I thought it was about time I answered one of the questions I'm often asked: "how do you make those?". Here is a short video of my latest rebuild project. I've cut out the tedious stuff, the scanning and printing, etc, so what's left will give you an idea of some of the work involved in making one of my kites. It's HD so press play, pause it to let it load up, then hit full screen for HD loveliness.




Mine wasn't the prettiest Sputnik you'd ever have seen, my sewing skills not really being up to the task of building what was, back then, quite a complex foil. It ended its days high in a tree behind my house having been ripped out of my hands by a particularly savage gust.

It started something though. Shortly after building and losing that kite, I splashed out on a Flexi Stacker 6, and being an impoverished student of dubious moral fibre, promptly took it to bits & made two more (ehem, you didn't hear me say that, right).

On a day of buggy experimentation in Richmond Park, long before the ban and subsequent permit system, I saw what was unmistakably a Sputnik in the sky; and what's more, a beautifully made Sputnik at that.

I don't now remember the name of the person I met that day - I just remember him as Sputnik Man, but I do remember him giving me a telephone number.




Kite making

I have been making kites for almost as long as I've been flying them. At first it wasn't through choice; I simply couldn't afford to buy the kites I wanted to fly, but I could afford some ripstop, and had picked up a battered old Singer for £20.

My first attempts were, ah, dreadful, really, if I'm honest. My kite making, (this was back in 1994), was a hit & miss affair: I'd try something once, find it didn't work, then have another go.

I'd even bought a copy of "Stunt Kites 2" and had a go at building the infamous "Sputnik". That was the kite that first introduced me to the concept of the "power" kite. It was a curious affair, fairly small at around a 2 to 3 sq metre, 2 control lines leading to a bow bridle. It packed a punch though.




The number belonged to a chap called Chris Sands, someone to whom I will be eternally grateful: it was from his work on his four line foils (yes, that's right I'd been introduced to 4 lines!), and his enthusiasm, and willingness to sell plans for his kites (for a fiver as I recall), that my kite making turned from necessity to desire. It was like having my eyes opened.

My kite making came on leaps & bounds having met Chris: the mysteries of correctly sewing profiles became clear; the importance of clean trailing edges, of accurate bridle dimensions, etc, etc, etc...

And so, after a steep learning curve I was eventually able to build my own quiver of four lines foils as the engines for my buggying (which by this time had become a lifelong love).

Moving on from building kites to Chris's plans I began taking what I'd learned and experimenting again. But the vagaries of aero-dynamics remained beyond me, leading me back into hit & miss territory.