Rainbow fish kite flying against blue sky

Why Your Kite Keeps Spinning and How to Fix It

Have you ever been so excited to fly your kite, only for it to keep spinning? It certainly takes the fun out of kite flying. This article will cover why your kite keeps spinning and how to fix it.

When the four forces of flight (weight, drag, thrust, lift) aren’t balanced, kites become unsteady and spin. Adding a tail to the kite helps make the kite balanced.

Learn more about why this is happening and how to solve the issue to better enjoy your day of kiting.

Why Is My Kite Spinning In Circles?

Kites are heavier-than-air crafts with wings and used for recreation and practical uses. These objects fly just like other air crafts. 

To further understand kites, establishing what their various components are is necessary. Kites consist of the kite body, bridle (harness), and control line (2).

The control line is the string that connects the kite flyer to the kite. It also connects the kite to an anchor. The bridle connects the line to the kite. The different materials used to make lines include wire, silk, cotton, or nylon (3).  

When coupled with the bridle, the line allows the person operating the kite to control it properly. 

The kite’s body consists of an outer covering and a framework. Materials used for the framework are usually plastic or wood. Fabric or plastic is then taken and placed on top of the framework to create a wing. 

For the kite to fly, some forces come into play. These forces are drag, weight, thrust, and lift. These are the same forces that allow aircraft to fly. 

Drag acts as a backward force, while thrust acts as a forward force. Also, lift acts as the upward force while weight acts as the downward force. 

The four forces must stay balanced for a kite to fly steadily. Lift and weight must be equal, and thrust and drag must also be equal. 

However, in some cases, you will find that your kite refuses to stay balanced and keeps spinning in circles. In this case, there are several possible reasons. 

Bridle

A bridle that is either stretched, uneven or unbalanced may result in a spinning kite. As mentioned before, the bridle connects the kite to the flying line and the person flying. 

The area that the bridle and the flying line are attached to is known as the bridling point. While most kites have a bridle that connects at two points, those with complex structures have bridles attached at several points. 

It’s common to find a knot at the bridling point. When this knot moves to the top of the kite, it causes the top of the kite to be heavy. 

It means the kite is highly likely to spin.

Another factor that can cause your kite to spin is when the harnesses have different lengths. Such bridles pull the kite in one direction, causing it to spin and sometimes crash.

Twists and tangles are other things to consider. Constantly inspecting your kite for these 

issues will help avoid uneven bridles.

Weather conditions

The wind is a necessary component of kite flying. With different kites available, the wind speed needed by each of them also varies. There are those winds that require up to 40mph of wind, while those only require a light breeze (4).

Prior inspection while picking a kite for their maximum and minimum wind speed is necessary. It will keep you informed on the best wind conditions to fly your kite in. Usually, more giant kites require more wind. When they get inadequate wind, they tend to spin.

Turbulence also causes kites to spin. The strong gusty winds may signify a storm. It is mainly the case if you are flying far from obstacles.

Kite Tails

Tails allow kites to remain balanced. Kites tend to be unstable when a tail is absent. It means that when kites fly without tails, they begin to swoop, spin and crash.

Kite Frame

Kite frames are also known as kite spars. These parts of the kite provide balance and provide the kite with tension.

When kite spars are unbalanced, they cause the kite to spin. 

You will see this issue more commonly in handmade kites because of the materials and size.

What Helps A Kite Fly Straight Up?

Smaller kites tend to have an issue with stability more than larger kites. In this case, it’s best to adjust the length of the tail. Having longer tails allows the kites to fly straight up.

Provided the material used to create the kite is light, the additional weight won’t significantly affect the kite.

Also, you may need to make tiny adjustments to your harness’s attachment point to minimize spinning, and the kite flies straight up. Bridles have knots that you can slide either to the left or right.

If the attachment point moves to one side (e.g., left), there is less sail area left on that side. It will mean there will be more sail area on the other side (right).

Flat kites with a single-leg bridle or two tend to distort when under air pressure. It has no significant effect until one side of the kite frame (Spar) bends more than the other side. 

The sails region becomes unequal, and the kite turns to the section with less area. It affects the kite’s wind range, and it loses height the moment a bit of extra wind comes on.

What Makes A Kite Stable?

According to Newton’s first law of motion, objects stay at rest in a straight line unless they are compelled to change their state by other external forces. When objects are unconstrained, such as aircraft in flight, they rotate about their center of gravity (5).

Also, if the application of external forces at the center of gravity occurs, unconstrained objects don’t rotate. When the objects are constrained at a point (e.g., bridling point), the objects rotate about the point. 

When in flight, kites rotate about their bridling point. It is thanks to the aerodynamic forces and the torque generated.

To ensure that a kite remains stable, you must incorporate a tail—flying kites without a tail result in spinning and, in worst-case scenarios, crashing of kites. Utilizing a tail makes the kite more stable since it leads to additional drag and weight to the lower end (6).

However, the length of the tail also matters to ensure effectiveness. Short tails (10cm), for example, will only allow a bit of stability. But it will still spin in the long run.

Also, using very long tails (500cm) will assist instability and prevent rolling, but they will add too much weight and keep the kites from flying to a very high level. A tail height of about 100cm is advisable as it prevents rolling and allows the kite to fly high.

How Do You Troubleshoot A Kite?

A common problem that kite flyers have is an unbalanced kite. As seen above, this may be a result of various reasons. Knowing how to troubleshoot the kite will allow you to continue enjoying this recreational activity.

One of the ways to troubleshoot is by moving to a location that is open and free of obstacles. When flying kites next to buildings, they tend to spin. It is a reaction to the source of wind being unsteady in that environment.

Changes in the wind direction and speed may also affect the kite and signify a storm. Mainly when the area in which you are working is free of obstacles. 

Checking your local weather forecast and leaving the area is advisable if inclement weather becomes a reality.

As mentioned before, the length of your bridle line may also affect the kite’s stability. That is when either the left or right sides are too short. 

In this case, it is advisable to check the recommended length as some manufacturers publish this information. 

Summary

 As seen above, a spinning kite doesn’t have to keep you from enjoying your kite flying session. Kites are affected by various factors, from weather conditions, absence of tails to kite frames. Now that you know how to identify the issues that make kites unbalanced, you can very easily troubleshoot them.

Sources

  1. Mike Hulslander, How Kites Fly, Smithsonian National Air, and Space Museum, https://airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/how-kites-fly, Accessed 3rd December 2021
  2. Mike Hulslander, How Kites Fly, Smithsonian National Air, and Space Museum, https://airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/how-kites-fly, Accessed 3rd December 2021
  3. Kites, National Aeronautics and Space Administration,  https://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/airplane/kite1.html, Accessed 3rd December 2021
  4. Lee and Cameron, How to Stop a Spinning Kite, All Things Kites, https://allthingskites.com/how-to-stop-a-spinning-kite/, Accessed 4th December 2021
  5. Kite Balance and Stability, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/airplane/kitestab.html, Accessed 4th December 2021
  6. Science buddies, Stability Science: How Tails Help a Kite Fly, Scientific American, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/bring-science-home-kite-tails/, Accessed 4th December 2021

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