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Make Your Own Style Of Kite

Although many different kites are described in this book, this suggestion may appeal to the reader who is keen on experimental work. Kites can be made in many shapes, and as long as the rules of balance, lightness and strength are kept in mind, they should fly well. On this point J. G. Wood once wrote: 'The old theory used to be that a very slight deviation from accurate proportions in a kite must certainly prove fatal to its powers of flight; but of late years ... we have discovered that so long as certain rules of symmetry are observed, that is, so long as one side fairly balances the other, there is almost no conceivable shape that may not be made to mount up as a kite into the sky.' Obviously then there is great opportunity for individual design; and this being so, it may be helpful to the would-be designer to have some guidance in how to begin and how to carry the project through. The following step-by-step instructions serve this purpose.

Finding a Kite Design

The first thing to do is to think of a suitable design. This is not difficult. The silhouette of a bird or a plane may suggest a shape. Again, variations of the box-kite theme may be worked out. There are also certain basic forms, with which one might experiment - the square, the oblong, the triangle, the diamond and the circle. The designer works on the shape or shapes which appeal to him. He arranges, combines or alters them, and so evolves a satisfactory plan on the drawing board. As an example of this, we select three shapes and combine them in a pleasing design (see Fig. 39).
Your Own Style Of Kite

Drawing the Kite Design

The next step is to decide the overall size of the kite, so that the design can be worked out to scale on paper. The reader is invited at this point to produce his own scale plan from the full-size measurements given. The kite shown is 2 ft. 6 in. in length, and 2 ft. 6 in. at its widest part. These measurements are scaled down to one-sixth, and everything is drawn to this proportion. The procedure is as follows. Draw the backbone first at the centre of the paper. This is the key piece upon which everything else depends. Now add the lines representing the two crossbars, which support the wing and the tail. The position of crossbars in kite design depends upon the general shape and proportions. The largest part of this kite is the diamond-shaped wing, which is 2 ft. 6 in. in width and half the length of the backbone. The top crossbar is drawn across the centre of the wing. The next item is the triangular tail. In the interests of a pleasing design it is made smaller than the wing, being 2 ft. in width and occupying one quarter of the length of the backbone. Draw a line representing the tail crossbar. In the diagram two vertical struts will be seen, connected to the crossbars. They form the body supports, and on the actual kite are fixed 5 in. from each side of the backbone. Add a small crossbar at the centre of the backbone, and the framework is complete. Note that on the plan being made, full-size measurements relating to every part are given. To complete the plan, draw lines representing the bracing strings. Two large dots indicate the bridle tying points at the backbone junctions.

Kite Construction

The kite can now be built with the plan for a guide. The following are the materials recommended. Stripwood, 3/8 in. square for the backbone, and £ in. square for the struts; split cane for the crossbars; paper or cloth for the cover. To these are added binding thread, bracing string, bridle string and kite line. Cut the backbone, and groove it at the top and bottom. Prepare the crossbars in the same way, and then bow them by the method described in Chapters 1-6. The large one is curved to a depth of 21/4 in.; the smaller one 2 in., and the 11 in. centre crossbar about 1/2 in. Secure these to the backbone. Glue small blocks on either side to keep them parallel. Attach the vertical struts. Now brace the framework and test it for firmness. Next add the cover which may be lightweight cloth or unbleached greaseproof paper. Attach the bridle to the backbone in the form of a loop, and to this, tie the kite line. The bridle is twice the length of the kite. A tail, 6 ft. in length, is tied to the bottom of the backbone.
Hargrave box-kite,
first made in 1893

Hargrave box-kite, first made in 1893

Kite Testing

The kite is now ready to be tested in different flying conditions. Make any necessary adjustments to suit the occasion. Calculate the speed of the wind by the help of the Beaufort Wind Scale. When you have done this, note whether at a given speed the tail is just right, or has to be weighted or lightened. Take note also whether the position of the kite line has to be altered. Such on-the-spot observations and adjustments are vital in attaining the skill so necessary for successful kite flying. The reader may also be interested in the style of the Hargrave box kite, seen in Plate IV. On the basis of the illustration a scale plan could be prepared for guidance in the construction of the kite. As will be seen, it consists of a double framework, linked together by two main centre longerons. On the other hand, the bands could be linked together by means of four corner longerons.

19 Great Kites to Make