If you want to know how to make paper kites, you have come to a good place.
A question... Can mere paper and sticky tape be used to make 'real kites'? Craft that can fly really high and stay up for an hour or so? You bet!
This series of 'real kites' is almost complete. Just the Paper Delta to go. The Paper Sled, Paper Diamond, Paper Rokkaku and Paper Sode have been developed and successfully passed certification.
Yes, each kite in this series will have to prove itself before I publish the 'How To...' information on it.
Making The MBK Paper Sode is an e-book on the most advanced Paper design tested so far. It's a PDF file download which is handy for getting a nice printout of the instructions.
The Paper Series compilation, which will contain 5 different designs, is coming out soon. Watch this space, as they say!
Now, I'll bet you'd be interested in some free information that will help you get a paper craft in the air very soon...
The first of these requires the barest of breezes. The next one needs somewhat more puff out there...
1) The MBK Minimum Sled kite requires just a single sheet of A4 or Letter sized copier paper.
Although it's strictly for fairly light winds, I've had reports of this design floating high for quite some time. On a sewing thread line. Make one right now then wait for a suitable day to take it out.
Here's a flight report from when I first took out the Minimum Sled to a suitable location.
2) The MBK Minimum Tetra kite is a ridiculously minimal tetrahedral featuring a single cell. Not surprisingly, it requires a tail to fly in a reasonable range of wind speeds.
Here's the flight report from when I took out the 3rd and final prototype, featuring a colored paper sail.
If you want to get technical (ok you don't but I do ;-) ) the cell is not actually a regular tetrahedron where the faces are equilateral triangles. With the sail made from a perfect square of paper, only 2 sides of each triangle are equal in length. You can stop yawning now, I'm done.
As already mentioned, an MBK Paper Series kite has to prove itself before I will publish the instructions.
Specifically, the kite has to do the following...
These milestones are all recorded in a 'certification log' for the kite. You can read that log in the e-book.
These designs are not as quick and simple to make as the Simple Series kites elsewhere on this site. However, they have the considerable advantage of not requiring any rigid spar material...
And yet, these small kites do have spars. But you make them yourself. By carefully following the instructions, the spars end up strong enough yet light enough to do the job for a particular type of kite. I've done all the hard work in tweaking it all to kite-flight perfection.
Don't forget - these are real kites. They fly high and stay up for ages! In reasonable weather of course.
Each section below is dedicated to one paper kite design. Right now there are 4 designs.
For each design there is a link to a Flight Report. That page includes a video and several large photos of the original kite doing it's thing.
I have tried to be generous in my estimates of construction time, below. You might do them quicker!
Enjoy learning how to make paper kites...
Construction time: around 2 1/2 hours.
This design was inspired by one of the old Allison Sled designs which used 2 wooden spars. Of course, the Paper Sled is a different size and uses just copier paper and sticky tape throughout. Even for the 'sticks'!
Making The MBK Paper Sled is the e-book with all the details.
The last flight that this kite had for certification was a great one. 50 minutes over the sand at a great height and being buzzed by seagulls!
Read about this kite's final certification flight. The photos and video in there were taken on the day. Check them out!
Construction time: around 3 hours.
A bit less work to do on the sail, but a bit more on the spars. Being only paper and tape, the spars have to be strong near the middle of the kite and lighter out near the tips.
After some experimentation with spar design, the final prototype was flown successfully for the full 3 hours. Over several flights.
There's the colored build over in the photo. The seagull was there at just the right moment!
The e-book Making The MBK Paper Diamond has comprehensive step-by-step instructions and plenty of photos. It details how that red Diamond came together.
Read about a sunny photo shoot down at the beach. In a sea breeze of ideal strength, the Paper Diamond posed high and low!
Construction time: around 4 hours.
Quite a bit of spar work on this kite. Even the vertical spar has dihedral, as you can see in the photo!
This design floats down on it's face in a stable fashion whenever the breeze drops below 12kph or so. At the other end of the spectrum, the Rok will stay in the air well into the Fresh range of wind speeds.
Just like the Diamond, the final plain-paper prototype was flown successfully for the full 3 hours. Over several flights.
There's the colored build over in the photo, on it's very first outing down at the beach.
The e-book Making The MBK Paper Rokkaku will take you step-by-step through making the kite. Of course you don't have to use green paper!
Read about flying the Rok in gusty fresh conditions over sand. Despite the beach setting, the wind was in turmoil due to buildings and terrain further down the beach, directly up-wind. The kite coped though!
Construction time: around 5 hours.
The most complex kite so far in the series. However, if you have made the Paper Diamond, all the techniques and processes are very much the same. It's just a couple more spars and somewhat more cutting to make the tails.
This design hovers low in around 11kph of breeze but floats up to a line angle of 50 degrees in ideal wind speeds around 18kph.
Up near 30kph the kite starts to swish around from side to side. Much more than that and the thread will snap! So it's good through the entire Gentle to Moderate wind speed range.
Apart from the tails, the Sode looks like a little model aircraft in flight. This kite climbs and descends smoothly in response to changes in breeze strength.
The e-book Making The MBK Paper Sode will take you step-by-step through making the kite. Of course you don't have to use silver paper!
Read about flying the Sode in a very smooth sea breeze. On this day the breeze was as smooth as I have ever measured. There were just a few kph between the average speed and the maximum gust speed.
Regarding durability, it must be said that a sewing thread flying line will often snap due to accidental snags. Despite being 'strong' polyester. Curious dogs, tree landings, being caught on thistles and weeds and even on your own footwear are common causes for failure.
With experience, you do get better at minimizing breakages.
Line repair is quick and simple, using the Multi-Strand Double knot. Not the prettiest, but it's simple to remember and retains a very good proportion of the thread's unbroken strength.
However, I have carefully designed and tested the kites to ensure that an in-flight breakage should be fairly rare. As long as you don't attempt to fly the kite in greater than Moderate strength wind! That is, above 28kph or 18mph.
Using my publications on how to make paper kites should be fun for just about any age group...
The designs are cheap enough to allow small kids to play with them, after construction by an adult or teenager. After the inevitable happens, it's easy enough to make another identical kite on another occasion. Actually, it gets quicker and easier on the second or third time round!
But the kites fly so well that an adult can take their creation out and enjoy seeing it float around hundreds of feet up. With just a little care, the kites can remain airworthy for a long time. Months or perhaps even years.
Artistic types could make an absolutely stunning piece of aerial art, since the material is paper! Admittedly, the piece would probably be described as a miniature :-)