For the avid kite enthusiast the fun begins before the
kite flies. One of my fondest memories associated with kites dates to my early childhood when dad took time to help me build one using wooden yardsticks, newspaper, and paste made from flour and water. Today, from kits to free form the building of the kite is increasing in popularity. In fact, there are now kite building competitions and entire websites dedicated to the sport. Other websites provide an array of plans, and information, and on YouTube there are a number of videos that explain the science behind kite building, and then provide information needed to build basic models.
Another interesting aspect of the kite hobby is large, inflatable ones. Seldom are these created by hobbyists but they add dramatic life to kiting events. The American Kitefliers Association refers to these as as “show kites” or “big show kites.” These kites utilize ram-air inflation or closed-bladder inflation and the shape is loosely derived from the airfoil with the air inlets usually positioned at the front and a bridle with the tether line distributing the loads evenly across the base of the kite as they have no rigid spars.
In recent years the development of strong synthetic fabrics has allowed for the creation of three-dimensional models which hold their shape because the pressure of the air inside the kite is slightly higher than the surrounding atmospheric pressure. These are similar in construction to hot air balloons and also provide platforms for the expression of artistic creativity which results in the creation of fish, cats, animals, cartoon characters, and even cars and motorcycles. Sizes vary dramatically but often range from 2 meters in length to 65 meters. Peter Lynn of New Zealand has created some of the world’s largest inflatable single-line kites.
If your association with kites is simply making one on the kitchen table using four and water paste, and gleefully running down the street as it takes soars toward the clouds, it will come as quite a surprise to learn how much has changed, and how dynamic the sport has become. Stop by Tumbleweeds and Tarantulas and discover the fun filled world of kites.