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What makes a good kite?

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I often get asked "What makes a good kite?" and this can be as varied an answer as there are styles of kites. But I'm going to try and break it down into the most basic parts : Fabric, Frame, Visual Appeal, and Flight. This is by no means a definitive guide, but maybe it will help you determine which kite you'd like to purchase, and what goes into selecting the kite for you. I also have a "Buyer's Guide" that can help you select the right style for your tastes.

Fabric

Kites can be made out of just about anything from shopping bags to high-tech mylar material.

The majority of kites sold today are made out of ripstop nylon material. Ripstop uses a special reinforcing technique in which thicker threads are interwoven at regular intervals in a crosshatch pattern. This keeps any small tears from easily spreading.

Edge material that is typically thicker than the sail material (especially in stunt kites) is made of Dacron which is a type of heavy material that has a low stretch characteristic. Kitemakers use Dacron for reinforcement on the kite or where there might be wear.

These make the kite much more durable than paper or plastic, and keeps you from having to buy another kite after only one flight.

Frame

Kites can use any stiff material for spars or framing. Anything from bamboo to carbon composites.

Modern day kites generally use carbon or fiberglass tubes/rods to give the kite its shape. The benefit to this is that the tubes offer a lightweight, but strong frame to the kite, so that it can have a wider wind range. Some kites use thin fiberglass rods that are flexible to give the kite a more dynamic shape.

These rods do not deteriorate like bamboo or wood, and are much lighter than aluminum or other strong materials.

Visual Appeal

In my opinion, the "Best" kite is one that catches your eye and that you can see the workmanship. Regardless of materials that are put into the kite, the time and effort that a kitemaker puts into creating their kites is almost always shown in the kite itself. Even manufactured kites are designed by a kitemaker, and assembled from their specifications.

Modern kites are typically sewn using an applique technique of joining different colored fabrics together to create unique and interesting designs. Whatever your interest, there is probably a kite with that type of design on it. Sometimes kite artists will also paint, dye, or otherwise decorate their kites... The sky is literally the limit.

Flight

Ultimately, a good kite flies well. Kites are meant to be in the air, and are designed that way. Sure, you can hang them as decoration, but I would encourage you to take it out at least once to fly it. You will make the kite happy.

There are some kites that are designed to allow a lot of "tuning" depending on the wind speed and the way you are trying to fly them. Many "advanced" kites are made to be adjustable, but for the most part, a good kite only needs a string and some wind to fly.

Again, take a look through my "Buyer's Guide" for more information about the different kite shapes and their uses. If you have anything to add to this, please make sure to post a comment below!

 

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