Back to Rotor Kite Information
The following plan was written by Arnie Wool <email@example.com>,
and reproduced here with permission. It could at this point use a re-write.
The photo (top right) is one made by Pete Gostelow
This kite has been around since World War II, but only in the last 10
years or so has it been determined why it flys. It became the first and
`core' kite for the new `rotor' kite class.
This kite is very simular, though more squarish, to the Rolloplane
rotor kite, made from balsa, or high density styrofoam. I
recommend you also look at this version.
The build was very simple; go to the grocery store get the largest meat
platter you can talk the butcher out of, usually about 14 inches by 10
inches with a half inch lip all the way around the outside.
The tray is made of foam, so take a razor and cut the two side lips off.
Take the remaining piece and cut it in half length wise. Next take a rod
of your choice (i build beefie) 3/8" and glue the halves to it with the lips
facing in opposite directions.
Next take two foam picnic plates 10" and glue then on the ends of the
platter, with the rod in the middle of the plates.
Drill holes in the end of rods and get a potato salad container
lid, cut 2 3" by 2" pieces of plastic for bearings. Drill two holes each
in the plastic. Take 2 nails insert nail through bearing and super glue
into hole being very careful with glue. Ect. Ect. Ect.
The first thing I learned was the top lip has to be facing the wind, so the
top section moves with the wind, otherwise the kite goes at great speed into
the deck. Being foam is not the strongest material it immediately blows
apart, giving testamony as to why 747's don't use this material for wing
Second lesson, keep super glue off of nail face in bearing. Having finally
gotten one up in a 15 mph wind (they don't do good in any less) the kite
veered to one side and flew sidways until it flew into the deck, once again
into a million pieces.
Pretending I was the F.A.A. I pieced the wreck back to gether to find,
super glue on the nail had acted like a file and eaten itself thru the
By the time I got to 5, I had everything working fine. Expermenting I put a
set of dual lines on the kite, and found it to be a very good performer,
except when you tried to do a loop, once again the wrong scoop got on top,
and it was time to look for the black box. It's an intresting kite but
needs a lot of wind to fly properly.
Addendum By Bryce Moore <firstname.lastname@example.org>...
| I am trying to make the classic roter (meat tray) kite you have at
| your site by Arnie Wool but I am having problems. Arnie's e-mail
| seems in-op, so could you help me?
| I am trying to use your kite design found at
| http://www.cit.gu.edu.au/~anthony/kites/rotor/meattray_plan.html but I
| am having problems visualizing how it goes together. Is there a
| picture on the web or an electronic picture you could send me to help
| me out?
No pictures or other instrustions. Arnie is out on the web somewhere you
can ask him ;-)
| If not, I guess words would have to work. My questions: "Next take a
| rod of your choice ... and glue the halves to it with the lips facing
| in opposite directions."
| 1) Is this like laying the two halves back to back and putting a rod
| between them so they are separated by the width of the rod (3/8th
| inch) or the length(10 inch)?
No it is more like glueing the edge of one sheet to one side of the rod
and glueing the edge of the other sheet to the other side so the curved
lips (at the other end) are in oppisite directions.
| 2) If width, should the rod be perpendicular or parallel to the lips?
Crosssection `O' is the axil rod
| 3) If length, should the rod be the same length as the halves or
| should there be extra room at the ends of the halves before the
The rod should stick 4cm or more out past the ends of the rods and the
plates so that you can attach a bridle line at or near the ends of the
rod. The bridle line must NOT rub the plate. the whole kite should
| 4) Should the plate lips be facing in or out?
Either, I don't think it matters. Outward I think is more normal.
| 5) The bearings permit movement of what pieces?
It allows the whole kite (everything) to spin around the rod.
The only part that doesn't spin is the bridle lines, and the
bearing they are attached to.
| 6) Where\how is the string attached?
Either to a nail carfully glued into the holes drilled in the
end of the rod.
Or you can do as I do with my UFO rotor kites. use a bit of platic
tubing to hold three fibreglass washers from the local auto-mart
(automotive part) in place loosly at the end of the rod with the bridle
line tied around the middle washer.
That should allow the axil to spin freely, with very little friction.
The flying line is attached to the center of the bridle line going to
| Thanks for the help
You are welcome.
| Bryce Moore
Anthony -- just helping out.
I recieved/found the following about this plan...
- Pete Gostelow <email@example.com> on 25th June 2001...
- A great fun kite. Made from two styrofoam plates and a styrofoam meat tray
it's not exactly expensive to make! Needs a good wind though, possibly due
to the liberal amounts of "bodge" tape I used in construction. Made from
plans in "The Magnificant Book of Kites", (simular to that above).
Because of what the meat tray contained, this kite is known as "pork
chops". The pictures below show the kite in very poor weather conditions
at the 2001 Peterborough kite festival.
Visit Pete at his Fool on the Hill Web site.
- D. W. "Dave" Davis <Verbose@ix.Netcom.com> reminiscences on
9th October 1997...
- Thank you for "kick starting my memory"! In the late 1940/early 1950s
there were people who sold a "rotor" kite from their cars in the
Southbay area of Southern California (LONG b4 UFOs!) As a kid I
wanted but never got, one.
As I remember, the main spar was square basswood with a tack holding a
washer (with a second hole for the bridle).
The center surface was made of two sheets of heavy paper. with the
sparsandwiched between. I think the "S" curve resulted from the
I found some material at a local office supply store to try, Thin styro
with glossy paper bonded on each side.(seems much stronger than meat
trays) and comes in large sheets. This seems like a good thing to
- Additional 28 June 2000... Ken Sams, the creator of the Modern UFO Rotor responded to the above
to say, that the "people" spotted, was actually him and his Partner, Joe
Smith! Small World!
More info on this rotor in Rolloplane Balsa Rotor Kite Plan.
- Brian Johnsen <firstname.lastname@example.org> sent the following article
to the Rec.Kites News Group on 12 April 1997...
- Someone at the Avi fly had something like this. The commercial one I'm
familiar with has a disk in the middle for stability and a paddle shaped
lifting surface that has a yoke attached to each end of a wood dowel
down the middle of it for the tether.
The one at Avi was made with a couple of plastic plates glued convex to
convex to make up the disk portion and used a polystyrene meat tray
(they sell meat in rectangular trays here in the USofA) cut down the
middle lengthwise with the sides reversed (so that the end on profile
looks somewhat like an "S").
Seems to work quite nicely (with a 4-5 mph breeze)
I think the trade name (in USA) is Rotor or UFO.
Brian Johnsen email@example.com Seattle, Washington USA