Mention kites, and the classic diamond shape comes to mind. This diamond kite is a low-angle flier, and, like all other flat kites, requires a tail for extra drag. It's adapted from "Kites: The Gentle Art of High Flying," a book by Susan Tyrrell.
FRAME: 2 softwood dowels: one for the spine, 32 by 1/8 inch; the other for the spar, 28 by 1/8 inch.
COVER: cloth, newsprint or tissue paper (1 sheet), 3 feet square.
LINE: for cloth, 20 pound test; for paper, 10 pound test.
BRIDLE: 2 legs.
TAIL: bow tail.
WIND: for cloth, 8 to 24 mph; for paper, 3 to 10 mph.
MATERIALS: scissors, pencil, ruler, needle and thread, white glue, tow ring, saw or utility knife.
CONSTRUCTION -- Measure and cut the spine and spar; V-notch the ends. Cut a square notch 10 inches from the top of the spine and also at the midpoint of the cross spar. The two dowels must be glued and latched together with string. Run a line around the frame through the notched ends. Using the frame as an outline, cut out the cover allowing 1 inch all around for a hem. Attach the cover to the frame by turning the hem around the frame and gluing it. Add the bridle, using needle and thread, and the tow ring.
HUMMERS -- Ancient Chinese farmers used musical kites to warn of approaching storms. A humming kite aloft would lull the family to sleep at night. But in turbulent air, the sound would become loud and annoying and wake the farmer, who'd take steps to save his crops.
You can make your kite hum just for fun. Take a length of slender dowel and piane wire or guitar string. Bend the dowel into a bow and tie the ends with the wire or string. Attach the bow to the back of your kite by placing it loosely between the cross bars and cover material. More hummers add harmony.
Here are five tails to tie on your kite. Some will work better than others, depending on the kind of kite you fly.
PAPER BOW TAIL -- To make this traditional design, tie accordion-pleated pieces of paper to a length of string five times the length of the kite.
CLOTH SOW TAIL -- Made of linen, this bow tail is used mainly for cloth kites.
TASSEL TAIL -- Tie short strips of cloth or paper to a length of kite line, and attach it to the kite's base. Good for parafoils.
LADDER TAIL -- A popular Japanese design, this tail can be made in cloth or paper and works on square or rectangular kites.
STRIP TAIL -- Attach long lengths of paper or cloth by one end to the base of the kite, leaving the strips to fly freely at the other end.