Kites: Site Blog

Welcome to this fun and educational Site Blog page on kites. Appearing here...

  • Our latest Flight Report posts and local kite club activities.
  • Interesting kite-related news stories from around the world.
  • Occasional contributions from visitors, which often includes photos or links to videos.
  • Just once a week, a good quality older page will pop up here too, so it doesn't stay buried forever. Always a good read!

My own Flight Report videos pop up on the MBK Facebook page nearly every week.

So, how do you subscribe to this blog page? Running your cursor over the orange RSS square down there on the right will bring up several ways to subscribe. Click/tap on whatever option is most familiar to you and you'll never miss a post!

Sep 25, 2020

Global News Report:
Not So Traditional

It was all happening at the Fengxian kite festival, with plenty of large Western-style show kites in the air...


Kites were flown high in the sky in Fengxian District on Friday as part of the ongoing 2020 Shanghai Tourism Festival.

The kite-flying festival, now in its 23rd year, kicked off at the district's Haiwan scenic area, where hundreds of colorful kites in various sizes and shapes went aloft.

The festival runs through the National Day holiday, with activities such as kite-flying competitions, outdoor games, a kite and camping festival, a food bazaar and a culture and innovation market.

Kite-flying masters from the Shanghai Kite Flying Association will also share kite-making and flying skills with the public.

During the opening ceremony of the festival, tour passes and kites were presented to volunteers working on the front line in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.



URL (full story and/or photos, video):

Sep 23, 2020

Long Beach Kite Festival

This previously published page gives some background on this huge international event. Plus pictures of course...

Continue reading "Long Beach Kite Festival"

Sep 18, 2020

Flight Report:
Big Canard Cruises At 300 Feet

Well, a few days ago I had other things to do, but went out anyway. That was because the wind conditions seemed perfect for the 4 meter (13 feet) span canard kite...

Having had some practice recently, the rather complex rig went quickly and smoothly. The kite seemed to struggle a bit in the stronger gusts, so I removed a few more stones from the tail-end weight. Also, a bow-line was re-tied to leave somewhat less curvature in the vertical spar. Too much curvature would act like an air-brake, so the less the better.

In the air again, the ponderous kite still seemed adequately stable, so that was good.

The breeze really was ideal. Gusts enabled easy launches and then up high the kite was tested over most of it's designed wind range. Eventually I had 120 meters (400 feet) of line out, with just a small amount of sag appearing in the 200 pound Dacron.

With all the changes made to it, the kite was flying quite smoothly and predictably, but the performance was still disappointing. Adding yet more stiffening to the vertical spar might help the kite take advantage near the top of it's wind range. However, the fundamental problem is 'too much weight' I think! The big kite didn't want to exceed 40 degrees of line angle, except for a brief period in weak rising air.

Fortunately, the planned bigger-brother of this kite will use a much stiffer construction method for the dowel spars. I'm hoping the difference will not only compensate for the scale factor, but will also be light enough to get that line angle around 50 degrees at least. Sorry to get a bit technical, but some will be familiar with that 'scale factor' which limits the size of sparred kites...

Read more flying stories...

- Tim P.

Sep 18, 2020

Global News Report:
Big Pics Of Big Kites

Here's the captions, to give you some idea...


The annual Up in the Air kite festival hosted by the Belvidere Park District sent colorful giant show kites into the otherwise dreary sky Saturday at Prairie Fields Sports Park in Belvidere.

Catherine Piotrowski of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, guides her 16 1/2-foot Delta kite back to its launching point after it crossed lines with another kite.

Jim and Barb Gibson of Akron, Ohio, release the lines holding back their tadpole kite during the Up in the Air kite festival hosted by the Belvidere Park District.

Show kites including a 45-foot manta ray and 82-foot octopus and a purple flying bear soar over Prairie Fields Sports Park in Belvidere.

David Piotrowski, left, and Michael Sherman launch a Sutton 252 kite during the Up in the Air kite festival hosted by the Belvidere Park District.

Anthony Catalano, left, of Elmwood Park watches as helpers secure his 75-foot long manta ray kite after a gust of wind took it down briefly during the Up in the Air kite festival hosted by the Belvidere Park District.

This bear kite resembling a balloon is able to fly by using a lifter kite during the Up in the Air kite festival.

A tadpole, trilobite and goldfish kite fly over Prairie Fields Sports Park in Belvidere.

An 82-foot long octopus kite takes flight during the Up in the Air kite festival hosted by the Belvidere Park District.


SOURCE: Rockford Register Star

URL (full story and/or photos, video):

Sep 16, 2020

Hand Launching Kites

This previously published page contains some very handy tips for getting your single-line kite in the air. And no, it doesn't involve running like crazy!

Continue reading "Hand Launching Kites"

Sep 15, 2020

Flight Report:
Red Roller-Coaster

Yesterday, the intention was to try and get the 4 meter Canard up, to test some mods, but...

On arrival, and in fact during the trip to the field, the wind was clearly insufficient for the big canard. But of course I had a backup kite on board - the Red Roller :-) The Roller does well in Light conditions and the flying certainly turned out to be a line-working exercise.

After just a few minutes of working every tiny puff of breeze, the dowel-and-tyvek kite was out on 60 meters (200 feet) of 50 pound Dacron. So far so good.

Next, I walked over to the other side of the field to fly from a more shady spot. The Spring sun was beginning to bite! From between the trees and bushes there was also more room to let out line, so out it went to 90 meters (300 feet). Most of that climb was at a deliberately steady 40 degrees of line angle, before some rising air urged the kite right up to a much steeper angle. I couldn't get line off the simple flat winder quick enough!

In between gusts the Roller was unable to maintain height so after the initial climb there was plenty of pulling-in and letting-out going on.

With it's stiff spine, the 1.2m (4ft) span kite would readily accelerate upwards when encouraged to do so with some tugs on the line. The stretch in the Dacron delayed the kite's reaction by half a second or so. With line going out, the kite would do a gentle falling-leaf motion as it drifted downwind, face-down.

Finally the whole 120 meters (400 feet) of line was out. This allowed the kite to stay just shy of the legal altitude limit of 120 meters, as it rode a thermal to 80 degrees of line angle. With no attention however, the roller would be on the grass in minutes! Sinking air up high and periods of nil wind down low would see to that.

While bringing the kite in, it encountered rising and sinking air several times. Finally the Red Roller came to rest just a couple of meters away, after a decent long flight.

Read more flying stories...

- Tim P.

Sep 14, 2020

Flight Report:
A Great Fly Day

So good in fact that someone who stumbled across a club member's FB post thought they had missed the annual International kite festival!

The sun shone and the slightly on-shore breeze pumped away for hour after hour. Pretty much every local club member with a large kite or 2 had them up.

Several 4-cell pilot kites splashed bold blocks of color down the length of the grassed area, alongside the big Panda flow-form and a couple of Trilobytes. Underneath swam an impressive array of line laundry. Small Whales, a large Teddy, Dragons and a few other more esoteric creatures.

People wandered through, phones held up to catch the floating, shifting action.

Some of us went more old-school, with Mark flying his large colorful Delta. Aren and I went down to the sand and unleashed our Peter Powell MkIII steerable diamond on long Dacron lines. A spongy feel, but great fun carving huge figures in the sky! This classic design still grabs attention with it's very long polyethylene tube tail.

Just to complete the impression of an actual kite festival, inflatable cars bobbed about on the grass. They were a hit with the kids, who could get up close with no danger of being whisked away :-|

Read more flying stories...

- Tim P.

Sep 10, 2020

Global News Report:
Kites Kites Kites

Here's a fine general introduction to the modern world of kites...


One of life’s simple pleasures is watching a colorful kite soar through the bright blue sky. Since Grays Harbor is located on the coast of the state, breezy conditions are a common theme throughout the year. If you’ve never flown a kite before, or are looking to brush up on your skills, read on and plan a trip to Grays Harbor to fly a kite.

During the summer months, massive kites of all shapes and sizes can be seen during festivals or nice, slightly breezy days at the beach.

Legend has it that the very first kites were invented by Chinese philosophers in the 5th century. Since this time, they’ve evolved from being used to as a rescue mission signal to a fun pastime activity. The original, handmade paper kites have been reimagined into thousands of different designs, shapes and colors. Modern technology gives eager kite flyers numerous options including box-shaped kites, bi-planes, parafoils and many others. The new variety in kites has made the sport not only relaxing, but enjoyable to both take part in and watch.

Although the many different types of kinds may seem overwhelming to a beginner, remember to try and keep it simple to ensure a stress-free trip. The easiest, most family-friendly kite to maneuver is a single line kite. To fly these, stand with your back to the wind, hold your kite up by the bridle point and let the line out. If there’s enough wind blowing, your kite will lift up into the sky. Allow the kite to fly away a bit, then pull in on the line as the kite points up encouraging it to climb higher into the sky. This method can be repeated until your kite climbs high enough to fly in a steady wind. You’re then good to go and can pass the kite off to kids and others hoping to get in on the fun.

Two-line or dual-line kites are a bit trickier to fly but allows the flyer to have a bit more freedom to maneuver around the sky. Try out loops and tricks as two-line stunt kites are specifically built for durability and speed. Begin this kite flying method by laying down the kite with the bottom side facing down or have a friend hold it. Start walking backward while gently releasing the wire, wait for a nice breeze and have your friend release the kite or let it launch from the ground. Since you have two lines to worry about, a little more attention is needed to ensure the lines don’t get tangled. Try not to make sudden movements but instead gently pull to the right or left to make loops. Various other kites can be picked up from Ocean Shores Kites or other shops near the beaches of Grays Harbor.

{and there's much more...}



URL (full story and/or photos, video):

Sep 09, 2020

Who Invented the Kite

This previously published page is a discussion of this perennial question! Oh yes, there are some answers in there...

Continue reading "Who Invented the Kite"

Sep 08, 2020

Flight Report:
A Tale Of 2 Canards

On a whim, I took along the 1m (3ft) canard as well as the big 4m span canard currently being tested...

The weather station data was promising, showing Gentle strength winds just reaching the Moderate range during gusts. Quite a nice fit for both kites!

First up was the little kite, and sure enough, it was easy to let it out onto 90 meters (300 feet) of it's 20 pound line. While that craft was doing it's thing up there I got busy with rigging the 4m beast.

The rig commenced while the breeze was almost Westerly but finished in a Southerly! Now, it's not a quick rig for sure, being roughly 15 minutes, but the large wind shift was as sudden as they come.

A period of fresher wind strengths arrived, which pushed the small kite into almost continuous loops to the left. So the small canard was taken down and stowed back in the car before I returned to launch the big bird.

Some extra stiffening had been applied to the vertical spar and this seemed to have the desired effect. Less bogging down in gusts and wobbling about in rough patches of air! A shortened bridle also helped the kite ride out the stronger gusts.

The large blue kite was happy to sit at a 45 degree line angle, after the bridle knot at the towing point was shifted back a few centimeters. 45 degrees is not great for a sparred kite of this size, so there's more to do somewhere. Removing more tail weight will help since the kite was still flying tail-heavy on a slack line.

The big graceful canard does look good in flight. Like a Roller, the design is distinctly aircraft-like in the air. That's largely the idea of this Winged Series :-)

Read more flying stories...

- Tim P.

Sep 04, 2020

Flight Report:
Trial By Fire

Well, not actually fire as such, but the kiting equivalent... Wind strength near the very top of the kite's designed wind range!

The canard concept that I'm working on is aiming to produce a large sparred kite that will fly comfortably over the Gentle wind range, plus cope with the Moderate range. That takes in speeds from 12kph right up to 28kph. And if the kite manages to hang around clear of the grass at a little less than 12kph then that's a bonus :-)

Yesterday, forecast winds were for 15 to 25kph which would have been perfect. However, in the morning there were gusts to 30 kph. And after arriving at the field in the afternoon, it didn't seem any calmer. So I commenced rigging the kite in an apprehensive mood.

Having done several rigs now, the process was starting to fall into a more orderly sequence. Still, it's around 15 minutes or so. Last of all, weights were removed from the wing-tips and the spine was curved nose-up by means of a toggled bow-line.

With the ample gusts coming through it was quite straightforward to get the big kite into the air. Soon I had 15 meters of line out. So far so good and the big blue craft seemed quite well-balanced now with both wing tips flexing about the same. The wood was softer at 1 tip so an extra short length of dowel had been glued in to compensate. Feeling more confident now, I let out line to just over 30 meters (100 feet).

Now it was time to just observe. In the strongest gusts it was clear that the overall spar stiffness was marginal. Even considering that the kite was being punished in air speed a few kph over it's designed limit.

The vertical spar or spine was prone to flexing way too much in punchy gusts. Nothing broke thankfully. The 3rd dowel added near the middle just needs to be extended further fore and aft, to settle that down.

On the plus side, it was wonderful to observe how the wing would billow on one side when entering a side-slip. There-by quickly halting the slip and getting the craft back onto an even keel. So to speak since this kite doesn't actually have a keel ;-)

With the kite bogging down in the strongest wind as the spine bent, it was decided to end the flight quickly before anything let go. Once on the ground, and the vertical bow-line toggle released, the kite was happy to sit there completely flat with no tendency to lift. De-rigging took somewhat less time than the initial rig.

On arriving home I checked the weather and it turned out gusts were topping out at 33kph! That's 5kph above the top of the desired wind range for this kite, so it did OK really :-)

Read more flying stories...

- Tim P.

Sep 03, 2020

Global News Report:
Terror In Taiwan

Should I publish this? Yep - after all, it contains an important safety message. If you ever go to a big kite festival and a field marshal or official flyer asks you to 'please step back over there, past the rope' or some-such thing, just do it. Don't get offended. Here's why...


HONG KONG — A 3-year-old girl was swept high into the sky after a streamer became tangled around her neck during a kite-flying festival in northern Taiwan this weekend.

The child hovered above throngs of spectators and was zipped around by strong winds for a heart-stopping 30 seconds amid inflatable pandas and astronauts as screams erupted from spectators.

The girl, who was identified by news outlets only by her last name, Lin, landed mostly unscathed at the Hsinchu International Kite Festival. She suffered abrasions around her neck and face, the mayor of Hsinchu, Lin Chih-chien, wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday. She was admitted to a hospital for a medical examination, he said.

The startling episode drew an apology from the mayor, led to the suspension of festivities and added a frisson of horror to an event that usually draws tens of thousands of visitors for what’s supposed to be a fun time at the two-day festival.

{and there's more detail...}


SOURCE: The New York Times

URL (full story and/or photos, video):

Sep 02, 2020

The Granny Knot

This previously published page explains how this humble knot does have some uses in kiting. Just don't repair your flying line with it of course!

Continue reading "The Granny Knot"

Aug 31, 2020

Flight Report:
Canard Clambers Skyward

Well, the reported breeze being measured down at the beach seemed ideal, but things were much quieter inland...

Having arrived at the usual big square reserve, it didn't take long to rig the 4 meter (15 feet) span canard. The breeze was barely there, and thermals were pushing the direction around quite a lot. The trailing edge was lifted by a slight tail-wind at one point!

But I had to at least have a try. Worse weather was predicted for later in the week.

After some modifications, much of the frame was now reasonably stiff in all directions. Soon the big kite was floating around in a handy gust. Then, after a short flight at rather low line angles it was time to bring the kite in and shift the bridle knot aft by a few centimeters.

With much more line out the kite showed plenty of promise, rising to higher angles. A small dose of rising air helped as well, floating the small drogue as high as the sails. Having added 35% extra upper sail area, that mod was working a treat, keeping the center of pressure well ahead of the center of gravity. The result was good stability! In fact the great lumbering beast was so docile that I might even take 1/3 or so of the tail-weight off and see how that goes. It's good when you can save a bit of weight.

Curiously, the left wingtip still persisted in bending much more than the other tip. Perhaps the wood is softer on one side after all. Twisting is definitely not the problem now, after adding a 3rd dowel most of the way along the spar.

When the outer spar is patched up to be a little stiffer, this kite should go straight to 300 feet. Before the final 6m (21 ft) Tyvek-skinned monster is started, some time will be spent carefully weighing the timber so the tips bend equally!

Read more flying stories...

- Tim P.

Aug 28, 2020

Global News Report:
Kite-Powered Music In Iowa And Iceland

Talk about something different. This is an intriguing article, particularly for those musically or artistically inclined...


Standing on the rugged shore of an eastern Iceland fjord, Firat Erdim cranks the reel on a boxy wood-and-string instrument he built by hand. A rosined fishing line extending from the reel connects to a kite fluttering in the breeze. With each slow rotation of the kite’s reel, the rosined line strums guitar strings—which stretch along one edge of the instrument's frame—to generate melodies.

“There are six strings and a kite line that hits those six strings at an angle,” says Erdim, an assistant professor of architecture at Iowa State University. “By turning my body and the instrument in relation to the kite, I can have the line hit one string, or two or three, or all of them.”

Recording equipment, strapped to Erdim’s belt, captures this string music and the surrounding sounds, creating immersive, nature-powered soundtracks that convey a distinct sense of place. The artist's "kite choir" compositions range from melodies that unfold like harp notes set against staccato wind gusts, to haunting, bagpipe-like performances punctuated by birdsong.

By staying attuned to—and involved with—the wind, wildlife, and terrain of a particular moment, Erdim says he’s gained a new appreciation for various environments.

“The wind in Iowa is extremely gusty and textured and full of static compared to wind on a coast, for example. It's a very different atmosphere,” he says. “I'm not a meteorologist, and I don't understand things at that level, but I can sense the difference. It’s like dancing with a different person.”

Erdim started handcrafting these kites after discussing music and instrumentation with his friend, the composer Paula Matthusen. He modifies fishing reels and experiments with poplar boards, polyester ribbons, brass plates, tin cans, and other simple materials. Initial prototypes were acoustic; these days, Erdim sometimes adds magnetic pickups that produce tones evocative of an electric guitar.

Unlike traditional musical instruments built to generate consistent sound, these creations capitalize on the uncertainty of capricious weather conditions and unpredictable environments.

Erdim compares his creative practice to fishing. He tries to sense, through touch and sound, what is happening at the opposite end of the line.

“It's more about the performance than about making a perfect instrument,” Erdim says. “Even though one gives up a great degree of control with these, compared to conventional musical instruments, there's still a learning curve … it’s about trying to read the topography and the atmosphere, and responding to what seems to happen in the sky.”

Some days, Erdim records delicate, nuanced melodies lilting over light breezes. Different conditions produce intense wails that he likens to “screaming, almost like a kettle coming to a boil.”

Other times, he says, “it can be like a call to prayer from a mosque. It’s a much softer singing, a sort of whistling, that's just fascinating.”

{and much more! ...}


SOURCE: Sierra Magazine

URL (full story and/or photos, video):

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