Rotor Plane Kite

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As a kid in the late 1970's my parents returned from overseas with a plastic kite that absolutely fascinated me. I think it is what got me involved in flying things, and I have very fond memories of flying on a pleasent afternoon.

The kite was a plane made of a light yellow plastic shell, with red tail fins, and two very long 'S' shaped rotating wings, rotating on a wire bend slightly upward in a dihedral. Maybe a 1/2 meter or so across, though its hard to remember sizes when you are a kid only just starting high school.

As you can see I had studied it, burning it into my head. I remember pegging it out so it flew a few meters (yards) up, and me lying underneath just watching as the wings rotated, lifting the plane so it flew above me.

I remember my brothers kite loosing a wing when he flew it from a cliff over the ocean, and my own just wearing out from constant use. Since then I have been looking for these kites, and eventually found some from Germany (see below).

Styrofoam Rotorplane

I also remember seeing a larger version, made completely from Styrofoam, in a tourist shop while on vacation as a boy, but I was pulled away before I could look at it for very long. Never seen one since. :-(


GuntherTurboplan (Germany)

The above resulting in an anonymous mail being sent to me pointing me to a German toy company, Gunther

They list in their online catalog the toy plane kite I remembered so well. Right down to the exact same colors. It is 64cm wing span with and 29cm length, and comes with its own flying line.

I put in an order for a box of them, and sold a number to fellow kite flyers. Everyone enjoyed the unusual kite immensely.

Gunther Flugsliele, Kite Toys & Parachutes Catalog. No longer lists this specific kite, but does list one with green wings, and a fake propeller on the nose (I would remove that to reduce drag).

Aero Kite (Canada)

A manufacturer of flying toys in Canada, Aero Kite, and was very surprised when they found the above pictures of the kite made in Germany. It looks very similar to their own product. Though there website is now also offline.
[photo] [photo] [photo]

Kite found again on Horizon Kites, Canada Kite Shop.

Comparison of the two versions

I recommend the Canadian "AeroKite", as the bearings on the wings have a metal eyelet added to allow the kite to last longer, and a good handle winder and proper kiteline is provided.

The German "Turboplan" do not have metal bearings in the wings, resulting in the plastic wings wearing out after only a few hours of flying in a good afternoon sea breeze. Also the German line is on a plastic reel that has no simple way to 'lock' the line at a specific length for pegging the kite down. The line is also a very light mono-filament line, meaning it will break with any sort of wear, and difficult to tie knots in. I junked that line for more 'normal' twisted nylon line to fly the kite.

Mail from Trevor de Vis

Trevor de Vis on Thursday, November 28, 2002 wrote...
Just as a matter if interest, in about 1979/80 I received a rotor kite for Chrissy. It had a longitudinal styrofoam fish shaped body, with an axle bearing at the top. From this bearing 2 rotors spun on either side of the body, the bridle being attached to the nose of the fish. It flew well, with a slightly nose down attitude. I haven't seen one in the shops since, so it was probably just a Christmas special. I'll bet it separated a lot of parents from their hard-earned though!!

I asked for clarification, to be sure I understood what he meant by "fish shaped body". I thought it might be just a dual wing classical rotor with fish shaped tubes of thin styro, similar to those now in the shops. I was flabbergasted with the reply, which is the reason I added his mails to this page.

[photo] Saturday, 30 November, 2002...

Pardon my drawing skills with MS Paint...but you should get the general idea from this. I'm going to try and make something similar from balsa, but I've got to sort out what I'm going to do where the axle passes through the body. I am considering skateboard bearings as they're small & unsealed (open, and easy to spin).

A long dowel as the axle would have some flex, and hopefully cause the two rotors to try and fly 'toward' each other, thus providing some stability. A sandwich construction for the body would make it easy to provide multiple tow points.

You can't really tell from my drawing, but the kite did have end disc's on the wings, can't remember if they were styrofoam, or a plastic shell as the rotors were.

I wish Trevor, good luck, and hope he will let me know the results of his experiments.

Mail from Denis Manton

Denis Manton mailed me on Saturday, 9 September 2006...
I have been googling stuff relating to wing lift generated by vortex shedding and suddenly had a flash about a kite toy with rotating wings that I was given as a Christmas gift in about 1957. My toy kite was very similar in design and the same in principal as those referred to on your site.

To the best of my recollection (I was eight at the time) my kite used cream coloured venetian blind slats as wings. It was mostly constructed from aluminum which was either painted red or was natural aluminum. The span was about two feet with the fuselage being about a foot long. It flew as a kite really well given it was quite heavy. A loud whirring sound was made as it flew at the end of its tether. As described in some of the descriptions of these kites, mine had circular end plates at each end of the wings plus an external 2 bar frame to support the flimsy foils.

I myself had a similar experience. It was a airplane kite exactly like the one shown above that probably caused my adult interest in kites, and in particular unusual kites.

But aluminum construction, wow.

I hope we both can find out more.

Created: 2 December 2002
Updated: 19 January 2017
Page by: Anthony Thyssen, <>