Kite flying is not exactly something that comes to most people’s minds when thinking of skills. For most, it is maybe something that they do once or twice in their lifetime. Taking a simple kite and holding onto it or running to keep it in the air for an hour or two if that. For me, it has become something more than that.
Nearly five years ago my mother began working for a company called Kitty Hawk Kites. They sell clothing, toys, games, and (believe it or not) kites. She was in charge of running the Amazon department for them, and thus began to learn more about kites. I was 13 at the time, and around Christmas time when my mother was trying to decide what to get my sisters and me. She decided that I might enjoy a kite.
There are more types of kites than you might think. Most people when they think of kites think of just a basic diamond shape with one line; the quintessential kite. However, not only are there many shapes and types of kites that have one line, but there are also many kites that have two, three, and four lines. These are called sport kites or stunt kites. You can control them to make them do all kinds of tricks and flips in the air. My mother thought that I would love this, and got me a two-line stunt kite for Christmas.
The first time my mother and I took out my kite to try to fly, it was an utter failure. It took us about 20 minutes to try to set up the kite. After we finally did get it set up we spent another 20 minutes trying, to no avail, to get the kite into the air. After having struggled for this long, we weren’t simply going to give up. So we went to look over the manual for probably the hundredth time that day and found that we were facing the wrong direction. Upon this realization, we rotated so that the wind was blowing towards the kite and were finally able to get the kite to launch. About five seconds later I crashed it. The good news was that it was a beginner stunt kite, meaning it was built to crash. I crashed it many times that day. However, by the end of the day, I was able to keep it in the air and do some figure eights. And while it seemed simple, I was having so much fun. We only took the kite out a few more times after that, we were both busy, so it lay forgotten in the back of my closet.
The next summer I began working at one of the retail locations for Kitty Hawk Kites. I still didn’t know much about kites, and I didn’t have to. There was always someone on staff, “the kite expert,” who would stand in the kite room and answer questions and sell kites all day. So for that whole summer, I would just walk around the store cleaning up, folding shirts, and checking people out. Anytime I got the chance though, I would glance into the kite room. To look at the kites and watch the videos of people doing impressive tricks with them that we had playing on the walls. That summer ended, I went back to school, and once again the idea of flying kites was pushed to the back of my mind.
The following summer I returned to work at Kitty Hawk Kites again, with one main thing different from the last summer: we needed another kite expert. I told my boss that I thought it would be very fun to learn more about kites, and I would love to be one of the kite experts if she would allow me. She was happy to let me learn. And after a few weeks of following her around and listening to her talk to customers, I had learned almost everything that I needed to know about kites. Learning so much about them only made me want to fly them more. So I began taking my kite to work and walking across the street when my shift was finished to fly it. I also began to learn more tricks, which only made flying even more fun. Since then I have come to own nearly twenty different kites. I spent that whole summer flying kites. And this year when school came around, kite flying didn’t once again fall to the back of my mind. I continued to fly kites well into the winter.
Something that no one told me at the beginning of learning about kites, was how many incredible people it would lead me to meet. For starters, there was no shortage of interesting conversations I would get myself into talking to customers about kites. Sometimes brand new flyers looking to get into kites, and sometimes people who had been flying kites for much longer than I have been alive. In addition to the conversations that came and went, I have been introduced to many interesting people with whom I’ve maintained connections since then. Many of these introductions came at kite festivals that Kitty Hawk Kites hosted, essentially a gathering of lots of kites and lots of people who love kites. Kite festivals are a great place to meet people from all different backgrounds who are brought together by a love of kites.
There is nothing quite like flying in sync with someone who you met five minutes ago. The trust that neither of you is going to crash and take down both kites or cut one another’s line. Nothing quite like admiring a gorgeous kite or impressive flying with a group of people who can appreciate it just as much as you. It is moments such as those that I am most grateful for the series of events that resulted in me learning about, and learning how to fly kites, as well as all the people who I met along the way