Observed annually on February 8th, National Kite Flying Day encourages exploring kite flying and making. Enthusiasts across the country mark the day by launching their kites or making plans to attend festivals.
Kites date back to China in 470 B.C. China is full of lore and histories of the origins of the kite. Many are related to the way wind affects the leaves on the trees, the shelters they lived in, blowing away the sails on their ships, and the hats they wore upon their heads. The stories also tell of kites invented to spy on their enemies or to send messages.
Evidence also shows the people of the South Sea Islands were using kites for fishing around the same time as the people of China.
Early kites were constructed from bamboo or sturdy reeds for framing. Leaves, silk, or paper made ideal sails. Vines or braided fibers completed the line or tether. While people initially used kites as tools, they also used them for ceremonial reasons as well. Whether they sent messages into the heavens or to lift offerings up to the gods, kites had a symbolic place in the culture.
Today kites are popular both as hobbies and for outdoor fun. They range from a simple diamond kite to more complicated box kites and giant sled kites. Stunt kites, also known as sport kites, are designed so the operator can maneuver the kite into dips, twists, and dives with dramatic effect.
Tips for Getting Your Kite Up in the Air and Keeping it There
- Be sure the kite is assembled correctly.
- Check the wind. Some kites require more wind and others less. Picking the right day for your kite is key. A light breeze (5-20 mph) is generally optimal.
- Be safe. Don’t fly a kite near power lines, trees, or other sky-high obstacles. Wide-open spaces are best.
- Be safer. Don’t fly in the rain.
- When launching the kite, be sure to have your back to the wind. If the wind is light, have a friend hold the kite downwind and hold your line taught, reeling in slowly until the kite launches.
- Don’t let the line out too quickly. Let the line out at the same pace the kite is gaining altitude.