What's New! The 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!

Jan 14, 2021

Global News Report:
Hard Times For Indian Kite Makers

A double whammy is unfolding year-by-year for traditional kite-makers...

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Hyderabad: Craftsmen involved in kite and manja-making are facing a tough time now. Many families here doing this work used to earn good money during Sankranti, popularly known as ‘patangula panduga’, or the festival of kites. A “Chinese invasion” and reducing interest in this sport among the youths are affecting their earnings and livelihood.

The festival made the city sky colourful every year this season. The competition of kite-flying involves cutting of the kites in the air, a skillful sporting event that cuts across religious barriers.

The charm of this age-old festival is fading off. Its popularity among the youths and children is decreasing. A reason is the invasion of technology and access to entertainment via TV, internet and the cellphone.

This apart, another major blow for craftsmen came in the form of the Chinese manja (which is banned) and plastic kites which too are Chinese-made. This resulted in a financial crisis for these families.

A resident of Ganganagar, Yakuthpura, is 78-year-old Mohd Yousif. He is into kite-making since his childhood; an art he learned from his father and grandfather. Yousif’s three sons, Mohd Hafeez, Mohd Raheem and Kareem, are also into this trade.

Mohd Hafeez said: “Our whole family is involved in kite-making. Every day, we end up making 100 to 150 kites. Earlier, shopkeepers used to give orders throughout the year. Now it is tough for us to meet our day-to-day expenses. Kite flying seasons in the past lasted four months. Now, it has shrunk to two or three days.”

The 55-year-old Mohd Javeed Khan, an expert in cotton thread Manja, hails from a family whose past four generations were into this work. A resident of Mata Ki Khidki at Dabeerpura, he is now driving an autorickshaw for his family’s upkeep. There used to be high demand.

The Chinese manja, a plastic thread, is now in high demand. “Earlier, we were engaged in making manja for six to seven months. Now, we do it for a month,” he says.

Cotton manja is made of thread, glass powder that helps the threads cut each other, the ladies finger broth and colour.The craftsman and the traders expressed the hope that this year’s festival will see more colourful kites in the sky over Hyderabad. This will hopefully attract more youths into the sport and help the kite-maker families earn more.

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SOURCE: Deccan Chronicle

URL (full story and/or photos, video): https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/070121/chinese-invasion-hurts-hyderabads-kite-makers.html

Jan 13, 2021

A History Of Stunt Kites

This previously published page is a concise history of stunt kites - starting from one of the very first steerable kites to go on sale, many decades ago...

Continue reading "A History Of Stunt Kites"

Jan 10, 2021

Flight Report:
Club Fly After All

The 'event is coming up' mentioned in the Jan 3rd post was cancelled due to the forecast extreme heat at the location. So, a few of us ended up at the Semaphore seaside as usual since it was the 2nd Sunday of the month...

On arrival there were 2 deltas in the air, belonging to Mike and Michael respectively. The breeze strength was inconsistent low down, which soon brought Mike's delta to the grass. Mind you, a small Dragon inflatable was weighing down the line as well. Much higher up, Michael's big retail delta was doing better, in what seemed like smooth air of Light to Gentle strength.

After taking some photos, I rigged the 2m (7ft) span Carbon Diamond and it willingly rose to a steep angle. However, it was kept on less than 50 feet of line to avoid obstacles downwind. Mikes delta / Dragon combo was up again and never faltered since the breeze had freshened slightly.

Despite the high maximum temperature for the day, the sea-breeze was relatively cool. Flying conditions seemed quite ideal under the almost cloudless sky. The biggest club kites had stayed away - and they certainly would have struggled, earlier in the session. Just a few extra kph can make the difference..

Since my big diamond was flying steady, I took the opportunity to pull out 4 trainable Diamonds. Soon the 1m (3ft) span kites were up in the adequate breeze, just meters away from Mike's kites. But the breeze was smooth enough that the lines never looked like crossing. It was worth keeping an eye on though - as you learn in single-line kiting! The lines did get even closer during a wind shift to a more southerly direction.

It was a low turnout of club members, but there were enough kites in the air to turn the odd head!

Read more flying stories...

- Tim P.

Jan 06, 2021

Kite Shapes

This previously published page features several kites with somewhat unusual sail shapes! Take a look...

Continue reading "Kite Shapes"

Jan 03, 2021

Flight Report:
Small Sled Test Bed

An event is coming up that involves me doing a small workshop for kids. So, it seemed a good idea to actually fly the kite I had made as a sample!

The kids will be making a little sled based on my 1-Skewer Sled design. But looking back at my original instructions, it seemed that some simplifications could be achieved. Also, by preparing lines and bridles beforehand, the kids could just attach the bridle lines to the kite sail with generous strips of tape. No knots! Lines and bridles were wound onto squares of thick cardboard, with a slit in 1 corner to secure the free ends.

A no-knot solution for the bridle attachments could potentially pull though, so the moderate-strength gusts on the day I went out were a great test. Also, the short ribbon tail looped from the lower sail corners was attached with tape but I wasn't expecting any problems there.

Down at the reserve, the little bamboo-skewer sled was soon hovering around on a short length of thread. Quite fresh gusts would force the kite into a loop or just keep it low for a few moments. However, everything held, which was the desired outcome! On more thread and in somewhat less wind the kites should fly high with no trouble.

After moving out to a more open part of the field, the kite floated up higher. Although the line angle wasn't spectacular it would be quite good enough to put some smiles on kids' faces!

Read more flying stories...

- Tim P.

Dec 31, 2020

Global News Report:
Filipino Kite Engineering

From Hawaii, although the kite-making techniques discussed are from the Philipines...

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In a large empty park in Salt Lake, Kelvin Chun can be found showing off his high-flying skills. The 61-year-old retired teacher is an avid kite builder and flyer.

“All the different aerodynamic concepts are built into this kite,” he said of one of his creations.

Decades ago, Chun learned the art of building Filipino-styled kites from a master kite builder, who took him under his wing.

“I grew up in the area where my mentor, Patricio Gongob, was flying these Filipino kites. They call it Sarangolla or Guryon,” said Chun. “It flew almost perpendicular to the ground. I thought, ‘Wow! What a feat of engineering. I gotta learn that.’”

Gongob was known for building kites of all sizes. His largest was as tall as a two-story house.

Filipino-style kites are shaped like a manta ray and made of rice paper, plastic, mylar or fiberglass. The tail is part of the body, and the bracing is shaved bamboo.

“When the wind blows, it pushes against this,” he said, pointing to a corner of one of his colorful kites. “Just like the bird’s wing or our elbow, this bends. So the bamboo bends with the wind.”

Chun won awards as an educator. His specialty was teaching STEM subjects, so kites fit right in.

“It has aerodynamics. It has symmetry and balance. So a lot of science and math concepts,” he said.

Chun thinks his pastime is perfect for people during the pandemic. It gets you outdoors while maintaining physical distance.

If you want to learn how he builds his kites, check out the Kelvin Chun YouTube channel, where he’s posted a bunch of how-to videos.

“Rather than just my classroom or a community workshop, I can catch the whole world through YouTube,” he said. “The object is to make the kite as light as possible.”

Chun hopes to revive interest in his art so more people can experience the joy of sailing the wind.

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SOURCE: Hawaii News Now

URL (full story and/or photos, video): https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2020/12/29/kite-engineers-filipino-styled-kites-are-high-flying-distraction-pandemic/

Dec 30, 2020

Flight Report:
Barn Door Tossed

Not tossed out, but tossed around by thermally active moderate-strength air...

Most of my home-made kites best suit light winds, so after a moment's thought I took the venerable 2-Skewer Barn Door off the wall. This type of kite has a frame that resists bending, more so than a similarly sized diamond or rokkaku with similar spars. Hence, whatever the diamond or rok can handle, the barn-door can take quite a bit more. At the cost of needing a fraction more wind speed to fly at all.

Out at the flying field, the tree tops were being ruffled periodically by healthy gusts. With no shortage of wind strength, I opted for the 50 pound line. Thus the Dacron was a touch heavy for the small barn-door but at least the Lark's Head knot to the bridle would be easy to remove!

This kite is normally flown with a simple ribbon tail looped from one lower corner to the other. For the last few flying sessions some extra plastic had been added, tied to the center of the loop. I left it there since the gust strength would surely push the limits today!

Soon the kite powered upwards, as it ventured above tree-top level. And yet the lulls were so deep that if left unattended, the kite would sometimes drop all the way to the ground from 100 feet. On one such landing, the end of the tail got caught in a thistle. As a result, the kite took off and shed the extra section of tail! Just for fun I left the kite like that and enjoyed seeing it fly right to the edge of stability, as it headed off far to the left and right.

In the the rough moderate strength air, the line trembled and twitched. Multiple subtle curves formed as the kite strained away all over the sky. At one point, strong rising air pushed the small barn door almost overhead on 60 meters (200 feet) of line, as it hunted around in a large circle. Several times the kite was forced into wide loops to the left at lower heights. Some rapid letting-out of line prevented any contact with the ground, before the kite surged back up high again.

So the 2-Skewer Barn Door put on quite a show at the top end of it's wind range!

Read more flying stories...

- Tim P.

Dec 30, 2020

Lawrence Hargrave

This previously published page is all about Mr. Box Kite himself, Lawrence Hargrave. He did much more than fly kites though! ...

Continue reading "Lawrence Hargrave"

Dec 24, 2020

Global News Report:
Ten Grand For A REALLY Nice Delta!

Guess what - fashion label Louis Vuitton has a really nice-looking delta kite for sale. This story is squarely in the 'you gotta be kidding' department! ...

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Louis Vuitton thinks there's a market for $10,400 designer kites, but that theory is going over like a lead balloon on the Internet.

The luxury brand is getting roasted on TikTok for hawking a $10,400 monogrammed kite, which it describes as a "stand-out gift for the outdoor enthusiast."

The designer kite is covered in LV's signature initial print and the hefty price tag also gets you a matching monogrammed carrying case.

The Louis V kite debuted in the designer's Men's Spring-Summer 2020 show last year, with models toting it down the runway, but the product's just now going viral on social media after some popular accounts found it on LV's online store. Probably not the ideal last-minute gift idea.

Some folks are wondering how a $10,400 kite is even a thing ... and some are saying it better fly people first class.

If kites ain't your jam ... LV's also hawking a $705 jump rope, $2,869 dumbbells, $2,400 ping pong set and a billiard table for a cool $135,000!!! Talk about how the other half lives.

Still, God forbid that kite get caught in a tree, 'cause after dropping $10k? Sorry, tree.

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SOURCE: TMZ

URL (full story and/or photos, video): https://www.tmz.com/2020/12/23/louis-vuitton-kite-designer-roasted-mocked-tiktok-ten-thousand-dollars/

Dec 24, 2020

Kites Up! - An MBK Board Game

When the weather's bad, don't fret at home - play "Kites Up!" - a single-line kiting downloadable board game

Continue reading "Kites Up! - An MBK Board Game"

Dec 23, 2020

Building Box Kites

This previously published page discusses 2 unconventional approaches to constructing box kites...

Continue reading "Building Box Kites"

Dec 18, 2020

Flight Report:
Blue Tetra Tops Out

Moderate gusts were shifting small branches around, outside the house. So it was time to fly a tetra...

This time the plain blue tetra was selected. An otherwise identical multi-colored kite was kite flown at the last club fly day. That says something about the average wind speed this month! We're in the windiest state of a windy country.

At the inland location, large trees and inconsistent wind speed made launching a drawn out affair. Bits of stick and weeds punished me for dropping large amounts of line in a heap as the kite had to be hauled right in from time to time. Tangles!

Finally though, and after some re-tying of vertices to trim the kite out, up it went in a long healthy gust. Once over 200 feet the blue tetra enjoyed ample air flow to keep it there. Just the occasional twitch was caused by thermal turbulence.

A tiny bird fluttered in to take a closer look at the strange featherless object, before moving away upwind.

For quite a few minutes I just watched the kite climbing and descending against the blues, whites and grays of the cloudy sky. A healthy but safe strain kept the 50 pound Dacron line almost straight to the kite.

In every respect the weather was perfect. Dry and sunny with a cool breeze. Some video footage was taken with the camera on full 4x zoom to fill more of the frame with kite and tail.

Winding in took a few minutes as I took the flying line back onto the flat wooden winder. When you know there's enough wind aloft, it's always worth persisting to get the kite up there!

Read more flying stories...

- Tim P.

Dec 17, 2020

Kite Simulation!

As part of my job I've been working on a catenary model to be integrated in a computational fluid dynamics code. For those who don't know (like me when

Continue reading "Kite Simulation!"

Dec 16, 2020

Dopero Kite Plans

This previously published page has plans for all the MBK Dopero kites - Dowel, 2-Skewer and 1-Skewer...

Continue reading "Dopero Kite Plans"

Dec 13, 2020

Flight Report:
Club Fly Cut Short

This will be a short one...

Fresh gusts whipped around the house in the morning, but nothing the Skewer Tetrahedral couldn't handle.

I arrived at the coast somewhat later than usual, only to find that people had already flown and then packed away. Spitting rain had come through and the sky was ominously dark out to sea.

The moderate to fresh NW breeze seemed fairly smooth over the grass. With the rain holding off for a while it wasn't long before the Skewer Tetra was sailing away on 20 or 30 meters of 50 pound line. The light cellular kite easily absorbed the fresh gusts, which measured 31 (av.) to 40 kph over several minutes.

Meanwhile cars were pulling out, leaving just Mike and I with kites in the air. Mike moved out onto the sand with a small 4-line parafoil and reported very gusty winds aloft. Despite my initial impression of smoother air, earlier.

With the rain spitting again and getting a little heavier it was time to take down the kites and get out of there...

Read more flying stories...

- Tim P.