The French Military Kite

A Classic Box Kite Variation

The classic French Military kite is still made from time to time by box kite and ham-radio enthusiasts around the world.

An old Military Kite from the 1960s.Photo courtesy of Joost J. Bakker
An old Military Kite from the 1960s.Photo courtesy of Joost J. Bakker

There's an old factory-built French Military kite in the photo, from the 60s actually.

In contrast to the old FMK in the photo, more modern designs would be much more efficient lifters, thanks to carbon fiber spars and rip-stop nylon sail material. Polyester sail materials are becoming more common now as well. Very strong, yet light!

Some people have called this design a cross between a Diamond and a Box kite, since the 2 'wings' do look just like the 2 halves of a Diamond. In between these 2 wings is a simple 2-celled triangular box kite.

This design is also known as the Pilot Kite. Not to be confused with the 4-cell parafoil pilot kites that help steady big semi-flying inflatables! The term 'French Rescue' pops up as well.

Actually, there's a bit more involved in making such a triangular design rigid, if you're making one from scratch. That's interesting since a simple square box kite has more sides, so you would think it would the more complex to brace!

When the weather's good and you have the time, it's great to get out with a kite or 3. But what about on bad weather days? Then it's time to pull out...

"Kites Up!" - my downloadable kite-flying board game! Apart from towing indoor kites, doing a spot of imaginary flying is the next best thing :-)

Names, Names, Names...

Now, you might have heard of the Conyne. This is a more general term for any box kite with wings, as far as I know. Of all the winged box kites, perhaps the Delta Conyne is the most popular. Instead of the 2 halves of a Diamond, it's the 2 halves of a Delta. At least, that is the way it looks from a distance.

Double French Military Kites

The French Military kite is the ancestor of this Double Conyne.A Double French Military
The French Military kite is the ancestor of this Double Conyne.A Double French Military

If you are interested in buying a French Military Kite (FMK), there are a few designs which have made their way into online kite stores. But not Amazon, at this writing!

One of these is an even more purpose-built lifting kite - the Double FMK (DFMK). Over there is an image of a typical shop-bought Double French Military kite.

A flat section is attached between 2 triangular 2-cell kites, for some serious pulling power. Both the Single and Double versions have rip-stop nylon sails and fiberglass spars. Perhaps the Double design sells pretty well because I had a hard time finding a decent picture of a Single...

I can imagine how that flat center section makes the DFMK more efficient than the Single, also. Our Dopero kites have that feature, and they are certainly more efficient than the simpler Roller kites they resemble.

Oh, does the French Military really use this kite? Not any more, but they did use it for reconnaissance, over 100 years ago!

Ham Radio

If you thought this hobby went out with WWII, or perhaps the 60's, think again...

It seems that there are still a number of keen radio enthusiasts to be found, raising up long wires to transmit and receive signals. You can probably guess what's coming next.

Yes, the FMK is quite suited to the task! Stable and strong. If even more lifting power is required, for example if winds are a bit too light or the aerial is heavier, more than one kite can be attached to form a 'train' along the flying line.

Of course hoisting long pieces of wire high into the sky is never done when there is any threat of lightning!

My closest brush with lightning was while sitting in an office, quite close to a brick wall. All of a sudden a bolt of lightning struck and destroyed the power transformer which was located in a metal box just 2 or 3 meters (7 - 10 feet) on the other side of the wall. Can you imagine the noise! I never want to get any closer than that.


As mentioned earlier, there's another alternative to towing indoor kites if it's just not possible to fly outdoors...

"Kites Up!" is my downloadable board game. It's a PDF file which has all the documentation for the game plus images for all the components. Tokens, cards, the board itself and so on. Anyway, just click that link to see more info :-)

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