Have you ever flown a kite only to find it swooping up and down or spinning side to side in the air? This is not an uncommon problem, especially with handmade kites! This can be very frustrating, but fear not, in this essay we are going to dive into the reasons your kite could be spinning, and how to stop it from doing so.
The kite spins because it is unbalanced. Imbalances can be caused by a variety of reasons. The easiest way to stop the kite from spinning or diving is to attach a tail to the kite. Depending on the type of kite you are flying, attempting to fly the kite without a tail may cause the kite to spin, turn to one side, dive, or crash.. Adding a tail to the bottom of the kite will make the bottom of the kite point down. This also helps lower the kite's center of gravity and changes the kite's balance, making it more stable as the weight increases.
Make a Kite Tail Quickly and Easily
Purchased kites tend to be balanced during the manufacturing process, and it is recommended that you purchase a designed kite that is ready to use right out of the box. Handmade kites? Not so much. If you haven't tried flying it, it can be difficult to tell if a kite is balanced and ready to fly, especially after you've made it yourself.
How to stop a spinning kite
Have you ever flown a kite only to find it swooping up and down or spinning side to side in the air? This is not an uncommon problem, especially with handmade kites! This can be very frustrating, but here we explain why the kite spins and how to stop it.
The kite spins because it is unbalanced. Imbalances can be caused by a variety of reasons. The easiest way to stop the kite from spinning or diving is to attach a tail to the kite.
Depending on the type of kite you are flying, attempting to fly the kite without a tail may cause the kite to spin, turn to one side, dive, or crash due to the kite being unstable. Adding a tail to the bottom of the kite will make the bottom of the kite point down. This also helps lower the kite's center of gravity and changes the kite's balance, making it more stable as the weight increases.
Make a Kite Tail Quickly and Easily
Purchased kites tend to be balanced during the manufacturing process and come out of the box. Handmade kites? Not so much. If you haven't tried flying it, it can be difficult to tell if a kite is balanced and ready to fly, especially after you've made it yourself.
If you go out and fly a kite and realize it's spinning, you can easily make a kite tail out of materials you should have easy access to.
Tie an unused paper towel or napkin to the kite with some kite string. If you have a handkerchief, you can also tie it to the bottom of the kite.
Using the handles as attachment points, tie a clean plastic bag to the kite
If you can find a branch or two in the park, you can also tie them to your kite. Or use a bunch of grass or leaves if you have a way to attach them.
If your kite has its tail attached but is still spinning or turning to one side, attach a small piece of tail to the opposite wingtip. If you run out of material, try adding a coin or two to the end of the tail to add extra weight.
It is a good idea to carry some spare tail material with you when flying a kite. Ribbon, surveyor's tape, pre-cut strips of plastic bags rolled up and secured with rubber bands, and a sharp knife are handy.
There are many different types of kite tails you can make or buy to stop the kite from spinning and add color and style to your kite setup.
Other causes of spinning kites and how to troubleshoot and fix them:
- Uneven/unbalanced kite spars
- Uneven/unbalanced/stretched bridle or keel
- wind conditions
Various types of kites require different wind speeds in order to fly and remain stable in the sky. For example: a sled or parafoil kite needs wind to fill its cells to lift the kite into the sky, which means a lot of wind - anywhere from 10 mph to 40 mph will help. The popular mid-stroke range delta kite takes off with ease and holds its own in the breeze. Low or zero wind kites and indoor kites require little or no wind to fly.
When picking out a kite, check the kite's minimum and maximum wind speed limits. This will give you a better idea of which kites to fly in various wind conditions. Larger kites generally require more wind to float in the sky. Not enough wind will cause it to spin and crash.
Another reason the wind can cause a kite to spin or be generally unstable during flight is turbulence. Turbulence is characterized as large gusts of wind, or when an obstacle causes the wind to not flow smoothly around the kite, creating turbulence.
If you fly your kite near tall buildings or even trees, it can cause your kite to spin at best and crash at worst due to unstable wind sources. In this case, you should move from your current location to a place that is more open, with fewer obstacles.
If you are flying away from an obstacle and there is still a sudden change in wind speed or direction, this could mean a storm is approaching. If this is the case, check your local weather forecast and be prepared to retrieve the kite and leave the area.
You've checked the weather report, measured the wind speed at your location, and it seems like a good day for kite flying. But your kite is still crashing! Don't worry, that doesn't mean you're doomed not to fly a kite. This might be some simple fix your kite needs.
Uneven or unbalanced kite spars
The spar of a kite is sometimes also called the kite frame. Think of it as the skeleton of a kite, opening the sail and providing tension. What's more, the spars provide balance to your kite.
The problem of unbalanced kite spars tends to be more common in handmade kites due to the dimensions and materials used. That doesn't mean you can't fly your handmade kite. Generally, kites with uneven or unbalanced spars will turn to one side, spin or crash. If you suspect that the kite spars are unbalanced or uneven, we have an in-depth guide on troubleshooting here.
You will need to remove the kite spars to check what's wrong with them. If your kite crashes and it is obvious that one of the posts is broken, be very careful when retrieving your kite and removing the posts. Make sure you don't puncture the sail when removing the broken beam; if unsure, contact your local kite shop or us.
Uneven, unbalanced or stretched bridle line or keel
The bridle is the line that connects the kite to the fly or kite line you hold. Most kites have a bridle attached to the kite in two places; kites with more complex structures use bridles attached to them in many places. The point where the fly line connects to the rein is called the rein point.
Your kite line may have a knot where it connects or connects to the reins. Sliding this knot towards the bottom of the kite lowers the kite's center of gravity and generally reduces the kite's tendency to spin. Moving the knot towards the top of the kite causes the kite to be "top-heavy" and increases its tendency to spin or dive.
If the kite keeps spinning or turning to the right, the length of the rein on the right is too short. Check that your kite has a knot that you can slide right or left on your reins. If the kite keeps turning or spinning to the left, move the knot to the right and vice versa. This left-right balance is a sensitive adjustment, so you can only move the knot about 1/64" (0.5mm) at a time. Fly the kite for 5 to 10 minutes after each adjustment to see if it no longer spins.
Over time, the rein line also stretches due to the pressure of being pushed and pulled by the wind. This is easy to check as some manufacturers will post a recommended bridle length for your kite.
Alternatively, if your reins are detachable, you can detach them and check that they are the same length. Reins of mismatched lengths tend to pull your kite in one direction, making it easier to spin and crash.
Another cause of uneven bridle line is that there may be knots, twists, or tangles in it. When installing or packing your kite, be sure to check all lines for knots, twists and tangles. If there are, you must undo them before flying the kite.
Always check the cord for frays when unraveling any knots or tangles. Wear occurs over time and is exacerbated when the lines are constantly rubbing against each other.
If your kite has keels instead of reins, and you suspect the keel has stretched, it's best to contact the manufacturer. Ask if it's possible to get the dimensions of the keel so you can measure the keel of the kite to see if it's actually stretched. Usually if your keel is stretched you will have to replace it with the manufacturer's exact measurements or a knowledgeable kite flyer who has done something similar. In this case, it is best to talk to your local kite shop or kite flying club for more practical advice.
So, in summary, the quickest and easy way to stop a kite from spinning is to add a tail to the kite. Always make sure to change only one thing at a time when working on the kite so you can pinpoint what's causing it to spin. After making any adjustments, take your kite for a test flight and see if the adjustments stop it from spinning in the air.
Finally, if you enjoy kite flying and our kites in general, don’t forget to recommend us to your friends.