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How to Build a Cincinnati Fire Kite

Updated on June 22, 2010

What is a Cincinnati Fire Kite?

The Cincinnnati Fire Kite is essentially a disposable makeshift hot air balloon. It can be created with a single square piece of paper, which makes it a great weekend project for people of all ages. It uses the same principles of hot air balloons, trapping hot air, to make the kite rise into the air. After lighting the fire kite, it will slowly rise up to 40 feet in the air as it engulfs itself in flames, making for quite the spectacle!

Building the Kite

The Cincinnati Fire Kite can easily be made by just about anyone in five minutes or less, but putting a little extra effort into building a precission kite will reflect in it's performance!

1. Obtain a square piece of paper. Ideally you want something that is perfectly square, flammable, and light-weight, with light-weight being the most important. Newspaper, tissue paper, or simple printing paper will all work. Keep in mind that larger kites will generally produce more lift and a bigger spectacle.

2. Fold all four corners of the kite inwards to the middle. They should all meet at the middle, forming another perfect square in the paper. Crease the folds and then puff out the kite so that it resembles a UFO. Use a small piece of scotch tape to secure all four flaps together. Flip it over so that the taped flaps are on the bottom.

3. Light the kite simultaneously at all corners and watch it fly. The flame will travel inwards and the heat will cause the kite to lift. Make sure you light all four corners at the exact same time, otherwise it will burn unevenly and tip over in flight. An effective launch requires two people with 4 long-handled matches.

Important Tips & Safety Information

1. Practice Makes Perfect. Although this kite is very simple in design, it's success can vary widly, so you will likely have to try it multiple times before achieving optimal results.

2. Launch your kite on a cool day with no wind. The colder the surrounding environment is, the more lift your kite will produce, and less wind means a more stable kite.

3. Be Wary of Fire Hazards! Launch your kite in an open area that is free of flammables.

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