Kite for lifting heavy payload

Initially, I bought a 9ft Levitation Delta ages ago. I only had one flight with it and one of the spars broke while it was airborne. I went over some notes on that particular model and it sounds like it's not the ideal kite for carrying heavy payloads. Just wondering if anyone could recommend a kite that is affordable and well suited for carrying heavy payloads and is fairly versatile with different kinds of winds. Also one whose design makes it difficult to crash / dive to earth. Does such a kite exist or am I asking for too much?


  • edited May 2018
    Given the right conditions one of Ralf's KAPfoils by HQ does the trick. They pull a good load into the sky. I often fly a kilo off mine. I have a 1.6m model and it's really tough- not a light wind kite though; it likes bft 3 to get to work. Recovery can be a challenge in Bft 4 and requires planning to tie off.

    I use climax coramid extreme rated at 250DaN

    My only gripe is that it needs a long tail and 'flops' when the wind drops so not ideal in marginal conditions- especially anywhere near trees.

    I recently dragged mine out of tree tops without damage -fortunately I had a weak clip on the tail which snapped to free the kite from its trapped tail.


  • DB. -

    The Levi has been my most flown kite for several years. I change the spars to Sky Shark ( try to buy blemished product,
    cheaper ). The few crashes I've had with several of that same kite - I had not yet changed out the factory spars.
    And a 3 piece spreader is essential. The 2 piece spreader attempt simply built-in a flaw mid span....

    As usual I would suggest you " ease-in-to-things " .... get a light rig in the sky, collect a few photos, and go from there.
    Trying to start out too big is a grand way to squelch your interest - by shooting yourself in the foot. Both of them !

    Bill- I'd planned next flight to use a simple office type rubber-band to attach the tail to a Sutton FF-16. Break-away tail, such
    as you've invented !
  • What's the payload?
  • The Levi cross spars (2 or 3 piece) are the weak points.....I only fly with Dynamic Spreaders. The Levi can lift a fair load. A large Dopero will also do the job. The large flow form kites also are good lifters.

  • Thanks for all the replies. Yea I wanted a simple, light weight rig to begin with. The picavet I built is ultra light (light as a feather.) However, in order to alter the angle of the camera and allow the lens to point in a particular direction) I added a ballhead to the picavet and that is adding a large amount of weight. On it's own, the ballhead seemed quite light from what I can recall but once it was attached to the picavet, the weight really increased significantly. Ningaloo, I'm not sure of the actual weight (there might be a scale around here somewhere.)

    With regards to the Levi, I wasn't exactly impressed that a spar broke on it's very first flight. I had been flying a two line stunt kite a few times before that I never experienced any damage with that product during flight. Yea I would like to get the Levi back in the air and improve it's shortcomings. Though as I'm still relatively new to kites, I'm not familiar with the term 'Sky Shark' or the the 3 piece spreader configuration or Dynamic spreaders. I'll do some googling on those things. Out of curiosity, would the kite need to be modified at all when adding any of those things?

  • By the way, a Dopero sounds tempting. I note some people have built their own.
  • Sky Shark is a brand name for carbon graphite tubing. To r[place the factory supplied spars. Stronger and lighter,
    in general.

    The spreader is the part that holds the 2 long sides of the kite apart. For shipping etc. it is generally supplied in 2 or 3 pieces.
    In the perfect world it would be a single piece ( Sky Shark etc., also used in archery arrows, is not long enough ).

    The Dynamic Spreader is an invention of Mike LeDuc. Look him up here on the forum. His part is essentially. a
    self-adjusting spreader, which will follow increases and decreases in wind speed. A very nicely made part. May be out
    of the question for you at the moment - when he makes them, it is in very small batches. Surely I don't speak for Mike,
    he might have one ready to ship !

    Do yourself a favor - don't even think about building a kite at this point. If you attempt it, we probably won't
    hear from you for another couple of years.

    One thing about soft kites- they can collapse if there is a lull in the wind. I would suggest that as a beginner, you
    stick with sparred kites - you're half way there - you've got a Levi that needs a little work ...

  • Thankyou Paul. So it sounds like although Sky Shark are very good potentially, they are too short to be viable replacements? Is there some fix for that? I'll do a search for dynamic spreader and hope that Mike has some available.

    I was planning to make a kite later down the track....certainly not immediately. I'll see if I can get the Levi in the air again first.

    By the way, would you happen be the same Paul Costelloe on the filmshooting forum that was working on a project involving the double super 8 format?

  • edited May 2018
    HI Dragon Blade

    What Paul meant was that a spreader made in one piece would be strongest, but it's not very practical (because it's too long to be very portable). A three-piece spreader is best (two pieces mean the weakest point is in the middle).

    You might want to watch this video about assembling and flying the 9' Levitation Light (Jim Nicholls - NZFlier here- made it for Into The Wind). If it's the spreader that broke you'll need to buy three pieces of carbon fibre tube. If it's the spine or wing spars you'll need two pieces.
  •, here in the States, had the best Sky Shark prices last time I bought. Don't know about shipping to
    your part of the planet. You might be able to source more locally .... though places of origin may ultimately be the same.
    Product may be available under different names. Some of it is used for archery arrows.

    It pays to shop ... and costs you nothing.

    And no, the film shooting Costelloe is not me, some other good lookin' young lad ... I suppose. Hope he wears the name
  • Thanks for the link to the Levi video.

    Ive done a search for Sky Shark tubes in Australian stores but so far, I can't find any here. I did find some generic carbon tubes like the ones in the link below. I hope they'll be strong enough.

    Out of curiosity, what are the original Levi spars made of? Would they happen to be carbon as well? If that's the case, if I use a no-name, brandless carbon tube, they might break just as easily.

    I also considered bamboo as a possible replacement but it's hard to find stores that sell bamboo in thin / narrow diameters. Stores mainly sell very thick pieces of bamboo that are extremely long and super expensive.
  • Do a search: pultruded carbon fiber tubes
    Strength and durability are the key. I can't recall all the tech data at the moment, however I think the Levi is shipped
    with either fiberglass spars, or "pultruded carbon ". So to answer your question, I strongly suggest a Sky Shark type
    tube, even if you must order from the States.
    Come to think of it, look further in to the Levi Light. It might have superior spars....
  • dragonblade, we use a 2 by 2 m french military kite for heavy loads (lifts ~5 kg in winds over 20 km/h and lifts a mirrorles nikon camera on a picavet in 5-7 km/h wind). it is extremely stable and works fantastic in low wind conditions - no fear of crashing if the wind stops. it can be a challenge though to bring it down in over 30 km/h wind.

    if you need a plan - here it is :-)
  • The Levitation has fibreglass spars, the Levitation Light has carbon, which is the basic difference between them.

    I would suggest, Dragonblade, that fewer questions and more practical experience would be a much faster way to get some aerial photos actually made. Everyone has different ideas and opinions, and unless you try things for yourself there is no way to know what will work for you.

    When you do ask questions, make them specific. It appears that the "heavy payload" is not really very heavy at all, for instance, although we still don't know what it really is. (And remember that a kite's lifting ability depends very much on wind strength.)

    Google is very useful sometimes, and the search feature on this site is invaluable - most questions have already been answered multiple times, although of course new points do come up or things would get very boring.

    Get some spars in that kite first. As Paul says, have great prices and range of Sky Shark if that's what you want, but any good quality product will be fine. You'll need ferrules to join the spars - usually these are external for fibreglass and internal for carbon. Find them on the site where you buy the spars and ask the seller if you are unsure what to get. And end-caps to prevent the spars from damaging the kite should be bought at the same time.

    Stop worrying over details, get that kite in the air, try a few things and then see what extra help you might need. You'll certainly find there are those here who know all (or most of) the answers, but the fun is in trying as much as possible for yourself.
  • edited May 2018
    Jasa, that is very impressive. That french military kite sounds like a real workhorse.

    NZflier: "...fewer questions and more practical experience would be a much faster way to get some aerial photos actually made."

    Very true but I need some spars first to get my kite in the air.
  • edited May 2018
    You might be interested in this photo taken (in south-west Australia) by Al Edgar - he's using a Levitation Light to lift a Sony A6000 (which must weight about 400gm).
  • The Sony A6000 with Rokinon 8mm lens, servo finger and HDMI to AV converter weighs in at 565 grams. The rig and pendulum add another 315 grams for a total of 880 grams.
  • Wow, that's a stunning image. Beautiful light, dramatic clouds and good composition.
  • OK, Looking for a heavy lifter for KAP.....recommend a bit of "Back to the Future" by reading a summary of early KAP pioneer George R. Lawrence and his work with kite trains to lift very heavy single shot film cameras....

    Zoom in and take a careful look at the high res images captured from his kites flying over 2000 feet in the air above San Francisco after the 1906 earth quake.



  • Hi DragonBlade

    I measured the spine, spars and spreader of my Levitation Light last night. This pic shows the details. The c/f tube supplier you mentioned above sells 6mm tubing, which should be fine but you will also need aluminium tubing for the ferrules (though you may be able to salvage them from the broken spar if you still have it). Same goes for the plastic end caps. This place sells both 6mm tubing and endcaps.

    Here in the UK aluminium tubing is available in the big DIY stores. Take a piece of c/f tuning with you to make sure you get some that's a tight fit.
  • My rig with a DSLR is about 1.2kg. i use either a Maxi-Dopero (Ralf Beutnagel's design) for light wind, 2x 12foot Delta stacked for medium wind (15 to 30km/h) and a 5m^2 Kap foil (Ralf Beutnagel's design) for higher wind. In all cases I could lift a 2nd rig easily.

    For example! I lifted several times 2 rigs in 2010 (total weight of about 2kg in a wind of about 10 to 12km/h) using my Maxi-Dopero. The cameras stayed in the air for about 30 minutes each time. This kite is very stable and have a nice pull.
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