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.