(When visiting China)
Aerial Imaging the journey into Space
I really like kites. Progressively over the years, they've grown larger and larger. I guess I didn't really notice until one day I got the craving for a really big kite. I went to the kite store with the largest kites and found the biggest.
Remember, they have no restrictions in China. Kites are OK, although rockets are not. The demo kite was like a Delta Wing monster. It had to use 1,500 to 2,500 pound test pull bamboo hybrid string and a special steel string winder with metal bearings. The ultra large kite reminded me somewhat of one of those Ultra Light aircraft.
The store clerk gave me an odd look when I said flying would take place with string and a string winder. He warned me about its ability to loft significant weight, even in a light cross wind. I guess I wasn't listening very much.
On the way home, I was really stoked up about assembly and flying it. I had planned to attach the key chain camera that I carried around in my pocket. But the urge to try out a giant kite got the best of me when the wind picked up.
Running out to ShinShen Shone Field, I assembled the kite and prepared to launch it. At that very moment, a heavy wind gust picked up and I began running with the kite. Big mistake! By some freakish accident, while running, I tripped over the big crack in the cement and fell onto the kite at the exact moment it was being lofted by the strong wind!
I held onto the thick reinforced crossbar as the kite took off, with me clinging to it. Up, up I flew, precariously on the kite, soaring quickly up into the clouds! I was stunned, shocked, and a little frightened when I looked down and saw the people looking like tiny ants! Suddenly I was above the clouds looking through clear sections.
I remembered my pocket camera and began taking photos. The air began to thin out. I figure that was over a mile based on the appearance of the tallest mountains that were passed.
Onward I flew, quickly approaching the Jet Stream, and it captured my kite and flung me along at hundreds of miles an hour. My face contorted in the wind, like those test pilots flying at hundreds of miles an hour. I felt supersonic for a moment as the tell tail signs of breaking the sound barrier quickly passed. I couldn't take much more and reached out my hand...
I was so inspired that I remembered a poem that completely describes my experience. I want to share the poem, and may all your kite flying dream experiences be as fantastic as mine!
"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God."
(Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr.)