Several questions (soft kites, materials, airports, checklists, sewing kites)

Hello everyone!

Okay, pardon my stream of thought below. These questions have been sitting on my mind for a while now, so I thought I'd ask in one post. I appreciate any feedback you may have on any one or more of the items below. :)

1. Soft kites
I generally prefer soft kites as there is very little setup and they are easy and quick to stow away in a backpack. Now that the Sutton Flowforms are no longer being made, are there any comparable kites? I have no experience with the Sutton kites, but it seems to be highly regarded in the KAP community. I most often use a HQ Flow Form 2.0 when doing KAP. My biggest complaint (really a nit) about the HQ is the heavy material. It requires a slightly stiffer breeze and doesn't pack as compactly as I'd like. Otherwise, it is a strong and stable kite.

2. Nylon versus polyester
I suppose this ties in with my previous question. What is the difference between nylon and polyester? Which is stronger? Lighter? More tear resistant? Any other considerations? I noticed that the HQ KAP Foil kites are made of nylon, and the HQ Flow Form kites are made of polyester. Is nylon better for KAP? If so, what attributes make it better for this application?

3. Flying in vicinity of airports
The FAR Part 101 regulation seems very restrictive. Is my interpretation correct that you're not allowed to fly a kite within 5 miles of an airport unless the kite remains below the top of nearby structure and within 250 feet of it? Are the notice requirements in Part 101.15 intended to be a waiver to this? What exactly does "unshielded" moored balloon or kite mean? When did you last call ATC? Where were you flying your kite? How do you find the phone number?

4. Checklists
I thought about creating a couple checklists for KAPing (similar to a pilot checklist). First, a preflight checklist to quickly assess my equipment and flying area (e.g., Are batteries charged? Have I identified a safety box? Are there any nearby people or objects that I need to avoid? Have I notified ATC (if applicable)?). And perhaps a maintenance checklist (e.g., check kite line for cuts or frays, check rig for tight fittings). Has anyone created something like this? If so, would you mind sharing as a starting point for myself?

5. Sewing your own kites
I don't have plans to dive into this anytime soon, but at some point, I'd like to learn to sew my own kites (once I have more space to work). Are there any recommend resources to learn?



  • Hi Jeremy

    some answers:
    1. I like soft kites too (they account for 95% or more of my KAPing though I have 4 or 5 other framed kites). I've made two FlowForms - an 8 and a 16 (see item 5 below) but bought an Air Affairs FF30's 14 years ago

    2. like others, I use Schikarex (a cheaper form of Icarex). The material has to have two key qualities - it must be ripstop (so tears don't grow rapidly in strong winds) and be relatively impermeable to air (i.e. coated with something to fill the gaps between the threads it's made of).

    3. kite flying in the UK is much more restrictive than the US (60 metres max altitude) with similar rules about airports - though we don't have so many!

    4. I thought there was something like this in the KAP Wiki but can't find it.

    5. there's a lot of information about making kites - I suggest the KiteBuilder Forum (which you have to join in order to get most out of it) as a start. I built my second FLED using the FLED project there (very detailed construction notes and plans with lots of photos). See here for more info about my kites.. I've also made two FlowForms (Sue Storey has made one too - she has a post on KiteBuilder Forum about it). With a cheap sewing machine (my Elna cost me £40) it's not hard - much easier than making clothes!

  • Hi Jeremy,

    the kind Dave Mitchell has already answered a lot of questions, I just add some comments :

    1 for many many years I have made and flown almost only soft kites but for KAP are less critical ROKKAKU, DELTA
    2 don't mind....
    3 avoid problems.... far from troubles....
    4 you can find this and many other interesting informations at download KAP GUIDE BBHD
    5 metal old models of the '60 are still best in class.... when you have straight and zig-zag stitch you are OK ; top class + three stitch

    wish you all the best possible remember : it's for FUN ; if you enjoy it you have reached 100%

    SMAC from Italy
  • Thank you Dave and SMAC for your replies! This information is exactly what I was looking for.
  • My account of making the flowform. Including sources of designs and hints on making the kite

    Fly High

  • Excellent work, Sue!!! Your kite is very inspiring. :) Great pictures and description of your build. I'll definitely save this as reference material. Thank you for sharing.
  • I thought it might help a bit. Might be a repeat of Sue's story but could not open the link above.

    By the way: I like framed kites better for KAP since it is much easier to launch in small areas. Also used some DIY flow forms made of balloon stoff materials--but lost two in a row due to their power. One tore the line (130kg) one broke the swivel (90kg)

    Since that time I made a third one that I don't use at all.

    About batteries: It is way better to carry some backup batteries than to run out of power.

    Safety first -don't fly near airports. -- Previously I found some signaling device that can be seen by airplanes -but helicopters and sightseeing aircraft don't have to carry any receiver for it, neither light planes.. :(

    I buy new kite line almost every other year. It must fit in my budget- I don't want to hurt anybody with a flying camera
    Than I give away my used lines for regular kiters who don't fly cameras

    Still-shit can happen :)

    Sewing your own kites: can make you so proud :)

    Smooth winds for you


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