The Minimum Sled Kite

Floating Aloft On Very Light Gusts

The new Minimum Sled Kite instructions had just been written up. However, I couldn't post them on the Web until the thing actually flew, could I! An in-flight photo and a flying video were required before the page would be complete, anyway.

So, out I went. A grown man with digital camera, wind meter and broad-brimmed hat - all for a small plain kite made from a single sheet of A4 copier paper! It's called commitment to providing good original online content :-)

Arriving at the nearby school reserve, a quick check for herds of school-boys or flocks of school-girls was in order.

Nope. The coast was clear, so out came the Minimum Sled Kite and other gear.

Rather than venture out onto the main oval, which was still weed-infested, I stayed in a small grassy clearing not far from the road.

Despite a few surrounding gum trees, a promising light breeze wafted through from time to time. Sure enough, the gentle gusts were enough to loft the kite for up to half a minute at a time.

The picture on this page was taken during these short flights.

The MBK Paper Sled kite in flight.
The MBK Paper Sled kite in flight.

The little Sled, thankfully, flew stable most of the time. Occasionally it would flick itself inside out when a spot of rough air came through! But at least, when a constant flow of air was there, the kite flew like any other small Sled. Line angles were modest, but you can't expect too much from a single piece of copier paper! I was actually very pleased with the way it flew.

(Check out the e-book Making Paper Kites to find out what is possible with kites made purely from paper and sticky tape.)

Then followed a quiet period where the average wind speed dropped to around 1.3 kph (less than 1 mph). So there I was, standing out in the sun, holding a piece of line in my hand and checking out the tree-tops for signs of approaching gusts. A slightly odd sight for anyone walking past I guess, or the guy working on the school fence, not too far away.

Just as I was considering posting about 5 seconds of usable video and a grainy in-flight photo of the kite, there was a rustling of leaves. Yahoo! The exclamation, not the search engine...

Within seconds, the Minimum Sled kite was up and away. I let quite a few meters of line slip through my hand, before extracting the camera from a pocket.

No sooner than the movie taking started, the kite flew right up into the sun...

Fortunately, the little Sled soon slid out of the way of the sun and went on to flying very nicely for the better part of a minute. Sinking to just a meter (3 feet) off the ground during a slight lull, than back up. Zipping back and forth as the gust strength increased. Then a nice high climb to perhaps a 50 degree angle, before gracefully hovering and sinking slowly back to the grass.

Great! It was all 'in the can' as they say in the movie business.



 

The story above was an actual flying experience with the described kite. My write-ups are definitely warts-and-all since things don't always go totally as planned. However, half the fun of kiting is anticipating the perfect flight. When it happens, it's magic!

 

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Wind Speeds

Light Air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2

Gentle ...
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3

Moderate ...
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4

Fresh ...
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5

Strong ...
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7

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