Paper Kite Posts—Sode

(Paper Spars)

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 Sode Kite

The Closest Shave

No, I haven't started blogging about toiletries :-|

Today, the wind was borderline, at the windy end of the spectrum. A northerly was gusting well into the fresh range. I headed out, mentally prepared to cope with several line breaks. The previous Paper Sode prototype had been lost in similar conditions at this very place. However, today didn't seem quite that extreme.

Paper kite posts - sode. The MBK Paper Sode in flight.MBK Paper Sode

Down at the reserve—the biggest local one—I cautiously flew the Paper Sode on a short line. Even so, the thread did break a couple of times. Oh well, at least that's some weak spots taken care of!

Needing at least a 5-minute flight, I headed back upwind and let out more thread. So far so good, and the kite managed 5 minutes in flight before, you guessed it, the thread broke again.

Note that I was flying this kite outside my own guidelines here. The sode on polyester sewing thread is only rated up to 29 kph. Today, the gusts were over 30 kph. When you add in the effects of updrafts, the kite would be taking even more. Weather stations only measure horizontal wind speed!

After some maneuvering, I reached what seemed to be an excellent compromise; there was enough line out to help the kite through lulls and yet enough space downwind to keep the kite within sight if the thread snapped. Or so I thought :-(

You won't believe what happened next. Accompanied by a great rustling of leaves, the next savage thermal gust came through. Predictably, the kite flew away, dropping quickly. Phew. But then ... the descent slowed until the little sode was scooting along downwind, not losing any height at all. Errrr .... just a few seconds and it should go down again. But no. It started going UP. Flat on its face with no tension on the bridle lines.

Talk about deja vu. There was the kite, disappearing out of sight, downwind from the giant reserve. And out it went, over the rooftops of suburbia :-( :-(

After noting where it was last seen, I quickly returned to the car and drove around to have a look. To my amazement, there it was in the middle of a cul-de-sac, thread strung through a bush. I drove home and glanced in disbelief a couple of times at the silver craft sitting safely on the passenger seat!

On a more boring note, durability of the kite design was now certified, with a grand total of 3 hours flying time.

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.

Chasing the Wind

Down at a local reserve, the breeze was just too inconsistent to get the Paper Sode up.

Just 20 more minutes of flying time need to be logged to reach durability certification for this design. So after giving up at the reserve I headed for Christies Beach. It seemed a safe bet since gentle-strength gusts were everywhere, moving the treetops around. It would just be smoother and more consistent over the sand.

Down at the beach, it took a little effort, but finally the kite was sailing away on plenty of thread.

The wind direction was straight down the sand, although veering left and right by several degrees. That was handy, in case of a line break or sink-out. And a sink-out to the rock wall next to the sand it was. The kite was downed after just 5 minutes!

It wasn't supposed to be like this. In fact, the breeze seemed to be slowly dying.

Once again, I waited for a slight (temporary!) freshening of the breeze before the little silver sode slowly climbed away again.

This time I took no chances, and let out a lot more thread. Well over 90 meters (300 feet) was up there now. Surely this would turn into a 15 or 20-minute flight? But no. One moment the fluttering tails were doing their thing up over 200 feet off the sand. Just moments later it seemed, when I checked again, there was no sign of the kite.

Fortunately, the sode had simply sunk out to the pathway where people walk down to the beach. It was a bit of a fluke that the landing spot was so accessible. So much for sand landings. At least it wasn't in the water.

After all that driving around, I had ended up with 10 minutes of logged flight time. With rain on the horizon, 10 more minutes were still required!

Paper Sode Parked High

It was late Sunday afternoon and there seemed to be ample wind to fly.

Near a local school it appeared that some football practice was underway. A number of kids were milling about near the goal posts. So, we walked onto a large vacant block which had a cement surface.

While Aren tried to set speed records on his scooter, I put up the Paper Sode.

Being in the wind shadow of school buildings didn't help, but finally the little kite floated up and stayed up. Somewhat less than 30 meters (100 feet) of thread was out, due to the restricted space. Several trees were close by, and they were being ruffled constantly by the cool breeze.

After 15 minutes a longish lull finally brought the kite down.

By this time it appeared the kids were moving off the oval. In a flash, kite-flying operations were shifted to the inviting expanse of lush grass! The area was actually a very large square field. One side of the field could be considered an "oval," having goal posts at either end.

On a long length of thread, the Paper Sode was launched. With a combination of walking upwind and letting out more thread, the little craft rose steadily into the darkening sky. It was overcast, and the sun was very close to the horizon. Above 150 feet there was ample breeze to keep the kite aloft, judging by the extra tension in the thread.

And so we watched the tiny silhouette moving about slowly against the gray of thick mid-level cloud cover. On over 90 meters (300 feet) of thread, the fluttering of the tails was barely audible.

The MBK Paper Sode was left up for 20 minutes before it had to come down. No night flying of kites is allowed, according to the letter of the Civil Aviation rules!

Chaotic Breeze at the Park

There were two of us with kites down at Knox Park last Saturday.

Trev was tempted into launching his small pterodactyl since moderate gusts were waving the trees around as he arrived. Around the same time, I was attempting to launch the Paper Sode. A bit more air time needs to be logged for the kite's certification. Having lost the previous prototype of the sode at this very location not long ago, I stuck to the upwind end of the field, tall tree wind-shadow and all.

The weather saw us coming and turned off the breeze, it seemed. Finally, half an hour later, some decent gusts sprang up and the little sode was away. By now, Trev had swapped out the pterodactyl for a light-wind eagle. This kite did OK, but got forced down during the most energetic gusts.

The wind was really quite erratic below 100 feet. There were almost calm periods for minutes, followed by pulsing moderate strength breezes. All this was in cool and very overcast conditions. Hence thermals were most unlikely.

For 20 minutes the Paper Sode kite flew on over 50 meters (200 feet) of polyester thread. Although the breeze was much more consistent up there, the small silver craft still flitted left and right in faster air. Down in the car park, I measured one gust at 27 kph, so perhaps it was blowing more than 30 kph up high!

The three-kite Animal Train went up briefly a couple of times, but by then the sky was darkening. Also, a text message had informed me that wifey was waiting to be picked up from the shops ;-) It was time for tea.

Of Kite Line and Fishing Line

After walking down to the beach at Brighton, it was clear that an ample breeze was blowing. That was a good start.

After selecting a spot to anchor the kite, it was very easy to put the little silver sode up in the smooth onshore breeze. Holding the wind meter above shoulder height for half a minute, the device registered 14.5 kph with gusts to 17 kph.

The kite had no trouble hovering on such a short line that the tails were just clear of the sand. This was so handy for getting some quality closeup shots with the camera. After this, I let out the thread to around 15 meters (50 feet).

Being early afternoon, the sun was very high in the all-blue sky. I took more photos from many angles, including from directly below. Plus, a couple of short video clips were taken.

Now, about that reference to fishing line... While standing near my bag on the sand, a fisherman just a few paces away was putting on an impressive display. No less than seven fish were caught while the sode was in the air. That was a fish every six minutes on average, from the open ocean!

I cast my kite into the sky but once, while this guy cast his hooks, line, and sinker into the waves many times and got one or two fish each time. That's right, on two occasions he caught two fish at once—one on each hook. Why am I writing about fishing? I don't know really; it was just remarkable! (Elsewhere on this site, you can combine both passions and read about kite fishing. I kid you not; search it up.)

After the kite had been in the air for 20 minutes or so, I noticed that the tide seemed to be coming in. It was necessary to keep a close eye on the waterline from time to time, in case a quick haul-down became necessary!

The aim was to get a good long flight to log toward the 3 hours required for durability certification. With today's 45-minute flight it was "mission accomplished"!

Sode Sunset Silhouette

The MBK Paper Sode flew again today, after promising puffs of wind were observed out my work room window in the late afternoon.

The large grassy square field was adjacent to a school, and just 5 minutes away by car. But, being school holidays, no kids were to be seen. So it was an invitation to fly!

The first few attempts were launches into ominously quiet air. Would the breeze die completely as the sun went down? I tried several times, on longer and longer lengths of thread.

Fortunately, a large patch of dark clouds moved overhead which seemed to bring some higher wind speeds with it. Treetops began to wave about a little, and the gusts were now creeping into the high teens. In kilometers per hour, that is.

A slight lull brought the MBK Paper Sode right down to the grass after 15 minutes. But it was easy to relaunch a few minutes later. This time, the kite was still going strong, up at 200 feet, when it was time to pack up and head home :-(

In contrast to the sunny flying earlier today, the Paper Sode was a tiny dark silhouette against an overcast sky this time. The silver sail flew steadily, with just the occasional quiver or flick in one direction or the other. The long paper tails emitted audible rustling sounds from time to time.

There was some sag at lowish wind speeds since 90 meters (300 feet) of thread was out. But near 20 kph the thread tightened right up, which pulled out most of the sag. At these times there was a 45 to 50-degree line angle. Also, that meant height gain was now certified at over 200 feet off the grass!

It was very satisfying to obtain a 15 minute and a 20-minute flight. All together, that made up more than an hour of logged time today. Now, it's just 2 hours to go for durability certification.

Sode Sits Over the Sand

The beach location was directly upwind (by a few kilometers) of the local airport, where the wind speeds were ideal.

The initial experience was somewhat short of expectations. On a short line, the MBK Paper Sode floated around for just 5 minutes before settling back to the sand. According to the wind meter, 10.5 kph was just enough to keep the kite off the sand.

Other subsequent flights were even shorter, as I fruitlessly tried to keep the tiny craft airborne.

However, there was some cause for hope. The forecast was for fresher winds in the afternoon. Sooner or later, there had to be an increase in average wind strength! And so there was.

Finally, after 20 minutes of inconsistent and quite light wind, a welcome change in breeze came through. Quickly, the average strength rose to over 18 kph and the Paper Sode was away. The all-paper kite was flying close to maximum line angle on about 45 meters (150 feet) of polyester thread.

Despite the big increase in speed, the air proved very smooth. Although the average was 18 kph, the maximum gust strength was only around 21 kph.

It was a pleasure to observe the silver sode flying high and steady, smack in the middle of its designed wind range. For this final version, a little more tail had been added to ensure slightly better behavior in 30 kph winds.

It was time to return home so, somewhat reluctantly, the thread was wound in after just 30 minutes of air time. It's possible the kite could have stayed up for another hour!

Lift-Off for the Silver Sode

Alas, the breeze was hardly there today. But thermal gusts wafting across the reserve got the newly-minted Paper Sode airborne.

On the way there, it was clear that no more than 5-minute flights could be expected. You wait for a gust, loft the kite and see it climb strongly—only to settle back to the ground minutes later, due to insufficient wind.

Sure enough, on arrival at the reserve, the treetops were only occasionally disturbed by promising gusts of breeze. It was worth a try, and I had Plan B in mind. Taking the small paper craft out near the middle of the field, a few short flights ensued. If you could call them "flights." They were more like brief pull-ups followed by almost immediate landings.

Finally, a more prolonged gust swept through as over 30 meters (100 feet) of thread went out. It was slow going, as the kite held a 20-degree line angle while edging out and upward. As suddenly as it came, the air movement stopped, and the kite was down seconds later. But at least there was the small satisfaction of seeing the new kite spend some time in the air—even if the whole thing from launch to landing was under 5 minutes!

Every opportunity to fly will be taken over the next week or so, to log the 3 hours required for certifying durability. After losing the final prototype in wild winds with just over 1 hour logged, I'm somewhat paranoid about losing this final colored-paper version. So, every flight will be planned under the assumption that the thread will break. And there will definitely be no flying in gusts over 30 kph :-|

Oh, and Plan B? Down at the beach, the breeze was gusting to less than 5 kph!

Blown Away

So much for having a really long flight today.

Winds were rather high, so it was expected that a thread break or three would have to be dealt with. But I wasn't prepared for what happened.

Out at Knox Park, a large square field, the Paper Sode was soon up. The kite was sporting a new streamer from the tail which matched the other two in width and length. Out near the middle of the dry surface, the sode was coping well with gusts around the top of the moderate range. That is, 28 kph. However, even greater mayhem was occurring in some of the treetops ringing the field. This was an ominous sign, as it turned out.

While letting out thread to give the kite plenty of height, I walked back upwind to find a handy crack in the dry earth. It would be a good idea to leave plenty of space downwind, wouldn't it, just in case the thread broke. With the little sode soaring gleefully around at a good line angle, the paper winder was jammed into a crack that was at right angles to the wind direction. Perfect.

In fact, everything was perfect. There was plenty of wind, a high angle, plenty of height, and plenty of space downwind. These paper kites drop like a stone without line tension, so there's little chance of losing the kite 8-| Emoticons are far more reliable than emojis don't you think. They never fail to render ;-) But I digress.

So then, as leaf noise all around rose to a fresh wind crescendo ... I looked across, just after walking away from the tether point, to see some paper fluttering downwind. Oh dear—but it's OK isn't it. Just wait for it to drop. But it didn't.

There must have been an almighty rising-air component to the gust since the kite just kept charging along about 15 meters (50 feet) up. It was flat on its face and not losing any height at all! The paper disappeared from view behind the very top of a tall tree. And that was that.

A search of the whole area failed to find any trace of the Paper Sode :-(  —not in a treetop, not on the ground, or even on any rooftop that I could see. Some kid's going to get a free kite after school I think. And that might be in the next suburb!

Soooooooo ... all is not lost, apart from the time and petrol expended in logging flight time. The flying of prototypes so far, including the 3 minutes or so observed today, has brought the design right up to scratch. The e-book will be commenced immediately, and the new kite will be used to fly all 3 hours needed for certification of durability.

Sode Rises Higher

... thanks to a small bridle adjustment which pulled the towing point back lower than the upper horizontal spar.

What a difference. Previously, the short leg of the bridle had been close to right angles from the kite's vertical spar. The sode rarely held more than 25 or 30 degrees of line angle, regardless of wind speed. Now, in a smooth sea breeze, the little kite showed its potential—a steady 45 degrees, touching 50 occasionally!

There was nearly a dog incident, as has happened once before at this beach. The mutt approached with ball in jaw, half expecting me to throw it, I suppose. The owner called the dog away fairly soon, but not before it had passed perilously close to the taut polyester thread angling into the sky.

After I pulled out the wind meter, it was apparent that the little sode started to become unstable rather suddenly around a speed of 20 kph. This isn't great, since it's supposed to fly up to the top of the moderate range. At least the current configuration is strong enough, even though it would soon be forced down low by a steady 25 kph or so of wind speed.

The kite already has plenty of tail, but clearly needs more. Looking at it up there, I decided to add a third streamer from the bottom trailing edge. That will be three in total, each no less than 3 meters (10 feet) long!

A strong gust plopped the sode nose-first onto the sand, after a short initial flight. But after that, the Paper Sode flew for another 20 minutes until I had to take it down. It was school-pickup time!

During a period of slower air, averaging around 13 kph, the sode stayed high and steady. That was at that wonderful 45-degree line angle. It's all copier paper remember, so I insist that 45 degrees was wonderful ;-)

Later, the breeze freshened to an average of 18 kph gusting to 21 kph. That saw the tiny sode struggle a bit, although it continually recovered after reaching slower air near the sand.

At home, the third tail was added. The next flight could be a really long one.

From the Power Zone to the Tree

It didn't start too well today.

The Paper Sode prototype was struggling in gusts well over 30 kph. Even though this was past the upper limit that will be advertised for the design, it was clear that considerably more tail length would be a good idea.

The lengthy fresh gusts eventually took their toll. While I had my head down for a moment, the kite must have been spinning around quite low, before snapping the line. Right in the power zone as sport kite enthusiasts would say. On this occasion it was certainly powerful enough to part the thread at a weak point halfway out. The next thing I knew, the kite was right on top of a tree's foliage. It was taking a break from all the stress and strain, I guess :-|

The missing thread was nowhere to be seen. Nothing was hanging down anywhere, so I couldn't try pulling the kite out. Shaking a branch or climbing the tree were both out of the question. So what to do?

As has happened once before with another paper kite, I ended up throwing my wooden winder with 50-pound line up and over the kite. With the line looped over the kite, it was taken out of the tree with just some minor damage. That was despite completely folding the vertical spar in half on the way down!

Back at home, sticky tape was used for repairs and extra paper added to all the tails. The vertical spar had popped back out to its usual shape all by itself. For flying purposes, the spar wasn't weakened, thanks to the direction of the bend.

In the afternoon, another session proved very successful. It was not without a few issues, with the thread snapping a few more times though. There was just too much wind strength!

Before the longest flight occurred, I altered the bridle lines to a much shorter length. But I kept the towing point at about the same distance back from the nose.

The little sode reacted well to the bridle change, washing off excess gust pressure when needed. Hence, the kite was able to stay clear of the ground by being less prone to spinning. Also, the shorter bridle made for slower descents during wind drops. This also helped the kite stay high.

Massive thermals were coming through. The occasional fluffy grass seed blew into view, only to disappear downwind—while climbing!

In the end, the Paper Sode soared and flicked around the sky for over 40 minutes. Finally, a general decrease in the wind speed allowed the kite to settle gently back onto the grass. A full hour of total flight-time was logged today.

Q's Boil, Flyer Toils

Let me rephrase that.

In the distance, just behind the line of the Adelaide Hills, magnificent pure-white cumulus clouds enjoyed a growth spurt. Meanwhile, in warm breezy conditions, a lone kite flyer toiled to get a small paper sode kite away for a decent flight. Yep—t'was your's truly with the latest prototype of the MBK Paper Sode on polyester sewing thread.

The day was the culmination of a slow buildup of maximum temperatures. It was an afternoon reminiscent of the recently passed summer months.

In the wide strong thermals, it was going to be a challenge to get more than 5 minutes out of the paper kite. When the wind speed drops, so does the kite. On the other hand, being designed to easily cope with moderate winds, the paper kite just lapped up any furious thermal gustiness up there. There were no spar issues this time—they've been beefed up and wingspan reduced a little.

Eventually, the little sode did manage to stay off the dry grass and weeds for more than 10 minutes. At one stage during the flight, the sode soared up to around 200 feet on its nearly 90 meters (300 feet) of line.

I have yet to fly this kite in a smooth sea breeze, to really establish what its best line angle is. Like the other designs in the Paper Series, it should get around 45 degrees with just the right wind speed and bridle setting. Today, the kite hit 40 degrees with a little thermal help. So, it could do better.

After the 10-minute flight, the general wind-speed seemed to drop off a little. This spelled the end of the efforts to gain more log time for the sode. So, together with a 5-minute flight the other day, that's 2 hours and 45 minutes to go for certification :-( However, one decent spell down at the beach can mean 1 or 2 hours logged in a single flight! Maybe it'll be tomorrow, if there's a sea breeze.

Two New Ways to Anchor Kites

Note: these are only suitable for rather light-pulling kites such as those from the MBK Paper Series ;-)

With gusts disturbing the foliage outside, it seemed an opportune time to take out the Paper Sode #3. I chose the big square Knox Park this time since it would be good to get plenty of thread out, regardless of the wind's direction.

While waiting at a red light, I noticed large trees being fanned from the east. OK, so it would mean a bit of walking, with the car park being in the northwest corner of the reserve.

An initial flight was promising, with the new spar design holding up well to the boisterous gusts. However, despite good height being achieved, the little sode was soon back on the deck.

Thermal activity! Paper kites are not very tolerant of lulls since they descend fast when the breeze is just a few kph below the required minimum. Only seconds are available to catch the next gust.

In an effort to get a longer flight, I launched again and backed away upwind, letting out thread as I went. So far so good, as the tiny sode rode the gentle-to-moderate-strength breeze.

Rising air gave the kite a further boost for half a minute or so. Now there was so much thread out that line sag was becoming apparent—with polyester sewing thread!

Having left my bag behind on the dry grass, I needed to find some way of anchoring the kite for a while. Aha! A dry weed, the kind which often presented problems with catching the thread, now became a possible anchor point. After a little fiddling, the thread was secured around the base of the weed. And it did a great job, holding the kite until it came down a few minutes later.

Lulls between thermals were shooting the sode down every few minutes, so I had one last go. This turned out to be a  5-minute flight for the log, on the full 70 or 80 meters of thread. And the anchor point? It was a handy large crack in the parched soil, down which I had stuffed the paper winder. So there's number two. It's another way to anchor a small kite!

Sode Spars Found Wanting. Again.

Wanting quite a bit more stiffness right in the middle, that is.

This was supposed to be a leisurely watch-it-fly-for-an-hour-or-so experience. Instead, the dimension enlargements on the upper and lower horizontal spars turned out to be still not enough. A redesign of the layered spars will be in order, and perhaps a slight reduction in wingspan to further ease the stresses and strains.

Before it folded, the Paper Sode prototype #2 was pulling plenty of tension in moderate gusts. I was surprised the thread held, weak spots and all!

The reserve being ringed with tall trees, I didn't delay too long before heading right out to the middle, where launching would be so much easier.

Initially, the MBK Paper Sode performed in a promising fashion. A few flicks left and right indicated the need for more side-tail length though.

It was also becoming clear that the looped paper tail was never going to hold together for anything like the 3 hours required. Right at the halfway point, the paper was being torn by the constant fluttering. Plastic loop tails don't seem to do this; they just hang there like a ribbon-air-brake.

So, I'll either go with two separate tails, or perhaps just reinforce the current looped one with a layer of sticky tape for 20 or 30 cm in the middle. It will be interesting to see what happens. Perhaps the failure point will just shift up to the paper/tape junction on each side!

It wasn't until I changed to a much longer length of thread on another winder that the spar problems became apparent. Even so, the kite flew well enough for me to start timing flights. Then I noticed an ominously large dihedral angle forming! On closer inspection, I could see how the joints were failing. It was time to pack up, leave, and write this obituary for prototype #2!


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.

Every kite in every MBK series.