Portfolio of kite shapes

Even the briefest glance at the different shapes of kite shown below will confirm that I very rarely build “fighter” kites with a point at the front – I have found by experience that kites with a bowed leading adge and diagonal spars are the best suited to the exclusive use of composite (carbon or glass) spars. These kites fly well and are tough enough to survive my style of flying – including bouncing on the ground and repeated immersions in water.

The basic shapes and sizes outlined below represent the present state of my many experiments.



Introducing my kites

Appliqué without sewing

A Few questions and answers

Different shapes of kite:


Buka & Classic Korean

Other traditional shapes

Trapezium & stacks

Fighter Kite Gallery


1 The Square

The original Square-square from Not an Indian Fighter Kite has shrunk a little to yield my most frequently built kite (a 44cm square). At this size, and at the larger size of 55cm, I rarely build the kites with any central hole – they provide the blank canvas for constructing the most decorative appliqué sails.

Although these kites are so simple, they are remarkably agile and controllable. Although they are not ideally suited to the specific needs of combat flying, they are quite capable of some very challenging flying. Left/right turns and spins are just as expected, but they are also capable of stall manoeuvres (e.g. flat spins) and can be persuaded into vertical and horizontal tail-slides.

I have found that the basic square format, with no shaping of the trailing edge, provides an ideal introduction to freestyle fighter kite flying. It also provides scope for ventures into the extremes of fighter kite flying with very small and very large scale versions. Scaled-down versions with 1mm carbon fibre spars work well, but demand great concentration, manual dexterity, and smooth winds.


I have also built scaled-up versions up to 1.5 metres span – such large versions may be relatively slow and sedate in a gentle breeze, but they are a real challenge if the wind increases. Although the large-scale versions have been fun, they do not offer the relaxed flying most treasured by fighter kite flyers.


For more radical freestyle flying the square format seems to work best at the slightly larger size of 60cm, with the addition of a rectangular central hole and a shaped trailing edge. The size of the central hole is generally fairly large to provide the most precise control – but it can be expanded to a very large hole size for flying in really high winds when no other fighter kite flyer will even contemplate flying.

The larger 60cm size of developed square kite offers great control and very rapid transitions between powered and stalled manoeuvres (tricks). These kites will perform more exaggerated tailslides – vertical slides can often be extended into a controlled landing and take-off.

For flyers demanding the most extreme freestyle capability a 60cm square with a triple spine allows the longest tail-slides (from full-line-length overhead to ground), with the ability to be slowed to a hover close to the ground. When flown into a stall, a flat-spin can be extended into a half-roll so that the kite will float on its’ back as long as the stall persists. The use of a triple spine maintains a flat section at the centre of the kite when powered with the line in tension, but this flat section allows the kite to make the transitions into instability more rapidly than single-spined fighters.