It’s not a rational decision…

This ad was released by Harley-Davidson in 1987. I liked it so much that I cut it from the magazine and had it framed. I lost it somewhere along the way, perhaps it was left behind at my apartment in Chicago. Yeah, it’s an ad, but to me, it’s always been a reminder to not take things, especially myself, so seriously. “Live simply, do good work” has been my touchstone for many years, and something I try to remember when the wind is blowing cold and the old dog is howling outside my window.

The TR-10 takes flight!

TR-10I’ve dropped my take on a classic form into the Blue Moon Kites shop. The pre-order page is open for BMK’s TR-10 (a rokkaku variant). Check it out in the shop by clicking on the link below!

I spent a considerable amount of air time with the TR-10 at the beach last weekend, and I am thrilled!

I need to build at least one more TR-10 prototype, with minor tweaks, before it’s final. Nothing major, just fit and finish stuff. A pucker here, a stress line there, and most of the excess patches and reinforcements. I should have that finished over the coming weekend, and ready to start working on your orders middle of next week!

First prototype, first flight!

I spent some time at the local soccer field this afternoon. I’m back at the shop, and still grinning! This is the field that I usually think of as “where kite designs go to die.” Consistently some of the worst wind in which I’ve ever flown. It’s the size of three soccer fields ringed by 150ft pines. Wind shifts of almost 180 degrees every few minutes, with speeds cycling from 2-18 mph. This is the place where I take kites when I want to see what they’re made of, and what they’ll tolerate. I think this is the first kite that I’ve taken to this field that didn’t leave me in a pool of despair.

I’m currently calling it the TR-10, but that may change (Trion?). TR for tri-radial, which is the building block for my MacStar and 61/49, and 10 for the number of 3-part triangles (30 panels!) of which the kite is constructed. The panels in our triangles can be individually oriented to best handle the stresses the kites generate. I find it a fun and efficient building block. The TR-10 takes a modified Rokkaku shape, largely driven by the shape of the blocks. This classic form will make a great segue into the designs I have planned to follow!

I’m off to the beach this Friday morning for a kite festival. I have no doubt the TR-10 prototype will handle the Cape Fear winds in great style! I’m confident enough that I’m rolling directly from prototype to pre-order! Please look for a link to the pre-order shop page tonight.

Review your Blue Moon kite?

Please consider leaving a review of your Blue Moon kite. On the shop pages of the BMK website, you’ll find a place to let the world know what you think of your kite and/or doing business with BMK. In addition to displaying on the deposit pages, your review will also be added to the bottom of the main page for each kite. Each of my current kites has a page to order by making a deposit.

I’m looking for any and all feedback. If it’s 5 Stars, thank you, but any honest and considered review is appreciated. This is a good time to suggest improvements!

The pages are:
Ichiban –
Reprise –
MacStar –
61/49 –


MacStar, revisited…

Image courtesy of Willy LugoThe first version of the kite that became the MacStar came to be in 1993. It was primarily an experiment in alternative forms and techniques. I found myself fascinated with the idea of using a basic building block to create very different kites. The first kite was pretty close to the current MacStar, but I also used the same idea to make a couple of cellular kites and even a quad-line. I taught it in a class and made a couple for myself, but never did a production version until about ten years ago. Since then, the star has come and gone a few times.

The star has “traditionally” been matched with a custom “streamer” tail, made from panels much the same as the kite’s body. The tail, when made in this fashion adds a lot of panels, which means a lot of time, and as the saying goes, time is money. If we count the panels in the body of the MacStar, you’ll see 36 panels, making up the twelve sail sections. Each of these 12 sections has a significant amount of detail work. After doing a time study, I estimate that in its simplest version, just the body of the MacStar (without a tail) should be priced at about $475. That is fabric, frame, the whole finished deal.

MacStar with the optional ribbon tailsThe tail, as it’s been made over the last several years, consists of 57 Individual panels! The construction of the streamer tail is simpler and quicker than that of the body, but it uses considerably more fabric, and still quite a bit of time. My calculations tell me that just the stand-alone streamer tail should be priced at about $410. Combined, the body and tail come to more than I charge for the Ichiban, but the fact is that I have more time and materials in the MacStar than I do in the Ichiban!

I’ve never flown the star totally without a tail, but I’ll be testing that when I fly the personal MacStar I have on the table. I have flown the kite with a simpler tail, as well as multiple ribbon tails. I was very happy with the kite’s performance with three 26ft ribbon tails, which can be made considerably less expensively than the streamer. Truth be told, if price is an issue, you don’t need my tails at all! You can supply your own ribbon, streamer, or fuzzy tails, either self-made or factory-made.

BMK Sport Kite #XXX

Thank you, to all of the folks who have been so gracious and patient these last several months, as I’ve been wrapping up the sport kite part of my little business. I hope you enjoy your kites. It’s been a pleasure and an honor creating them for you.

The last Ken McNeill / Blue Moon Kites sport kite is on its way to its new owner! For most of the past three decades, it’s been my honor and pleasure to craft kites for flyers around the globe. For most of that time, the overwhelming majority was sport kites. I keep getting the same question – Why? Well, it’s simply the right time for me.

Continue reading “BMK Sport Kite #XXX”