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!

Nov 18, 2019

MBK Soft Sleds

I'm on holiday in India and thought about bringing a kite with me as I knew I would be on the coast quite a bit of the time but then thought 'I'll probably

Continue reading "MBK Soft Sleds"

Nov 17, 2019

Flight Report:
Drogue Saves The Day

In the early afternoon on Saturday a quick check online revealed substantial winds were blowing down at the coast. Tetra time!

In fact, the breeze was stiff enough to warrant bringing the Dowel Tetra along, which neeeds around 20kph just to get off the ground! To cover the possibility of the breeze dying somewhat, I also took along the same-sized Skewer Tetrahedral kite. Bamboo being lighter than Tasmanian Oak.

Down at the beach it was like someone had turned on a fan. A constant 30kph flowed over the damp sand and surged to 38kph at one point while I held the wind meter aloft.

Initially the Dowel Tetra with it's loose joints wanted to keel over to the right despite copious amounts of tail. After some fiddling and re-launching some better symmetry was achieved and the kite soared up to a healthy angle. The main tail was also tucked to one side of the lowest cell to help trim the kite left. But this used up a little length, making the tail less effective. At the peak of gusts the kite really needed more stability...

Digging around the kite bag, a small drogue was pulled out and it's tow-line tied near the tip of the main tail. Sure, that's unconventional :-) This little drogue has come in handy before, when an extra measure of drag has been required for other kites. It worked a treat for the tetra, so the kite spent the next 20 minutes or so soaring high over the beach. Before this, some video was taken on just 10 meters of line.

Seagulls, like model jets, were zipping downwind along the rocky outcrop and occasionally one came back the other way - at jogging pace!

Whitecaps were all over the ocean and sailing boats made their way past from time to time.

After using the spring scales to note the line tension (2-4kg) I started winding in on the Halo reel. Being careful not to put the loops on under tension. Ever crushed a reel? Anyway, it was a nice little fly with the odd beach-goer peering at the unusual flying object hovering over the beach.

Read more flying stories...

- Tim P.

Nov 14, 2019

Global News Report:
Kite Photographer

With a twist ;-) Definitely one of the more unusual kite stories featured here...

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Henri Cartier-Bresson, the great photographer, hated to be photographed. In 1987, however, he reluctantly agreed to have a portrait made for Life magazine to publicise a forthcoming exhibition of his work at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. John Loengard, the picture editor of Life at the time, and a distinguished documentary photographer, took no chances and assigned himself to do the portrait.

When Loengard arrived to meet Cartier-Bresson at his summer house in Provence, the master insisted that he would only be photographed from behind. There was a little debate about this. Aged 79, Cartier-Bresson was, Loengard recalled, “still a simmering teakettle. There’d be steam and the lid would be rattling. Then just as quickly he’d quiet down and be his attentive self again.”

As a compromise, Cartier-Bresson suggested that Loengard might photograph him swimming in his favourite local pool, but when they arrived there, the pool was closed. On the way back, Cartier-Bresson stopped to draw a landscape he liked and Loengard photographed him but the picture was too static.

In the end, Martine Franck, Cartier-Bresson’s wife and fellow photographer, came to the rescue. She rummaged through a cupboard to find the kite that her husband liked to fly with their 15-year-old daughter. There was just enough wind to get the kite into the air. “You can ask someone to fly a kite,” Loengard observed of his portrait, which is a star turn in a gallery exhibition of Life photography, “but you don’t tell them how to fly the kite. How they run and what they do is their business. Suddenly, if they’re doing it in front of you and your camera, it gives you some information to convey to a viewer – even when they make sure you don’t see their face.”

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SOURCE: The Guardian

URL (full story and/or photos, video): https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/nov/10/the-big-picture-henri-cartier-bresson-flies-a-kite

Nov 13, 2019

The little Diamond kite didn't want to fly

My grandson received a gift, a small diamond kite, rainbow color, a very long red tail, a line of about 100 meters in a very simple handle. Useless to

Continue reading "The little Diamond kite didn't want to fly"

Nov 13, 2019

MBK Dopero Kite

This previously published page links out to many flight reports that I wrote while out with one or other of my Doperos. So if you like flying stories...

Continue reading "MBK Dopero Kite"

Nov 12, 2019

The kite tube craze soon proved too dangerous!

The kite tube or 'flying boat tube' craze was an enticing and exciting water-sport while it lasted. Hope you enjoy my kite-designer analysis!

Continue reading "The kite tube craze soon proved too dangerous!"

Nov 11, 2019

Flight Report:
First Kite From Printables

The Indoor Series is being re-done for an e-book, featuring printed sail outlines and printed spars for each kite...

The big deal about using a printer like this is that it eliminates all the tedious measuring! Have you looked at my online instructions and thought 'I just couldn't be bothered'? Besides, this approach also eliminates measuring mistakes, which could easily end in disappointment when you go to fly the kite.

So, the printed Indoor Diamond has turned out a little smaller than the one currently published online. This due to the constraint of using a maximum of 4 sheets of copier paper for the sail outline. The designs are identical though, in their proportions.

The diamond assumes quite a small amount of dihedral when in the air but still flies with ample stability. And I still can't quite get over the sheer performance of this tiny kite. On a short length of thread, it seems to be holding 60 to 70 degrees of line angle which is respectable for a kite very much bigger.

This plastic-sailed kite with printed spars has been through all the tests that were devised for the Indoor Series, with no problems at all. Next up is the Indoor Sled...

Read more flying stories...

- Tim P.

Nov 11, 2019

Flight Report:
A Day For Light Deltas

Club fly day had come around again but the breeze on the coast was almost non-existent...

Aren and I arrived shortly after 1pm to find several big parafoils draped over the grassed area. And nothing in the air. A short time later, Henry had the light-wind parafoil up for a while before it too succumbed and sank to the ground. The antics of failing foils can be a touch funny at times. A fold-up and flop isn't much to look at. However, seeing the big white 4-cell kite almost gracefully distort and perform a complete slow roll was mildly entertaining for a moment :-) It all happened just 2 meters (6ft) or so above the grass.

Andy's parafoil got some air in the intakes but refused to get much height. Alli's parafoil had slightly heavier fabric and managed to hover at head height for a few moments. Mike had a bit more success with his light-wind Eagle, which he keeps on hand for days like this.

Mark had his big colorful delta in the air a bit later, while I rigged the ponderous blue Multi-Dowel Delta. A 5m (16ft) span plastic-and-dowel beast which is happy to flop around in very light conditions. Mark and I both did a few minutes of constant line-working, trying to keep our kites off the grass.

Soon, both Mark and I were down on the sand, taking advantage of the far greater towing space out there. The tide wasn't too far in so that was a plus. Eventually it was just me down on the sand. I ended up close to the lapping water, with well over 90 meters of line out. The huge delta was right on it's lower limit of wind speed but from time to time it was possible to urge it up to almost a 45 degree angle. At other times the big dark blue craft would glide left and right, low down over the dunes as I let out line and waited for another opportunity to climb back up high.

Back in the car park, several sets of eyes were on the big delta, since it was giving clues as to when another launch could be attempted with those big parafoils! However, wind speeds low over the grass were never really sufficient and so people began leaving, well before 4pm.

So, an extended very-light-wind workout it was. Although a steady light breeze had set in by the time the last of us was leaving :-|

Read more flying stories...

- Tim P.

Nov 07, 2019

Global News Report:
Intangible Benefits

An extraordinary article - and that includes the imagery. Take a brief but deep dive into the world of traditional Chinese kite-making...

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Before heading to Shanghai for the China International Import Expo, Guo Hongli stood in front of his collection of kites, wondering which one would be the best to showcase his work to the world.

Guo, a national-level inheritor of intangible cultural heritage from Weifang in Shandong Province, finally decided on a small kite in the shape of a centipede with a dragon's head.

Weifang is known for its kite-flying culture and the city has been holding annual international kite festivals since 1984. Weifang kites often feature ancient Chinese myths, mythical creatures and birds.

“Many countries around the world have a tradition of flying kites,” Guo said. “But I think the cultural context behind our kites is unique.”

That, said Guo, is something beyond entertainment or sport. An artistic spirit lies behind the fine handcraft which features traditional Chinese painting and bamboo making.

“When we fly a kite, we also set high our best wishes to life and friends,” Guo said.

The smallest kite Guo has brought to the expo is no larger than a butterfly, the largest was also one in the shape of a centipede with a dragon's head, fluttering in the wind above the Shandong intangible cultural heritage pavilion.

The 48-year-old has been making kites for over 30 years. The centipede with dragon’s head was made more than 10 years ago.

Though the kite is so small that it can go in a box no longer than 30 centimeters, it took Guo more than a month to make.

Guo used 168 bamboo joints to form the dragon's head. The smallest parts of the head are shorter than a centimeter. Before shaping these parts, Guo must first burn the bamboo joints.

“You have to be very careful with the fire for the parts are so small it could have snapped,” said Guo.

Some parts were so small that when he dropped one it was gone forever.

“It was so small that it felt like looking for a needle in a bottle of hay,” said Guo. He just had to make another one.

But the most difficult part, Guo said, was the dragon's beard with curved like waves. Guo first had to grind the bamboo into a thin string before shaping it.

“You have to burn the bamboo and twist it simultaneously, if your hand trembles a bit, the thin bamboo string breaks,” he said.

“It is a peak for me,” said Guo. “My eyesight has got worse in recent years, I can’t make such delicate kites anymore.”

{and there's more...}

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SOURCE: SHINE

URL (full story and/or photos, video): https://www.shine.cn/news/metro/1911045255/

Nov 06, 2019

The Octopus Kite. Our pic-and-vid-illustrated experiences.

We have made our own octopus kite and been *very* close to large show octopi at festivals!

Continue reading "The Octopus Kite. Our pic-and-vid-illustrated experiences."

Nov 06, 2019

Adelaide Kite Festival

This previously published page is an account of our time at the Adelaide International Kite Festival in 2018. Check it out - if only for the extensive photo gallery in there!

Continue reading "Adelaide Kite Festival"

Nov 03, 2019

Flight Report:
Flying In The Sky With Diamonds

It was going to be titled '5 Tyvek Diamonds' but then a subtle Beatles reference seemed less boring ;-) ...

Last Saturday - with the breeze moving bushes outside and a weather station indicating Gentle gusting into Moderate wind speeds, I selected 5 diamonds to fly on a 100 pound line.

Down at the large school oval, the breeze then turned out to be fairly underwhelming. It seemed more like 'light wind and thermals' :-| But the diamonds would fly, right down to the middle of the Light range, thanks to their light carbon tube spars.

I have come to avoid flying trains inland, but this location was a lot closer to the seaside than most other fields at which I fly. The hope was that the air up high would be smooth enough to keep the kites behaving!

A large tractor/mower was in operation. However, the progress of the machine was slow as it steadily zigzagged the entire width of the field. I found some shade near the other end of the field and started launching kites. It was decided to do fairly generous spacing otherwise the first one would never get up!

One by one the diamonds went out, with the narrow wooden-dowel winder being passed through the center hole of each kite. A loop of line around the nylon fitting at the towing point provided plenty of resistance to slippage. Before long there they were - white, black, white, black, white.

The kites were all about 20 meters (65 feet) apart and flying fairly steadily trailing Tyvek drogues. Long ribbon tails can be a disaster when flying trains inland! Even down on the beach they have occasionally fouled up if the breeze was too light.

The 2 lowest kites did get into trouble occasionally. Due to rougher air low down, the drogues managed to flip over the flying line. It was an easy matter to walk out, bringing down the line, and flip the drogue back down.

The rest of the time, the 5 kites were an eye-catching sight, weaving in the bright afternoon sunlight. Under patches of high altitude cloud cover, a passenger jet passed close to the moon, trailing twin vapor trails.

With the mower getting ever closer, I started bringing down the kites. The breeze was quite inconsistent, being light for several minutes then freshening considerably for another few minutes before dying off again. So I had to pick my moments for unhooking the line from the fitting and freeing each kite as it reached ground level. 5 kites each spanning 1 meter add up to a really healthy pull when the breeze is up! And I sometimes fly 9 or 10 in a train.

It was a nice fly with the whole train going steep now and again, in rising air.

Read more flying stories...

- Tim P.


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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...