We build and fly many different types of kites that are known in the West, as you probably know by now. Not all of them originated in the West though...
On this page, the focus is definitely on single-liners, and 'flat' kites in particular. However, I like to include designs with bowed spars or dihedral in the 'flat' category. Not to mention Deltas, despite the small amount of billow in their sails which helps to keep them stable.
A couple of these types, the Diamond and the Delta, are almost 'household names' now. Particularly during April in the USA, when it is officially 'kite month' over there! Even in China, where kites have been popular for many centuries, the Diamond and Delta from the West are catching on and being absorbed into the local kite culture.
Try the Big MBK E-book Bundle of downloadable and printable e-books if you want to have as much fun as we have had!
Apart from those 2 types, we hope you enjoy getting educated about some others that are not quite as well known. Like another Japanese design, the Rokkaku.
The Sled Kite
Small 'soft' Sled
In terms of popularity and sheer numbers, the Sled kite is up there in the Big Three - Sleds, Diamonds and Deltas.
I've never seen a truly large
Sled of the 2-stick variety, but have often seen smaller ones flying
here and there. Usually with inflatable spars, as in the photo. In parks, down at the beach, even at Kite Festivals.
entire web site started out by featuring a humble little $5 all-plastic
Sled we bought for our toddler! It's still out there in the back
A bit of research on these types of kites turned up an
amazing variety of configurations for such a seemingly simple design.
Extra spars, vents, cutouts, you name it. Whatever its exact form, the
attractive thing about these kites is the built-in transportability and
instant setup. Pure convenience.
The flying performance of store-bought Sled kites tends to be modest, but that doesn't bother the people who fly them!
The Diamond Kite
Small retail Diamond
I can't help noticing how often we are bombarded with images of the Diamond kite in daily life. These types of kites are everywhere.
It seems every second kid's show on T.V. and every second children's book has an image or 3 of this extremely well-known kite shape. It seems that, in the West at least, the word 'kite' is almost synonymous with the shape 'diamond'.
Hear 'kite', see a 'diamond'!
a family we have often seen a Diamond kite of some description floating
on the breeze. Usually, the person taking an opportunity to fly a kite
is hidden by the houses and trees of suburbia here in Adelaide.
all our building and flying of simple Diamonds has underscored the
basic reliability and idiot-proof nature of these types of kites! Many
other designs can have their quirks and give trouble when built from
scratch by inexperienced fliers. No wonder the Diamond is so popular.
The larger ones which break down for transport are very quick to set up
With accurately made modern materials, Diamond kites can have quite a good wind range, although they don't necessarily fly at very steep line angles.
In some corners of the world, you might hear a Diamond referred to as an Eddy kite. There are a number of similarities!
The Barn Door Kite
Large custom Barn Door
so many visitors from the U.S. passing through this site, it's
appropriate to include a design that apparently originated in that
country. The 3-spar Barn Door doesn't make it into my top 3 types of
kites. However, a little browsing around the Web reveals that a number
of keen kite people take pride in making and flying large examples of
these types of kites.
I have to admit, I've never seen a Barn
Door flying here in Australia! Apart from our own MBK versions of
course. There must be a few around though, since the term '3-sticker'
has been in use for many years.
Both our own Skewer designs are very much at home in fresh breezes, although we fly them both with tails. Larger Barn Door kites are able to fly tail-less, at least in light to moderate winds.
The Rokkaku Kite
Large custom Rokkaku
The Rokkaku kite, often abbreviated to just 'Rok', has to be the most copied Japanese kite in the West.
types of kites are everywhere, from small ones turned out from
children's kite-making workshops right through to large expensive
air-brushed versions for sale in kite shops. There's always a few big Roks floating around at our local kite festival each year.
Like the Diamond
and Delta, flying characteristics have a lot to do with their
considerable popularity! In my humble opinion. However, they don't quite
make the Big Three.
I've seen a Rok Battle at a kite festival,
and have to say it's not a bad spectator sport! The competitors try to
force all the other kites to the ground, any way they can. Well, not
quite, I'm sure firearms would be against the rules ;-) Personally, I'm
not so much into kite fighting, and prefer to fly my Rokkakus up to 400
feet in light wind and thermal conditions.
are quite forgiving to construct and fly. They are very stable and a
tail is needed only for some of the tiniest versions. Like the 29cm (12") MBK 1-Skewer Rok. The larger Roks can be built for light conditions only, like mine, or for more testing conditions like those used for modern Rok Battles.
"Love the easy to understand step by step instructions, made from next to nothing materials and above all so much fun to fly... cheers Tim for sharing your well thought out pdf kite designs with the whole world. Very satisfying making your own and watching them get air-born for the first time."
"I decided to run kite making as an elective again on this camp in the past week - so I bought all your e-books, a bunch of materials, and then took a group of 10 high school students through making the kites over 4 days. We built a diamond, a Barn Door, a Delta, and two skew delta kites. Again - every single kite flew."
The Sode Kite
Otherwise known as the Kimono kite due to its resemblance to
that Japanese garment, the Sode has often been copied in the West. It's
not unknown for a large Sode to be spotted at a kite festival. The
rectangular areas of sail make a good canvas for artistic expression!
MBK Sodes are great light wind fliers, and gain height easily in
thermals just like Deltas. The Japanese originals fly without tails, and
use Washi paper for the sails. Apparently, some tragically keen
Japanese fliers still make their own Washi paper from mulberry bushes...
Beat that for 'building from scratch'! Sode kites can seem quite flimsy when being handled on the ground, but these types of kites fly very steadily up high.
The Delta Kite
A mass-produced Delta
Number 3 of The Big Three! Of all the different types of kites, the Delta kite is most commonly recommended to beginners by shops and festival commentators, for good reason.
Delta is easy to launch, flies on the lightest of breezes, and almost
always sits at a good steep line angle. These characteristics have
pushed along the popularity of this design to huge levels, despite
having only a fraction of the history of the Diamond and perhaps even
the Sled kite.
The vast majority of Delta kites are bought from a shop, since they are not nearly as straight-forward to construct as the Diamond or Sled. However, building Delta kites can be very rewarding, as I can attest!
experience of Deltas has uncovered a tendency for them to get
unpredictable in gusty or fresh winds. However, in light winds or
stronger smooth breezes they are truly wonderful fliers.
has been designing light wind kites since 1974, and specializes in the
Delta configuration. Customers rave about the quality and performance of
Dan's Delta kites. Mind you, they don't come cheap!
The Roller Kite
Not a super-popular design now, but there are people out there who really love their Rollers!
efficient light wind kite that can be adjusted for flying in stronger
winds, the Roller has its roots in pre-War Germany.
With its tail-less
design and steep flying angles, this kite is handy for flying in
Our MBK Rollers are reliable fliers, based on
the Pearson Roller, with the 2-Skewer one quite capable of going
overhead on 90 meters (300 feet) of line. Despite its very modest size. The even smaller 1-Skewer design once caught
the eye of a German blogger who marveled at how a Roller could be so
I have a sneaking suspicion that Roller kites
are more liked and well known in Germany and other parts of Europe than
elsewhere on the planet. After all, that's where the basic concept
The Dopero Kite
Patriotic Dopero (Scottish)
Hardly a common kite, the Dopero is however much appreciated with the Kite Aerial Photography
crowd. This design is capable of hoisting camera gear aloft in light
winds better than other designs of similar sail area.
The original kite
was actually inspired by the idea of overlapping 2 Pearson Rollers.
Hence DOuble PEarson ROller or 'Dopero'.
Our Doperos are rather loosely
based on the original! These types of kites generally have drag-pockets
under the trailing edge, but ours have twin keels. Also, ours have much
lower aspect ratios. To put that in entirely non-technical language,
ours are 'stumpy' compared to the more 'graceful' types of kites that
were originally made. I have my reasons for this, and it doesn't stop
the 2-Skewer version going directly overhead on 120 meters (400 feet) of line...
The very best shop-bought Dopero kites are wonderful hi-tech pieces of gear. Hence they are expensive, with dollar prices in 3 digits!
Itching To Make Something?
Try the Big MBK E-book Bundle of downloadable and printable e-books if you want to have a go at making one of the above types of kites!
I love getting feedback from visitors to this website who have successfully made and flown my designs. Well, they're old and proven historical designs really. I just show you how to make them from next-to-nothing materials.
Our Dowel Sode - plane-like and an amazing flier
Another Type Of Kite...
I hope you enjoyed that quick tour of the types of kites you are likely to see in the West, floating in the wind on the end of a single string.
Although it doesn't belong in my grouping of 8, I might just throw in a mention of another popular type right here.
Flowform and twin Sleds at a festival
The single-string parafoil or flowform...
types of kites are everywhere, and you are certain to see a variety of
them if you ever attend a kite festival. Like the multi-line parafoils
that pull surfers across the water at beaches, the single-liner has an
upper and lower surface, divided into a number of cells that are open at
the front. Flowforms also let air out the back. Air pressure keeps the kite's shape pumped up as it flies. Just see big the photo down there, which shows a Flowform in the foreground and a couple of ram-air Sleds behind it....
here's the point - you are not going to slap one of these together in
an hour or 2 on your kitchen table, from plastic bags! Also, with no
spars, bamboo doesn't come into it either. Perhaps I could give it a
shot, and call it the 'MBK Zero-Skewer Parafoil' ;-)
When this page was originally written, a fair amount of
background info was collated on these specific kite types. Along the
way, many other different kinds of kites altogether were discovered.
Finally, might you be interested in some fascinating in-depth kite history?
At this site, click on KITE HISTORY on the right hand side to browse
time-lines of kite development, and peek into the activities of some
early kite pioneers. The web-master is a historian by profession, and has done a ton of research on various types of kites, and the individuals behind them.