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Kite Flying 101

Octopus kite at the Clovis, New Mexico kite festival. (photo from Wikipedia.org via GNU FDL) Octopus kite at the Clovis, New Mexico kite festival. (photo from Wikipedia.org via GNU FDL)
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By the Editors of Your Family Today
 

Kite flying looks so easy: You just run down the beach, and your kite magically lifts up and catches the wind. And it stays up, floating merrily on the breeze until you've had enough.

For many of us, though, the scenario goes more like this: You run like mad down the beach, dragging your kite behind you in the sand, hoping to get it 3 inches off the ground. Meanwhile, your kids have lost interest and moved on to shell collecting.

But even after countless bad flights, don't give up. Flying a kite really can be easy if you take these steps.

1. Start simple

The easiest kite to fly is the single-line delta. It has a classic triangle shape and wings. Because of their design, delta kites can float in much lighter winds than other kites -- and the larger they are, the better they fly. Other single-line models include the diamond (Charlie Brown's favorite), the dragon (the one with the really long tail) and the box kite. Prices start as low as $8.

2. Pick the right day

You don't have to wait for a blustery day: As long as there's enough wind to move branches and bushes, there's enough to launch and fly a kite. Strong and steady breezes are best; be sure to avoid really heavy winds.

3. Choose your spot

The beach is one of the best places to fly a kite because it usually has a steady breeze. But fields and grassy parks are good bets too. Fly only in wide, open spaces, and stay away from trees and power lines. Lastly, be sure to never fly near an airport. The Federal Aviation Administration forbids kite flying within 5 miles of any airport.

4. Dress the part

Bring hats, sunglasses and gloves. Use hats and sunglasses to keep the sun off your face; this way, it will be easier to stare up at the kite if it's flying in the direction of the sun. The gloves will help you grab hold of a string that may be unreeling out of control. (And of course, put on sunscreen.)

5. Go for liftoff

You don't have to run to get your kite airborne. Assuming you've picked a good day to fly, just hold up the kite with one hand while holding the line with the other. When the wind catches the kite, let it rise and slowly let out the line. Going too fast actually takes the wind out of your kite, causing it to drop. If that happens, stop letting out the line and give your kite a tug to get it rising again.

6. Reel it in

To land your kite, simply wind up the line. When the kite is within reach, grab it by the leading edge and hold onto it so the wind doesn't take hold of it again. 

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