|One of the simplest power kites which you can make yourself is the Nasa ParaWing, which is based on a brake chute design evaluated by Nasa in the 1950s. There are several sites on the net which have plans for this kite, and it can be made in any size you like, from less than one sq. meter, up to 10 sq. meters. My first attempt at power kite making was this 2.5 sq. meter wing which wasn't too far beyond my mediocre sewing skills, and flies pretty well in medium strength winds.|
|In search of decent winds and big empty beaches I set off for Bude in Cornwall armed with the Nasa Wing, A Flexifoil Stacker 6 and an Airea 1.5 parafoil. The first couple of flights with the Nasa Wing were used to get the setup completed. These things can take a while to get trimmed to fly properly, with 36 bridle lines. Each of these lines has the potential to completely ruin the flight characteristics of the kite.
None of the kites I took were particularly large, the NasaWing being the largest. I wished I'd made a bigger one although even my little(ish) wing was pulling me all over the beach.
Still, it was nothing I couldn't handle (or so I thought) so when a very strong wind started blowing in from the sea I set off to see how much pull the wing could actually generate.
|Great plan, but the wing does have one minor (?) drawback. As it is a single skin of nylon, with no spars or airfoil sections to hold it in shape, when it collapses it does so in spectacular style, often going into a spin that leads to a lovely tangle as modeled here. The collapsability does mean that it can do some impressive spins though, with the wing collapsing then spinning to the ground before re-inflating and pulling really strongly as it climbs.|
|Still, once the birds nest was sorted out, the performance of the wing in a really strong wing was amazing. It easily dragged me for yards along the beach, and it took an unceremonious emergency landing into some bushes to stop me ending up taking an unplanned trip into the car park.
The wing can be set up as either a 4 line or a 2 line kite. The 2 line has fewer lines (duh) so there is less to get tangled if things go wrong, but there is no way to de-power the kite if it get's out of hand. The excellent aerodynamics of the wing mean that even if it is flown nose first into the ground, it'll re-inflate and reverse itself, turn the right way up and take off again. Makes solo flying an interesting experience to say the least.
Setting the kite up with 4 lines would make it more controllable. For a wing any bigger than about 2.5 sq. meters a 4 line set up looks like being a necessity.
The Nasa Wing proves to be an excellent kite for getting dragged about. It's easy to make and fly, really cheap and can drag you up and down the wide open space of your choice.
Now to make one twice the size, and hold on tight.