My first SLED kite

 Work in progress!

On June 24, 2020 I finally succeeded with a self-built kite. Again with a Tim Parish design from his My-Best-Kite site. I have read through most of his site and bought and read a complete set of his ebooks on plastic kite building. He has a lot of useful info for plastic kite beginners.

The chosen design this time was his "MBK 2-Skewer sled". You'll find the plans and building tips on that link.

One very important thing I've learned from Parish is to always strengthen the outline of the plastic kite with what he calls "sticky tape". Other may know it as office tape, cello tape etc. It is transparent and maybe 15-20 mm wide. This is what I'm talking about:

I drew the outline of the kite on the sail and let a few mm of the tape go on the outside of the line, to ensure that all edges of the sail was completely covered with take. If you skip this, the kites edges may flutter in the wind and in the worst case fringe.

The trouble applying the tape is shown below. It is difficult to avoid wrinkles in the plastic.

There is a way to get around this problem. I'll write about it later. Just one word here: water!

To fix the ends of the sticks needed to spread the sail, clear tape is not strong enough. You need something a bit more flexible or "stretchy". I use electrical insulation tape, like on the image below. These sticks are called spines in kite terminology. 

Having seen other sled designs on The Kite Plan Base and reading that ventilation holes at the lower end of the sail could make the kite more stable, I cut two holes between the front and back wings of the plane.

The decor was drawn after an F-35 fighter illustration I found online. I drew the outline with a permanent marker. The fill is the grey plastic from a kitchen trash bag, attached with clear tape. 
... yes, I know. The plane flies upside down, but it looked less interesting without the cockpit. My grandson couldn't care less, and neither could I. Unlike his toy-store kite (mentioned on my kite front page), this one doesn't require running to get in the air, just a soft, warm summer breeze. 

To attach the illustration to the kite, I first spanned the kite to the kitchen bench with pieces of tape, to remove as many wrinkles as possible. 
If you use an insulation tape and your work surface is clean, you can reuse the tape, particularly if you fold the end of the piece of tape like on the photo below. It will make it so much easier to remove the tape. You can of course do the same with clear tape.

No kite is complete without a line, and on a sled kite you will send need something called a bridle  in kite terminology (horses wear bridles too - on the head), between the kite and the line.@@ continue.

It was a great pleasure to let the sled pull line outside my home on this warm, sunny summer afternoon. I experimented a bit with a tails (one behind each longeron, for balance), but it flew just as well without any at all. 

The two colours on the sail was just a whim before I decided to decorate it with the plane. Not very much consideration behind it. For a new kite, I would probably use clear, colourless celophane. I would also try to make the sticks less visible by painting the baby-blue or white. In that way, only the plane would be possible.
If you try something similar, I, and probably other too, would love to see it on the Facebook groups "Kitebuilders" and "Kite flyers 2.0"

Seven months later I have concluded that sleds and soft kites maybe aren't really suitable for my kiting area. They have a tendency to collapse in mid air. I have been told from helpful people on the Facebook Kitebuilders group this is because of the unstable, turbulent wind. On a large beach with a steady breeze, they perform very well. 

You can learn a lot more about all the different sled kite variations out there if you check out the free booklet  Allison's flexible kite pdf file. Among other things you'll learn about the development of the sled,kite and see a lot of different sled kite styles.

Another free booklet I'll probably be referring to regularly, "The best kite in the world" by Stormy Weathers, It has a whole chapter on the sled kite and discuss the science behind f.ex. the holes I have at the bottom of the kite, why the longerons are not parallel, and then it treats a lot of other kite forms the same way! It may seem a bit dated today, but with a little patience, you can learn a lot about kites and kiting from it - and as I said - it's free!