Easiest kite to fly

Went out in a gentle breeze to fly a kite with the Dudeling. Neither he nor Mrs. Devil had ever flown a kite before (she immigrated from the Soviet Union in the 80s. Her only experience, following standard USSR procedures, was the kite flying her). I haven’t flown a kite since I was ten.

It didn’t go so well. It went up! Weee… waitasecond. Two seconds later it flipped to the side and made a suicidal plunge to the Earth. Again and again and again, this depressive bit of nylon and plastic went up, held for a second, then made a graceful arc to the ground.

Since he’s only two and a half, I’m counting on biology (long-term memory just developing) to avoid having permanently traumatized him. I’m counting on being laughed at by Mrs. Devil for quite some time.

Anyway, I don’t remember kite-flying to be so … challenging.

So screw this supermarket kite shit. I want to order a ‘real’ kite from somewhere, something that’s designed for beginners and will be the easiest to stay aloft. Pretty shapes notwithstanding, all I want is something that will fly fly fly and make me look just slightly competent.


Tell us more about how you went about flying it. What kind of kite did you get? How did you launch it? What was the wind like that day? Kite flying seems simple, but the details are important. NASA put together a page about it and there’s a bunch of technical stuff below the image which gives you a feel for how complex the topic really is. But if you really want to geek out over kite stuff, check out NASA’s kite modeler program where you can probably input the parameters of your kite and the day you were flying it and come up with lovely predictions on if you had insufficient lift, bad trim, or other possible issues.


If you want something so easy a 2 year-old could fly it you can make paper bag kites that literally fly themselves. You could tie the string to a tree and it’ll fly. Google will find instructions.
For you to fly and have fun a dual cord stunt kite is easy to fly. You just need another person to help you launch it. I got a pretty big one for ~$100 Prism Quantum.

IME Delta style kites, with an integral keel were the easiest to fly. Also IME, the more complicated and “cool looking” a kite was, the worse it flew.

It is important to understand that a kite doesn’t have any way to keep the top pointed up. It responds to the tension of the string, and the air flowing over it. Because it is often accelerating, gravity is not a reliable reference except in steady flight. But aerodynamically, it can keep the top pointed into the wind with respect to the pull of the string. So when the kite is flying at a low angle, it will have poor stability, because the air is moving almost the same direction relative to the string when the kite is pointed up as when it is upside down. In addition, the kite will often be partially, or fully aerodynamically stalled when in this condition, which will also tend to make it unstable.

To be most stable, a kite needs to fly at a high angle. The problem is getting it from the ground up to that high angle.

Note that when the kite is climbing briskly upward, none of the problems of low angle flying appear…the climbing kite “sees” an apparent wind as if it were flying at a steep angle.
So when you pay out line with the kite on the ground, then run, you need to run until the kite reaches a fairly high altitude, or it will be unstable once it stops climbing. You should only stop running/pay out line if the kite turns downward during the launch.

An alternative is to fly the kite out of your hand, and slowly pay out line slowly, always keeping the kite at a fairly high angle. This is very hard to do if there are trees or buildings around, as the the wind will be very unsteady in direction near the ground.

With practice, you can pay out line when the kite is pointed a bad direction, and stop it from accelerating that way. When it points the preferred direction (up!), pull in line. This is how single line kites are controlled. With practice, kites can be maneuvered quite well this way. In this way you can restore a kite that has lost altitude during a lull in the wind, and restore it to a stable height. Better to pay in line when the wind starts to decrease though, so the kite never gets low and unstable.

Paging Kitemaker_Chuck!


I bought a kite for $1.97 from the store and got it flying, for long periods of time. You just need the right day, etc. I also bought a kite the next year for $4.00 (it made a buzzing noise, like a plane) and that also flew!

Parafoil kites are the gussied-up version of Hampshire’s paper bag kite. I have one that rolls up into a little baggie about the size of a soda can that I can get aloft in the tiniest breeze, and keeps flying until it’s a couple of feet from my hand when I reel it in.

As a kid, I was kite-challenged, having pretty much the same experience you describe every time I went out. What worked for me was a box kite. It went up and stayed there. Admittedly, it isn’t really that exciting, but I suspect my ability to fly a “fighting kite” anywhere other than straight into the ground is pretty much non-existent.

What Caveman said. I had one similar to this that I kept in my Jeep for years. I’d bust it out at picnics, parties, or just at random. It flies like a bird with even a puff of wind. I lost it during a move a year or so ago, and really miss it.

So if I go to Amazon (or a kite store) and put “parafoil” into a search box I’m likely to end up with a super-easy-to-fly kite? As in “parafoil” is a general kite-type?

I’d hate to get excited again and have something parafoil my plans.

That’s right. They’ll come in a variety of sizes, most will look basically like the one in my link, and will be a cinch to fly. Note that there are also dual-line parafoil stunt kites, but these will be more expensive and more difficult to fly.

It should come with a nifty little pouch to stuff it in when you’re done, some even have an integrated pocket that allows it to be tucked into itself. I’d say you should be safe paying ~$15-25.