kite. However, it does boast an impressive 9.71 square feet of sail area which is pretty good for such a light kite. The Barn Door even moved over to a large thermal that was developing over the wide, paved asphalt sidewalk that runs between the two fields.

The Barn Door was up for 30 minutes or so, but it got pretty windy up high. I felt unsure of my distance from the soccer field so I chose to bring it down in case. I was also having issues with this kite leaning to the right. In gusts, it would even dive dangerously close to the ground. It rights its self very quickly when I put slack in the line, but this is difficult to do at low altitudes.

In fact, last week I almost lost the Barn Door to a tree while I was frantically reeling in line just to be forced to let out more when it dove too close to an obstacle. Thank God it only hooked for a few seconds but they were tense as I yanked it loose from the small branch's grasp. I have diagnosed it as an uneven spar, but have yet to sand the thick half to get a consistent bend.

As far as Sunday's weather goes, the winds briefly calmed just enough for the kite to be stable at altitude.

To compensate for the leaning, I hooked some yellow crepe paper to the left side and took it back up to altitude with only a minor tendency to lean to the right. The afternoon winds eventually increased to a moderate breeze that the MBK Bar Door was not able to cope with. It was ultimately forced to the ground but was undamaged.

The MBK Barn Door is great for most of the winds that I have attempted to fly in, however it is a light wind only kite with a very distinct "aerodynamic wall." That is, once the winds get faster than 8 mph, it will either distort and refuse to fly, or simply break a spar.

In spite of this, I really enjoy thermalling with it especially on a gorgeous Willamette Valley spring-time day! I also like the fact that it's designed and Made with pride in America! No offense. ;-)

The second kite last Sunday was my Rhombus Box Kite.

This Kite is actually a decent light wind kite that will fly in winds as low as 6-8 mph. In saying that, it takes quite a bit of effort to get it up to smooth wind on a medium-wind day such as this.

As you know, box kites don't like light winds and they certainly don't like to wait around for a hercules thermal to lift them. There was a considerable amount of wind and thermal activity that afternoon, but not enough to get a good, strong flight that is typical of the Rhombus.

The same held true with my MBK Delta. I think it was more of an issue with turbulence from the trees 50 feet to windward. It just fluttered, and finally floated down to the grass after thirty seconds.

Download the e-book "Making Dowel Kites" here.

Return to MBK Flight Reporter Submission.


As mentioned earlier, there's more kite-making on this site 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.