Flying a kite is fun – learning how to make a kite and seeing it airborne is ten times more enjoyable! With a little know-how, you can learn how to make your own kite and get flying in no time at all. Although kites are heavier than air, they are able to fly due to the opposing levels of air pressure on either sides of their surface— much the same principle that causes regular aircraft to fly.
Even though a kite can be made at any time, it is usually best flown on a windy day. A practiced hand may be able to get a kite in the air even when there is little or no wind, but if you are only just beginning, you should generally stick to practicing your flight routines on windier days.
The History Of Kites
The first kites known to modern man were flown in China almost 3,000 years ago. These early kites were made from silk and bamboo and tethered with silk string. Besides recreation and fun, they were used for sending messages far away, measuring distances, judging wind speed, and even lifting human beings. Beyond the historical story of Benjamin Franklin’s discovery of electricity, kites are known for other forms of science and research.
The advent of modern technology with new and improved manufacturing methods and materials has helped kite building technology as well as consumer adoption of kites. People have used kites for camera shots, weather readings, and many other uses. Chances are that your local news station may even have a kite-like apparatus that they use for weather readings themselves.
Learning How To Make A Kite
To learn how to make a kite you will need, at the very least, some strong paper, thin strips of flexible wood, and a lot of string, preferably on a reel of some kind. These basics for kite making can be purchased for anywhere between 10 to 50 dollars, although you can easily spend a lot more getting stronger, better, or more aesthetically attractive materials.
Because paper tends to rip easily, many kite makers these days use either a very thin fabric or some kind of synthetic material such as fiberglass. Although this may cost you more at first, you will be happy you invested the money when your first sturdy kite-making attempt lasts from season to season. Or you may wish you had invested more money when all your hard work on that paper model rips open with the first strong gust of wind.
The frame of the kite, known as the spars, is usually made with bamboo strips. If you can get bamboo, split the tubes into thin strips about half an inch in diameter. If bamboo is not available, you may be able to use lightweight wooden dowels, which can be purchased at any craft or home improvement store. Fiberglass rods are great as well but may be harder to find.
A simple kite can be made in a couple of hours with a good pattern and a focused mind and can have the quality to be flown all day. The Internet can show you how to take simple swatches of fabric and thin dowels to make a kite. If you would rather buy a kite and spend your time flying rather than making, they can be purchased for around a dollar or two at most major retail stores or at children’s stores. However, if you’re serious about buying a quality kite, plan to spend more than $10.
How To Make A Kite
Buy or make your kite. If you want to make a kite, a simple kite pattern can be used for beginners. Cut a diamond shape out of the paper or fabric that you are using to make your kite. Make sure that one of the apexes of the diamond is longer than the other three. Make a cross out of the split bamboo sticks. Make sure that the longer stick in the cross fits across the length of the diamond – from the corner of the longest apex to the shorter corner opposite it, and that the shorter stick in the cross fits across the other two corners. Fasten the bamboo cross to the diamond cut-out using a powerful household adhesive.
Pick a spot to fly your kite. Avoiding trees, power lines, cars, and other pedestrians is the most important thing to look for in an open space. Most public parks meet all of these criteria and supply a large space where you can fly your kite freely. You will need to choose a windy day, as the wind is what will keep your kite up in the air. However if it is too windy, you may run the risk of losing your kite from wind damage. An ideal wind speed is around 10 MPH for kite flying. The more constant the wind speed, the better. Keep in mind, however, that as your kit gains altitude, it will be easier to fly due to stronger wind currents higher up.
Look for good weather. While wind is a key element to flying a kite, you should look for a specific kind of wind to fly your kite. A calm, steady, but powerful wind will help you fly a kite with minimal problems. Also be sure that inclement weather is not on the horizon, as rain and lightning can be very hazardous to you as the kite operator.
Launch your kite. To keep its nose pointed directly into the wind, it’s important that your kite has a tail. You can make one out of little rectangles of extra fabric or paper tied in regular intervals to a length of string about twice the length of your kite. Fasten this to the largest apex of your kite. When the time comes to fly the kite, hold on tight and monitor your kite. The feeling of successfully launching your kite is a rush, but make sure to continually monitor your kite to make sure it doesn’t suddenly fall out of the sky and crash. Or worse – you let go of the string and see your kite fly off into the horizon!
Tips and Tricks
Once you learn how to make your kite, the following tips and tricks can help you get the most out of your kite flying hobby…
- The easiest way to get a kite into the air is with two or more people. Have a friend hold the body of your kite lightly by either end of its horizontal spar, while you stand a short distance away holding the reel of string.
- At first, hold the string tight and tug on it to create the wind resistance that will lift your kite into the air.
- Once your kite is securely airborne, give it some more string and allow it to rise higher.
- If your kite is having problems getting off the ground, look at the air, the string, the material and the location. All of these variables can affect your kite flying experience.
Expanding Your Kite Hobby
When you grow out of your initial basic kite design, expand your kite making horizons. The following ideas can help you grow your hobby…
- Kites can be made in a wide variety of shapes and styles so try out something new and interesting. You can also find other hobbyists and spend time together doing what you all love.
- Find a kite pattern that you like either in a craft book or online and learn how to make a kite that has a more intricate shape or flying pattern.
- You can make kites that look like animals or other identifiable objects. Make sure to make these out of the right colors and add as many tails, which can also look like legs, hair, or other appendages, as necessary.
- Join a kite-flying club. Work with other kite enthusiasts to learn more about where, when and how to fly higher than before.
Related Kite Hobby Resources
Check out the following online resources to learn more about how to make a kite and get the most out of your kite flying hobby…
IntoTheWind.com – One of the larger online kite suppliers
Skratch-Pad.com – Features detailed instructions on how to make your own kite
American Kitefliers Association – This is the world’s largest kite flying organization, and has lots of great information for kite flying – including videos, calendars and more.
Related YouTube Videos
Check out the following videos to learn even more about starting this hobby.