kites linkmap
stunt kites

Several years ago I saw a kite in one of those "alternative" sporting goods stores (the type that sells skate boards and climbing gear as opposed to football/basketball type stuff) that was made out of nylon. Not knowing anything about the state of kiting at the time I assumed that it was a single line delta much like the plastic ones I had flown as a kid. I was rather impressed by it, but the price tag on it caught me off guard (it was over $200) and at the time I thought that it might be something interesting to pursue in the future but not right at that moment.

For some odd reason a few years later I decided that I wanted to fly kites again as I had as a child but that I wanted one of these "serious expensive adult" kites so I began searching the internet for information on kites. What I found out was that there was a kite store (Into the Wind - Boulder, CO) just "down the road" from where I live so I hopped in the car and drove down.

On the way down, I thought I was going to buy a single line delta type kite... once I got there I was introduced to dual line "stunt" kites. Guess what I came home with?

Of course, the next natural step to take was start building my own....

Of course, I make no claim that I know what I'm doing, I'm only having fun. I have put some plans on this page, but I don't know if I'd go to the trouble of building any of the kites, since I really don't know what I'm doing.

diamond1 diamond2

trashbag trlby (diamond stunter I)
type: diamond stunter (it's not really a trlby...)
built: june 1997
sail: 2.2 mil polyethylene
frame: 3/16" wooden dowels for spine, 1/8" wooden dowel for "spreader"
size: I need to measure...
bridle: 100lb. dacron
line: 75' 65lb. dacron
wind range: 2-3
notes: This was the first "stunt" kite that I built that I consider successful. I had attempted to build "plastic" stunt kites prior to this (a self designed flexifoilish looking thing and a speed wing) but those experiences failed to be as fruitful.

Diamond stunters are often heralded as good kites for beginners. After flying delta stunters and flexifoils for a few years I now understand why. These kites are extrememly s l o w.... Hence, they are quite forgiving to the flyer and respond slowly enough to give one the necessary amount of time to get the feel for flying a two-line kite. Removing the tail will make the kite a little more lively, but it is still slow in comparison to a delta type stunt kite. While these may not be as exciting as faster and more responsive kites, they can still be fun to fly, and in the instance of this kite quite easy to build and have flying in little or no time.

How to launch a diamond when you're by yourself.... (I should probably supply pictures for this) basically set the thing on one of the lower "edges" so that it pulls taught against the lines (stake the handles) and then pull on the lines like you would with a delta stunter. Diamonds are slow enough that you've got plenty of time to get it pointed up after it pops up off the ground. I've even launched these when they're "pointing upside-down" and gotten them to spin upright and take off.

plans: There are plans for this type of kite in many books. Maxwell Eden's "Kiteworks", Jim Rowlands "Big Book of Kites" and the Denyer and Baker book (the book I actually got the plans out of).

stack 1 stack 2

diamond stunter train
type: diamond stunters
built: august 1997
sail: .75 oz. ripstop nylon
frame: 3/16" wooden dowels for spines, 1/8" dowels for spreaders
size: I need to measure....
bridle: 100lb. dacron
line: 50' 90lb. spectra
wind range: 2-4
notes: This was my first train of any type, single or dual line. I have to admit for not knowing what I was doing (I really didn't follow any plans) the thing didn't turn out half bad at all.

plans: The individual kites were modelled after the "trashbag trlby" that I had built based on plans published in a book by Denyer and Baker. As far as building the stack goes, some things to keep in mind:

  • The "front" kite (the one your flying lines are attached to) undergoes more stress than the other kites. Beefing up the spars in this kite might save you some snapped spars.
  • The lines that connect the kites in the stack need to be the same length, and should be 1.5 times as long as each individual kite is tall. (i.e.; if you're kite is 2 ft. tall, the lines should each be 3ft. long.)

square stunter
type: [modified] diamond stunter
built: september 1997
sail: .75oz ripstop nylon
frame: 3/16" wooden dowels for spine, 3/32" fiberglass rod for spreader
size: 16 in. sq. (40 cm sq.)
bridle: 100lb. dacron
line: 50' 90lb. spectra
wind range: 4-5
notes: This kite just sort of happened. One night I was sewing together scraps of ripstop with no particular aim in mind and wound up with this small square thing that I thought might be interesting to make into a kite. I wasn't interested in making a single line "fighter" type kite though (I know, I'm a heretic), so I decided to see how this would work as a 2-liner.

I think this kite is alot of fun to fly. It is fairly fast with respect to forward speed, however it doesn't turn that fast. It is also very "squirrelly" in the air. I've tried flying this thing with no tail and I couldn't do it. A 50 ft. tail does make it more controllable and still quite fast, especially when the wind is around 15-20 mph. If you want a small, relatively high wind kite, this might be just the thing. (I'm not sure about the "trickability" of this thing though, so I can't recommend that someone would build such a thing with tricks in mind. It's probably comparable to a diamond stunt kite with respect to tricks.)

I wouldn't try flying this thing with anything other than spectra lines either, and short ones at that.

plans: Since this is something I came up with, I will go ahead and put plans here in case anyone is as interested in wierd kites as I am.

When I started out, I had a 17 in.sq. piece of fabric. After double hemming the edges it wound up about 16 in.sq. I then sewed pockets at each corner in order to attach the spars to the sail. Other than making sure everything is "square" and symmetric with respect to the attachment points for the bridle, the only other thing you may want to pay attention to is the bridle itself. I took a piece of 50lb. dacron about 2 ft. long and put loops (using overhand knots) on either end of it. I then found the halfway point on the string, and tied another loop in it at halfway. This last loop I attached to the spine of the kite, and the other two on the ends I attached to the spreader. (I attached these using lark's head knots.) I then used 200 lb. dacron to make "pigtails" to attach to the bridle with a Prusik knot to which I could then attach my flying lines.

One thing I noticed with adjusting the bridle, if the pigtails are slid "down", the kite does become much more controllable (as it should). If they are adjusted too high, the kite does not respond well, so when setting up the bridle, put them lower than you would expect and get the angle of attack almost perpindicular to the wind.

For more info on knots, click here to see Simo Salanne's excellent overview.

SQUARE stunter plan Click on picture to see plans.

"arrow-head" stunter
type: arrow-head stunter
built: summer/fall 1997
sail: 2.2 mil polyethylene or .75oz ripstop nylon
frame: 1/4" wooden dowels for spine, 1/4" fiberglass rod for spreader
size: 16 in. wide by 36 in. tall
bridle: 100lb. dacron
line: 50' 90lb. spectra
wind range: 4-6
notes: This was something I just dreamt up one day. The idea behind it was to see if the principle that I thought allowed a diamond type stunt kite to work would work with a kite of this shape.

Getting this to fly took quite a bit of trial and error. The first thing I came to realize is that the spar that runs across the top of the kite is subjected to a tremendous amount of stress. I finally resorted to using a 1/4" fiberglass rod here to keep it from snapping in two. This worked quite well. Another thing that this kite had a tendancy to do was "nose over" when it got at the edges of the window (either at the top or sides) and then glide into the ground. I adjusted and readjusted the bridle but could never correct this problem until I added a 50' tail to the kite. After that it flew just fine.

This was the polyethylene prototype. Having been successful with this kite, I built one out of .75 oz. ripstop nylon. This second kite I was less than happy with. I spent a good month trying to get this kite to fly in an acceptable manner, but was never able to do so. I finally became so unhappy with the kite that the sail got recycled and became part of another kite. (When I get pictures of this new kite I'll put a link to it here.) Perhaps one of these days I'll attempt another nylon version.

Some things to think about:
One characteristic of this kite is that the bridle has to be dead on. Most stunt kites I've played with, especially the diamond/trlby variety, will leave you with some room for error on the part of the bridle. This kite does not fall into this category, and everything has to be just right in order for it to fly well. For this reason alone I would not recommend that anyone build one of these things (even though I've included plans) unless you really want to torture yourself with trying to get the bridle set correctly.

So why a kite of this shape? I don't think the kite lends itself to trick or radical flying any more than a good old diamond stunter, but it is different, and that was my goal. I wanted to come up with something that I'd never seen before (although I'm not sure that someone else may not have already tried this) just to have something different.

Another characteristic of this type of kite is that it can be flown in rather strong winds, in fact it takes a pretty good wind just to get it off the ground and flying because the sail loading is quite high.

plans: Since this is (as far as I know) my own design, here are the plans.

arrow-head stunter plan Click on picture to see plans.

mart dart

mart dart
type: delta stunter
built: june 1997
sail: 2.2 mil polyethylene
frame: 3/16" wooden dowels
size: roughly 3 1/2 ft. wide
bridle: 100lb. dacron
line: 75' 65lb. dacron
wind range: ??
notes: This was just an idea.... Basically I wanted to see if I could build a real dual line delta type stunt kite out of a trash bag. While the results were mixed, I did learn something about what I was trying to do. Playing with the bridle taught me something about bridles and how they work. I also learned about selecting the right kind of spars (in this case the wooden spars were not enough and would break often in any reasonable amount of wind) and about the differences a "flatter" sail makes with respect to one that's got more "curve" to it.

I guess I considered this kite successful enough to try a second one in ripstop (sewing...) with a few modifications to the overall design. Kite #2 turned out much better! (see "Wind Dart" below)

plans: This kite was built via the "that looks about right" approach to kite building. Hence, there are no plans...

dart flying dart

wind dart
type: delta stunter
built: june 1997
sail: 1.5oz. ripstop nylon
frame: 1/4" wooden dowels
size: ~40" wing span... I'll have to actually measure this thing. (It's not very big)
bridle: 100lb. dacron
line: 50' - 100' 90lb. spectra
wind range: 5-6
notes: After building the "MART Dart" and playing with it I decided that the sail design would work but that I might make some changes to the way I had built the frame and see what kind of results I would get. After playing with a new sail of ripstop and a few 1/4" dowels I finally came up with a configuration that I was more than happy with.

This kite likes alot of wind. I didn't really set out to design it that way, but what I wound up with is a kite that is nearly indestructable (although I have snapped spars in it with very high winds) that flies better as the wind speed increases. Due to the 1.5 oz. clothing grade ripstop and 1/4" dowels the kite is fairly heavy with respect to the sail area so I imagine the sail loading is pretty high. (Well, I know this because it takes a lot of wind to get this thing off the ground...) It's probably not the most "trickable" kite ever designed, but I can get it to stall and axel fairly easily (when I can keep the strings from wrapping around the tips). In other words it may not be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I have alot of fun flying this thing when the wind is whipping the hair around on top of my head....

plans: I'm not sure this kite is "cool" enough to merit having plans for its construction made available.

type: delta stunter
built: summer 1998
sail: .75oz ripstop nylon
frame: avia .210 graphite
size: 28" x 72"
bridle: 100lb. dacron
line: 50' 90lb. spectra
wind range: 2
notes: This kite really is "spineless" in that it has no spine and it is also very very very slow. It won't even turn on its wingtips. While this might be a very forgiving kite for a beginner to learn on (very slow and unresponsive and no spine to break in crashes) it isn't much of a thrill for anyone that's done even a small amount of time at the controls of a 2-line kite.

I am planning on adding both a spine and an upper spreader to this kite to see if I can't get it to perform a little better. I'll put an update in here with respect to how this turns out.

plans: I did have to come up with plans for this since it was my own design - I may or may not eventually put them on here.


type: "bowtie" stunter
built: not yet
sail: .75 oz. ripstop nylon
size: ??
bridle: 100lb. dacron
line: 90-150 lb. spectra
wind range: don't know yet
notes: This kite is an idea that I thought up that I would like to try. It's basically a "speed wing" or a "gremlin" with a bite taken out of the top of it. I mean for this to be a two-line stunter, but some have suggested that it may be more practical as a quad-line. Perhaps, but I intend for the sail to be quite loose and have a lot of billow and I'm not sure how this would work with 4 lines.

As far as the purpose of such a kite, I'm more interested in the different shape and how it will look in the sky than I am with flying characteristics. If the kite tracks reasonably well then I will consider it a success, but whether or not it can do all the tricks is not a concern with me.

Feel free to attempt to build one of these if you like. I can't guarantee any success in the venture since I have not gotten any further than dreaming up the idea. I would like to hear from anyone who does build something like this or is aware of kites like this that may already be in existence.

plans: Here are some rough sketches of two variations that I've come up with on the basic theme of the kite. One may work better than the other, both may work equally well or neither may work and the whole idea can be scrapped.

bowtie bowtie Click on pictures to get full size images.


Standard Disclaimer: These are home pages created and maintained solely by the individual authors, not by the University of Wyoming. The University of Wyoming does not endorse the content of these home pages and cannot accept responsibility for information published on, or accessible through, personal home pages.

Last Updated: October 18, 1998
© 1997 Jeffery Greenwald. All rights reserved.