It's an archive of sorts, although there are no dates and times. Kite flying is timeless, don't you agree?
I trust there is plenty in here to educate, inform, and often entertain!
These short flight reports once appeared as posts in the site-blog page, although that page is no longer present on this site. Below, the latest posts come first. Just scroll
down and stop at any heading that appeals :-)
Paper Diamond Kite
Paper Diamond Poses
Since the e-book instructions were completed, the newly-minted red Paper Diamond has been waiting for suitable photoshoot weather.
MBK Paper Diamond
Today was not ideal for a beach outing, due to the wind direction. It
wouldn't be great to lose the kite in the sea, if the thread broke! At a
local reserve, the wind had a good average speed so it was possible to
get low closeup shots during the gusts.
Cloud cover was just
enough to provide some visual interest in the shots, but not enough to
hinder the sunlight. Most of the time, the reserve was bathed in
brilliant summer sunshine.
With several closeups in the bag, much
more thread was let out. This time, the aim was to get a bit of scenery
included, with the kite flying much higher. But it couldn't be too high, since I
needed a landscape-mode image.
The approach was to take shots as the kite descended during lulls. I ended up doing a number of relaunches.
just over an hour, the trip had been completed and the images were being
sifted through at home. It turned out to be mainly work and not so much play on this
On this site, there's more kite-making info than you can poke a stick at :-) Want to know the most convenient way of using it all?
The Big MBK E-book Bundle is a collection of downloads—printable PDF files which provide step-by-step instructions for many kites large and small.
Every kite in every MBK series.
Paper Diamond Almost Out of Sight
It was my customary Saturday end-of-month fly at Knox Park. A blustery moderate breeze was ruffling the upper foliage of surrounding tall trees.
Trev was there, having another attempt at getting a large Star Box kite aloft. Alas, it was a cheapie and the wrinkled panels were not generating much lift. He'll be trying again someday, in a smooth beach breeze. Bridle adjustments were making a small difference but this box might never be a high flyer.
My small Paper Diamond was soon away on 60 meters (200 feet) or so of polyester thread. After 15 minutes, the kite was back on the grass. This was unexpected considering the strength of the wind! But thermals were about and some of the lulls were deep.
Trev pulled out his trusty small pterodactyl; it flew nicely, after a long-line launch from the middle of the field.
Trying the Paper Diamond again, I relaunched it from where it had landed. Then it was a quick walk back to the sapling where the thread was anchored—to let out much more! Soon, the tiny kite was almost lost in the now overcast sky. The thermals were starting to die down and so the Paper Diamond enjoyed smoother moderate winds.
The diamond just managed to stay legal, flying no higher than about 400 feet off the grass, on over 500 feet of polyester thread. Despite plenty of knots in the thread, they all held!
It was clear that the Paper Diamond would easily pass a total of 3 hours flight time logged since construction, with this long high flight. Durability was certified!
Meanwhile, another kite flyer we occasionally see here had put up a colorful decent-sized diamond. It was complete with a long traditional tail of ties. Most probably the construction was ripstop nylon over fiberglass spars. The kite seemed to be having trouble with a shifting spar since it would occasionally go unstable and loop all the way to the grass below.
With winds dying down somewhat, Trev pulled out his light-wind eagle. The printed-fabric kite promptly floated up, trailing edge flapping near the middle. Even with the loose fabric, the kite looked realistic in the air, gliding down here and there when the breeze dropped.
All in all, it was a satisfying afternoon's kite flying. And that with relatively small kites!
Paper Diamond Buzzes the Bees
A nearby weather station was reporting gusts to 28 kph. Perfect!
Launching the diamond was dead easy and I soon had it flying on 60 meters (200 feet) of thread. With thread lines, I have found the most convenient way to measure lengths is to just pace it out, going underneath the flying kite and some distance past it. I had to imagine where the kite would land, if it descended on a taut line.
For 10 minutes it was a pleasure to watch the kite sitting stable most of the time and swishing about a bit during gusts into the moderate range.
The paper tail streamers were silent, strung straight out and fluttering in place. Drops in breeze strength would sometimes cause the kite to descend slowly tail-first, before surging upward again and pulling the thread tight.
All of a sudden, there seemed to be very little wind down low. Sure enough, just moments later, down came the Paper Diamond to the thistles below.
A couple of relaunches were done from where the kite landed, but each flight was short-lived. The flights totaled just 10 minutes in fact, despite the kite reaching 45-degree line angles on 90 meters (300 feet) of thread both times!
The bees? They were all over the little yellow flowers dotting the field. They are a minor hazard of kite flying in this locality during summer. You have to watch your step!
Paper Diamond Survives Crazy Winds
I had relied on a quick glance out the window this morning.
Sure enough, the Paper Diamond had no trouble staying up in the ample breeze blowing across the reserve. Meanwhile, unknown to me, the forecast had said 20 to 40 kph! This soon became a reality as the small Paper Diamond started to struggle somewhat.
Treetops were bending and the smallest branches thrashed about at the height of gusts. When the diamond wasn't looping, it was sitting straight, but at an uncharacteristically shallow line angle. The strain felt through the polyester-thread line told the story too—heaps of air pressure!
Thankfully, the thread held.
Brief periods of lower wind speed allowed the kite to soar high a few times, only to be battered down to lower altitude, all too soon.
Despite at least 90 meters (300 feet) of thread hanging in the sky, the kite was spending a lot of time quite close to some trees way downwind. Finally, the thread caught in a treetop. I had to let the kite land behind the tree during a lull. A result aided by a carefully-timed slackening of the line!
It was time to quit while ahead.
This kite design is rated to 29 kph. While it didn't fly well at all around 40 kph, at least the MBK Paper Diamond held together. It sustained no structural damage!
Diamond Dances On Two-Leg Bridle
Despite predictions for much slower air today, the breeze this afternoon was ample.
As expected, after fitting a short two-leg bridle to the vertical spar of the Paper Diamond kite, the bobbing was completely cured. The only slight concern was whether the resulting increased strain on the horizontal spar would prove too much in the strongest gusts.
I needn't have worried at all. The little diamond didn't distort for the full 45 minutes it was up. Occasionally, the kite would be forced into a 360 to the right or left as gusts high in the moderate range pummeled the paper craft.
Down on the ground, I had measured one gust at 22 kph with the wind meter. This was at shoulder height.
Launching the kite had been quite straightforward, despite the wind shadow of a large tree getting in the way initially. A few minutes later, the same tree got in the way of the polyester thread line as the wind shifted more to the south.
The thread had just contacted some twigs and leaves from the side. Although the thread stayed in place right up until I took the kite down, it wasn't a problem. A little sideways tension soon popped the thread back out again as I slowly wound on and brought the kite down.
While the kite was up, I had moved to the side of the leafy part of the tree that was anchoring the line. This was to accurately check the line angle. The kite was pulling the polyester fairly tight and was making slightly better than 45 degrees at times. Before this observation, I had seen the kite soar even higher, with some hefty help from a thermal!
For some reason, this flight report has turned out less chronological than most, but at least you get the picture of what happened :-) I was flying a "real" kite high over a grassy field with nothing more than copier paper, sticky tape, and polyester thread—including the winder.
Paper Diamond Quantum Leap
Well, it was an eventful day for the MBK Paper Diamond design yesterday.
The development path up until now was with a multi-legged bridle design and a constant width but double-layered horizontal spar design. The trouble was, the spar had failed on a couple of occasions, with different versions of the kite. Once weakened, the kite's wind range was severely limited.
So I decided to revert to an earlier idea. That was to make a more sophisticated spar design, which would be much stronger in flight and yet much lighter out towards the tips. Although to make these new spars would be more time-consuming, there was a chance that a much simpler and foolproof bridle would suffice. Perhaps the overall time to make the kite would be much the same.
Initial trials on a single point of attachment were very promising. However, the vertical spar needed to be stiffer near the crossing point of the spars.
A second outing on the same day, with modified vertical spar, was amazing! The little diamond effortlessly stayed up high and stable in the moderate gusts during the last hour of sunlight. And that was on hundreds of feet of thread. The kite was bobbing at times, but a short two-leg bridle should sort that out.
Just like the Paper Sled, a final change to a substantially different design resulted in near-perfection. Whew! The trouble is, I need to redo almost the entire e-book :-(
Paper Diamond Bridle Bungle
The latest Paper Diamond has been created in colored paper. The process was photographed to illustrate the "How To ..." e-book.
Today the breeze seemed ample, if somewhat gusty due to the inland location. The diamond was very reluctant to rise though. Eventually it got up to a fair height in some very fresh wind, but promptly sank back down again.
Having beefed up the spar dimensions a little and added some extra tail length, had I overdone it? Was the kite simply too heavy?
Another possibility was that the towing point was too far back. It looked fine though, being not more than 25% back from the nose.
By tying a loose bit of the bridle knot around the nose line, the line was shortened a little. This seemed a positive move as the kite flew a bit better. The difference was so slight that it could have been my imagination! So, it was time for a more radical change.
This time, a small loop knot was tied into the nose line, shortening it considerably. On the next gust, up shot the kite and what a relief that was! In no time I had more 100 feet of thread out and the little red diamond continued to soar around at a decent line angle. By this time, the breeze had picked up a little more.
The kite seemed comfortable flying in the upper reaches of moderate wind speeds. Good! The bridle instructions will need an update though.
The Paper Diamond still needs to log 3 hours of total flying time, so there will be a few more flying reports, as weather allows.
Better Flying at the Beach
The first stop was at a large inland field, since the breeze strength seemed adequate.
Unfortunately, the lulls were deep and it just wasn't possible to keep the Paper Diamond kite off the ground for more than 5 minutes. That was despite flying at over 100 feet for a while. So, it was off to the beach.
The average breeze strength over the sand was probably much the same as inland. However, being much smoother, it was very easy to let out a few meters of line and watch the kite fly constantly.
A problem with paper spars is that once you damage one, the resulting weak spot remains. Despite careful bridle design, this can reduce the kite's wind range.
The other day, this kite got caught up on a thistle while I was pulling it across the ground. Tsk tsk, it was my fault entirely. The end result was a complete fold-up of the sail, putting a crinkle in the horizontal spar on one side. So now the kite doesn't want to fly at much above 20 kph. Even with attempts to trim it straight, it's now a bit erratic and unpredictable.
Still, I managed to log a useful amount of air time today. A 10 minute flight and then a 15 minute flight, with a bit of electrical tape hanging off one corner to trim the kite straighter.
That Sinking Feeling
Down at the beach, the smooth breeze gusting well into the gentle range held much promise of a long flight. However:
Nearly all day, a substantial SW breeze had been blowing at this location. But a newsletter had to be finalized first, plus other tasks. Also, a heavy rain shower had passed through, taking out another chunk of time. To cut this long story short, the average breeze strength dropped by several kph soon after putting the kite in the air for the first time.
The launch was easy in smooth 12 kph air. It was just a matter of taking thread off the winder while the Paper Diamond departed upward and outward at a fairly constant line-angle.
Sitting on a dune nearby, I kept an eye on the thread extending skyward from my bag on the sand. Glancing upward would bring the very steady flight of the kite into view, from a side-on perspective. But then, one such glance caught the kite in a very slow tail-first descent—all the way to the sand. There was no helping it, of course; that's against the rules ;-) Oh well, at least a 5 minute flight could be recorded.
After this, there were small variations in the breeze and the diamond managed two more 5 minute flights before succumbing to light-range wind speeds.
A total of 15 minutes of flight time today will have to do! I've blogged it, now to log it.
Diamond #3 Lifts Off
Paper Diamond prototype #3 has been completed and was taken out for a couple of brief flights.
Down at a park, the wind speed had taken a dive and it was soon clear that try to fly would be an exercise in frustration. After a couple of brief hops, I packed up and headed to the beach.
With this build, a length of thread was strung between the two side tips, holding in a minimum amount of dihedral. It worked really well for getting the bridle adjusted with no accidental decrease in dihedral.
As an experiment, I had done away with the central reinforcer that maintained some dihedral, even with no tension in the bridle. Bad idea. The kite now had a tendency to fold up with any sudden decrease in wind pressure. This was a one-way ticket to the ground—or sand as it was now!
Oh well, that 50 x 15 mm V-shaped bit of paper will have to go back in. And that's with the small weight penalty it entails, unfortunately.
In bright sunlight and with small waves crashing nearby, the Paper Diamond floated steadily at a remarkable 55-degree line angle. The breeze was light and gusting into the gentle range—8 kph gusting to 12 kph. It seems the new design will launch at around 10 kph. Perhaps that might be 11 kph when that darned reinforcer is installed!
This design has the sail shape and bridle attachment points shifted by a centimeter or two. This will help resist deformation of the spars which became evident in the old design.
The real test for this kite will be an extended fly in the high end of the moderate range of wind speeds. That is, when speeds approach 30 kph.
Nightmare at Knox Park
It was going to be easy. Launch into a gusty moderate breeze and let out a huge length of thread. Sit back and watch for an hour.
Despite the ample breeze strength, the little diamond wasn't behaving itself today. First it looped one way then the other as I did rough bridle adjustments. It can be a bit hard to do these accurately in the field, when the kite is blowing around—even while down on the ground.
One factor that wasn't helping was that the dihedral angle was quite a bit less than it should have been. That came to light after I arrived home and checked with a ruler. In flight, it's the bridle lines that hold the dihedral angle for these paper kites. This also prevents the vertical spar from bending.
Eventually, the kite got away to a good height, only for a big wind shift to take it over some trees. Just in time, I managed to slacken off the line to let the kite drop to the ground on the other side of the tree. It was a case of snap the line near the kite, pull the rest of the line through the tree, repair the line then try again!
The air was very warm and also very active for this time of the morning. Super-strong thermal gusts were cascading over the trees and pushing the kite to its limits.
Later, I had the kite secured with a huge length of thread out. Despite reaching great heights, the wind was so extreme that the kite refused to go even 5 minutes in the air unattended. And there was another tree / thread hangup! It was dealt with as before. Did I mention prickles in my socks and sweat dripping off my forearms? And the threat of sunburn from the blazing orb above. T'was a lovely time out flying ;-)
A close look at the kite revealed two weak spots in the horizontal spar. There was one on each side, inboard of the bridle attachment points. They were possibly due to the tips folding back under extreme air pressure.
After arriving home I discovered there had been gusts to 41 kph up there! So a little air-frame damage was to be expected. Never-the-less, a couple of small tweaks should help make the Paper Diamond more resilient to strong conditions. It looks like it's going to prototype #3.
Kites, Planes, and Helicopters
Actually, there was just one kite—the Paper Diamond prototype, plus one plane and one helicopter. The latter two craft were buzzing around overhead while a sailing regatta took place on the ocean.
Down on the beach, just south of the Brighton jetty last Saturday, a sea breeze was pumping in at 24 kph with one gust recorded at 28 kph. This was close enough to the very top of the advertised wind range for kites in my Paper Series! Sure enough, while launching the little pale-yellow diamond, it swept around far to the left and right.
With a few meters of thread out, the kite threw a complete loop, just missing the sand. But after that, and with some more height, the kite settled down somewhat.
Being a sea breeze, the air was quite smooth. Hence today's flight would be a good test of the kite's resistance to fairly constant heavy air pressure. Would anything fold up or pull out?
Not long after settling in to sit on a dune and watch the kite and other activity on the water and in the air, the breeze strength dropped. All of a sudden it was more like 16 kph gusting to 21 kph. Even so, the wind was still ample to keep the kite flying around on its 20 meters (60 feet) or so of thread.
Although the kite itself was awkward to view, thanks to the sun's position, the shadow was constantly flitting around just a few meters away from me on the sand. As time wore on, the shadow slipped back behind me but it was still easy to see.
After 20 to 30 minutes, the breeze strength came back on, well into the moderate range. Gusts were peaking at 27 kph. I had the wind meter with me on that dune. Was the reading exaggerated due to the increase in wind speed over the dune? Probably, but not by a lot since it was a fairly small rise in the sand.
Looking closely at the flying kite from the side, it was clear that the vertical spar was slightly bent in the middle. Either the bridle wasn't tied right or something was slipping somewhere! It will be looked into; that's why these kites are being given so much air time before the e-book is released. You want the design to be well proven, if you are going to part with some $s.
The Paper Diamond remained in the air for 45 minutes straight, before I decided to take it down and go home. It had been a decent fly. Meanwhile, at home, there's this sheet of A4 with rough plans for the Paper Barn Door kite.
Paper Diamond Dodges Rain
At a local reserve today, the breeze proved too fickle for the second MBK Paper Diamond prototype. However, after a short drive to another location, a pause was necessary while a light rain shower passed!
A brief fly on more thread showed promise, but the wind direction was not providing much room for the kite. After putting the bag down at a more suitable spot, the little paper kite rose willingly as I steadily took loops off the winder.
There was plenty of wind up there alright. But on 60 meters (200 feet) of thread, the kite was soon back on the ground between gusts.
After a relaunch on the full length of thread, even more was let out. Lodging the winder behind the heavy bag, I paced out the horizontal distance to the kite. This included an allowance for line angle, so it appeared the kite was now on about 90 meters (300 feet) of line.
Even in the wind shadow from some trees, the meter was recording gusts to almost 20 kph at shoulder level. That would mean no less than 25 kph up at the kite's height. This was confirmed later when I got home and checked the online weather site.
The Paper Diamond now had just enough height to recover from short lulls without any intervention. In excess wind strength, possibly over 30 kph, the kite would loop left. Strangely, it also looped to the right a few times too. Perhaps this was evidence of both a very small imbalance plus instability due to sheer wind speed.
All this time I had been keeping an eye on an ominous dark area in the sky, almost directly upwind of the field. Just when the situation seemed to be improving a little, I noticed light rain enveloping the Adelaide Hills to the east. But it rains first over high ground anyway, so no problems there. Or would there be?
With the kite now having made it past 15 minutes of flight time, the rain band soon started to extend further from the hills. Hence it came closer to the field! I barely had time to process this development when a tiny rain drop hit my cheek.
That was it—time to act!
Walking quickly toward the flying diamond, I ran the thread under one sleeve of my jacket. Snapping the thread several meters from the kite, I flew it back to safety in the car park. Before I had finished dealing with the kite bag and winder back at the tether point, down came the rain.
It was just a light shower, but definitely not what you want if you have paper in the air! What a close call, having just spent 3 hours making the kite.
Paper Diamond Delights
It was just amazing, seeing some A4 paper sheets fly like that.
Earlier in the day, the breeze seemed too extreme to fly anything made of paper. However, by mid-afternoon, the wind speed had moderated somewhat. Hence it was an ideal opportunity to test the new Paper Diamond right near the top of its wind range.
With adjustments to dihedral and bridle configuration, the kite was flying very nicely in the gentle range—up to around 20 kph.
Down at a local reserve, the tree tops were rustling while the sun blazed down. After a trudge to the opposite side of the reserve, it was straightforward to launch the plain little diamond prototype.
Up and up the paper craft went, as meter after meter of thin polyester thread passed between finger and thumb. And there went a small tangle... "That could be trouble" I thought to myself as the tiny furry ball disappeared into the distance.
Sure enough, some minutes later a big gust tugged at the kite and PTOING. Anything other than the correct knot does not leave much of a strength margin when you are flying on thread!
It wasn't long before I had retrieved the kite and repaired the line with a Multi-Strand Double knot. You can look that up on this website ;-)
What followed was an amazing wild ride with the Paper Diamond flying all over the place, including very high on nearly 200 feet of thread. That's right at the very top of its wind range. In fact, judging by the weather site when I got home, the kite was exceeding expectations by staying in the air with gusts right into the fresh range. 35 kph+! And the thread held.
Since today's flight was so encouraging, the brightly colored version and "How To..." e-book will be started shortly.
What's the next prototype? A Barn-Door.
Bob The Diamond Kite
Darn thing keeps bobbing (the MBK Paper Diamond prototype).
OK, so there are two factors so far that could contribute to a bobbing
motion. 1) no bridle lines above or below the horizontal spar and 2)
some flexing of the vertical spar when under varying load.
2) has been addressed with a design change to stiffen and strengthen the
vertical spar. But this is a rather heavy diamond kite due to the use
of ordinary copier paper throughout. Hence, any tendency to bob for any
reason will be made worse by that extra weight.
the occasional episode of bobbing, the small white diamond flew higher
and longer today than on any previous outing. At least 20 meters (60
feet) of thread was suspended in the sky. The breeze was only just strong
enough, gusting from light to gentle every few minutes.
diamond kite copes with continuous moderate strength air remains to be
seen. However, with extra bridle lines the chances are good! A little
extra tail could be required but we'll see.
The story or stories above document actual flying experiences.
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!
As mentioned earlier, there's more kite-making info here than you can poke a stick at :-)
Want to know the most convenient way of using it all?
The Big MBK E-book Bundle is a collection of downloads—printable PDF files which provide step-by-step instructions for many kites large and small.