Back to Rotor Kite Information
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
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
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. :-(
The above resulting in an anonymous mail being sent to me pointing me to
a German toy company, Gunther (website offline)
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
I wish Trevor, good luck, and hope he will let me know the results of his
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
But aluminum construction, wow.
I hope we both can find out more.