When I was a kid, my family had a book full of kite patterns. I liked the idea of kites, so I would make kites out of paper and sticks. They never went any higher than I could throw them. I gave up on kites at age ten or so.

Just recently I got a kite from a box store and took it to the beach. Properly built, and in proper wind, it flew beautifully.

This was a simple one-string kite with plastic struts and a long tail, plain as can be. The string attaches at the center, so that the kite stays flat to the wind if possible. The tail keeps it from rolling, so its top points up and its bottom points down, roughly.

The wind, then, comes across the front of the kite and blows down both sides. That can make the kite go left or right or hold still, according to how it's oriented. If the kite is turned straight up, it will hold still. If it's turned to the right, it will drift to the right.

It soon becomes apparent that the wind, not you, is in control of the kite. You can only give the kite some options for how it deals with the wind. Like I said, if the kite is turned to the right, the wind will push it to the right. What you can control is how strongly the kite is pulled down, and in which direction. You control that by letting out or pulling in string, and by running around.

So if the kite is going sideways and you keep your end of the string still, it's going to go right, make an arc, and dive. If you let some string out, it will fly straight sideways instead of diving, and if the wind is consistent it will turn to point up again. I think this is partly the wind's doing and partly the tail's. And if the kite is going sideways and you pull the string in, it will dive hard. I got in the habit of holding the reel in one hand and the string in the other, with some slack in between. That way I could pull or relax the string easily.

You also have the option to run on the ground, which as far as I can tell has the same effect as letting string in or out. I would wait for the wind to turn the kite, then pull hard to make it dive, and let out string while I ran toward it so it could recover and soar up high again.

If you're impatient, you can jerk on the string to make the kite start a little turn, but you won't get to pick which way it goes. This little shock overpowers the wind for a brief moment. This also happens when you let the line go slack, and the kite flies backward and suddenly catches. Of course, too much of this and the string may break.

Like I said, this was a lesson. When a thing is attached to you, but has other influences to obey, it's on you to give it slack and not to let go. If you relax and pay a little attention, it will generally fly itself.

I recommend kite-flying to anyone who hasn't tried it this year.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.