Kite flying is an art

When I was a kid in the ’40s and ’50s, a kite was a diamond-shaped piece of paper stretched over a flimsy balsa wood cross to which you added a stabilizing tail of knotted rags. After adjusting the tail length according to the wind speed and rigging a proper bridle string, you ran like crazy to get the kite into the air. Or, as was often the case in Oklahoma, you just stood on a rise — if you could find one — and held the kite up until the wind took it. From then on it was just a matter of paying out or taking in string, trying to keep your 10-cent Hi-Flier out of trees and power lines and hoping the string didn’t break. Kites have come a long way since then.

A beautiful example of what can be done with kites today is this video of champion multiple-kite flyer Ray Bethell. Bethell, who lives in Vancouver, BC, is in his mid-80s. He did not start flying kites until he was 50 and is completely self-taught.

In this video, Bethell controls a kite with each hand and one from around his waist. Don’t miss the pinpoint landing of the last kite.


Categories: Culture, Sports, video content

14 replies

  1. I love kites…especially the ones attached to surf boards!

    • Are you a kitesurfer? Or were you? It looks like great fun.

      • I love to watch them on Galveston Bay near here. I had a wind surfer for a while…but kite surfing looks pretty athletic…maybe this summer…gotta work up the nerve for that one!

        • No way I’d try anything like that these days, but I’d love to take a shot at flying a modern kite at a local park. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen anyone flying a kite since I left Oklahoma City.

          • Hmm, you’d think there would be kite there – great outdoor places ( you could stake one while eating a picnic lunch) and wind currents to make it fun?
            No kite shops? Hmmmm tourist areas…entertainment for kids….might have to look into that…kites are works of art now…(and somehow I’m determined to get up there. HA!)

            • I’m sure there are kites to be had here, probably some great ones at some fascinating little kite shops. There are so many outdoor activities here that kites are probably pretty low on everyone’s list. Makes me wonder if my son has ever taken the grandkids kite flying. I’ll have to suggest that. Of course, he probably knows nothing about it because I never did that with him.

              As for your getting up here, fear not. The mountains aren’t going anywhere, and they are very, very patient.

  2. I remember once, long long ago, when we had five balls of string on a kite. It felt like we were hanging on to a space ship.

  3. Wow. Just amazing, PT.

    I saw some birds in the sky during the clip. Imagine, if birds could think as we do, what would they think about this?

    • I hadn’t thought about that. You’d think their initial reaction might be to avoid the “predator.” Or maybe they are so used to trash, kites, leaves, etc., in their airspace that they just avoid them and carry on.

  4. Have you seen the indoor kite flying? I swear they defy gravity.

“We have met the enemy and he is us." ~ Pogo

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: