A popular triangular box
- the delta-conyne
A popular triangular box
- the delta-conyne
The simplest type has just 2 cells. That is, 2 sets of sail cloth are
wrapped around a set of long spars with a gap in the middle. Just like a
traditional box kite, except there are 3 long spars forming 3 sides
instead of 4.
The triangular type of kite represents the fewest number of sides that a box kite can have. Kites built in this style can actually have any
number of sides. For example, hexagonal and octagonal box kites have 6
and 8 sides respectively. These too have been built and flown for many
What do you think a box kite with a very large number of sides might look like? That's right, a couple of hoops! A few kites like this have been built and flown.
Conyne kites, like the delta conyne in the photo, have been made in many variations. For example, some have more than 1 triangular box components side by side. Others have more than 2 cells per box component. I have a closer look at these types of kites further down this page.
When the weather's good and you have the time, it's great to get out with a kite or 3. But what about on bad weather days? Then it's time to pull out...
"Kites Up!" - my downloadable kite-flying board game! Apart from towing indoor kites, doing a spot of imaginary flying is the next best thing :-)
An Unusual Triangular Box
Here's a modern kite which is technically a triangular box, but
doesn't have much else in common with the kites discussed so far.
It's the Prism Triad, a kite with 41x41 cm (16x16 inch)
sails. It has just the one cell, not 2 so that's just 3 sail panels
arranged in a triangular box. The panels are tensioned and kept in shape
with 6 flexible rods, 3 around each opening of the cell.
The Triad is a very light wind kite, completely unlike most box kites. This is achieved by using the latest materials, including MicroCarbon for the frame. The kite weighs just 43 grams (1.6 ounces)!
For extra appeal, the Triad is designed to be easily flown in trains. You can hitch together as many as you can afford, all in a line stretching up into the sky.
Another feature of this design is its tendency to tumble down through the air when the line tension is reduced.
Triangular Box Kite Sprouts Wings
Just like the traditional box kite, the triangular type was
eventually modified with wings to lift better. This was first done in
1902 by an American called Silas Conyne. This idea also inspired the French Military
kite of the early 1900s. These kites had some similarities to the more
complex Cody military kites, except they used 3 instead of 4 main spars
for each cell.
Kite enthusiasts still fly winged triangular box kites today. Not
surprisingly, they are often referred to as Conyne or French Military
The wings of the French Military design were quite short. A
single short spar extended out from the top of the kite on each side,
forming the pointed tip of the wing. Eventually, as delta kites began to be developed, someone had the idea of merging the 2 ideas. The resulting Delta Conyne could fly at higher line angles and also stay up in lighter winds.
If you see someone flying a triangular box today, chances are it will be one of the Delta variety! Some even have two sets of cells in the middle, side by side. These kites are known as Double Conynes.
In the 21st century, just about any kind of kite is available from a
shop, either on or off-line. Various kinds of triangular box kites can
be bought. They are made from the usual modern kite materials such as
rip-stop nylon or mylar for the sails and fiberglass or carbon fiber for
the spars. To keep costs down, these kites are usually small to average
However, people who like to build their own often opt for really
big sizes! Particularly if they are chasing altitude records, or
hoisting heavy photographic gear.
Large Delta Conynes are also popular with the KAP crowd. KAP stands for Kite Aerial Photography.
The high lift of the delta plus the stability of the triangular cells
make the Delta Conyne kite a good choice for KAP. People tend to
experiment with other configurations too. For example, hitching 2 box
kites side-by-side under a delta wing, forming a Double Conyne box kite.
Here's a fine example of a big Delta Conyne...
Photo courtesy of Takeshi Iwamoto
Making A Simple 3 Sided Box Kite
It might look a little simpler than a 4-sided kite, but
triangular box kites actually need more parts in order to stay rigid.
Like square box kites, they can be made permanently rigid or collapsible
for easy transportation.
One way to make a triangular kite is to make up 2 triangular
frames from 6 short pieces of wood, all the same length. After the
frames are ready, 3 long spars are fitted, running through each corner
of the triangular frames. Sail cloth is then wrapped around and secured
to each end of the complete assembly to form the sail panels. These
panels should be about a quarter to a third the length of the entire
kite. Finally, a bridle can be attached to each end of one of the long
spars. Like the square box, a bridle is not strictly necessary since the
flying line can just be attached to a long spar about a quarter of its
length in from one end.
Another way to make a triangular box kite is to start by laying out
the 2 strips of sail material on a flat surface. Then the 3 long spars
are laid down across the sail material, at intervals. Just imagine a
kite undone and laid out flat. Then, 12 short lengths of spar material
are laid down at right angles to the main spars. These shorter spars,
about 1/6 the length of the main spars, stiffen the leading and trailing
edges of each panel. The ends of the short spars do not quite touch the
long spars. Long pieces of tape can then be used to securely fasten the
short spars to the sail. The tape also reinforces the sail where it
bends around the long spars. When the whole thing is folded up and
fastened with tape, it becomes rigid and is ready to fly once a flying
line is attached. Velcro could be used instead to make it collapsible.
you actually make a triangular box kite that is of similar dimensions
to a square box kite you already have, it will soon become clear that it
requires a bit more wind to fly well. That's partly because of those
short spars. The extra weight increases the 'wing loading' of the kite.
But who cares, really, when you can still fly in a wide range of strong
wind conditions! Pull out a 2 or 3 stick flat kite for those light wind
The original simple triangular box with just the 2 cells is not seen
much now. However, its influence is considerable. These days, triangular
box kites are most often seen as...
- components of large complex multi-cellular kites
- lifters of photographic equipment, in various Conyne configurations
- colorful shop-bought Delta Conyne kites being flown for fun
Talking about complex, how's that yellow 3-celled design in the photo. Inspired by the French Military kite, but with more wings and
As mentioned earlier, there's another alternative to towing indoor kites if it's just not possible to fly outdoors...
"Kites Up!" is my downloadable board game. It's a PDF file which has all the documentation for the game plus images for all the components. Tokens, cards, the board itself and so on. Anyway, just click that link to see more info :-)