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How To Build a Cincinnati Fire Kite

William Gurstelle, author of Backyard Ballistics, teaches you how to have (legal?) fun with fire and newspaper.


Illustration by Jason Lee

You'll need:

  • One full sheet of newspaper
  • Tape
  • Four lighters or packs of matches
  • A clearing with no trees, utility poles, dry grass, or oil spills
  • A fire extinguisher



1. Fold the newspaper as shown

2. At the point where the four corners meet, tape the paper together to form the pillow-shaped kite. Adjust the kite so all edges align as closely as possible, using more tape if needed. Now take the kite outside - it's ready to burn!

3. Make sure the paper seams are on the bottom. With an assistant or two, light each corner at the same time.

4. If you haven't screwed it up, the kite should burn slowly as it rises (as much as 30 feet), charring up along the way. It may look like a UFO from a distance. Tell people you're bros with E.T.

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