Kite Messenger

During my early years of kite flying, one of my favorite accessories was a German-made kite line climber. It was a blue plastic tube frame with folding red wings that rode up the kite line on small plastic wheels to a stop placed below the kite. When the climber hit the stop, the strings that held the wings open were released and the wings, pulled together by a rubberband, folded up allowing gravity to return the climber to the kite flier for another trip up the line. It even had a small blue propeller that would spin during decent to slow the climber down.

I came across Anthony Thyssen's Lifting Messenger site one day and just had to build one. Not only would I enjoy it, I thought, but so would my boys. Sometimes when I am shooting kite aerial photographs, I "invite" my two home-grown helpers to join me. Because I need to keep an eye on both the kite and the camera rig, it can become a bit boring for them after a while. I thought that the messenger would be fun for them especially if I could drop parachutes for them. Based heavily on Anthony's design, I built one using an old rip-stop nylon diamond kite for the sail and carbon-fiber tubes.

On June 25th, I had the opportunity to try my messenger for the first time. It worked just fine on what was about a dozen test runs, four of them dropping parachutes. The field tests revealed some areas that could be improved. I am working on those and will post the successful ones later but for now, here are a couple of pictures from the maiden voyage.

Close-up of the messenger About half way up the line George is ready to catch the parachute


Sutton Flow Form 30 and messenger approaching the stop After reaching stop, parachute is dropped and wings fold returning messenger to me


Walter Payton's Roundhouse
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