Hints and Tips for
Messengers, Ferries, Lollie drops and Lifting Kites

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This page if for hints tips and details as I get them for the purpose of lifting parafauna, cameras (Kite Ariel Photography - KAP), or even weather recording instruments.

Messenger vs Ferry
A messenger is so called because the simplest form of messenger is just a piece of paper with a slot in it. This is just threaded onto a kite line and blown up the line.

One simple competition is for lots of numbered pieces of paper to be sent up the kite line, the person closest to the number that brings the kite to the ground, whether it was because of the weight of paper, or a drop in wind, is the winner.

[photo] A ferry is different. It goes up the kite line, but then comes back down after hitting some sort of stop attached to the kite line (or the kite itself). It does not have to drop anything. On such ferry called a popper is more like an umbrella that suddenly folds up with a 'pop' when it hits a stop, or another popper.

The diagram to the left is one simple ferry, made from a light block of wood, eyelets and wire. It uses the parachute of the object being dropped to 'drag' it up the kite line, rather than any additional sails.

You can see how the parachute (and any other objects) are release when it finally hits a 'stop' in the line line. This principle is the basic design used by just about all ferries.

One ferry I have seen on the net (lost it afterward) was made of just two paperclips. It however was probably too light to return back down the kite line very well.

Line Angle and Ferries
If the line angle is too steep, a normal non-lifting ferry (like those pulled up the kite line by the parachute it releases) may not go up, and actually drag the line and the kite down a lot lower.

But if the line angle is too low, the massager my not be heavy enough to come back down (travelling into the wind).

The Lifting Messenger, solves a lot of problems with the steep line, as if properly working, it will actually climb a vertical line. A steep line will also solve the problems of non return though some sort of brake may be needed at the bottom to cushion the stop.

Lollie Dropping method
For lollie drops a good technique is to use a plastic box with a loose lid. Glue fabric hinges to the lid and box on one side, and a small velcro catch to the other with a line so you can pull the lid open.

Fill with lollies, each stapled to a simple parachute, and suspend the box upside down from a kite line.

When ready, pull a cord to release the velcro to let the lid swing open dropping the lollies into the wind. Be sure the down wind area is clear as a hundred kids all running after these lollies can case a lot of havoc!.

Lifting Kite Notes
For parafauna the kite should be really stable, especially in strong an turbulent winds, not fly too high, and pull like anything, constantly. A very difficult set of criteria.

A Kite which flies too low will have a strong pull, but little lift. A kite that flies too high like a genki, or delta, you will get very little tension on the kite line, even though it is mostly upward. A good choice for this is flowforms, rokakkus, and cody box kites. Deltas if loaded with a drogue and other tails can also work well. The extra drag from a drogue helps to stabilise the kite and stop it flying at too high a angle. This way it catches more wind, and thus pulls harder.

A flowform is a good lifting kite, is sparless and commonly available, in small to very large sizes. The sparless nature of the kite means transport is easy, just stuff it into a bag and throw that in the car. The large ones may require some heavy anchors to keep them from flying away. It is a good kite to buy, though with care an good sewing skills can be build yourself.

Rokakku's are also a good choice for lifting kites, are spared, but flies very stable in a wide wind range. You can build them yourself but the large kite shops sell them too. They are often thought however more as a artists kite due to the large flat surface area.

The third is a Cody War kite or 'Man lifter'. These also fly stable but are harder to transport and longer to put together. The design of this kite was specifically for lifting people at the turn of the century. They are also harder to come by if buying, and not so easy to build.

Genki's as a Lifter
[photo] Even though I use a genki myself as a lifting kite, I do not recommend it!

The one I used a lot for lifting is a 1.5 meter genki (half size) with a turbo tail (drogue), I call Ol'Faithful. It is old, stretched, and made from the wrong material. It is a wonder it became such a good, long lived, wide wind range kite it is. This kite (with the drogue) flies in strong winds without problems and doesn't fly too high either.

A normal genki flies so high and well that the lines own weight is prone to make the kite wander! It also doesn't flutter or collapse, when the wind dies, but glides forward like a huge airplane wing. If used for a parafauna drop it is likely the kite will wander all over, be pulled forward. All the while the messenger only moves down wind keeping a meter or so above the ground.

With a really good high drag tail, to lower the kites flying angle, and keep it from wandering, a genki can be made a good lifting kite, but as the 'normal' genki size is 3 meters wide, it can remain prone to sudden sideways movement due to a unequal gust of wind.

Everything I said able for genki's apply equally well to delta kites. They does fly quite as high as a genki, and are more stable in turbulent winds. They also don't glide, but rather just fall when the wind dies. Other than that a drogue makes them fairly good lifters, in the same way as a genki.

If you have any ideas, hints, tips or suggestions, mail them to me at the address below.

Created: 27 June 1999
Updated: 20 August 2003
Author: Anthony Thyssen, <Anthony.Thyssen@gmail.com>