Archive for Thursday, October 5, 2006

Go fly a kite

October 5, 2006

The kite-flying month of April will be here before we know it, so get ready.

The excitement of flying a kite stays with you forever, regardless of your age. We kids flew our kites across the street from our house where our ball field was. Its location was in back of where our fire station stands now.

Kites were 5 or 10 cents at the store. They consisted of the proper lengths of sticks and paper that we had to put together. String usually had to be purchased separately. The up- and-down stick was called the spine, and the crossbar was called a spar. The bridle was the strings that were attached to the spar and spine in such a way that it controlled the kite in the air. The flying line was attached to the bridle. The tail consisted of 1-inch strips of rags we tied together. The length of the tail depended on how strong the wind was. We wound the string over a stick in a figure 8, which kept it from becoming tangled.

On our last vacation to Sedona, Ariz., we spotted a kite store that had hundreds of varieties and designs, and we went in to look around. I spotted a very colorful, waterproof pocket parafoil kite with no sticks to break, no assembly required, with a convenient carrying case. It even came with 30-pound test string so I could not resist making a purchase. The name of the company was "Go Fly a Kite."

The first recorded kite makers in China dated as far back as 400 B.C. The designs were shaped like birds and could be flown up to three days. Marco Polo introduced kites to Europe in 1295. Down through history, kites were used to help military forces. The Romans were flying decorated windsocks as military banners in the first century. Our own Benjamin Franklin flew his kite to collect electricity from storm clouds in Philadelphia in 1752.

Kites were the forerunner to our present-day flying machines.

In 1898, Orville Wright flew in an oversized box kite with no motor. By 1903 he and his brother Wilbur added the gasoline engine, and there has been no stopping ever since.

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