Today is National Kite Flying Day. What better way to spend it than scouting out a lush hillside and unfurling a gravity-defying testament to the physics of flight? However, before you’re ready to prance through a field with string in hand, you’re going to need a kite (and while you’re at it, maybe a few accessories to measure the wind and make winding your string a breeze). And as with most activities we suggest here on Make:, building it is half the fun!
Measure the Wind
Nobody wants to cancel plans because the weather isn’t cooperating. Before you hit the road with kite in hand and high hopes, make sure you check wind speeds to ensure optimal kite-flying conditions. Instructables user robbtoberfest shows us how to make a wind speed meter. Not only can you read wind speeds in MPH, but the spinning easter eggs are basically a mini-turbine that produces a current.
Build a Wind Tunnel
Maybe there’s not a single flutter of wind outside, or perhaps you’re making small adjustments to your kite that you want to test before you’re out in the skies. Either way, you can build a really simple wind tunnel, as demonstrated by Make:’s own Jeremy Cook.
Garbage Bag Kite
If you’re a zero-frills, no-nonsense type, then this simple “Garbasail” kite constructed only from garbage bags, duct tape, and rope might be for you. While this one is huge, you can definitely scale it to your liking.
Tetrahedral Tissue Paper Kite
If the Garbasail isn’t quite what you’re looking for, you can pretty easily construct a three-dimensional tetrahedron kite for some mathemagical fun.
Geometry Takes Flight
Maybe you think a single tetrahedron is a geometrical bore and you need more angles in your life. Don’t worry, there are countless polyhedrons that can lend their shape to your kite design. Take a look at some FMOs (Flying Mathematical Objects) we’ve featured on Make: for some inspiration.
Capture the Moment
Once you’ve constructed the perfect kite, you’ll probably want to document its maiden voyage. You could certainly do this from the ground, but what fun is that? Build an aerial photography rig for a whole new perspective.
Bring it Back
Don’t get bogged down by your string when you should be focused on flying. This capstan kite winder gives you proper tension and increases your leverage, allowing for easy retrieval when it’s time to head home.