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25 Kites That Fly
2 Stick Frames
3 Stick Kite Frames
Broom-Straw Frames
Bear Dancing
Boat Sail
Box, Pyramidal
Box, Rectangular
Box, Square
Box, Square with Wings
Box, Tri,  Wings
Triangular Box Kite
Loose Kites
Butterfly 1
Butterfly 2
Butterfly Chinese
Kite Clubs
Dragon Chinese
Dragons & Fish
Kite Flying
Flying Machine
Frog 1
Frog 2
Japanese Square
Keeled Buoy
King Crab
Knives & Cutters
Luna Kite
Kite Making
Maley or Bow
Maly Triple
Moving Star
Neptune Notes
Owl 1
Owl 2
Pulley Weight
Shield 1
Shield 2
Star, 5 Point
Star, 6 Point
Star, Belly-Band
String 1
String 2
Tailless R Best
Useful Info
Where to Fly
Winding In

Scout Books

Site Contents

By Leslie Hunt

bulletA Bow or Malay (Kite #11)
bulletTetrahedral Kite (Kite #12)
bulletAn Owl (Kite #13)
bulletA Frog (Kite #14)
bulletA Shield (Kite #15)
bulletA Triangular Box Kite (Kite #16)
bulletA Square Box Kite (Kite #17)
bulletA Rectangular Kite (Kite #18)
bulletA Butterfly Kite (Kite #19)
bulletA Yacht Kite (Kite #20)

A fact often overlooked in flying a kite is that many forces and restraints operate to make the flight successful.  I do not know any common example to which the flight of a kite may be compared.  Many writers compare the performance of a kite with that of a sailing vessel, but a short discussion will enable us to see that the kite and ship have little in common.

In the first place, even in the case of the tallest masts, the sails remain very near the surface of the water where the direction and force of the wind is fairly constant in a limited area at a given time.  A ship moves, and moves at a velocity proportional to the wind.  A ship's sidewise movements are greatly limited, although there may be considerable rolling.

A kite flies at an altitude where the direction of the wind, not only with respect to the compass, but also with respect to ascent and descent, varies moment by moment and must, therefore, be considered.  For years, the soaring and gliding of birds was a great puzzle to naturalists until the existence of rising currents of air became known.  It is now quite generally believed that soaring birds balance themselves on rapidly rising columns of air.  The strange cold storms of the Mediterranean Sea are but descending columns of cold air of gigantic size.

The rising columns of air enable us to fly a well-made kite on hot days when there is but little breeze at the surface.

Just a short time ago, I sent up a train of three bow kites (No. 11) near a small tract of woodland.  The flying was fair, but not entirely satisfactory.  I was unable to get the leader into a higher current of air that I knew existed from the behavior of an airplane not far distant.  

While I was attempting to crowd the kites higher, the middle kite drifted over the woodland and immediately fell, snapping the string between me and the kites.  The trees evidently checked the upward currents that had sustained the kites.  The leader remained flying since it was over the bed of a dried-up pond, and the heated air could be seen quivering up from the surface.  

The third kite was at the nearer edge of the woodland, just where the horizontal currents were bent upward adding their force to the vertical currents.  This kite immediately climbed to an altitude as high as that reached by the leader, broke, away from the others and drifted nearly a mile away where I found it being studied by a number of cows.

One can get an excellent idea of the nature of air currents aloft if a box of finely torn paper or confetti is sent up and opened as described in Chapter VI.  I have read that the United States Forest Service uses kites to liberate tree seeds from a height in order to study the effect of air currents on the distribution of seed.

We may say, therefore, that the currents of air encountered by a kite are exceedingly complex and variable as compared to those encountered by a sailing vessel.

A kite's forward motion is checked by the string and is not proportional to the wind, although its upward motion may be so to some extent.  But this upward motion is not due to the release of the string, but to the reaction coming after the release has been slowed up or checked.  In case of a ship, the movement is greatest in the direction of least resistance or where the restraint is the least.  

The kite's horizontal movements, unlike those of a ship, may be very great and still interfere but little with good flying, while rolling is practically unknown except in kites designed to perform antics or those out of balance.  Both ship and kite pitch and dart, but from different causes.  Still, it is not far wrong to compare the flight of a kite with the progress of a sailing vessel, provided that the vessel is dragging her anchor and is moving upward across a current flowing diagonally to the wind.

Kite making is unlike shipbuilding since the medium in which the kite sails is the same as that which propels it.

Flying a motored plane or a glider is not to be compared with kite flying, since there is power in the motored plane and the lack of string in the glider.

I have planned kites for special purposes, and have resorted to higher mathematics and the principles of engineering to allow for every known and probable force.  But I have, invariably, been surprised at their behavior on being sent up the first time.  The kites usually flew, but like fancy fireworks (which usually go off), they hardly ever did just what was expected or planned.

To overcome all this uncertainty, I have tried out the kites I am describing, and I hope that, after the boys or girls gain confidence, they will accept the challenge of the air, make other kites and tinker with them until satisfactory fliers are obtained.

The kites described in this chapter offer an endless opportunity for alteration, so that practically any figure may be represented with a little skill and an abundance of patience.

C25kt~13.gif (68255 bytes)
Samuel F. Perkins, the government kitemaker, is shown attaching an aerial to one of the kites used by Lieut. Commander Byrd on his Polar expedition, to be used in case of a forced landing. (Keystone View Co.)

Ten tailless kites are described in this chapter, some of them easy to make and some of rather difficult construction.  

When you have made a few tailed kites and a few tailless kites, will be ready to make the type of kites that include both plane surfaces and surfaces not in the same plane (See Compound Kites).

Bird kites do not differ greatly from the butterfly kite, and fish kites are but modifications of the bow-kite principle.

The Chinese often make snake and dragon kites, made up of a large number of connected kites of bow type.

As a rule, we do not have patience enough to correct a kite with a faulty figure.  I have known many excellent figure kites to be thrown away when just a few minutes of intelligent work would have made them successful fliers. 

The importance of keeping a record of your kites and the means employed to correct faulty flight cannot be overestimated.

If I correct a faulty flier and forget how I did it, I must study out the means of correction every time I make a faulty flier.  And if I do not remember how faults are corrected, or do not keep a record book, I shall forever be making faulty fliers.

I have given many cautions on flying kites before they have had time to dry.  To attempt a flight when the paper is soft and the glue weak and the whole kite heavier than need be, is foolish.  Reasonable patience and care will provide a means of acquiring much skill in one of the most ancient of outdoor sports.

25 Kites that Fly






Additional Information:

Peer- Level Topic Links:
Introduction ] 25 Kites That Fly ] 2 Stick Frames ] 3 Stick Kite Frames ] Broom-Straw Frames ] Accessories ] Adjustments ] Altitude ] Balloon ] Barrel ] Bear Dancing ] Boat Sail ] Box, Pyramidal ] Box, Rectangular ] Box, Square ] Box, Square with Wings ] Box, Tri,  Wings ] Triangular Box Kite ] Boy ] Loose Kites ] Butterfly 1 ] Butterfly 2 ] Butterfly Chinese ] Cannibal ] Kite Clubs ] Cross ] Dragon Chinese ] Dragons & Fish ] Eddy ] Elephant ] English ] Filipino ] Fish ] Fisherman ] Kite Flying ] Flying Machine ] Frog 1 ] Frog 2 ] Girl ] Imp ] Japanese Square ] Keeled Buoy ] King Crab ] Knives & Cutters ] Luna Kite ] Kite Making ] Malay ] Maley or Bow ] Maly Triple ] Man ] Messengers ] Military ] Moving Star ] Neptune Notes ] Owl 1 ] Owl 2 ] Pennants ] Preface ] Pulley Weight ] Shield 1 ] Shield 2 ] Star ] Star, 5 Point ] Star, 6 Point ] Star, Belly-Band ] Steering ] Hargrave ] String 1 ] String 2 ] Swim ] [ Tailless ] Tailless R Best ] Tandem ] Tetrahedral ] Turtle ] Useful Info ] Wagon ] War ] Armed ] Unarmed ] Where to Fly ] Wind ] Winding In ] Windmill ] Ship ] Woglom ] Woman ] Yacht ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.