Sled Kite Posts
(Fresh Wind)

This design is a fresh-wind version of the MBK Multi-Dowel Sled kite and has not been published in the form of plans or instructions. There's a video near the bottom of this page.

In essence, the Fresh Wind Sled kite is a roughly 2/3-size copy of the Multi-Dowel Sled design, with two vents to relieve air pressure and smooth airflow over the back of the kite. The same diameter dowels are used however, so it is a very sturdy design which requires twin drogues to keep it stable over most of its considerable wind range. Hence the photo must have been taken in fairly light wind!

These sled kite posts once appeared in the site blog page, although that page is no longer present. Just scroll down and stop at any heading that appeals :-)

Some KAP On K.I.

To expand that short title—while on Kangaroo Island for a short holiday, we lofted the camera down at the beach near our lodgings at Vivonne Bay, for a spot of kite aerial photography (KAP).

The MBK Fresh Wind Sled kite in flight.MBK Fresh Wind Sled

After a short trip near the beach (along graded dirt roads), we piled out and I checked the breeze. The meter read 11 kph gusting to 18 kph. This was a little light for the Fresh Wind Sled lifter. However, it was a different story down on the sand with the breeze blowing uninterrupted from far upwind. It came almost straight down the beach. That was good since there was thick scrub on one side and crashing waves just meters away on the other!

With the camera in the air the breeze strength started to pick up even more. By the time the first sequence had been shot, I measured 22 kph gusting to 28. That would be well over 30 kph up where the kite was. But the big sled was designed for fresh wind and after a small trim change in the bridle knot, it flew smoothly and steeply with little tendency to lean over. Twin orange-plastic drogues trailed behind the kite.

The only thing upsetting the camera rig was the occasionally jerky letting out of line. It's hard to be smooth when the line is under a lot of tension and you're flying glove-less. Tsk tsk.

The first sequence of eight frames had been shot facing downwind to the east, at 15-second intervals. Keeping the kite in the air, I brought the rig in and rotated the camera to face west. Hence another eight shots were taken with the top few meters of flying line visible in the images.

The resulting photos were somewhat ordinary, due partly to the dull conditions. But at least we have a record of the place.

A simple two-stick sled stabilized with drogues is such a versatile kite that takes next to no time to get in the air. And it stays there over a wide range of wind speeds! That's not to mention the ease of construction in the first place.

On this site, there's more kite-making info 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.

Weird Air Over Knox Park

Down at Knox Park for my usual end-of-month kite fly, the breeze was looking promising.

First up was the Fresh Wind Sled, to test the breeze. Soon, after some faffing around in wind shadow, the big sled with twin orange drogues was comfortable at about 200 feet over the grass.

A sharp wind gradient was evident as usual at this location. Once you get a big kite above tree height, hold on!

Some large shifts in wind direction were not so usual, but I put it down to thermal activity. There was quite a bit of fluffy cumulus cloud cover here and there.

Butch, visiting from Washington State in the USA, had a Pocket Sled or something very similar. Just the thing when circumstances limit you to what can be carried in a pocket!

Trev arrived and put up a Light-Wind Eagle. At times the kite was coping with a little more than a light breeze but it stayed up well.

With the big sled parked way up and giving a good indication of wind speed and direction, I pulled out the Paper Sled Mk2. After a considerable amount of flying with the first Paper Sled it was clear that it pulled a little too hard in the moderate range of wind speeds. The polyester thread had snapped several times. Tsk tsk. Mk2 has about 40% less sail area which should fix the problem.

The little sled danced around on plenty of thread but had insufficient stability to climb much. So, although it flew well in gentle wind speeds it needs more tail to stay straight in stronger breezes. That's easily fixed.

After a couple of hours the breeze started to die, and the big sled had to be relaunched a few times.

Eventually, leaving the sled on the grass, I rigged and launched the huge Multi-Dowel Rokkaku. The 2.4 m (8 ft.) span blue rok did well in the light breeze. However, the packing tape edging was showing its age by peeling off more and more as time went on! Time for a refit, I think.

As an experiment, the rok was anchored by a small but very weighty vice. This was not completely successful, since the vice got dragged down a short grassy slope for a few meters!

Late in the afternoon the wind started behaving strangely. Thermal activity seemed very unlikely and yet the kites started getting pushed overhead with chaotic results. Wind direction and strength started shifting all around and stronger gusts managed to reach right down low over the field. I had a bit of fun with a Tyvek-and-dowel roller which flew steeply on 50-pound Dacron.

Despite a period of rather light wind and some crazy weird air later on, it was a decent kite fly.

Sled Sails Over Roo Poo

We were down at the Wirrina golfing resort, as a result of a cheap accommodation deal found online.

Although we had various agendas for being in the area, there were of course kites involved as well ;-) The resort was nestled in hilly terrain, close to the coast. Low cloud obscured the highest peaks most of the time we were there. A moderate breeze ruffled the treetops and spilled around the large buildings.

I had thoughts of doing some KAP to capture the golfing greens and building complex from 200 feet up. Apart from the greens themselves though, open space was limited and the winds tricky. It turned out to be a challenge just to keep the Fresh Wind Sled off the grass due to frequent lulls in the breeze at low level. Getting the camera up would be hard and then to get it high enough, the kite would be flying over many obstacles.

Underfoot, there were more obstacles—kangaroo droppings! More than a dozen of the animals had been through earlier in the day, grazing on the short but lush grass cover.

Due to the risks of doing KAP, I settled for just flying the big blue sled up to 100 feet or so a few times, with no rig attached. With the kite down for the last time, the twin drogues were folded and rolled up in their own lines before being enclosed, still attached, inside the rolled-up sled.

The first flight of the Fresh Wind Sled had showed up a bit of a lean to the right so the extra flights were used to shift the bridle knot a few times. This came in handy later on during the day, when we went to a nearby beach. The kite wasted no time lofting the camera straight up for several sequences of photos.

Fresh Wind Sled Pulls Hard

Turning up to my customary monthly Saturday afternoon at Knox Park, the sky was still threatening to rain and fresh gusts were moving treetops around. Having seen even worse weather earlier in the day, I had brought the Fresh Wind Sled and the Fresh Wind Barn Door kites along. To be on the safe side, the trusty hose reel carrying 200-pound Dacron was also in the car.

Perhaps inspired by the sight of a kite in the sky, another flyer turned up almost immediately, with a medium-sized retail diamond. This kite proceeded to cope quite well with the conditions but was forced down by some of the heaviest gusts when a squall came through later.

Meanwhile, the big sled just tightened up the line and rode the wind at a 60-degree line angle—drogues and all! A few minutes with the spring scales attached revealed a maximum momentary pull of 11 kg. That must be a record for this kite! For much of the time, the tension hovered around 6 to 8 kilograms.

The wind speed peaked in the mid-20s in kph between the two squalls that went over. During the squalls, it was more like the mid-to-high 30s. I actually took the kite down at one stage due to a light misty rain that began to fall. Thankfully, the shower was short-lived and both kites (the sled and the other guy's diamond) went up again.

The sled had spent almost an hour on 100 meters (330 feet) of line. So it wasn't a bad outing, despite the wintery feel.

Fresh Wind Sled at 300 Feet

This morning was meant to be another testing session but there was a possibility of severe gusts and some rain. Instead, I pulled out the Fresh Wind Sled and flew it on 200-pound line for a while.

Initially, the sled meandered around just about level with the treetops upwind. This put it in slower and more chaotic air than was up higher, but the videos should be more appealing to those following along on FaceBook! Occasional gusts into the mid-30s in kph tended to pull the sled to the right. But I thought I would try it higher first.

On a longer line, the pull to the right was confirmed at least twice, when the kite uncharacteristically swerved all the way round in a great loop to the right. After a couple of quick bridle adjustments, the kite ended up nicely trimmed and promptly shot up to a high line-angle. And that's where it stayed for half an hour or so. A check with the spring scales revealed a line tension hovering around just 3 or 4 kilograms but popping up to 6 kilograms during the heaviest gusts.

Before leaving the field, I just had to let out more line so the kite could brush the legal altitude limit at just over 300 feet above the field. It sure was satisfying seeing the dark-blue sled flying so smoothly and high, twin drogues trailing behind. One drogue line had twisted around the other, resulting in an uneven pull on the rear end of the kite. However, the effect of this must have been fairly small since the kite was high and quite straight.

While the sun peeked in and out between magnificent tall and puffy cumulus clouds, I ran the steel carabiner out to the big sled, bringing it down. Just on impulse, I ran the carabiner all the way up the bridle lines too. This squeezed them together and thus collapsed the kite for packing away.

Fresh Wind Sled Comfortable With Drogues

Winds gusting into the high 20s in kph provided another opportunity to test the new Fresh Wind Sled. This time round I was wiser and attached the two 30-centimeter (12-inch) drogues. They certainly did the job, keeping the kite very steady most of the time.

Launching proved a bit tricky in the wind shadow of some buildings and trees, but soon the 1.5 meter (5 feet) tall dark-blue sled was powering up into the evening breeze. And a very gusty breeze it was too.

Often the kite was just hanging there, pulling a mere couple of kilos of line tension. At other times the kite would pull much harder, when hit by strong gusts—the ones that were causing loud leaf-noise and plenty of movement in the nearby treetops. This corresponded to 7 or even 8 kilograms of line tension. I had the spring scales hooked on for a while, you see.

It seems that this kite should handle a steady 30 or 35 kph with the drogues. It also helped that I managed to trim out a leftward lean by pulling the bridle knot across a bit! Importantly, the strongest gusts just made the kite rise higher and pull harder. That was a good sign—as long as everything held together!

Although I was too busy taking photos and video to let more than 30 meters (100 feet) of line out, it was a gratifyingly trouble-free period of kite flying today. It might not be long before a KAP report will feature this kite as the lifter.

Fresh Wind Sled Thrown in the Deep End

Today was a good opportunity to test whether my cut-down version of the huge Multi-Dowel Sled would do well in strong wind. Well, it turned out to be a torture test alright.

A brief foray out to just 15 meters (50 feet) of line revealed an oversight; the 1.5 meter (5 feet) spars were only secured at the top and bottom ends and needed more attachment points to the sail. This was particularly true in strong and gusty conditions! In fact, I think it would have been a good idea to secure them all the way from top to bottom. You can't be too safe when the sail pressure really piles on. I have seen sled spars bend outwards as the kite approaches its limits.

After whacking on a few extra bits of tape in several spots along the side spars, the dark-blue sled leapt into the air once again.

There was no chance of doing KAP in these winds—at least without a couple of drogues attached. The sled was less stable than its Multi-Dowel Series cousin, due to the higher sail-loading. But the extra strength was required, and this kite will be flown with drogues most of the time.

The kite eventually crashed into the field during a tight loop low down, splitting the sail in a couple of places. There were no broken dowels though. All in all, I think with drogues attached, this kite might be a decent KAP workhorse in winds ranging from about 15 kph up to the mid-30s.

The spars are one-piece, so rig time is zero—unless you count the few seconds spent attaching the flying line. Perhaps the big Multi-Dowel Box would be safer and even steadier between 30 and 40 kph, but the darn thing takes so long to rig!

Today, at shoulder level, a brief wind-meter check recorded an average of 16 kph with gusts to 29 kph. Meanwhile, the online weather station reported higher-level gusts to 37 kph down here at Noarlunga.


The story or stories above document actual flying experiences. 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!


As mentioned earlier, there's more kite-making info here 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.