Go fly a kite! Back in the day, this was a derogatory phrase meaning, “Scram”, “Beat it” or a politically correct way of directing you to that subterranean area that is hotter than blazes. Today, the phrase is an invitation for fun.
When I was a kid, the Cub Scout Pack would have an annual Kite Day, where awards were given for the best homemade kite, most original design, the highest flying kite, the longest time aloft, etc. Most of the kites were home made, but a few were store-bought. But even the store-bought kites needed a tail, and that was the tricky part.
Making a kite tail out of strips of torn up bed sheets was time-consuming, adding to the excitement, anticipation and mystery of getting something to fly. A lot of experimentation was involved; depending on the wind, the kite tail would be either too short or too long. For starters, we’d attach 6-8 twelve inch long strips bed sheet to the kite, each strip tied to the next with a square knot. If the kite took an abrupt nose dive after take-off, the tail was too long so one or two of the tail sections would be removed; if the kite took off like the proverbial bat out of the aforementioned subterranean area that was hotter than blazes, the tail was probably too short. In a strong wind a kite with too short of tail usually took off, literally, breaking the string, flying off into the wild blue yonder never to be seen again. (One or two boys usually ended up crying and embarrassing their parents.) There were always several “test flights” before the contest actually began.
Kite Day was always held in March, where blustery winds were assured and the temperature was anyone’s guess. The clouds in this photo reminded me of a typical Kite Day. Getting your kite airborne was also a real trick; depending on the wind, the weight of your tail, the design of your kite, and especially the speed of the “launcher”. Yeah, the launcher had to take the kite in his hand, hold it high in the air and run into the wind as fast as he could to get the kite airborne; dads were usually the launchers as the boys had to be in “control” of their kite at all times. (That’s when young Cub Scouts learned how athletic their dads really were.) As soon as the launcher released the kite, the “flyer” had to pull on the string to make the kite climb, while letting out more string. Once airborne, the fun began; what a thrill it was to see your creation actually fly.
Today, the kites are so well designed that a 3 year old can fly them. No hand-made tails are required, just take them right out of the box and let ’em go. (box? how ’bout cellophane) Regardless of the wind velocity, today’s kite usually provides instant gratification. Geez, no wonder the kids are quickly bored with kites.
Thought for the Day: If a man empties his purse into his head no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. Ben Franklin