My New Kite Flying Pastime
Over the past few months I’ve been picking up a new
obsession hobby. It all started on a weekend back in May, when we were travelling up the coast and stopped at the Rockaway Beach Kite Festival. There I picked the Prism Nexus two string kite, which I flew a number of times both on the beach in parks around Portland. Somehow, something that I once thought was completely boring and only for kids had suddenly become exciting to me!
Here’s a short list to try to rationalize why I’m having so much fun flying kites:
- It’s relaxing
- Things that fly fascinate me
- It’s actually quite challenging, and it takes a lot of practice to refine the skill
- It gives me something to do on the beach besides just sun bathing
- There’s an element of high-tech, as the materials that go into kites need to be strong and light
- There’s a do-it-yourself aspect, as even the most high end kites can be made at home with very little in the way of tools
Two weekends ago we drove down to Brookings, OR (near the California border) and went to the Southern Oregon Kite Festival, and there I picked up a Revolution Kite. The first kite I bought was a 2-string kite. Pull the left string and the kite turns left, pull the right string and the kite turns right. Pretty simple. It’s easy to do loop-de-loops, and with a little practice you can stall the kite at the edge of the wind window, or land and take off again … but there is a limit to how much control you can have over a two string (although some of the pros can do some pretty cool things with them). The Revolution kite is a 4-string kite, which has more dimensions of control than a 2-string– forward/backward, slide left/right, turn left/right. My first attempts to fly the thing were pretty pitiful, but I’m starting to improve.
One of the challenges is finding good wind. Gusty wind is pretty terrible. Sarah and I hiked to one of the highest points in Washington Park where the wind seemed strong, but it was fluctuating between high gusts and dead still air. In those conditions, I really couldn’t fly at all. The best kite flying seems to be on the coast (plus it’s just nice being next to the ocean). I’ve been hunting around Portland trying to find open fields that have good winds, but most inner-city parks have too many tall buildings around to have steady breezes. The best two places seem to be West Delta Park, which is up in North Portland, close to Vancouver WA, and the beaches on Sauvie Island (one of which is ‘clothing-optional’, so if I ever decide to get into naked kite flying, that’s an option ).
My latest adventure in kites is an attempt to build one with Sarah. I’ve ordered some parts online, and we’ve found a cool fabric store nearby that sells high tech fabrics like ripstop nylon, goretex, etc. If we can succeed in building one using plans from the internet, then perhaps I will try to design one myself. I’m no aerospace engineer like some of my friends, but I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to make something that will fly!