Why I fly kites (doesn't everyone ?)
Yep, this is an old topic, that I commented on, several years back. I may have even started it, I don't remember, but I thought it was an interesting subject, and with a lot of new members on the scene, these days, I thought it would be interesting, once again, to hear some new stories...............
Here is mine, should you care to read it - I would love to hear yours !!
Why I fly kites (doesn't everyone ?) & how did this all get started ?
Well obviously not. Not around here, anyway. I’ve been flying kites for around 12 - 13 years now, 95% of that, while on vacation at the coast. When you mention flying kites around home, people tend to look at you, like you’re strange, but at the coast, it’s more like, okay, so what? Things seem to be a little more laid back in the resort areas, and I think people tend to expect, and/or overlook, most anything. So what’s the big deal, with a few people out there flying kites, on the dunes, or on the beach? Nobody really gives it a second though, but back home, not only do people give it a second thought, I believe that many give it a third, and maybe even a forth, thought. I’ve even noticed adults (kids not included), that will actually tend to avoid you. They will look away, and even pretend not to see you, when all the time, it’s so obvious, that they are trying, in their inconspicuous manner, just to sneak a peek, probably back to their own childhood days, but only when they think you aren’t looking, of course. This, I’ll never understand, but as the old saying goes, “People are Strange”, so why press the issue. Is it them, or is it “us”? Well, maybe “we”, the kite fliers are strange, comparatively speaking, but all in all, I think we are a pretty benign group. At least we aren’t harming anything, and for the most part, anyone, with the exception of the occasional “Newbie”, and a possible mishap. We surely aren’t using up any valuable resources, and all in all, we are just out there blowing off some steam, chilling out, relaxing, meditating, kicking back, killing a little time, and just enjoying life and the great outdoors (and indoors), and the list goes on, I suppose. I mean, what’s not to enjoy? It’s just you, your kite, and the wind, doing your thing. Actually, it’s a pretty cheap high ! So, why do I fly kites (?), you ask. That’s why.
How did I become a flier (?), well that’s a whole nother story, but common sense tells us, that the answers to both of these questions, are definitely intertwined. As for me, my passion began 12 - 13 years ago. At that time, my wife and I had been going to the NC coast, for years, mainly during the spring, summer, and early fall. We really enjoyed the NC Outer Banks, and in particular, that 20 mile stretch of barrier islands, known as Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, and Kitty Hawk. Oh, Kitty Hawk, the birthplace of manned flight (how appropriate?), the Wright brother’s, and all that. “Wrong”, but close, all of that actually took place in Kill Devil Hills (it’s a common misconception), but that to, is a whole nother story. Now back to kiting.
Anyway, after years of jumping from spot to spot, roaming the beaches, fishing, sitting on the beach, reading books, and just kicking back, I finally realized that I was beginning to get bored, with the beach scene. Sure it’s a great place to spend time, but just how long, can someone sit on the beach, read, and whatever. I mean, you can’t drink beer all day. Then one trip, I decided, out of the blue, and out of sheer boredom, that I was going and get myself a cheap (I didn’t even know the name) delta kite, that I could put up in the sky, tie to the chair, and at least have something different to look at. Why not, I had seen other people flying kites? Seemed like a great idea to me. Well, I couldn’t even get that $3 delta to fly right, but I noticed a guy right down the beach, flying a much larger, 4 or 5 foot delta, with a large flowing tail. That thing was sitting up there like it was pinned to the sky, so I ventured over to find out if I could get some help. Yep, it seems that I needed a tail on my kite, for stability. Well, I didn’t have a tail, but I did have a piece of string, so I tied a small piece of driftwood to the piece of string, attached it to the kite, and straight up it went. Learned something! No more dipping over to one side and diving uncontrollably to the ground or ocean, just up, up and away, and so was I. Well, this of course, lead to some more delta kites, bigger delta kites, more expensive delta kites, and tails, plenty of tails, and then kite bags, and before I knew it, I was a kite flier. Yes, that’s how I became a flier, but the story doesn’t end there, of course.
As the years came and went (actually only a couple of years), one day, I was proudly sitting there watching my beautiful delta kite, pinned to the sky, and there down the beach, was this guy flying (again, I didn’t have a clue), a kind of erratic kite. Yep, it was a dualie. Well, I’m wondering how come this guy, has this pretty kite, and obviously a very nice kite, but he can’t afford more than 80 – 100 feet of line. He was hardly off of the ground, and the poor guys kite was going everywhere. Maybe he needed some tail on that thing, just to calm it down a bit, but being new, I resisted the urge to go down and make the suggestion. I just continued to watch. Then, all of a sudden, and with the help of my binoculars, the light bulb came on. That guy’s got two strings on that kite, not very long stings, but two, so what’s up with that? Now, I did have to mosey on down, and check this out. This I’ve got to see, and as they say, “the rest is history”. Yep, the guy gave me a quick run through on flying dualies, showed me how to control it, and yes, he defiantly got my attention. He offered to let me give it a whirl, but I didn’t dare. I thanked him for the intro, and was on my way. Now my big pretty delta kite, pinned to the sky, didn’t seem quite so exciting, in fact, it seemed kind of, ho hum! So, hey, let’s go to that big kite store (Kitty Hawk Kites) in Nags Head, and look around, just look. Well, being very close to my birthday, my wife says, go pick out a kite, and she would get it for me, for my birthday. So here we go, stage two, dualies, and what did I pick out for my first real kite, a beautiful “Prism Fanatic”. Don’t laugh, this was a pretty neat kite, back 13 or 14 years ago. So back at the cottage, I finally figured out how to put it together, and out to the beach “we” went. I didn’t know about kite stakes then, so my wife became my “kite runner”. I would take off and she would run pick it up, over, and over, and over. Finally, I got to where I could keep it in the air for more than 10 seconds, giving my “kite runner” a break. Eventually, I learned about kite stakes, and now, my wife was able to get back to her beach chairs, umbrellas, and reading, and the best part, I could set-up the kite, and fly it by myself, and boredom was a thing of the past.
As the years ticked by, we continued our annual treks to Nags Head. Eventually, we locked in on the same cottage, so now, we are staying in a cottage, that belongs to a, “now”, good friend. And where, you ask? Well, just coincidentally (or maybe not), it just so happens that this cottage is located directly across the highway, from Jockey's Ridge, one of the greatest kite flying spots on the East coast, and right behind the Nags Head, Kitty Hawk Kites flagship store. We are usually there, 3 or 4, sometimes 5 weeks, during the summer, and that's when I really do most of my kite flying, but what a place to fly. It’s the beach early and late in the day, and then as the beach begins to fill, during peak season, it’s across the road, and up on the ridge, where you can fly, till you just can’t fly anymore.
So, as I mentioned earlier, I got my first real kite (a Prism Fanatic) from Kitty Hawk Kites, some 13+ years ago. I didn't know anything about flying stunt kites, and I basically taught myself to fly, and believe it or not, I've still got that kite, and it's in excellent condition, and remains one of my favorites, and one that will always stay in my kite bag. Not to say, that it didn't hit the sand quite a few times, but never with any catastrophic results. The sand dunes, do tend to be, somewhat forgiving.
But there’s more. Later on, some 8 - 9 years after the Fanatic, and some 20 - 25 stunt kites later, an on-line kiting buddy of mine, got to chatting with me one night, about this strange kite he had seen, somewhere for sale. It was called a Revolution kite (?). Again, somewhat new to me, although I had heard the term mentioned somewhere, but this thing had four lines, I thought, and I knew that I didn’t have any interest in that. I was perfectly happy with my dualies, and I really didn’t want anything to do with one of those Revolutions. Well, then one day, out of the blue, a package arrives at my home, and my buddy has sent me "nearly new", Rev 1.5 SLE. Oh NO! What am I going to do now? I didn't have a clue what to do with that thing, and yep, it definitely had four lines, and handles. I actually made two or three trips to the coast, and never even put it together, never even took it out of the bag. I just didn’t want to get into that four line stuff, but, with all due respect to my friend, he had sent me the kite, and he kept asking about how I was coming with the Rev, so I had to do something. I couldn’t keep putting this thing off, so one hot summer day, back in 2009, when it was about 95 degrees, and at least 10 degrees hotter, up on Jockey’s Ridge, I realized that the dune was basically deserted (probably the heat). None-the-less, this looked like my chance, so I took off up the hill, with my wife as my co-pilot (here we go again), but believe it or not, after a bit of fussing and cussing about the lines, I kinda got it figured out. Another day or so, and I could actually fly that Rev, not great, but at least I could keep it off the ground. My biggest problem continued to be line management, but having been accustomed to winding up my dual lines, I understood the basics of what needed to happen, and eventually, I got that figured out, kinda. Then, some guy named John Barresi comes along with these Rev tutorial videos, and there it was, my salvation, “Line Management”. Once or twice viewing that video, and problem solved. Now, if I could just get the flying part down, half so well, as the line management part.
Anyway, I suppose that I’d still be considered a “Newbie”, especially compared to that Barresi guy, for now, anyway, because I am definitely still learning (aren't we all), but I'm trying hard, every chance I get. So right now, after a really tough winter, I am so looking forward to a great summer, and doing something about that “Newbie” status. OBX, here we come.
So that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it ! That’s how I became a kite flier. Fate, I suppose (?)
Since the original posting of this rendition, I suppose I may have shucked my "Newbie" status, somewhat, although I am definitely still learning, and once again, after a tough winter, I am once again looking so forward to Summer, and our annual treks to the Outer Banks, and KITES !!
Now, lets hear your story.............Why do you fly kites, and how did you get started ??