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Go Fly a Kite

Jun 13, 2008

Since their invention in ancient China, kites have filled the sky with bright colors and graceful dances. They've been used to make music, to lift people into the sky, transmit radio and for science! But kites are also a ton of fun to take out to the beach or park - whether you're flying a performance kite or one shaped like your favorite Pokemon. Here's the 411 on kites, from the basics to kite sports, kite fighting and fun kite facts!

The Basics

The biggest difference in kites is how many strings you need to hold onto. Basic kites have one string and that makes them nice and easy to get into the air, as well as letting you eat an ice-cream cone with your spare hand. Try to find one with a tail too - that helps keep them stable in the air. A wind speed of three to nine miles/hour is perfect for kite flying, and the beach is the best location because the winds are smoother.

Up, Up and Away!

Once you have the hang of a basic kite, the next step is a triangle-shaped two-string sport kite. Not all toy stores will have these and they are trickier to fly, but with two strings you can really make your kite dance. From loops to dives, sideways slides, turns and more, there are lots of tricks to learn. Then, for the truly hardcore, you can go all the way to four strings. Do you need four arms or a telepathic friend to fly one of these? Nope, special handles let you get a grip on the strings so you can unleash your mad kite flying skills.

Stunts and the Sports

If you really enjoy flying a kite, you're in luck! Kite flying is a popular hobby, especially during the summer and super-duper especially on Father's Day. Not only are there kite clubs just about everywhere, there's also an American Kitefliers Association and international rules for kiteflying contests. From hanging out with other kite flyers and chatting, to learning new moves and entering in competitions,

Fighting Kites

For the really competitive kite flyer, you can actually have kite battles! The way you do it is by having a sharp kite string. You fly your kite so your string rubs your opponent's string, then you yank really hard and the sharp string rubs against their kite string, cutting it. It takes a lot of skill and practice to have kite battles, plus you need Manja, the sharp string that can be found in really good kite stores. But make sure you collect all the stray Manja string after every flight - pieces of the sharp string can injure and kill animals, or even people!

Fun Kite Facts:

  • The Taliban banned kite fighting in Afghanistan.
  • Benjamin Franklin's son helped him fly the kite for his famous experiment.
  • Some early kites had whistles built in so they would make music as they flew.
  • You can visit the American Kitefliers Association online at www.aka.kite.org
  • String + white glue + two chopsticks + a page of paper = a make-it-yourself kite!
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