Extracurricular – Kite Flying

Think of dreary, grey skies. Now picture brightly coloured kites floating and flicking in those same dreary skies. doesn’t the thought alone cheer you up? Kite flying has been around in some form or another since the earliest kites were developed and used in China over 2000 years ago. Through history, kites were seen more as a children’s toy and a novelty, rather than a serious pastime. However, thanks to the science of meteorology, kites were taken seriously as a scientific tool for a time. Launching kites with instruments attached, such as thermometers, aided the understanding of weather patterns. And who could forget Ben Franklin’s famous experiment that proved lightning was indeed electricity! Kites also helped us to understand the principles of flight?it isn’t too much of a stretch to believe that using kites helped the Wright brothers develop their first airplane in the late 1800s.

Kiting is making somewhat of a comeback as more people discover this relaxing hobby. New materials and innovative designs are taking this traditional childhood toy into new territory. Kite flying remains great fun for kids and is a proven stress reliever for adults. However, despite the American Kitefliers Association (http://kite.org) boasting at least 4000 members in 35 nations and counting, the sight of kite flyers in public spaces is pretty rare. Why is this? After all, It’s an activity gets people outdoors, it doesn’t require a lot of money to purchase equipment, and it can be a real conversation-starter with others who are drawn to the site of a kite in the sky. If you think you’d like to take up this hobby, here’s a quick guide for you to start.

First of all, you’ll need a kite. While the “toy store specials” will suffice, your experience will be much more satisfying if you purchase a sturdier model from a dedicated kite shop. A good kite made from rip-stop nylon and a sturdy spindle of string needn’t be expensive. You can purchase a kite online, but the benefit of shopping in person is that you can ask lots of questions and kite enthusiasts will be only too happy to share their knowledge. A kite That’s not too big and not too small is ideal for the beginner. Single-line kites in delta shapes, diamonds, or simple bird or bug shapes are the easiest to fly. Multi-line kites such as box kites and very large kites with tails (such as dragons) are really tempting because they look so gorgeous but can leave less-experienced kite pilots frustrated. Stunt kites and harness kites are definitely for advanced pilots! Large kites create a lot of drag and can create a situation that a beginner’s skills aren’t equipped to handle. It’s best to start small and learn in easy weather conditions and work up to more advanced skills once confidence is built.

There isn’t much to flying a kite if the conditions are right. The trickiest bit to master is launching your kite, but please remember these safety tips.
– Always fly your kite in a large open space free from power lines, trees, fences, and never close to houses or roads in case your kite comes crashing down on top of someone. And despite what Benjamin Franklin did, never fly your kite during an electrical storm.
– It is illegal to fly a kite within several kilometres of an airport. If You’re not sure whether your chosen site is too close to an airport facility, contact airport administrators or Transport Canada.
– Wear good, sturdy footwear for grip and ankle support. Look around the site for tripping hazards like rocks, gravel, and gopher holes. On sunny days, wear sunglasses and be aware of the position of the sun when flying?you don’t want to look directly at the sun.
– Be aware of other people or animals, such as dogs, in the area while flying. If there are other kite flyers in the same field, give each other a wide area as to not create a very tangled situation!

don’t think that kite-flying can’t be done year-round. A breezy winter day with snow conditions that are not too icy is great for kite flying. Just remember to dress appropriately and, of course, to have fun.


Carla is an AU student majoring in English. She welcomes comments and discussion on her Twitter feed, @LunchBuster.