Kite flying is a relaxing outdoor hobby that involves, well, flying kites.
It's actually not as simple a hobby as it sounds. For many people, kiting
borders on an art form. For others, it's simply a way to enjoy a breezy spring
afternoon. Others take it seriously and enter kite-flying competitions.
"Kiting can involve a lot of things," says Kai Grebono. He is a kiter who
makes his own flying masterpieces. "For some people it is a creative process,
an art form, where making the kite is the most important part. For others,
especially the people who fly stunt kites, it is more for the sport."
|Flying kites doesn't have to be a lonely pastime. Here's an example
of "follow the leader," where one kite follows directly behind the leader
|Courtesy of: Anthony Thyssen and Anthony's Kite Workshop|
You don't need a lot of things to start kiting. All you need is an open
field, a kite, and a good stiff breeze to get going.
"What's required," says Peter Dregon, "is a good attitude, love for the
outdoors, and an interest in kites. Oh, don't forget, things go a lot smoother
when there's wind."
Since you require a kite, you'll probably have to spend some money on one.
But you don't have to break your bank account to get set to fly. "It's only
as expensive as you want it to be, from your $2 kite...to a $2,000 kite by
Martin Lester," says Dregon. Either way, the idea is to have fun watching
your kite fly."
If you start kiting in a serious way, check around for any kite festivals
that might be happening in your area. It's a good way to meet other kiters,
ask questions and just have a good time.
Festivals are one place to observe the really neat side to kite flying
-- it's best done as a social activity. Most kite flyers really enjoy talking
about their kites with other enthusiasts or just curious bystanders. If you're
into social hobbies, kite flying could be just the thing for you.
"One of my joys is to involve total strangers in my flying, to let them
experience the feel of the kite," says Andrew Beattie. "Sometimes they get
involved, sometimes not. This does not bother me. I feel that someone's life
is incomplete unless they have gained some understanding of what kite flying
is about, and you can't get that without holding the line for yourself."
Kite flying is quite an ancient form of recreation -- and it hasn't always
been just for laughs. It's likely that the Chinese were flying kites 2,000
years ago, and there are several Japanese legends and festivals that involve
kites. One in particular involves a hero chasing the sun back into its proper
orbit using a kite. In Bali and Malaysia, kite flying is a traditional part
of their religion.
In more modern times, kites have been used during war to allow observers
to keep tabs on enemy positions. These guys were probably the forerunners
of the paratroopers. "Man-lifting" is still practiced by some kiters today,
although it's considered to be a little geeky amongst serious kite flyers.
About the only people who have careers related to kiting are meteorologists!
They send up balloons into the sky to get readings on wind and humidity and
Still, if you really love kiting, you might get into building kites or
get work with a kiting association.
To get started in kite flying you might want to visit your local kite or
hobby shop and check out the options available. Most kiters also recommend
you see if there are any kite clubs in your area that you could go to for
help. Another option is to find out if there will be any festivals happening
in your area and go check things out.
Remember: Kite flyers love to talk about their hobby. So don't be shy!
The American Kitefliers Association
352 Hungerford Dr.
P.O. Box 270
Kite Flier's Site
Links to groups, festivals, and more around the world
A handy glossary from "aspectratio" to "wing tips"
Anthony's Kite Workshop
Kite plans and information on kite flying activities