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Turn Turkey Feathers Into a Kite That Actually Flies

Author Photo
By Ben and Penny Hewitt | Sep 18, 2019

Illustration by Luke Boushee

Making a kite with turkey feathers is one of those projects that scores really high on the effort-to-fun ratio. To improve on that ratio even more, gather a group of friends, have everyone make their own kites, and have a fly-off.

Stuff You’ll Need

  • Six wild turkey wing feathers. (If you can’t find them in the wild, ask a turkey hunter or look on eBay or Etsy online.) You need three from one wing and three from the other.
  • Scissors or a knife
  • Scotch tape
  • Two 4-inch lengths of dogbane. (You can also use drinking straws—the heavier, the better.)
  • Two 4-foot lengths of surveyor’s flagging
  • Twine or string
  • A pool of fishing line. (If the line is connected to a fishing pole and reel, even better!)

How To Do It

  1. On two of the feathers, clip the end of the shaft so that the shafts of two other feathers can be pushed into them. The two feathers you clip need to be from the same wing, and the two feathers you insert need to be from the other; this orientation is important for proper flight (just ask any bird)!
  2. Insert the feather and wrap the joint in tape.
  3. Using an X pattern, lash the feathers to the lengths of dogbane or straws with twine as shown in the illustration. The two lengths of dogbane should be almost, but not quite, parallel—with the rear tips slightly farther apart than the front tips. The front pair of feathers should be directly at the front tips of the dogbane, while the back pair should be located about an inch forward of the rear tips.
  4. Insert the remaining two feathers into the pithy end of the dogbane.
  5. Tie a piece of twine to the center of each side of the rectangle formed by the dogbane and the pairs of feathers. The pieces hanging down should be about 4 inches each. Now tie the loose ends of these together into a knot.
  6. Tie one end of your fishing line to the knot.
  7. Tie a length of surveyor’s tape to the end of each tail feather. This helps with stability.
  8. Wait for the breeze to pick up, head for an open space, and let ’er fly!

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From The Young Adventurer’s Guide to (Almost) Everythingby Ben and Penny Hewitt © 2019 by Ben Hewitt. Illustrations © 2019 by Luke Boushee. Reprinted in arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc.

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