The Chinese Dragon Kite
Custom Puzzle Craft
Kite Restoration Project - Part 5 - It Flies!
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Originally I had planned a major kite flying party for the inaugural flight of the restored kite, but as the time approached I decided to have a "see if it will fly" test event and invited three friends to help out.

September 20, 2014

I found out via The San Diego Kite Club that one of the better locations in San Diego to fly a kite is Mariner's Point Park in Mission Bay Park. I checked out the park a month or so earlier in the early afternoon, the time according to local daily weather records that the winds are normally in the 10-15 MPH range. There was a good breeze when I visited.

Mariner's Point Park (from Google Maps)

As I was nearing completion of the stringing, on Sept 18, 2014 I pick Sept 20 as possible date to fly the kite. I was surprisingly nervous about the kite, but cautiously optimistic about it as I was careful with every step and had, at the last moment, decided to increase the strength of the flying string from 80 lb. to 110 lb. and tie stronger frontal knots than those that were in the original kite.

Bringing the kite!
A bit unwieldy holding the sections and the string spooler
Eventually I'll have a case made, but next time I'll bundle up the horizontal spars the way the old kite was bundled up with extra string

Beside Katie and myself, two friends (Kim and David), formerly of Mixed Media, were to be at Mariner's Point Park to help out with the launch. When Kim and David didn't show up by the appointed time, and also did not respond to voice and text messages, I decided to attempt to fly the kite myself, with Katie doing the video. (There were nine attempts and all were recorded although not the first part of the 9th attempt).

Initial layout, with Katie "standing guard" in the back (was wearing my camera)

First attempt and first flight! (Screen grab from an iPad video by Katie).
The angle of the wind changed about 30 degrees clockwise just as I stared to pull on the string, causing the bend in the kite

When I first wrote about the first attempt, I said "the kite got about 1/2 off the ground before it began to get tangled up, so I then landed the kite". However upon reviewing the video it is clear the whole kite got completely off the ground for a few seconds! I gently pulled on the string and the head lifted off and then the disk sections in rapid succession. In videos I later watched on YouTube, dragon kite handlers would lift the tail first and the head would come up last! This method to be explored.

Shortly afterwards, Kim called and said she and David were on their way, so we decided to wait for them to arrive, which they did about 15 minutes later.

2nd attempt
Preparing for the second attempt (Kim and David by the kite, Katie took the picture).

The 2nd and 3rd attempts ended with tangled kite on the ground with no full lift-off.

In the fourth attempt David lifted the front of the kite well over his head as I held the string, and the kite flew for a few seconds fully, but barely off the ground after he let go, before it came down. The flight was more impressive than the first one as the kite was straight, fully extended. The winds didn't seem strong enough for sustained flight although occasionally they would pick up.

Fourth attempt (from screen grab), the winds had veered some more now going left to right off the bay

5th attempt
Moving the kite for the 5th attempt, cool picture by Katie.
I later noticed in this photo that the string knot next to the last disk shifted a bit away from the disk. Next day inspection showed this string knot to be the only one which moved.

The 5th attempt also ended in tangle kite with no lift off.

6th attempt
6th attempt - success! That's David just seconds after he let go the kite.

The 6th attempt was the first big success. Judging from the photos I think the kite's head got 20-30 feet off the ground (the head at the lowest point, with the tail higher). The kite is 32 1/2 feet long and this length is useful for judging other distances. The kite flew for about 1 minute and 20 seconds, taking off around around 2:48 PM. When I let out more string the kite would quickly descend and I soon ran out of beach in which to run and keep the kite up. The kite look great, everything holding together despite considerable stresses both on the ground and in the air. I think the head may be angled down a bit too far, something I plan to modify before the next flight. The last couple disks really whipped around at times although overall the kite was pretty steady. I wonder if the kite would do better if it had a tail?

The 7th attempt was with David holding the kite high and running, maybe a few seconds of flight but a quick landing.

I then invited David to try his hand at flying the kite, which he did for the last two attempts.

The 8th attempt saw the kite get about 10 feet off the ground but it quickly came down with a fairly hard landing.

8th attempt ending with the tail landing first.

The 9th attempt was fantastic. Unfortunately there is no video of the initial launch. There are several video segments of the flight, but nothing continuous. I'd say the front of the kite got about 45 feet off the ground. Perhaps due to the way David was flying it, it swooped and undulated a lot more than when I flew it in the 6th attempt.

Here are a bunch of pictures from the 9th attempt. Pictures from my iPhone, my iPad Mini, Katie's iPhone and captures from videos. Kit and Dave did not take pictures. David was really into physically helping with the kite.

Last disk whipping around

Looking great here
Unfortunately the string got very tangled in the reel's prongs and we could not let it out more. I'm looking into alternate reels.




I think the head should be more vertical. I used the uneven head connection string dimensions from the old kite, with the top string a few inches shorter.
A few inches to the left of the knot where the flying string divides into two, there is a small metal separator from the old kite
Along the top of the spar in the middle of the lower flame is a darker spot - this was where a metal screw was taped to it to balance the head section!

Looking almost perfectly balanced!
Most of the lighter colored horizontal spar segments are replacements


Happy me after the flight, discussing how the kite was made, and feeling very relieved!

Discussing the making of the bamboo circles during a short documentary clip video made on Katie's iPhone

After the 9th attempt I decided to call it a day as I really wanted to carefully inspect the kite and also I had a dance rehearsal class coming up.

The next day I did a careful inspection of the kite and found some light damage to the head: four small punctures and a small tear. The punctures I think were all caused by the little metal string separator in front of the head. I plane to replace the metal separator with an improved design before flying the kite again. Did the punctures happen during flight or when I was carrying it? I think the small tear was probably caused by one of the numerous sharp shell fragments in the sand. All of the disks looked great.

I do plan to have a custom case made for transporting the kite via air travel and storing the kite, as I very much want to fly the kite at Stone Harbor / Avalon New Jersey next year! I figure I can start my custom built case research at places which make / sell musical instruments.

At this time I don't know when I'll next fly it.

Video note: There is about 2GB of video made up of 13 clips waiting. to be combined and edited and combined. With all the stills I have of the kite's construction and initial flights, and the video of the flight attempts, I think a pretty decent documentary video could be made. I may upload raw video of the 6th flight attempt to YouTube.

Deep thanks to Katie, Kim and David for helping out!

Home About Cutting Styles Journal Custom Puzzle Log Gallery Puzzle Log 100 Puzzles Project Annual Auctions
Kite Part 1 - Long Ago Kite Part 2 - As Found Kite Part 3 - Taken Apart Kite Part 4 - Restoration Kite Part 5 - It Flies!