It seemed risky to take even the Dowel Box kite out today, since it could almost
be called a 'light wind kite' along with the rest of the Dowel Series.
For most of the day, fresh gusty winds had ruffled the bushes and trees
near our house.
Later in the afternoon, the wind did seem to moderate somewhat, so out we went.
The large reserve was less windy than expected, but moderate strength gusts were coming through. Perfect! There's always much faster air up high compared to ground level, at this location.
It proved difficult to get the Dowel Box kite to stay up, even after numerous short tows during those gusts.
The towing point was shifted a few times, as I tried to get the most
out of the kite.
Meanwhile, some mid-level cloud was drifting by
overhead, indicating quite a brisk breeze up there. After some time,
even the ground level gusts seemed to weaken as the sun dipped towards
Time to get serious! I walked most of the way across the
reserve, determined to tow up as high as possible this time. If nothing
else, I was getting plenty of exercise...
Now, most times in this situation, a kite only has to get just
above tree top height to contact faster air and 'get away'. But with a
Box kite... Anyway, the magic line length turned out to be about 45
meters (150 feet) today. Suddenly, the flight became self-sustaining and
it wasn't long before the line was really tight!
The Dowel Box kite flew at around 45 degrees most of the time,
occasionally quite a bit higher in weak areas of rising air. When you do
a lot of kite flying, it becomes clear that weak or small-scale thermal
activity is everywhere, at any time of the year and in almost any weather.
Line tension varied a lot as the wind above 100 feet varied from the low end of 'moderate' through to quite fresh.
Up till now, the kite had been parked in a rather blue section of
sky, but then some mid-level cloud started to blow across. With this
more interesting backdrop to the kite, it was time to pull out the
camera for some more video. See the top right corner of this page! It
gives the impression that the kite is climbing continuously, but it's
mainly just the cloud moving downwind.
I progressively let out line to 90 meters, maneuvering along the
edge of the reserve to give maximum room for the kite in case of a
You would think it would be easy letting out line, however the
high tension made it tricky! It was safest to actually lock the line
around a couple of fingers as each 1/2 meter (2 foot) length went out.
Yeah yeah, I should be using gloves... At one point I fumbled and almost
got a line-burn on one finger!
In the photo up there, you can see the yellow 30 meter (100
feet) tag on the flying line. The 4x zoom of the camera makes it appear
much closer to the kite than that.
The wind was even stronger higher up, and the kite was
approaching its limits. Curves everywhere! In the long spars, in the
sail edges. From experience, the lower cross spars would drop out and
the upper horizontal cross spar would snap under compression if the kite
was pushed too far.
The Dowel Box kite was still holding around 45 degrees, and remained quite stable despite the wind speeds.
Tea time was approaching, so it was time to begin bringing the
kite down. Easier said than done! Winding the flying line onto the
winder was out of the question, due to the heavy line tension. So, with
the winder thrown onto the grass, I started hauling the straining Box
kite down. Small piles of line were left on the ground as I walked in a
This was hard work! And very slow to start with, with the 50
pound breaking-strain line pointing nearly straight at the kite. The Box
kite was distorting under the air loads of the fairly smooth but brisk
Thankfully, the wind speed slowed just a little from time to time, making the process a bit easier.
With the Dowel Box kite down to under 200 feet, the lower cell
didn't seem fully rigid. Oh-oh! Perhaps one or even both of the lower
cross spars had fallen out... Bringing the kite down below 50 feet, it
was clear that both spars had indeed disappeared! The vertical would
have gone first. This would then take most of the tension off the
horizontal one, which would have followed a short time later.
Having got a good long high flight to write up, I think it's time
to retire this kite for a while! There's a bit of work now to get the
Dowel Box kite airworthy again. Cross spar brackets to glue, plus
assorted small holes and slits in the sail to tape up. But hey, the
whole thing's less than $5 in materials...
The story above was an actual flying experience with the described kite.
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!