Tails, Tilt and Bridles: 3 Research Papers

Ed Grauel
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Should a tail be long and narrow, or short and fat? Should it be attached directly to the kite itself, or at at some distance away from the kite? Does it make any difference anyhow?

To get some answers, I made up four conventional 36-inch diamond-shaped flat kites exactly alike and in the same ripstop material. Then I made four tails 4 inches by 15 feet long, also of ripstop. The surface area of the tail was determined by trial and error to allow the kites to stay in the air at least a 15 mile an hour wind.

One tail was attached directly to one of the kites, another an inch away, a third six inches away and the last six feet. Aided by assistants, the four kites were put into the air simultaneously and flown on the same weight of line, side by side. All observers agreed they could detect no significant differences either in the angles of elevation or in any other flying characteristics of the four. Conclusion: The distance from the kite a tail is attached makes no apparent difference. Nothing very startling here.

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