Issue 20: Rookie Season

Vanier Park

I’d share with you my experience as a new kiter…

I’m very new to kiting, having gotten in to it last June when my kids showed me a website about kiting that they had come across. In the past I’d seen kite fliers at Vanier Park here in Vancouver and often thought that it was something that I would do one day… the kids interest re-kindled my own and a few days later we were off to Puppets and Kites at Granville Island to buy a kite. With three kids in tow and knowing only what I had found on the web in the previous three or four days about kiting, I entered the store and put myself at the mercy of the sales woman.

She recommended a Beetle and we (the kids and I) got so excited about it that we ended up buying two Beetles and a single line kite! I must say that we did indeed get some great service and advice — the hardest part was choosing a colour. The young lady was very helpful with our Beetle decision and took the kites out of the bags, set them up to made sure that everything was OK, and then showed us how to tie a Larks Head knot. I left the store feeling confident that we were well prepared to start flying kites.

Over the next week I had taken the kids to every park around our home and we had a blast each time we went out. I attribute a lot of this to the young lady at the kite store who gave us some really helpful advice. The durability of the indestructible Beetle helped a lot too!

We were all really beginning to get hooked. Drives to the beach were becoming a daily routine. Even the kids were beginning to watch trees and flags as we drove around in the car — they’re such ‘good’ kids! I began a quest of looking on the web for as much information as I could find. I had to start another folder for kite bookmarks, and had my first exposure to rec.kites. This was great!

The kite community on the web served to further fuel my interest. My wife said she thought I was getting a bit carried away. Yes indeed, I have an addiction 😉

The next week I discovered the British Columbia Kitefliers website and saw on their calendar that they had a Fun Fly scheduled for the next day at White Rock beach. Of course we were going. We packed up the barbeque and kites and the kids and headed for the beach first thing in the morning.

Our first experience with ‘real’ kiters was a great one. Everyone there was more than willing to offer tips and show us what to do. We purchased a family membership in the club on the spot.

A few days later, when I should have been working (here comes the point of this post…), I went to the beach by myself to take advantage of a good windy day. I was zipping around with the Beetle, practicing landings, when an older gentleman arrived nearby with a young boy. They pulled out a bag and set up a small stunt kite. I watched with interest (they were a little downwind from me) as the boy’s grandfather desperately tried to get the kite into the air without any luck.

I realized right away that the problem was with the kite. Even though I was a hundred feet away from them it was obviously more of a ‘toy’. After about fifteen minutes, I landed my Beetle and went over to talk to them. I asked the boy if he wanted to try my kite and he grinned from ear to ear — I gave him a few pointers (not that I had enough experience to do so, but I’m pretty good at saying “keep your hands together!”) and he was soon taking to the skies in all his glory.

It turned out that the grandson was out visiting from Ontario for a few weeks. Earlier that day they were at a Costco store and the grandfather saw a stunt kite for $15.00 (about $2.53 US <grin>). He bought it thinking that it would make for a fun day with his grandson. We talked about a lot of things for about two hours with the grandson flying the Beetle the whole time.

At one point I tried to fly the boys kite but was unable to keep it in the air — it was a piece of cr*p. Upon thier leaving, they both thanked me very much for sharing my kite with them and I told them that the next weekend was the Pacific Rim Kite Festival at Vanier Park and that they might find it interesting. After they left, I stayed and flew my kite for a couple of hours, and was late for dinner — again.

The next weekend, my wife and I packed up the kids and headed to the Pac Rim Festival (our first festival). Later in the day, I heard “Dan… Dan…” I turned around and there’s the boy from the beach with his grandparents! The boy (sorry, I forgot his name) had a huge smile on his face and was holding a brand new Beetle that his grandfather bought for him! They had just watched Ray Bethell flying a demonstration and Ray signed his new kite for him and then gave him a lesson — he was absolutely thrilled. The grandson was heading back to Ontario the next day and his grandfather told me that the highlight of his stay in Vancouver was learning to fly a kite, and thanked me again for letting his grandson fly the kite at the beach. Made me feel pretty good that I was able to offer a bit of my enthusiasm to help his experience along.

And that’s really my point — if someone is going to get into kite flying and doesn’t have a kite that’s able to fly properly, the experience is not going to be a pleasurable one and will most likely result in the person walking away thinking that the whole kite thing is a waste of time. A $15 Costco kite doesn’t cut it — the quality just isn’t there — in fact, there should be a law against selling things that don’t allow someone to do what it was intended to do (but that’s for another discussion in another place). A Beetle, or a First Step, or something along that line can in no way be a poor decision.

So is $50 US too much to pay to for something that will bring countless hours of enjoyment? I don’t think so. I now carry a couple of Beetles in my kite bag to let curious people give it a go.

Since I’m going on a bit here, I will say that I have enjoyed kiting and all the fine people that I’ve met as a result over the past six or so months. We took the family to WSIKF in August for three days (also on my kid’s website) — I would highly recommend to anyone starting out in kiting to attend a festival — it’s a great experience that can only fuel the enthusiasm. Six months later, my kite bag (a Prism bag that I recently got for Christmas from my ‘exceptionally good’ kids!) now has nine kites in it and there’s a few more kites that I feel I “really need” but my wife has temporarily barred me from the kite store 🙁

Fortunately, for me, my job allows me to take time off during the day, so I do get out whenever the wind is blowing good, which lately has not been very often. I’m now starting to get into Pairs Flying with a friend and Ray Bethell has graciously agreed to coach us — I’m very excited about this — like, could I get a better teacher? I’m also able to use my work skills a bit here as well (I’m a website developer) and am currently building a new website for Ray that will be ready in the next week or so.

Thanks to everyone here for allowing me to share your expertise and kite flying experiences. It’s much appreciated from someone new to the sport.

Sorry about the long post. Just got a little wrapped up in the moment 🙂

Waiting for a windy day in Vancouver!