A kite-balloon offering quiet, long-term flight for videography, communications, and meteorology.

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Jan 24, 2019

Project update 9 of 20

Towards A Better, Stronger Airpup


This past month I have been visiting kite makers, acquiring materials, and preparing the design of Airpup’s production prototype. All this activity is adding up to make Airpup better looking and more durable.

Improving Airpup’s Fabrication

I just returned from the Oregon Kitemakers Retreat, where I have been refining my sewing skills and expanding my repertoire of fabrication techniques. In December, I visited Prism Kite Technology in Seattle to get some feedback on Airpup’s design. The skills and tips I have been picking up are going to make Airpup more durable and the speed up the fabrication process.

Design Tweaks

I have been making a list of small tweaks to Airpup that will improve usability and ease assembly. You can follow and comment on my development on Github, and I will make them the subject of my next update.

New Materials: Ripstop Polyester

The prototype Airpup’s wings were sewn from 0.75 oz ripstop nylon, but I am close to finalizing the purchase of high-quality 0.5 oz ripstop polyester for production Airpups.

While this fabric change only gives Airpup 2-3% more lift, there are several added benefits. Nylon can absorb moisture, increasing its weight and changing its shape in damp conditions. If the nylon is not fully dried, moisture can also damage Airpups’s urethane envelope during storage. Polyester is not only hydrophobic, it is also more UV resistant than nylon, increasing Airpup’s lifespan.

Since Icarex ceased commercial production, sourcing quality ultralight ripstop polyester has been difficult, and often expensive. I am excited to have found some.

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