Delta Kite
Sept. 18, 2019             Dave Santos
Delta Kite Perfecting- KiteLab Innovations filter into Commercial Design

The original KiteLab Portland, at the mouth of the Columbia River Gorge where kitesurfing began, was primarily Wayne German and me futzing with kites in the summer of 2007, and among many topics, we took on the study of the modern Delta Kite. There are traditional Asian Delta antecedents, and the perfected South Asian Fighter is a clear ancestral relative. Rogallo developed his Deltas that directly inspired the original DIY hang glider craze. Before that, in South Texas (where half of my family comes from), architect, sailor, kiter Bill Green spotted a keel surface on a picture of a Chinese kite, and applied it to Rogallo's keelless planform. Voilą, the Gayla Kite, the inventive breakthrough of the best flying and most successful modern-classic toy kite ever.

As KiteLab Portland gave way to KiteLab Ilwaco on the Lower Columbia near the World Kite Museum and WSKIF mega-kite festival. I acquired Gomberg Deltas from Ron Welty, and then met Dave Gomberg and picked his brain. From Welty's kite shop and the WKM collection, I was able to assess dozens of Delta variants and map out a slow Darwinistic selection of refinements. It became clear how to soup-up a simple delta with refinements and closely observe the effects. Soon I had identified the optimal proportions and specific mix of add-on features to create the "Delta of the Future", by about 2009. The Wayback Web and some Forum posts preserve reports and photos, with lots of details, including definite scaling limits of sparred kites.

Now we are seeing kites on the market that match the KiteLab prototypes, particularly this Seattle-based Prism Kites delta below. This is not a case of IP theft, but convergent evolution that creates great kites. Prism designers often interacted with KiteLab's circle, in a two-way exchange in a global community of "kite-gods", many of them true Delta experts. After all, Green, Rogallo, and KiteLab were merely mixing ideas together and letting testing decide how they should end up.

The new Delta has moved beyond the 20th Century by many tiny refinements and particulars combined. The keel is just-so in balance and size, to fly well off the center of the kite window and self-recenter. Forward frame stiffness with lateral floppiness is essential, for great flight with compliance to turbulence that would otherwise upset the kite. Note the streaming wing tip "flaps" that correct yaw, and the added streamers, much as KiteLab did them. In gusts, the corrective drag is progessive, exceeding linear response.

Can't wait to fly one of these-
Prism Kite Technology Zenith 5 Single Line Delta Kite