Kids Can Fly

by Tim Mitchell
(Great Falls, Montana, USA)

Well I'll start this story by telling you that I live in Great Falls Montana, where the wind doesn't blow it sucks. Needless to say pretty much every day is a good day for kite flying. I had built a few standard size kites with a pretty good success ratio and wanted to do something different.

I am a carpenter who mainly builds houses by trade. We were working one day and it was time to put the house wrap on. House wrap comes from several different manufacturers but are mostly quite similar. It basically is a very thin lightweight waterproof man-made material that comes in rolls ten feet long. You wrap it around the entire house under the siding for added protection from the wind.

While we were applying this I thought that it would be perfect for a kite and not just any kite but one ten feet tall and wide. I made the frame from oak that I cut to size because of it's flexibility and durability. I then set into building my ten x ten diamond shaped kite. A couple of days later the wind was perfect and I decided to launch her (hopefully).

There is a huge field next to the Wal-Mart here that I like so I went there with my girlfriend and her 7 year old daughter, who was my partner in kite building. I had a 500 foot spool of nylon line which I figured would be sufficient. On the initial attempt that baby went straight up and didn't stop climbing for at least 350 feet. The pull from it was pretty strong but not unmanageable.

Gabby (the little girl) was running around like a maniac with excitement. Then she started bugging me about it being her turn. I wasn't too sure if she would be able to keep a grip on it and didn't want to lose it yet. But a person can only take my turn, my turn, my turn so many times before giving in.

I have an 18 inch smooth steel rod that fits in the hole of the spool so I put it through and locked the string off. I asked Gabby if she was ready and warned her to hold on tight because this kite was harder than any other to hold onto. She said she was ready so I gave her the spool.

She hooted and hollered but was holding her own with it. About 2 minutes later a huge gust came up because all of a sudden Gabby was 5 feet off the ground and travelling in a East x Northeast direction at approximately warp speed. I immediately ran after her yelling at her to let go but she held on tight and soon increased the distance between us. I could hear her Mom frantically screaming at her to let go but to no avail.

The fortunate thing that I noticed was that although she was covering a lot of ground she hadn't gained any elevation. Now I've said that this was a large field but it doesn't go on forever. Gabby had flown about one and one half city blocks so far and was running out of vacant lot. Across the street were houses and all I could imagine was her hitting a picture window at this high rate of speed. Well somehow right before she reached the street her forward momentum stopped, she touched ground and tumbled pretty good but managed to hold onto the kite.

When I reached her I was expecting hysterics and tears but got smiles and excitement. She asked, "Did you see me, wasn't that cool" I asked why she didn't let go and she replied, "Cause I never flew before".

After the shock wore off I continued flying this beast which continued up but also away. I had to send my girlfriend to Wal-Mart twice for another 1000 feet of line. We couldn't really even see the kite at this distance but I figured it to be somewhere over the Missouri river.

While I was so entranced with the amazing flyability of this huge kite I failed to notice I had come to the end of my third spool of line. As we watched the end of the line leaving us fast I thought what an epic maiden voyage and kids can fly.

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What Fun!
by: Cindy Rose

Loved your kite story Tim - always full of fun and adventure!

Points taken
by: Tim Parish

All your points taken, and I agree it was a hard-to-foresee accident. And using the phrase '....s way' was a bit provocative on my part - sorry. My inter-personal skills have never been the best ;-)

The positive note here is that many others will be more aware of the dangers in similar situations they might find themselves in, when flying big kites with kids.

by: Tim Mitchell

Hi, I wrote this story, and before there are any comments about my possible lack of good judgment I need to say something. I had flown kites for hours with Gabby and although the kites were smaller we had never experienced a gust like this. I taught her how to snow ski and had to get mad at her (or pretend to) to make her slow down. She is a born daredevil. What I'm trying to say is I would never intentionally put her in harms way and if I had refused to let her fly it I would have suffered the wrath of Gabrielle.

Best 'Lost Kite' Story In A Long Time!
by: Tim Parish

That was quite a tale! The big one that got away...

Some visitors here might get a bit upset that a child ended up in harm's way. But it all turned out OK, and I bet it won't happen again, will it...

Personally, when I let my boy hold the line of a large (8ft+) kite, I am always on the reel. Whether he is taking all the strain or not. I think the 2-Dowel Sled would be capable of lifting him if the kite encountered a moderately strong thermal at over 200 feet.

But anyway, thanks for putting the time and effort into posting a great story! Let's both brace ourselves for the inevitable comments now ;-)

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Wind Speeds

Light air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2    

Gentle breeze
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3    

Moderate breeze
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4    

Fresh breeze
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5    

Strong breeze
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7