Monday, May 04, 2009

Kite Flying

Yesterday I woke up thinking it would be a great day to fly our paper kite. I could see the tree branches blowing in the wind. Before noon I rounded up Lachlan and we headed for the beach. I was surprised by how much windier it was out by the water (though I should have known -- it always is!).

We got the kite up immediately, but it was so unstable...just dipping and twirling wildly. You would have thought it was one of those fancy store-bought stunt kites. I handed the spool of string to Lachlan and he let the kite out so it soared over the dunes...then plunged into the sea oats. As I wound up the string (which was tangled in grass, twigs, and itself) Lachlan took off on the ridge of the dunes, seeking adventure. When I looked up he was just a tiny speck! I hobbled after him (my knee is still bothering me). I figured he'd have to stop at Hatteras Inlet! Luckily he found something to engage his attention and I caught up with him (I had gotten my daily walk by then), and we took our broken kite back home for repairs.

Maybe some of our readers remember making paper diamond kites as kids. I have forgotten whether an unstable kite means that I should make the tail longer, or cut it shorter. Or maybe the horizontal cross piece is not bowed enough. Any insights would be appreciated. Of course I need to rebuild the kite before I can fly it again. But we still had fun.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of paved roads on Ocracoke. It may not sound very exciting, but there have been dramatic changes on the island because of the construction of paved roads a half century ago. You can read the newsletter, and see some rare photos here.

To read about Philip's new book, Digging up Uncle Evans, History, Ghost Tales, & Stories from Ocracoke Island, please click here.


  1. More tail. More tail.

  2. Thanks Michael! That's what I thought, but I wasn't sure. It seemed like a pretty long tail to begin with. After I repair the kite I'll be prepared (if necessary) to add more tail if it needs it.

  3. Anonymous3:27 PM

    A diamond kite should fly in a stable fashion without any tail attached.

    A true diamond kite is as wide at the cross spar as it is on the long main spar.

    The cross spar should be bowed to ensure that the wind separates in the middle and equally off each side of the kite. The amount of bow in the cross spar will determine the stability of the kite.

    Try this web site for a solution to your problem:
    shows a whole array of kite plans that will keep you busy for a lifetime.

    Within the site, this URL will give you the proper information about a true diamond kite known as an "Eddy diamond" after William Abner Eddy, the patent holder for the design.
    This plan version of an Eddy diamond kite is by the famous American kite educator Margaret Greger who just recently passed away in Washington state. Margaret's kites always fly properly. I have built dozens of these and they never fail to fly without need of a tail.

    Now if you want background on William Abner Eddy and his famous diamond kite concept go to my web site at: and click over on the righ under Kite History Pioneers.

    I flew kites as a child and then rediscovered them in the ocean breezes at Ocrakoke in 1976 when camping there with my two oldest boys. We flew kites every day for a week and sometimes tied them to our trailer where they flew overnight until morning when we held them again as the breezes shifted once more. Awesome!!!

    "Best Breezes" to you!

    Bob White (hifliercanada)

  4. Bob,

    Thanks for the kite site links! I've printed up the plans for the classic Eddy Kite. It's interesting that you write about tying your kites down and having them fly overnight. My father often told me that he and his siblings and friends did that as children on Ocracoke. They'd tie the string to a fence post in the evening (this was before electric wires), and the kites would still be flying the next morning.