Soft Kite Posts—Parachute

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 :-)

MBK Parachute Kite

Tide Rises, Wind Drops

It looked ideal on my screen—24 kph gusting to 31 kph from the west, straight off the sea.

Approaching the beach, it seemed promising since there were whitecaps out across the ocean. Minutes later, after arriving on the sand, it was a different story since the tide was well up. However, there were signs that the water was receding, so with that I found a spot and checked the breeze. It was only 9 kph gusting to 12 kph?! That was odd, but it was still worth putting the kite up for a while.

Soft kite posts - parachute. The MBK Parachute in flight.MBK Parachute

Space was very limited. To gain an extra few meters, I placed the bag on damp sand not far from the water's edge.

On only 15 meters (50 feet) or so of line, the small parachute waved around happily enough, just clear of the artificial rock face. The rocks were real, just the slope had been put in place by artificial means ;-)

The line angle was clearly boosted by the steep slope which forced the breeze up and over.

For some minutes I scampered around getting stills and video from various angles. Despite the winter weather, the sun was finding substantial gaps in the cloud cover and pouring through brightly. At one point, after rescuing the kite from a rock landing, I photographed directly upward at the kite while standing partway up the rock face. That'll be the closest inflight pic of this kite taken so far, I'm sure.

A seagull soared close by but turned away just as I framed up the shot. Bother.

An even bigger bother was the seawater suddenly washing past the bag on the sand and my shoes while video was being taken! Was it a "dodge tide" perhaps.

Within a second or two, the bag was taken to safety a couple of meters toward the rocks. The kite kept flying. A glance to the north confirmed that the water had also reached the steps where I had descended to the sand!

Wasting no time, the kite was taken down and stuffed into the bag. Further down the beach to the south, it wasn't clear if the other off-ramp would be accessible without getting wet. I was out of there pretty quickly, up the concrete steps.

So, the hardy little 'chute still flies. It's been many, many months now since the construction of the MBK Parachute was first documented. There's a lot of taping in the kite's construction, but that has had the benefit of extra durability it seems.

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.

The Parachute and the Press

All will become clear in a moment.

With the Adelaide International Kite Festival coming up as it does at Easter each year, a photoshoot with the local paper had been arranged.

Unfortunately, the weather during the shoot was atrocious; there was 40 kph gusting to over 60 kph at the airport just a few kilometers south of our location. The press photographer had to work with just a couple of kids and a couple of fairly big inflatables flown by kite-club members. Small cheap kids' kites would have been torn apart in the ferocious blast!

The wind speed swelled and moderated, affected by rain squalls passing through in the vicinity. Fortunately, we didn't actually get rained on during the photography.

The kids posed on the railings at the top of a skating half-pipe. Meanwhile, a trilobite kite and a red parafoil moved around (a lot!) in the background. The press photographer shot upward from ground level, waiting for the kites to cooperate every 10 seconds or so. Another shot involved some fake flying; a boy hung onto a winder as I held the other end of the line, to simulate an out-of-sight kite.

Finally, it looked like the photographer was not going to get the final shot required. This involved two kids lying on the grass with a kite held just above them. The trilobite could be flown within a couple of meters of the grass, but there was no way it would look right when held at either side.

Then I had an idea. We ended up having the boy hang onto the connecting line of the MBK Parachute bridle. Although the air was rough, at such a low position the wind strength was less extreme. The rectangular canopy popped open and flew just above and behind the kids' heads. Every once in a while, the canopy would flop to one side and collapse, but the cross-flow vents did their thing and soon pumped up the cells again!

Just as some "icing on the cake," it seems the publication might be using one of the parachute images to advertise the Adelaide festival on the front page. That would be rather cool, if it happens! (Over the weekend, it did—T.P.)

Parachute Blows Away

Yes, yes, it did, but we'll get to that in a moment :-)

It was supposed to be an AKFA kite fly when I went out yesterday. It wasn't totally surprising that no one else was there, given the high gust-strength of the southerly breeze. A kite surfer and one or two wind surfers were on the water, with whitecaps everywhere—strong conditions!

Not to worry, the MBK Parachute kite likes a bit of breeze.

Initially, I had a bit of trouble launching the parachute as it blew around from side to side on a short line. It often folded a tip under before collapsing to the grass. More tail seemed a sensible thing to do in the conditions, so I added a generous length of Tyvek. It was just a thin strip, but it did the trick. Finally, on several meters of line, the parachute was up.

This kite doesn't like extreme side-to-side line angles. But on enough line, it never gets out to such angles and so behaves from then on.

Letting line out to 30 m (100 ft.), I nearly got a burn from the 50-pound line as the MBK Parachute rose higher and copped the full blast of rushing air. Thin white Tyvek trailing behind, the plastic-and-tape foil was flying well, apart from the occasional buffet from turbulence. With the top row of bridle lines all shortened by a centimeter (1/2 inch) the kite seemed to be holding just a fraction above its usual line angles.

At shoulder height, the breeze was measured at 27 kph gusting to 33 kph. I was standing in a sheltered location though!

To find smoother air, the line was let out to 60 m (200 ft.) before being tied off to a fence. Using spring scales, the line tension was now observed to be touching 4 kg occasionally. This was a lot for just 3/4 of a square meter of sail area! Effective sail-area in the air would be more like half a square meter.

BANG! Suddenly the line went slack, and I looked up to see the kite drifting off downwind. The folded-up plastic just cleared a tall tree, before disappearing from sight. Fortunately, I later found it near the side of the road going past the beach.

The Prusik knot in the short bridle line had cut through the short connector line, both of which were made using 20-pound Dacron. Tsk tsk tsk. Fortunately for e-book readers, I had anticipated this problem and recommended that they use 50-pound line for those two bits of the bridle!

Anyway, the flying was good while it lasted. The small 'chute was coping well with gusts in the 40s in kph. Going by weather reports, some of the gusts might have touched 50 kph. By the time I left, there were a lot more kite surfers and wind surfers on the water.

Parachute Photo Shoot

Conveniently, even stronger winds were forecast for yesterday, compared to the previous outing with the MBK Parachute kite.

Predictable flying would be a bonus since I intended to really work the camera this time. Accordingly, Christies Beach was selected as the spot to fly. After a short walk down to the sand, the MBK Parachute was soon up on a very short line. It was posing for inflight closeups. A check with the wind meter revealed a breeze strength of 25 kph gusting to 31 kph from the SSW.

Just a little cloud was about, after the thick cover and a few spots of rain earlier in the day. For once, at this location, the tide was out, giving ample room to fly.

On the short line, a trim change was necessary so the length of one brake line was altered—only to have the kite go the other way! However, the error was small so I just left it, to see what would happen on a longer line.

With much more line out, the kite started pulling harder and managed to shift my kite bag across the sand. Quickly digging a trench with the toe of my shoe, the bag slipped in and was able to hold the tension from then on.

With the kite anchored, it was time to scoot around and try a few different camera angles. Some seagulls flew over and made a brief appearance in one of the videos. The artificial rocky incline bordering the beach, a tall tree, and a small rotunda provided some background detail for more picturesque shots.

Finally, the line was let out to just over 30 m (100 ft.). Maybe it was the harder inflation due to the stronger wind strength up there, but the parachute's trim seemed to improve. Also, line angles improved as the kite was getting closer to the rocky incline. Slope lift! That's air being forced up and over an incline.

The MBK Parachute was pulling hard, so after packing it away I rechecked the breeze—35 gusting to 44 (kph)! With no signs of instability or damage, the parachute kite can now be considered well tested in fresh breeze-strengths.

To Bee or Not to Bee

Once again there was plenty of sun and winds were gusting just over 30 kph.

The final touch to the MBK Parachute kite was a decorative (!) drogue hanging out the back. This is like the full-size sport chutes have, after they have been deployed in freefall.

Sticking to the downwind side of the large square reserve, I flew the parachute on a pretty short line while snapping away with the camera. A video was taken on a fairly short line as well.

It seemed I might have overcorrected somewhat with one of the brake lines, causing a lean to the left. However, when flying much higher, and with fresh gusts pumping the canopy tight, the kite seemed to settle down. Wonderful! There it was, wandering around on a tight 45 m (150 ft.) of braided Dacron. Line angles were modest as always, but the 'chute continued to impress with its ability to absorb fresh wind with ease.

A longish movie was taken, only for a bee to land right next to the shutter button! I think I managed to terminate the movie just before gingerly shaking off the bee.

Just how much breeze could the MBK Parachute take, I wondered. Time will tell.

MBK Parachute Nearly There

After a lot of rain, the sun came out and winds were gusting to 30 kph.

Despite the good wind-strength, it was very tricky getting the parachute into the air today at a small local reserve. The wind strength was only available for very short periods down low, due to the fairly tall trees around the reserve. We might pick a better flying spot for this kite next time! I'm so used to flying light-wind kites.

Finally, after much fancy footwork and line working, the parachute made it over the treetops at the far side of the reserve.

A lean to the right was hampering the kite's performance, and adjusting the sliding bridle knot seemed to have little effect. This led to a neat idea—adding brake lines to the trailing edge!

The kite may not have sparkling performance in terms of line angle, but what an educational build for youngsters. The design will have all the basic features of a modern sport parachute. That would include functional steering for the purpose of trimming the kite for straight flight!

Now to add those extra lines.


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.