by Gary Crenshaw
(Hampton, GA, USA)
About six months ago while looking around on the Internet at kite stuff I ran across a good article about the old High Flier paper kites that most of us ( now adult ) grew up with. It peaked my interest enough to make me want to build a few of them and sorta re-live the hours spent out in a pasture with these day dreaming tools.
I did a little research to familiarize myself with the history of diamond kites and how they evolved as we know them today. I learned that a man named William Abner Eddy is mostly responsible for the development of the modern day diamond kite. His research was conducted in the late eighteen hundreds and received patents for his kites, in other words the guy had a lot of fun over one hundred years ago.
I rounded up all the necessary materials such as plastic tape, BBQ skewers and other tools of the trade and the experiments began. My wife calls what I did for the next few months (Standing out in the cold playing with kites) but I called it (Aerodynamic behavioral science research within the lower atmosphere as it pertains to lift and stability on kite structural designs). Her interpretation probably is closer to the real truth.
The first one I built was in sort of a hurry because I was leaving for Brunswick the next morning. The frame was BBQ skewers and the sail was a kitchen garbage bag. The test flight was actually in Brunswick at the water inlet near downtown. It was a thirty inch diamond with a six foot tail and a loose fitting sail.
The first flight found the kite at four hundred feet high half way across the water inlet with commercial fishing boats and private yachts passing under it for about two hours.
The next day I flew it off the pier at St. Simons Island and later that evening it found itself flying over the Eugene Talmadge Bridge from Hutchinson Island in Savannah. As cargo ships passed under it I only got nervous once when the kite lost altitude and got real close to a Chinese cargo ship's flag mast. I guess they could have took it as (welcome to America where even garbage bags fly high).
The next morning found her flying over the lighthouse at Tybee Island and from there it was tethered on the fourth floor parking garage in downtown Savannah. I had it tethered there at about two hundred feet above the buildings for at least four hours. The best view I had of it was from across the river about a mile away at sunset. Maybe I had too much time on my hands that week, but not bad for a kite that cost almost a nickle.
Most of my test flying after that was at night in a pasture beside my house. No air is better than cool eight MPH steady night wind to test aerodynamics. I probably built thirty kites during these experimental projects changing the structures and sails using a flashlight and a roll of duct tape all in pursuit of getting my own diamond kite to fly steady without the need for a tail.
The first one to actually fly tail-less was just after midnight when the moon was full and small puff clouds were racing overhead. The kite just glued itself to the sky so I fed the line to it. I've got it, I designed one, I built it and there it is stuck to the sky. William Abner Eddy experienced this over one hundred years ago and tonight I got mine.
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