Build a Flippin Kite (aka Ufo Kite)




I decided to make a rotating style kite for the kite contest since it was one of my favorites when I was a kid.
I didn't have one to go off of or any plans so I just winged it, and this is what I came up with.

Here are a few examples of commercial versions

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Step 1:

you need just a few supplies for this kite 
1 sheet of thin styrofoam
2 carbon fiber tube or wood dowel
3 a couple of small nails
4 glue 
5 soda can or soda bottle 
6 string (duhh its a kite)

Step 2:

I had some fan fold foam left over from some rc plane projects, so thats what I used its available at Home Depot and Lowes.
But the foam board at the dollars stores should work just fine.
trace the top of a five gallon bucket to make a 12" diameter circle.

Step 3:

Find the center of the circle and draw a couple lines stradleing the center, about the thickness of the foam apart from each other.
see picture, makes more since than the previous sentence.

Step 4:

draw a 22" line in the middle of your foam board
then at the 11" mark draw another line across the first that is 9" long total( 4.5" on both sides).
on the ends of the first line draw a 4" line
then connect the ends of the 9" line with then ends of the 4" line for the final shape.
again see pictures

EDIT TO ABOVE   --- ok after some experimenting It works much better if the cross piece is 7" instead of 9" inches everything else is still the same.

Step 5: Cutting Out

Cut out the circle and the other shape out of the foam
Cut a slot out of the round piece just slightly smaller than 9" 
Then slide the two pieces together.

EDIT TO ABOVE: after some experimenting I discovered you must  cut the slot just slightly less than 7"

Step 6:

Insert your carbon fiber tube or wood dowel across the center hanging 1.5" off each end.
Then tape and glue in place.
If your using the a tube you can just glue the nails in.
If your using a wood dowel you will have to drill holes in the ends for the nails to go into.
Ps Dont put the nails in yet.

Step 7:

For the swivel I cut a couple strips folded in half out of a soda can and drilled two holes in each one .
you could also use pieces cut from a plastic soda bottle or something similar.
One hole for the string and one hole for the nail.
Put the nail through your homemade swivel (strip of soda can)  then glue it into the end of the tube or dowel.

Step 8:

Tie a string to both sides of the kite leaving it long enough so that the kite can spin freely.
Then tie a loop in the middle of the string.

Step 9:

Decorate as you see fit but i glued a couple stars on mine cut out of aluminum foil so it would flash in the sunlight.
When you fly the kite you should spin the bottom of it towards you, that causes the wind to pass over the top faster than the bottom giving it lift. (magnus effect look it up).

Hopefully It will be windy in the next couple of day's and I will post a video of it working on here.

If you liked this instructable, PLEASE vote for me in the Kite Contest.
Thank You , gadget-man

I Just posted a video 9/14/2013 there has been no wind since I made the kite until today and then it was very sporatic and eratic  in the video the wind started out east to west then ended up almost north to south in just a few seconds but it was just enough to get a quick video to post on here.

On a side note my kite reel I have been using since the 1970's broke today so It would be very nice If I won a new one in the Kite Contest. 

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    17 Discussions

    Cool instructable! I saw an old advert for these on youtube a while back, here's a link to that vid:

    1990s I remember you now! ...

    4 replies

    Thank You,
    I never saw that video before, It was really funny.
    I noticed that they had a bend in the wings of the kite, but that's not needed for the kite to work.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Thank you for posting! I was thinking of building one of these, but my memory was sketchy. The ones I remember had an obtuse s-shaped hole in the circular part that put a bend in the wings. Very cool!

    Does it work with only the Coandă effect? I have "experimented" before with dropping bent strips of paper and they always rolled "backwards" to the direction they moved in. Pretty weird, but cool and the effect has practical applications too.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Still WHATEVER. Maybe you should do an instructable on the entire dictionary along with another on proper grammar.

    Kite builder

    5 years ago on Introduction


    i have got an idea wor to make it better rotate in one direction:

    in this picture you see the hexagonal part of the kite and i have colored the parts you must bend

    the red areas must be bended towards you (you must see a valley at the line)

    and the blue areas must be bended avay from you (you must see a mountaln at the line)

    It´s easyer to bend the meterial if you notch the line at the side where the valley-shape should be, with a sharp pencil

    2 replies

    6 years ago on Introduction

    this is cool...I like it! now that I have got into kites...i'm going to try it :-) . voting.!
    btw...would you mind telling me what thickness the Styrofoam is? thanks!

    1 reply

    Not yet, a storm came through today but the wind was very erratic.
    Hopefully in the next couple of days along with instructions for any tweaks needed.