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Baden-Powell Man lifter

Continuing the theme set by Rob, this is another rarely seen classic kite design.

I found the plans on TMR's website

From the text given, Baden Baden-Powell (brother of the founder of the Boy Scout movement) patented his 'Levitor' in 1895 - this is one of his earlier versions from 1894 - and Marconi used one in 1901 to raise the aerial for the first electonic wireless transmission. From another kite book, the version used by Marconi was more of an elongated Rokkaku than the 'swallow tailed' version I have built.

Apparently, the Baden-Powell's original kite was 84m2 (~11m x 11m) - mine is only 2.63m2 (~2m x 2m), so I don't think it will lift me.....quite.


The kite is very similar in design to a Rokkaku, in that it uses two bowed horizontal spars, but they are closer together and it has the two vertical spars making the distinctive twin tail to the kite. I found that the bottom horizontal spar needed about twice the amount of bow than the upper to achieve a stable flight and as long as the breeze stayed above about 3 knots, it flew nicely (I am going to try it with 5mm carbon fibre for lower winds).

Even though construction started in October 1999, the first flight was not until 13th February 2000 which is where these pictures are from. Also featured is a Rokkaku built by Paul Lebburn, and being flown by his son Jake (there'll be more on Jake at some point - he is a very talented young flyer).

At a fly-in at Wakefield and the kite festival at Weymouth (30th April 2000) the kite proved itself to be very stable, and capable of taking a lot of line quickly - in the altitude sprint at Weymouth I think it wasn't much lower than the winner. 

I made a 1m version for stronger winds, although the first time I flew it (at Tewsbury 2000) it had stability problems. At the JCB Open Day I had sorted these out, but the bridle snapped (I don't know why, it wasn't that windy) and it landed in the lake - carbon fibre and ripstop nylon do not float!

Since then, I have made a newer/better 1m version, a 1.5m two-tone version for my mum and a 1.9m fluorescent yellow version for a friend.




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