The Helicopter Kite

Unusual, But It Flies!

The helicopter kite operates on the same principle as a gyrocopter. It's something different! A large rotor is kept spinning by the airflow across it, like a fan being blown in the wind. Once spinning, the rotor develops 'lift' like a wing, and can lift the rest of the kite.

A small tail fin keeps the kite pointing into wind, like the tail does for a Diamond kite. Also, a small horizontal stabilizer at the back helps keep the rotor blade at the correct nose-up angle to the wind.




As far as my own flying products go, I haven't tackled a heli just yet. A bit hard to do in dowel and plastic sheet - or paper ;-)

But there's plenty more to choose from...

The Big MBK E-book Bundle is a collection of downloads - printable PDF files which provide step-by-step instructions for making many kites large and small.



The Helicopter Kite As A Toy

The most well known, and perhaps one of very few products of this type is manufactured in and distributed world-wide from a single location in the U.S. Besides Helicopter Kite, this toy also pops up under the names...

Helicopter Kite - small kids kite
Helicopter Kite - small kids kite
  • Gyro-Kite
  • SkyChopper
  • WindCopter
  • CopterKite
  • GyroCopter
  • CobraKite

All these products are essentially the same, with the differences being mainly in the packaging. The kite requires some assembly, but it's just a few simple plug-it-in operations as far as I can see.

I've seen videos of this toy in flight and it appears reliable and stable. However, don't expect it to reach the line angles of a good Delta kite! Having said that, I still think it would be something of a head-turner for the kids down in the local park. My little boy would love one, I'm sure...



Helicopter Kites In History

Apart from children's toys, some man-carrying craft of this type can be found in history. I should mention a distinction here. The gyrocopter concept can fly...

  1. tethered - like a kite - or
  2. as a powered craft with a propulsion unit attached.

Looking at each of these in turn...




In World War II, Germany developed a tiny gyrocopter kite, the Focke-Achgelis Fa 330. This machine was towed by U-boats for aerial surveillance. Later, the Japanese Army developed the Kayaba Ka-1 Autogyro for reconnaissance, artillery-spotting, and anti-submarine warfare.

So it's a saga that began with war machinery and has ended up in the Children's Toys department!

Talking about children, most of my designs would be flyable by a child. Particularly in light winds...

The Big MBK E-book Bundle is a collection of downloads - printable PDF files which provide step-by-step instructions for making many kites large and small.




Apparently the powered gyro-copter concept has been around since the 1920s. A motor would spin a pusher-prop, giving forward speed, while the free-spinning rotor above would support the weight of the craft. When improvements in helicopters made them practical, autogyros, as the free-spinning versions were often called, faded in popularity.

Autogyros were, however, used in the 1930s by major newspapers. Also, the US Postal Service used autogyros for a couple of mail service routes. One of these routes ended up on the roof of a large building, which says something about the slow-speed capabilities of these machines.

But here's something very interesting - autogyros have made a come-back of sorts! They are now yet another type of sport aircraft.


I can tell you love kites...

Otherwise you wouldn't be all the way down here near the bottom of the page :-)

So, could you do me just a small favor? 

Please sign up for my free monthly publication, "Tethered Flying". No other emails will be sent, and your details are safe with me. You do need to be at least 16 years old. There's...

  • A huge "photo of the month" (linked from a much smaller one in the email of course)
  • 3 "tips of the month" (1 for beginners, 1 for parents and 1 for more experienced kite-fliers)
  • A "flight report of the month" (selected from my own flying logs and illustrated with a photo)

Looking forward to hearing from you...

P.S. My free kite-making e-book "Simplest Dowel Kites" can be downloaded as soon as you sign up.



 

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P.S. Keep an eye out for books by kite author Glenn Davison, a prominent kite person in the USA.

What's New!

  1. RC Kites

    May 22, 19 06:00 AM

    This previously published page was written up after we visited Singapore. I had the opportunity to speak to the inventor himself and observe a spectacular night flying demo!

    Read More

Wind Speeds

Light Air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2

Gentle ...
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3

Moderate ...
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4

Fresh ...
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5

Strong ...
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7

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Comments

Plenty of fun kite info, photos and videos - there's definitely too much here for only one visit! Feel free to leave your impressions of this site or just this page, below...