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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Go Fly A Kite!

I'm kind of on a time limit tonight, so this entry will be considerably shorter than what you might be used to. Who knew working outdoors would tire a person out so much? I'll be sharing more about that story tomorrow!

For now, here's today's entry.

Have you ever told someone who has been invading your personal space to go and fly a kite? Next time you hear someone tell you that, give them a big hug and thank them for the wonderful suggestion!

DISCLAIMER: Yeah, that suggestion? Scrap that one. Depending on the person, you might get a black eye, a bloodied nose, or a marriage proposal.

But, in all seriousness, I think that one of my all-time favourite outdoor activities to do during the spring and summer months was flying a kite. I still remember the very first kite I ended up receiving. If I remember correctly, it was purple and silver, and it had a really super long string. Whenever the wind picked up, and it was strong enough to keep a kite up in the air (but not so strong that it could smash a window or blow a garbage can down the street), I loved it! Seeing that kite flying high up above the air, trying to keep it up as long as possible...that was just one of those moments that defined childhood to me. Sometimes, the wind would be so blustery that it felt as though the kite would lift me up off the ground and take me sailing across the sky! Of course, that never happened. I would have to think that the kite would have to be huge in order to lift me up off the ground, and I honestly don't think that I would be able to lift it!

I should also note though that when I was flying a kite, I was always flying it under direct supervision from a grown-up. My parents and elder siblings would always make sure that I flew the kite in a nice, open area away from any sources of electricity like power lines. After all, we all know that a kite was included in one of Benjamin Franklin's most famous science experiment proposals.

You know the one that I am talking about right? The one with the kite and the key and the lightning storm? Benjamin Franklin published his theory in 1750 by claiming that lightning was electricity. Yeah, don't try that at home. Flying a kite in a thunderstorm is dangerous, and you should never attempt it. If lightning ever struck your kite, your hands could become crispy vittles!

Kites were also used in researching and developing innovations for the modern day airplane, and Orville and Wilbur Wright reportedly used them when they were designing the very first airplane.

Actually, kites have been around for thousands of years, if you can believe it. It is estimated that the kite first appeared in the country of China approximately 2800 years ago (so, circa 787 B.C.-ish). The earliest kites were made out of silk fabric and bamboo, and by 549 A.D., paper kites were being flown. It would take quite a long time for kites to be introduced into North America, but thanks to the hypothesis that Benjamin Franklin had come up with, as well as the fact that the Wright Brothers used them, we can estimate that by the 18th century, kites had found their way onto every continent in the world.

Well, except Antarctica, that is.

Most modern-day kites manufactured these days are made of printed polyester and lightweight wood (although in some cases, silk is still used). Though I suppose you could buy kites from the dollar store that are made from plastic. I wouldn't recommend those ones though. I once had a kite that boasted clear as day that it was “Easy-To-Fly”. Seriously, it had the words “Easy-To-Fly” written across the front!

Do you think it was easy to fly? Hardly. I got so frustrated with that kite that I wanted to rename it to “Never Flies, Even In Gale Force Winds”. Though it wasn't a complete loss. The kite did become a wall decoration for my childhood bedroom for a few years.

Kites could be traditionally found in either a diamond shape or a glider-type shape. The silver and purple one I loved so much was shaped like a glider. “Never-To-Fly” kite? It was a diamond shape. No need to ask which design I preferred, huh?

Kites can be made to look like almost anything. I've seen box kites, which have sails that are shaped like a box, I've seen kites that are designed to look like dragons, and I think I got jealous of one kid who had a kite that looked like Snoopy!

I wanted a Snoopy kite too!

Turns out that kites are used in a variety of celebrations all over the world, and depending on what part of the world you happen to be from, kites are a valuable addition to holiday festivities.

Take Asian countries, for example. Kite flying originated here, and clearly kites are still very popular. One of the most recent trends that has to do with kite flying involves a game known as “kite fighting”, which is when people try to use their kites to knock or cut other kites down.

Kite flying is also quite popular in Afghanistan (except during the period when it was still under Taliban rule), Pakistan, Vietnam, and India. In Greece and Cyprus, kite flying is a tradition for Clean Monday (the first day of Lent). And, kite flying is so popular in Brazil that it has almost become a necessity in some cases!

Who knew that so many people all over the world loved flying kites? But, then again, when you consider that kite flying has assisted in the fields of aviation, meteorology, science, broadcasting, athletics, military, and of course, entertainment, is it any wonder why the kite is held in such high regard?

So, the next time someone tells you to go fly a it!

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