Why Go Fly A Kite?
1001 Reasons (OK, Maybe 5...)
Why go fly a kite? The phrase has a negative connotation for some, as in
telling someone to 'go fly ...' In fact, there's an RC Kite company in
Singapore with the name GoFlyKite. There's some Singlish (Singaporean
English) for you! I've met the guy, and seen him demo what many refer to
as an LED Kite. Flown at night, all lit up, but ahem, I digress...
Anyway, why not go out to fly a kite now and then... A bit of a drive
down memory lane has brought a whole lot of experiences to mind, which
will help to answer the question.
Probably the most compelling reason to fly a kite is
because you just made one! With practice and experience, new kites
nearly always fly well on their first outing. I'll never get sick of
putting up a new design straight to 300 feet on the very first flight.
Weather permitting. It's a good feeling when it happens!
Apart from just a few outings with a sport kite, my experience is
entirely with single liners, and mainly home-made ones at that.
Buying something like this Stowaway Diamond Kite
from Amazon is another way to enjoy kite flying within a couple of days.
My wife with 1-Skewer Roller
Just as an aside, it seems that the various major categories of kites
tend to attract distinct personality types. Examples? Just 3 might
illustrate the point:
- Power kites attract sporty, adventurous types who traverse all sorts of terrain. Kite powered extreme sports!
- Sport kites tend to be flown by competitive types who try to improve their own precision flying or beat others in competition.
- Single liners are often flown by laid-back fliers who
appreciate solitude. Like Your's Truly. They tend to have quite a deep
connection with the wonder and experience of flight.
Let's explore that 3rd point now, expanding on a few good reasons to go fly a kite...
Noticing People's Reactions
Although the main focus when deciding to go fly a kite or 3 is the
flying, you can't help but notice people's reactions. It nearly always
makes you feel something. Either about the kite itself or the flying experience that is unfolding. And, it's usually a positive thing! Now, here's a short catalog of people's reactions from past flying outings...
- A departing car toots as they gawk at the 2-Skewer Barn Door surging
around at 200 feet, on a rather warm and gusty day. Hey, someone else
is getting something from seeing the kite up there! Perhaps they will go
fly a kite later on, as a result.
- I catch sight of a man craning his neck to watch the tiny
1-Skewer Sode weaving away in a brisk breeze, on 300 feet of line.
Although it was weaving, it was basically holding position. The guy was
there for several minutes! It was amusing that such a small cheap kite
could hold his attention like that.
- A slightly funny one. This lady comes across the field, walking her
dog. Just a quick glance at the strange guy staring up into the sky with
his hand in front of him. She disappeared from view, none the wiser.
Meanwhile, I was getting a real kick out of seeing and feeling the
2-Skewer Rokkaku overhead at 400 feet, meandering around in patches of
rising air. At that height, even if she did look up, it would have been hard to spot!
- Slightly funnier perhaps... I'm having trouble keeping a kite in the air due to the very
fresh breeze pushing it past its limits. Loops and landings. A guy
comes up and asks 'not enough wind mate?' You gotta be kidding...
- And of course, you tend to lose count of the times you hear excited
kids saying 'look Mum, a kite!' Anyone getting excited by one of your
own kites just sets off a brief feeling of pride doesn't it. Plus it's
nice to raise someone else's spirits in that way - even if they are only
4 years old :-)
It Plays On The Senses
Except for the sense of smell, unless you count the subtle smells of
the outdoors. The grass, leaves and insects and so forth. When I go fly a
kite I never seem to notice. But it's the other senses that combine to really make the kite come alive for the flier. It's not just a kite. It's a kiting experience, and it can really uummm lift you...
- Sights. The most obvious, from a glowing back-lit sail or
striking colorful design, to the characteristic motions every kite has.
Tip-wagging Diamonds. Small weaving Sodes. Gracefully floating Deltas.
Bending Rokkakus. Steady Barn Doors. The list could go on.
- Sounds. Flapping trailing edges in a fresh breeze. Rustling
tail plastic, as the kite is lowered at the end of the day. Whistles and
downright strange noises from the flying line as the wind speed picks
up. All pretty subtle most of the time when you're out to go fly a kite.
But just occasionally it comes to your attention and triggers a
feeling. Faintly positive I guess... There's not a lot of exhilaration in the sound of gently moving plastic! But it's like there's a living thing up there, saying 'Hey, I'm here!'
- Vibrations, pulses and strains. On reflecting about all the
different sensations that can come down the line, it's actually quite a
lot. It all depends on the kite and the wind strength. Even the gustiness
of the wind plays a role, since smaller kites can sometimes feel like a
fish on the end of a fishing line. The direct force of the wind on the
sail is one thing, but I think that other aerodynamic effects can also
contribute to the pulses on the line. For example, tip stalls and
flutter. Bigger kites tend to just raise and lower the tension in the
line more gently. However, they can also pull the line super-tight,
making it sing at various frequencies as the wind causes vibration!
Love The Great Indoors?
Go Fly A Kite!
Who hasn't heard of the time-honored remedy of 'getting out of the house
for a while'? Not an issue for some, who don't actually spend much time inside their own homes, but we're talking introverted kite-fanciers here :-)
A good long kite flying session is good for removing various pressures from your mind. It gives you a break!
Some time out in the sun, protected by a wide brimmed or flapped
hat of course. The sunlight ups your Vitamin D levels, brightens your
mood and now I feel some verse coming on....
Experience the weather, even measure it,
With windsocks and bubbles lifting and swirling.
Anemometers and gauges whirring -
Flight-enhancing toys for the single liner nut!
Ok, that last line's a 'half-rhyme' with the first line - don't you know anything about poetry? ;-)
Quality Family Time
Particularly with small sons and daughters! Go fly a kite with them.
My son Aren has been involved with my kite flying since the age of about
2 years. Much of his early kite flying was conducted from a seated
position in his pram!
I'll just list off a few things now, that Aren did...
- Age 2: Held up a small kite and watched its tail flutter in the
breeze. Tossed the reel after grasping it for a few seconds. Spotted the
kite in the air and looked at it for a few seconds.
- Age 3: Ran along, towing a small Diamond kite. Chased after its tail
while it was brought down. Hung on to the flying line for a minute or
2, and slowly pulled it in, hand over hand.
- Age 4: Took an interest in going out to fly. Took an interest in how
the kite was rigged. Happy to fly a bigger kite for a while, in light
winds. Jerked the line repeatedly, to see how the kite reacted. Before
he got told to stop it immediately!
Just a small sample of how kids graduate through stages in their kite-flying.
Of course, kids need other things to do as well, since their
attention span can be limited. Meanwhile, you get to continue to fly the
kite. Usually you can tether it somewhere. Hence, you can spend time
with the youngster, while keeping half an eye on the sky!
The Love Of Flight
And I'll spare you the poetry this time... However, there is something poetic about the flight of your favorite Delta or Rok.
The love of flight spans many things in some of us kiters. Some
might enjoy the full range of kite craft, from Traction right through to
Indoor featherweights. Others focus steadily on one form or the other.
Like Ray Bethell, who only cares for Stunt kites but takes it to the nth
degree. World records and all.
And that's only kites! Examine people's backgrounds and
you will find airline pilots, glider pilots, aeromodelers heck maybe
even frisbee or boomerang throwers. Chances are, a kiter has flown something else in his or her lifetime.
In my case, that's just about everything without an engine, except balloons. Will have to fix that itch one day!
When these people go fly a kite, it tweaks something in their
soul. It re-awakens the mystery, the draw, of flight all over again.
It's something that remains even after you have gained a solid grasp of
the principles of flight. You might know all about it, but you never get
sick of re-experiencing a flying object all the same!
"If it flies without an engine - even purer, even better!" Just a thought. Now, go fly a kite will you!
Haven't got one? This Stowaway Diamond Kite
from Amazon has plenty of good reviews.
E-book special of the month (25% off)...
e-book takes you step-by-step through making a 119cm (4 ft) wide
Parachute kite. It's not quite that wide in the air since the
canopy takes on a distinct curved shape when inflated. This 14-cell
kite performs best in moderate to fresh wind speeds. That's 20 to
38kph or 13 to 24mph. In gentle winds, this kite will hang in
the air at fairly low line angles. In fresh winds, it pulls
firmly for it's size, so small kids should only fly it while
Every kite design in
the MBK Soft Series satisfies the following points...
- Materials are
plastic sheet, tape and line – and nothing more!
- Tools are a ruler,
scissors and a marker pen - and nothing more!
- All cuts are
along straight lines.
For the greatest chance
of success, I make recommendations regarding the materials. For
example, the type/weight of plastic, type/width of tape and line
type/strength. Close enough should nearly always be good enough,
since the design is well-tested and should be tolerant of small
differences from my original.
Get the e-book for making the MBK Parafoil kite. After making your first one in plastic and seeing how it performs, you can try soft Tyvek or rip-stop nylon for your next build.
The e-book is a PDF file - which means printable instructions to refer to while you make the kite. It also means convenient off-line access if that suits you better.
Jun 24, 17 08:27 AM
It was down at Knox Park on the last Saturday of the month, as is my custom...
Except that the weather has not cooperated on the last couple of occasions. Even today the breeze was barely there. A frie…
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