Up, down, and round and round

shark-kite

Last year’s cheap kites from the dollar store didn’t hold up very well, so I bought a better kite to fly this year. At least I thought it was better. (I purchased it last August at the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, which – being all about hands-on fun learning opportunities – seemed like a good place to buy such a thing.) But there’s a problem either with the kite or with the person flying it.

I’ll readily admit it could well be the latter. I spent half an hour trying to get this kite flying well enough to hand the spool of string over to my son so I could take a picture. But when it wasn’t slamming its nose into the ground, it was flying around and around in tight circles that just a few feet off the ground. A few times it got up about twenty feet or so, but never for as long as even half a minute before it was back to its kamikaze dives. Twice it slammed into my son – not nearly as painful as being attacked by a live shark, but he wasn’t too happy about it.

I’m pretty sure I assembled the kite properly, but I suppose there could be a problem with its construction that has it slightly off-balance. It was so windy that I could barely hold onto it, let alone survey it for balance and symmetry. Perhaps it was just too windy. After a week’s vacation with barely enough breeze to notice, I welcomed the brisk winds this afternoon and announced we were heading to the park.

The kite says it is rated for 5-20 mph. Wind speed at 6 PM when we headed out was about 18 mph, which should have been just fine. But looking back at the day’s weather statistics at wunderground.com, I see that we were having gusts of nearly 30 mph. Still, I’m pretty sure that the gusts weren’t blowing in circles, so I don’t see what they would have made the kite go consistently in counterclockwise circles.

Those of you who know how to get a kite in the air and keep it up there, what is the mostly likely cause of my difficulties?

2 Responses to Up, down, and round and round

  1. Margaret Packard says:

    I think sharks prefer water to air, and they like to swim around in circles! (Sorry, I’m not really any help. Daddy bought a kite but never got around to teaching me how to fly it.)

  2. renaissanceguy says:

    The shape of the kite is pretty unusual. The best kites I ever flew were homemade and in the traditional diamond shape. I also few some box kites that worked really well.

    Although you probably paid a good bit for it, it doesn’t look like a good design to me. It looks like the lateral fins are supposed to be almost perpindicular to the ground, but then the shark’s body looks very prone to spinning like a top, I think.

    To do a good job with kites, you must have a sustained wind. Gusts are a big problem. You must also keep exactly the right tension on the string. It’s impossible to explain it in words, I think.

    It’s not easy to launch a kite by yourself. It is easier with a partner. Did you let out lots of string to start with and have somebody launch the kite while keeping steady tension on the string? That’s the best way, espeically if the person with the spool of string runs a bit while letting string out–but keeping the right tension on the string as it goes out.

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