How To Build A Kite

Materials, tools, ideas and techniques on how to make a kite and have fun flying it with your children.

The kite is an object whose origins date back to more than 2,500 years ago; the first specimens were made in China in the sixth century BC and were used for military and scientific purposes. Over the centuries, numerous variations have appeared and its applications have further expanded; kites have been used as a method of signaling and communication during military operations, for measuring distances, for verifying wind speed, for religious ceremonies and even for human lifting. Since the Second World War, however, they are mostly used for recreational purposes, in fact kites for children have become the most widespread type.

How to build a kite

Although there are different types of kites, some of which are quite complex, if the main goal is to entertain small children then it is possible to make a DIY kite with a few materials in a simple and fun way.

If, on the other hand, it is adults who have a passion for this object, then it is possible to try one’s hand at more daring projects; what cannot be ignored in any case, however, regardless of the goals you want to achieve, is to start from the design of the kite .

To ensure that this is functional, the shape and especially the weight must be taken into account; the success of the enterprise, in fact, is based above all on the lightness of the materials and on the aerodynamic characteristics of the kite. As far as the scheme is concerned, the classic lozenge, or the rhomboid-shaped sail, can be created, or more complex shapes and structures can be experimented, always keeping an eye on the overall weight.

Materials and tools

To understand how to build a kite , even a simple one, you must first be aware that it is an object heavier than air and to make it fly high you need to reduce the weight as much as possible. Unless you intend to make a large competition kite that can also perform aerial stunts, avoid using metal and wood materials, which require the use of saws, jigsaws and drills as well as complex assembly.

For the frame, use light wood instead; balsa, for example, is easy to handle and can be cut with a simple cutter; it is also possible to use plastic if desired, which has the advantage of being more resistant and durable, but always provided that it is tubular, hollow and with a minimum diameter, so as not to be too heavy.

The sail can be built with paper or with a thin and light fabric, the first solution is the best, however, especially if you have chosen to make a simple kite for children to play; using colored tissue paper will help reduce weight further. As a last tip, we remind you to make sure that the sail, once fixed to the frame, is stretched but not excessively; in so doing it will have a certain tolerance to wind stresses and will not risk tearing.

How to assemble a kite

Once you have cut the pieces of wood that will make up the frame and the paper to make the sail and any decorative chains, you just have to assemble everything together. Although it may seem a simple and functional solution, avoid the use of adhesive tape; even the thinnest one, in fact, will add unnecessary weight to the structure and stiffen parts of the sail; better to use vinyl glue, as it offers a better seal over time and does not weigh down the kite.

It is not necessary to use a lot of it, but if you want to guarantee that the sail holds up well to tugs then you should glue it along the entire longitudinal rod, on the transverse axis you can limit yourself to fixing it only at the ends instead, in order to leave more freedom to the “wings ”To swell under the action of the wind. Be patient at this stage and let the glue dry for at least 24 hours.

Do not forget the holding line, a thin string can be fine but the best solution is the nylon line used for fishing, because it is thin and at the same time very resistant. To prevent the kite from becoming uncontrollable once in flight, attach some wire to the corner ends of the frame which you will then join to the central wire; the wires at the ends must be of the same length, so that they are all equally taut and ensure that the kite remains in flight in a stable position, without straining to one side or the other.

Fixing the wires is the most delicate part of the assembly; if you have respected the measures, in fact, the kite will hover against the wind without unbalancing and will be able to keep flying without “chasing” on one side or the other, risking to screw on itself and fall.

How to fly a kite

Now that we know how to make a kite it is also important to understand how to fly it; at first glance it might seem simple, in fact, but before reaching good results you have to get carried away with the “take-off” and familiarize yourself with the wind.

Tanto per cominciare è sconsigliato far partire l’aquilone trascinandolo dal suolo, per evitare di rovinarlo o di strappare la velatura; meglio essere almeno in due, il “pilota” prenderà il rocchetto di filo mentre “l’assistente” avrà il compito di reggere l’aquilone e accompagnare la corsa iniziale. In presenza di leggera brezza basterà lanciare l’aquilone in alto, poi chi regge il filo potrà fare qualche passo di corsa in modo da aumentare la portanza della vela.

Dal momento che il volo dell’aquilone dipende soprattutto dalla direzione del vento, è importante imparare a riconoscerla; non bisogna mai tentare di far volare un aquilone con il vento alle sue spalle, infatti, ma soltanto in direzione frontale.

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