Copyright © 1981 by Guy D. Aydlett

Dear Kiteflier:
We hope our January DATA-LETTER con-vinced you to make and fly our version of Hornbeam, the versatile sled-kite. A kind of tradition dictates that a “standard” sled should have a height “H” of three feet ; but February 1981 Hornbeams are consistent good performers in all of the practical sizes. Here are the specifications of three excellent fliers that happen to be available for measurement as this letter is being written:


The kite sizes listed above are not limits. Smaller sizes make lively, low-altitude kites for children; however, they appear as in-significant specks in the sky when they are flown at middle altitudes. A kite made in a height greater than about two metres—say about 79 inches—is too hazardous for one person to fly. The Beast will snatch you bald-headed if it embraces a 15-knot wind-gust. Although the specifications in our table show that the 75″ kite has a 22% higher area loading than the others, we have noticed that it will float serenely aloft long after the wind velocity has become too low to support the smaller ones. “Reynolds number,” a bit of fluid mechanics esoterica, is involved in the explanation of the better performance of the large kite. We’ll play with Reynolds numbers (briefly) in a future issue of PMAF DATA-LETTER.


This old letter from Hornbeam describes how his crony, Beauforce Stringfellow, once succumbed to the doctrine of holey-ness and barely escaped with life, limb, and sanity:

Dear Air Marshall

Over full flagons of best vintages you have many times heard me. mention my dear friend Beau6oAce SVIAing6eXiow; but 1 don t t evz. ,t,e,Wmg you how
ma him on -the -top o6 yoUA beloved Piney ‘Mounta,Ln dtviing ‘the days that immediatety So. owed Wonld (‘Jan U. I vividZy iteca-U that iiine maiming:

way, pitowang the garden o6 my /Lai:At/Tient pad in Advance ML, and I glanced towaacts Piney Mounta,i,n co I tend .to do hundAed4 o6 tLmu when the, weatheit and-.. the as wte good. Nut The zwnm-Lt, zowang vuLtuita we/ER. cZeahty viAibte even though the Li_ttle mou_ntain-peak waz two mLeez away. 1 wa-o adna.A., the. speci_al cta)Lity o6 the aiA. fmt I zighted the UFO h,Lgh above. the b-adz. IntAigued, I :Lan to the home, ‘wwted out my cameita bag, and soon had the van tearLing oven. the navi.ow winding Aoadis between home, and the mountain.
W.ith,61 Give minute’s, I had diciven newt enough to the mani6eistat CO VCI. that the a.eiLial moteity was an unusual kite. It waz not an ev.L invadert
(Page 1 of 4; continued on page 2)

(“Vents,” continued from page 1)
6,Lom kemote gatactic makehm, but my 6ight o6 t5 btoated ma-a6 tickted topo¬Zogical memoiuleis 06 natineis6e.2 such ass /Quin 6tca1zs. and Ma b. ztit,(1p4.
A6ten I istaAed at the. mais6 6ok a jew seconds, the optical 6timwews titiggeit.ed my patate into a cacopho„ny o6 hi.ccoughz. 7 wag Zateit. to Leann that
a66ected eveAyone Viva way. (I murt menti.on hum that 7 was behotding the StAing6eXtow Giant Re-entkant Tki-Squid. I to tell. you molie abou,t
but hawki,sh GoveAnment minionis have wkapped an impeaet)tabZe bog o 6 s eckecy about the inVention and -Lt Zatek devetopment.)
By itei3a-eutati keeping my gaze avemted 6 the We, T bound that the ,sei-
zwLe and :some accompanying nawsea. tended to abate. At the Aoad-end, I pakked the van and 60teowed a 600tpct,th t hh_ough the oaks and pinez until I enteAed the
mountaintop cleaning that 4un)Lounded an aiAcit.a6t-watining maot. Thefie, 1 saw Beau_6okce: a be-goggZed 6iguiLe ispoAting 6kog.Ucke eyv-6Letem o6 a Zoathzome
hue o6 magenta. Dezp,ite. the evidence that he way huzbanding an afoLay
06 inistAumeyi.,&s and kecoAdeitz, he gkeeted me with 6Aiendty i)1,teiLezt and ha/stilt] pa6ed a pa.iii o6 the. goggteis to me. “Heke, weak thne,” he oa.c d. “They’ll pke.isekve your. heaLth and isan,ity.”
Vining u.c.ceeding month’s, we o6ten 6ound time to commi.t bad aeitoba-Uc.4 in the
o?d Con6otidated Fleet biptane, 6-ey cross-country fzuntis,. and oecaisionalty to hun up a kite. We .sweated and akgued aveA. a.iit.6tow theory. Our acquaintancuhip had iT,Lpened into .soLi..d ()it-Lend/ship. Even out ad ce got on wea toge.theA.
in time, both o6 ws heard o6 At.taon and h/i,s emutatou. Beau commenced to make ,s-ted,s, good one; but he. :sought wx”.’sdom 6/Lon eve counLelokz, consented with witche.z, and contn.acted a monwnentat case o6 Pentanuis vento/siz (the. vent
One day, he began to chant on.-L6ice ok.i,son’s and piI.2ceeded to cut a pa ..A. o6 6avoitite witch’ is “Lit uat pentapoitts in the. town centeA-section o6 be. -t
6.eed; but the k,ite 6-eao about the .same as it had beialLe the w-i,tch’ holey-1spe,el wais reduced to pltact…e.e. Beau’s 6k.utka-Uon was tranpened by the gu,Ltty knowe¬edge that he’d not ob,seAved 6ickle atmo.sphek.ic changers dais ng un-holey and
hot.ey 6.Ughts. His ke..s ideltrt daemon (ye’s, Beau was poisze.sed) prompted 11,im to adopt zcienti6ic methodology and caused 11_6v to 6abilicate two 06 h,(Igh quality identica ill (Lunen s tons, meLten aY.s, and weight’s except .that one
o6 the 6u9at,s 6,eaunted penta-hote.s and the. inev.tabee diminishment 06 ‘ail area.
He. 6-Eew ate 6-iintatallEOLL.Seg, and they made a bra’ e sirght; but he cou-e_d not de-cide which h e nd wa.s bettek.
A6tek countee5.6 tit.i,a.e_s and 5 .Cceptes5 nights, he. began -to vent iLtes accokding
to hLs own geometAicaZ theoAies. F-kom pentapotts, e. worked backwa.kd to the. ce_azic elLi_pses and tkapanas ven.ts; he worked 6oiumkd to a kash 06 muLtii_zhape✓s.
He .stashed away at heturagons, megagon.s, stars, eusti tomatoes, and_ even whote ba,s ket,s 06 6kui.t. He didn’t neg C eat -the an owl. C kdigdom, e.i then..
Beau eventuaCty abandoned pAe- 6 eig ht pek6ok7t and began to make hi.s plans
60,t- accompti„shing IioCe-punch’Jig in 5 1..tti. Because of masteAtiut
with tai get aiums, he had no doubts about his being able to punch accuitate pat¬ in a 6 erp:ng kite.. He ceeaned his 6ottii-6i,ve caU.beit S 6 W talget tevot-
vvr_ and compounded elegant cis tom hand–Loaded cant tidges 6o,1 it. He weighed powdeit changes accuilate to i_ndividua.e paAticees; he .swageci his hand-cast wad-cuttert, buffets to an okdeit o6 wteci,siou that cotad IlitVe shamed the e66otts o6 the best watchmakms; and he seated hi.s sheee-case ptions with exqui..siteey contkoeted P4C.S3t1Ite. He shot hundkeds pattclus thAough hand- faid (1.u-tieing
papers and vast ita.tdages o6 Feenl<1.511 Ullefl Carle LL that he eiLected eat 5ences

att. ovea his tand. Within two weeks, he had shaapened his shooting eye and tuned his taiggea 4ingea to a estate o4 excellence that enabled him to aepao¬duce Picasso’s Doghead Woman with st.aAtUng iidetity; he .captuaed the nuances o4 the ethekeat smite o6 Leonaado’s Mona Lisa; he even evoked the chiaaoscut¬ean vigor. o4 Rembaandt’s Night Watch. (04 couase, the worths weke .Ln mono¬chrome.) At the and o6 his paaaice period, he’d acquiaed a styte as his own.
When the pea4ect 4tight-day amived, he was ready .to tay his viktuosity on a kite in 4tight. He to4ted a otendid ten-400t sled oven a paztuae tot acaoss the /Load 64om Mount Zion Chu/Leh. The sun and wind wens against his back; the aiAgow was ass smooth as gotden pettucid honey. 1 wmtched him az he caae4utty payed out tine untit the zted tacked itset4 in a steady state about one.–hundred metaes above his head. “Why,” 1 mused, “shoutd he tAy to impiLove on that?” Anyway, he tied the tine to one o ouir. pondertous gints and he began a meticutous cmemony 0,6 buaning hait o4 a goat’s aampit and
measuAing time-o6-day, wind vetoeity, sotaA Aadiation, atmosphem, tine-angte, and the battistic /Lange….
He uncovered and studied a neat sketch he had paced on a neaaby ea-set. It was evident that he intended to .treat his shot-hote composition Ln the manna& o the great GiLandma Mcsez: simpte, austeae, symmetAicat; a ptimitive znowscape.
Beau untimbeaed the heavy 6oAty-6ive, con4identty .fie t o44 kaz 6iast shot at the sted, and ‘hot the tine in two!
Az I watched the kite 4tuttek downwind into The Squike’s butZ-pastute, I was distAacted by a meton-thump kind o4 noise that came 4aom Beau’s tocation. I tuaned just in time to see him cottapse Ln a wild–eyed coma.
A bystanding moonshinek kesouAte4utty flooded my 4Aiend’s gattet with genea-ouz measuaes o4 undiluted Fiast Aid. In no time at att., Beau was on his beat and tationat; said he’d not beet bettea in weeks. “…And 4uathe1’tmoae,” he said, “I never want to have any mane tAa44ick with those ging-danged, hote. iLiddted kites!”
Because I am a 6tow thinkea in my matuae yeaas, I attowed a week to stip.away belime 1 deduced what had happened in that Advance Mitts pasta/Le tot: The kite was atmost diaectty ovethead when Beau’s 4inst and onty buffet cut the tine, passed thaough the kite, and continued its uptuad couAse until. it reached tea-minat attitude at about s.ix-hundaed metaes, I’d guess. As it staated to 4att, its spin had stowed and it began to dit4t and tumbte. Att two-hundred and 4oaty gaains o4 buttet 6ett on Beau’s head, made the thumping sound, and tempo¬aaAity stunned him into unconsciousness.
“But what happened,” you may ask, “that caused him to aegain his sanity and give up the hoteymania?”

The answea a simpte one:’Bedu4oace aJwayS ia’ed-Amatt pe)Cthitagez o4,sitvek
to harden his buffet attoys. When the buttet pranged Beau, it tho paanged the daemon who cont/Lotted and possessed him. (Any book o4 the occatt wilt tett you that a sitveA buttet is pone poison to aLE witches, quets, and daemons.)
It wasn’t the moonshine that cued him. Cwted him? Beau4oAce has commenced
a Aigokous zeai✓ o4 rumor-kite expetiments.
Aeolian bteszings,


Did you ever yearn to air a sky statement? Or loft a love fetter? If so, the batten kite just might be the ideal vehicle for your aspirations. A batten kite consists of a shaped canopy of cloth, paper, or plastic sheet backed by a multiplicity of horizontal mini-spars that tend to maintain the kite planform when the fabric is tensioned perpendicular to the spars (or yards). One or more strong longerons provide the “spine” over which the fab¬ric is stretched and tied. Obviously, the demounted canopy. can be rolled up for storage or transportation. PMAF’s “Happy Face” flaunts a friendly greeting that will be noticed:

Happy Face satisfies the batten kite definition given above only as far down as his colia.r-bone, or where the top-side of the “H” commences. From there on down to the ball of the exclamation point, the elements are battened for lateral spread, but they hang: literally depend on gravity and drag to maintain their longitudinal integrity of form. One might be tempted to call Happy Face an ar-ticulated dragon kite.

Glue, cement, stitch, or pocket the bat-tens according to techniques most favorable to your choice of canopy fabric. Use many small, lightweight battens rather than a few heavyweights. For example, if you decide to translate the modules shown into one-foot units, the face will be 3′ in diameter (an excellent size); and the overall length will be 15′. Battens for a kite this size can be 1/8″ diameter birch dowel, if pocketed; or 1 /8″ square spruce, if they are cemented in place. Make the delta-frame of 5/16″ sq. spruce ( readily obtained from aero-model shops in 4′ lengths). Also, use a piece of the same stock for a sturdy spar on whose ends the upper bridle branches will be se¬cured. It is well to bow this spar slightly —in the manner of the Eddy kite—so that it can better withstand the tensions of the bridle.

Happy Face must be colored goldenrod yellow (what else?) ; his mouth bold black, and the eyes detailed in black and white. Use black or another dark color for all of the elements of “HI!”.

The bridle branches should join together about three feet in front of the face and at about the level of the eye-centers.

Batten kites make excellent sky-sculpts or portraits. Who’ll send us a photograph of his favorite? Hint : You can fly “HI! ” without a face, or just fly “! ” Show us…


By First Class Mail in the U.S.A. : $7. 50 per year, or 750 per copy
Send check or money order (no cash) to:

Guy D. Aydlett

Post Office Box 7304

Clariotte’sville VA      22906