Now, if you are after the kite eating tree immortalized in Peanuts, the
comic strip, you will be disappointed. Sorry. Also, groupies who follow
the band with the same name will also be disappointed. Again, sorry.
But if you like kites, you have found a website you might not want to leave for a while :-)
As for the remainder of this page, get yourself a coffee
and read about all the close calls I have had with trees. While flying
home-made kites of various kinds, of course. Over the last few years, I
have actually written down a lot of our kite-flying experiences.
From time to time, a would-be kite eating tree would feature in the story! So, here are a few comments on some of those occasions, together with a quote from the original Flight Report...
Close Calls With
The Dowel Kites
The biggest kites we have made so far are constructed from lengths of
dowel for the spars, and using plastic sheet from garden bags for the
sails. Sounds pretty homey and crude, but these kites actually look fine
and fly even better!
Dowel Diamond. Strangely, despite the frail plastic sails,
damage rarely occurs when a kite drifts gently into a kite eating tree.
Leaves and small twigs make for a soft entry, and don't resist much
when you pull. This time, there was a tiny bit of damage...
"The method for tying the spars where they cross has also been
re-designed, since it kept coming loose in flight. Quite spectacular
really! All of a sudden, the kite would dive for the ground, sail
fluttering, with the bow line touching the vertical spar. This actually
caused a tree landing on the kite's most recent flight, but we managed
to extricate it with only minor damage to the sail near the nose..."
Dowel Delta. Deltas can be fine one moment, and get a mind
of their own the next, if affected by strong thermal gusts. But on this
occasion, a shoelace tie had come loose, leading to this heart-stopping
descent which narrowly avoided a kite eating tree or 2...
"All of a sudden, one side of the kite was sporting a 1/2
meter (1 1/2 foot) length of spreader that had slid through. Instead of
looping crazily, the Dowel Delta kite actually carried on flying for a
while. However, I had to get it down safely before it became
uncontrollable. It did start to loop a few times, but would still fly
fairly straight with the right amount of tension on the line. In this
semi-controlled state, I just managed to get it to ground without
draping the line over any trees. Phew! Only made it by a few meters."
Dowel Dopero. One day I was out flying the big Dopero, and the wind was a lot
fresher than it was comfortable with. Result - another white-knuckle
"Eventually, all this air pressure took its toll, and a tape
spar cap was pulled loose. With maybe 10 or 15% of the sail area gone on
one side, the poor kite heaved over to the right, and commenced a
continuous loop. There was a kite eating tree directly under the kite,
so I desperately headed upwind to gain more room.
With the Dowel Dopero kite now down to under 100 feet, I
also noticed trees to either side! No chance to reel in quickly enough,
so I scooted sideways to bring the kite down between the trees.
Finally, the last loop was obviously going to meet the
ground. With the kite still a couple of meters from impact, I thrust the
winder at it, to lose all the tension in the line. At this point, the
kite disappeared over a small rise and came to rest."
Close Calls With
The Skewer Kites
We make skewer kites in a couple of sizes. Yes, ordinary bamboo BBQ
skewers make great spar material for small kites! Here's a few more
exciting brushes with a kite eating tree... Well, it was definitely
exciting at the time!
2-Skewer Sled. We went out one day, in a brisk breeze and
with massive cumulus clouds all around. My wife was flying the Tiny Tots
Diamond (!) while I had the 'real kite' - a Sled that was twice as
tall, with around 4 times the sail area...
"Embarrassingly, the Sled had more trouble handling the wind
than the Tiny Tots Diamond, looping to the right from time to time! It
went all the way to the ground a couple of times, but I managed to
re-launch off the grass. One time I even re-launched from the top of a
tree - oops! The kite needs some extra length on its left tail."
2-Skewer Diamond. Backyard flying is a bit of an art-form,
requiring concentration and quick reactions when the kite wanders. But
it's a lot of fun! Maybe it's the risk, the danger... A kite eating tree
is never far away when it's in your own back yard!
"The orange diamond had at least a couple of flights of
several minutes each, out of our side lawn. That's an area about 4 by 10
meters (13 x 33 feet) Our roof gutter on one side, a row of rose bushes
down the other and a peach tree right at the far end! No problem...
well the tail did snag for a moment on the top of the peach tree, but
the kite pulled and freed itself. Also, there was a close call when a
sudden wind shift took the kite over the neighbor's roof - and then it
2-Skewer Delta. When you spend quite a bit of time on doing a nice neat job, you just don't need to see it get stuck in a kite eating tree...
"Quickly, I had more than 100 meters of line out and the Delta
was doing fine, although showing signs of being near the top of its
wind range. Yep, the breeze was rather fresh up there around 70 - 80
meters above ground! The Delta pulled very firmly on the 20 pound nylon
line, and finally started to lean way over to the right. Mmmm, those
trees could be a bit close... Ummm kite diving... better... pull in
line... RIGHT NOW pulling, pulling... ooops too late! At least I started
pulling in early enough so that the kite flew into the upwind side of
OK, what's done is done. I tugged at the line to see if
the kite would just pop out. Nope. Reeling in most of the line, I
approached the tree and tried another angle. The kite slipped down, and
it was clear the line was around a single small twig. I pulled hard,
expecting to break something, but thankfully the twig snapped and the
kite floated down in one piece!
Soon the Delta was in the air again, and I backed off right into the far corner of the field to avoid a repeat performance."
1-Skewer Sled. This was quite a while back, so the memory
is hazy. The interesting thing about this one is although the kite
eating tree managed to make the snatch, the kite never actually stopped
"Handing Sled Number 1 over to my wife May for a while, I had
another go with number 2. This time with some success. Unfortunately, I
was distracted for a while as Aren was causing problems. Aren's not
quite 2 years old. I looked back to see my kite brush a tall tree on the
other side of the reserve. One tail got stuck on a branch, while the
kite did its best to continue flying in various positions around the
tree! Surprisingly, it eventually came free and kept on flying."
1-Skewer Diamonds. Yes, more than one Diamond! We had 2 of
them flying on a single line, in a train. This is an interesting one,
since one kite actually helped the other to escape a kite eating tree...
"With such small kites on nearly 90 meters (300 feet) of line,
there was bound to be a little excitement from time to time. I'm
talking about those trees lurking in wait around the reserve perimeter!
Number 2 had a near miss with one such tree. However, 1-Skewer Diamond
kite Number 1 helped me to pull it free through some small twigs! Phew."
1-Skewer Delta. This is about as close as it gets. No
damage fortunately. Can you believe I used the word 'tree' no less than 6
times in the following paragraph...
"At one stage, the little Delta kite got snagged on a tree
when it flew way off to the side. I made the wrong snap decision. By
releasing all tension in the line, the kite would have recovered for
just long enough for me to run to one side and fly it away from the
tree. Instead, I tried to pull in line to get the kite in front of the
tree, whereupon it dived into the leaves on the down-wind side of
the tree! I managed to pull the kite away, with the line still threaded
through the tree. Eventually, the kite managed to free itself by flying
the line out of the top of the tree. Whew!"
1-Skewer Roller. This relates to the original one we did in
clear plastic. A quick test fly in the backyard is often handy, to
ensure a new kite is basically stable before going out further afield to
fly it much higher. On this occasion, I was tempted to push the
"There were a few lulls where the kite had to be reeled in
quickly to avoid losing it in someone else's property. Or the rose
bushes. Or the TV aerial. In the end, it did snag on a tree. No drama
however, since it was a small one in our spare driveway, and I managed
to pull the kite free. Not wanting to take any more chances, I went
inside, very happy that the Roller Really Rocks! "
Our First Kite...
And A Kite Eating Tree
Baby Sled. The very first kite that featured in this website.
We bought it for little Aren, at the Adelaide International Kite
Festival. We haven't flown it for a long time now, but it's still out
there in the shed...
"Walking backwards, I headed for a gap in the trees on the
upwind side of the reserve. Meanwhile, there were numerous close calls
with the trees on the far side of the reserve! I actually laid the line
across a shorter tree at one point, but eventually managed to fly the
kite off it again. A few times, the long center tail would drape itself
against the leaves of a taller tree, before I backed away and got the
kite airborne again. This is called flying the local reserve on the very
longest line possible!"
Comments On Kite Eating Trees
Just a few points on keeping kites and trees away from each other, boiled down from all the flight reports...
- After putting a kite up in a confined space, it is usually necessary
to move somewhere else pretty soon, to get the highest flying possible.
- For most wind directions, you tend to find yourself in the corner of a rectangular flying area, in order to give the kite the most room to fly safely.
- You never know the real wind direction until the kite is well up.
- Strong gusty winds that force the kite down from time to time tend
to make you more conservative about safety margins to the nearest kite
- Strong wind is not always the problem. If it dies suddenly, you can still come unstuck if you haven't been paying attention.
- Some fancy quick side-stepping can avert disaster if you catch a 'tree-too-close' situation in time!
- If damage occurs to the kite due to fast or rough air, the effect on
its flying can be a bit subtle for a while. But inevitably, it brings
the kite closer to a kite eating tree!
- When you can see your kite's shadow flitting across the foliage of a kite eating tree, the tree starts to drool...
If you have read this far down the page, all I can say is -
you must be a real hard-core MBK fan! ;-) Your reward is the great photo
of a kite eating tree, below...
Photo courtesy of Cameron Russell