Barely A Breeze For Bright Barndoor
The weather site was indicating winds over 10kph so the 2-Skewer Barn Door kite seemed a perfect choice. Even in a much lighter breeze, the light-weight skewer-and-plastic construction would ensure that the bright-orange kite would fly. Well, it did, but only just!
MBK 2-Skewer Barn Door
Dangling the kite from an outstretched arm just
wasn't going to work, so the winder was tossed on the ground. Walking
towards the middle of the reserve with the small Barn Door, loop
after loop of flying line came off the winder as it tumbled around in
the grass. Untidy but it works. With about 30 m (100 feet) of line
out, I walked briskly back to the winder, running the line through my
hand. With a little bit of grip applied, the kite rose up willingly
enough. Only to lose height immediately, wafting face-down towards
For the next 20 minutes or so, it was one of those
ultra-light-wind skill-building sessions. Tow up, pull in, let out,
pull in again, let out during another tantalizing gust and so on. The
idea being to keep the kite in the air as long as possible.
after several pull-launches off the grass on a long line, the kite
found some faster air above 200 feet. That's more like it! Now it was
possible to just stand back and enjoy the sight and feel of the kite
in adequate air pressure. Soon, the orange Barn Door kite was
cruising about at steep line angles, staying around 300 feet above
the reserve. A lot of motorists on South Road would have noticed it
Nice flight, after a somewhat slow start!
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.
Floating Over The Neighborhood
Hey, this sunset flying in the backyard idea is
really working out...
Today it was the Dowel Delta, which is reliable in
very light winds. After numerous attempts to get it above rooftop
height, it finally got helped along by a gentle gust that was perhaps
2kph stronger than the others. It's not easy when you've got about 6
paces to run in, and the breeze is so light it can hardly move a
Anyway, there it was, not shifting left or right
by more than a few meters at a time. On letting out even more line I
discovered a sharp little wind gradient at about 2 - 3 times the
height of our rooftop. Perhaps another 2 or 3kph of wind speed, all
of a sudden. The kite dipped below and climbed above this level
several times, so the effect became pretty clear. Sometimes, below
this level, a few firm pull-ins were required to contact the faster
air again, where the size-able pale-orange Delta would just maintain height by itself.
A slightly windier period came through for a few
minutes, so I pulled the kite down much closer to the roof, just in
case. Don't want the kite to loop over and end up over the neighbor's
After this, the breeze progressively died off as
the sun sank to the horizon. But not before the Dowel Delta had gone
right out to 30 meters (100 feet) or so of line. Gentle gusts sent it
surging almost overhead, directly over our roof.
Eventually all breeze ceased and the Dowel Delta
came down helicopter fashion - vertically - as I maintained a little
tension in the line. Fantastic flight, although not so relaxing since
I had to be absolutely sure to keep it out of trouble!
A-Frame Soars In The Sun
A rare sunny day with moderate winds provided
another opportunity to get out with the 3-Skewer A-Frame again. I was
hoping for some fresher-strength breeze to really push the kite hard
and give an opportunity to trim it properly.
Firstly, I let the kite out at about 30 degrees of
line angle. Just for fun, I let the line out just fast enough to hold
the kite at around 30 degrees all the way out to 60 meters (200 feet)
of line. Then, I stopped and the A-Frame rose to around 45 degrees.
The stronger gusts kept bending the kite and pushing it down to lower
line angles, so I brought it back down by anchoring the line and
walking out with the line slipping through one hand. The towing point
was easily shifted forward by a centimeter or so (1/2") by
sliding the Prusik knot and then locking it again in the new
This time, the kite was much more comfortable and
rose right up to 60 or 70 degrees. Even after letting out another 60
meters of line! For 15 minutes or so I just enjoyed seeing the
3-Skewer A-Frame flying steadily at high altitude, the loop tail
rippling just slightly in the breeze. Orange plastic brightly
illuminated by the late afternoon sun from behind. No sign of
leaning, strangely, despite the good moderate airflow at that height.
Perhaps unwinding the tail to its original state had made quite a
difference. Can't complain!
On the ground, the wind meter recorded an average
strength of 5 kph and a maximum gust of 14 kph. Towards the end of
the flight, the fresher gusts had died down quite a bit. As a result,
the kite hung lower from time to time during lulls.
Steady And High In Cold Air
Another short but very enjoyable flying session
while the small son enjoyed his soccer practice a few blocks away.
This time it was the Sode's turn to be brought out of moth-balls for
a fly. After setting up the wind meter on its tripod and rigging the
kite, launching was easy in the gusty breeze coming through between
the scattered trees upwind. Out to about 30 meters of line, I just
let it slip fast enough to maintain a 40 degree line angle.
Flying about on 60 meters (200 feet) of line, the
big Sode surged around and quivered occasionally in the rough air. No
dramas, although the line was tight in the almost moderate strength
wind up there. Then I had a bit of fun, shaking line off the winder
with my left hand while controlling the slippage with my right hand.
This was done fast enough to allow the kite to sink down to a mere 15
or 20 degree angle, far away on 90 meters (300 feet) of line. Once
there, I just hung on while the kite did a magnificent fast climb,
weaving gently on its way straight up to 60 degrees.
Not content with a mere 90 meters, I continued to
let line out slowly until the Dowel Sode finally sat almost
motionless up around an altitude of 350 feet above ground. The breeze
was smooth and moderate in strength at that height. The line was
pulled tight and sagged by only 5 to 10 degrees. I can't actually
remember ever flying this Sode in such smooth air before. There it
was today, 'nailed to the sky', until I decided to take it down about
10 minutes later.
Passing down through 250 feet, the line tension
quite suddenly slackened off - but just a little. Then again, below
50 feet, the line tension decreased further and the Sode started
shifting around and quivering in turbulence from the trees and houses
upwind. With the kite on the ground, a quick check of the wind meter
showed an average wind speed of just 3.7 kph near ground level, and a
maximum gust of 12.4 kph. It felt like a steady 15 or 18 kph up high
Diamond And Jets
Yes, as the sun was almost down, the big carbon Diamond hung at a steep angle while one and then another passenger jet climbed away from Adelaide Airport heading east...
Below 100 feet there wasn't enough air movement to keep the 2 meter (6ft) span hard Tyvek and carbon Diamond up there. However, the occasional puff was just enough to allow some working of the line...
It was a little like dynamic soaring. Pulling in line resulted in smooth climbs to around 100 feet, whereupon I allowed the few extra kph of breeze up there to drift the kite downwind, losing height. By repeating this quite a few times I managed to get around 60 meters (200 feet) of line out without landing the kite.
Above 100 feet, the big Diamond was able to maintain height and even climb slowly to high line angles during weak gusts. Overall it was fairly smooth air averaging about 12kph at height.
It was ideal for the Diamond, which hung almost motionless for much of the time. Despite the weight of the hard house-wrap Tyvek sail, the 100 pound line was pulled tight at more than 60 degrees from the horizontal.
Slots in the sail just below the horizontal spar boost the efficiency of this kite by promoting smoother air flow over the top. Much like the landing slats in a passenger jet, along the leading edge of the wings.
An idyllic outing really.
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.