Classic Rotor (Meat Tray)


The following is wrtten by Arnie Wool , and reproduced here with permission.

This kite has been around since World War II, but only in the last 10 years or so has it been determined why it flys. It became the first and `core' kite for the new `rotor' kite class.

The Instructions

The build was very simple; go to the grocery store get the largest meat platter you can talk the butcher out of, usually about 14 inches by 10 inches with a half inch lip all the way around the outside.

The tray is made if foam so take a razor and cut the two side lips off. Take the remaining piece and cut it in half length wise. Next take a rod of your choice (i build beefie) 3/8" and glue the halves to it with the lips facing in opposite directions.

Next take two foam picnic plates 10" and glue then on the ends of the platter, with the rod in the middle of the plates.

Drill holes in the end of rods and get a potato salad container lid, cut 2 3" by 2" pieces of plastic for bearings. Drill two holes each in the plastic. Take 2 nails insert nail through bearing and super glue into hole being very careful with glue. Ect. Ect. Ect.

The first thing I learned was the bottom lip has to be facing the wind, otherwise the kite goes at great speed into the deck. Being foam is not the strongest material it immediately blows apart, giving testamony as to why 747's don't use this material for wing spars.

Second lesson, keep super glue off of nail face in bearing. Having finally gotten one up in a 15 mph wind (they don't do good in any less) the kite veered to one side and flew sidways until it flew into the deck, once again into a million pieces.

Pretending I was the F.A.A. I pieced the wreck back to gether to find, super glue on the nail had acted like a file and eaten itself thru the plastic bearing.

By the time I got to 5, I had everything working fine. Expermenting I put a set of dual lines on the kite, and found it to be a very good performer, except when you tried to do a loop, once again the wrong scoop got on top, and it was time to look for the black box. It's an intresting kite but needs a lot of wind to fly properly.

Arnie Wool <>


I recieved the following emails...
D. W. "Dave" Davis <> reminiscences on 9th October 1997...

Thank you for "kick starting my memory"! In the late 1940/early 1950s there were people who sold a "rotor" kite from their cars in the Southbay area of Southern California (LONG b4 UFOs!) As a kid I wanted but never got, one.

As I remember, the main spar was square basswood with a tack holding a washer (with a second hole for the bridle).

The center surface was made of two sheets of heavy paper. with the sparsandwiched between. I think the "S" curve resulted from the gluing.

I found some material at a local office supply store to try, Thin styro with glossy paper bonded on each side.(seems much stronger than meat trays) and comes in large sheets. This seems like a good thing to "play" with.

Bryce Moore <> asked a number of questions about the above plan...
| Anthony,
| I am trying to make the classic roter (meat tray) kite you have at
| your site by Arnie Wool but I am having problems.  Arnie's e-mail
| seems in-op, so could you help me?
| I am trying to use your kite design found at
| but I
| am having problems visualizing how it goes together.  Is there a
| picture on the web or an electronic picture you could send me to help
| me out?
No pictures or other instrustions. Arnie is out on the web somewhere you
can ask him ;-)

| If not, I guess words would have to work.  My questions:  "Next take a
| rod of your choice ... and glue the halves to it with the lips facing
| in opposite directions."
| 1)  Is this like laying the two halves back to back and putting a rod
|     between them so they are separated by the width of the rod (3/8th
|     inch) or the length(10 inch)?

No it is more like glueing the edge of one sheet to one side of the rod
and glueing the edge of the other sheet to the other side so the curved lips
(at the other end) are in oppisite directions.

| 2)  If width, should the rod be perpendicular or parallel to the lips?


| 3)  If length, should the rod be the same length as the halves or
|     should there be extra room at the ends of the halves before the
|     plates?

The rod should stick 4cm or more out past the ends of the rods and the
plates so that you can attach a bridle line at or near the ends of the
rod. The bridle line must NOT rub the plate. the whole kite should
rotate free.

| 4)  Should the plate lips be facing in or out?

Crosssection  `O' is the axil rod


| 5)  The bearings permit movement of what pieces?

It allows the whole kite (everything) to spin around the rod.

| 6)  Where\how is the string attached?
Either to a nail carfully glued into the holes drilled in the
end of the rod.

Or you can do as I do with my UFO rotor kites. use a bit of platic
tubing to hold three fibreglass washers from the local hardware
(automotive part) in place loosly at the end of the rod with the bridle
line tied around the middle washer.

| Thanks for the help
You are welcome.

| Bryce Moore

Anthony -- just helping out.

Brian Johnsen <> sent the following article to the Rec.Kites News Group on 12 April 1997...


Someone at the Avi fly had something like this. The commercial one I'm familiar with has a disk in the middle for stability and a paddle shaped lifting surface that has a yoke attached to each end of a wood dowel down the middle of it for the tether.

The one at Avi was made with a couple of plastic plates glued convex to convex to make up the disk portion and used a polystyrene meat tray (they sell meat in rectangular trays here in the USofA) cut down the middle lengthwise with the sides reversed (so that the end on profile looks somewhat like an "S").

Seems to work quite nicely (with a 4-5 mph breeze)

I think the trade name (in USA) is Rotor or UFO.

Brian Johnsen   Seattle, Washington USA

Created: 13 September 1996
Updated: 4 April 1999
Author: Arnie Wool <> Hypertext: Anthony Thyssen, <>