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Kite Design

Design effects, designing new kites, bridling
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Long before I built my first home made stunt kite I got to wondering about kite design, just how they fly, what features had what effects etc. I looked in local bookshops for any books about kites and they had nothing. What I was looking for was books full of maths that would teach me how to design a 2 line stunt kite or at least predict the likely outcome of a particular shape etc. The only book I know of which gets anywhere near this is Swept Wing Stunt Kites by Mark Cotrell (it's out of print but Mark has very kindly allowed people to host pdf copies). I talked to a few kite-makers and the bottom line is that a lot of it is guesswork, the real skill which sets the successful kite-maker apart from us mere mortals, is the ability to make a change and recognise the effect. More than anything else that talent stems from experience, flying lot's of kites and recognising the patterns which exist in kite design. Have you ever heard someone say a kite is like a Tracer? That's the kind of thing I'm talking about – the Tracer was an incredibly influential design and many kites, even to this day have echoes of the Tracer design and there is still a little of the feel of a Tracer in there.

So, I spend a lot of time flying all sorts of kites, and while I do I'm learning. I spend a lot of time thinking about a design before building. I want make sure that I remember all the things I liked about the kites I have flown and try to associate those with the facets of each design so that I can incorporate the good bits into my design and leave out the bad.

In these pages I'll try to bring together some of the things I've learned so that someone else can read them and maybe take a shortcut on the route to designing their own kites. Also on these pages I'll waffle about some of the ideas I've come up with. Some I've tried and work, some are still just ideas, some plain stink.

Before moving on however I'd like to thank a few people:

  • Dave Lord and Mark Cotrell for what appears to be the only published works on kite design.
  • Designers like Dean Jordan for using innovative ideas to produce wonderful results, which prompt me to think even more about kite design.
  • The many kite makers whose brains I've picked over the years and whose kites have influenced my own personal tastes.
  • James Ervin and Andrew Beattie for fuelling my early interest in kite design.
  • Andy Wardley for lengthy email discussions about kite design.
  • Chris Matheson for imparting a huge amount of information and help.

A brief reminder of the major parts of a delta stunt kite


kitedesign/index.html last modified 22:50:35 06-Feb-2010

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