20 May, 2018
When Americans Kay and Larry Day found a store selling kites nearly 20 years ago, they decided to buy a few kites for their family.
For fun, Larry bought one for himself.
"He went out and flew it and decided he needed to go back and get a better one," Kay remembered.
Since then, she and her husband have loved kite flying. They own many kites and plan trips around flying them. They also organize a kite-flying event each winter in their hometown in Iowa.
"I'm at peace when I'm flying," said Larry.
Kite-flying has a long history as an activity for adults and children. The custom of flying a piece of cloth high in the sky began more than 2,000 years ago in China. Since then, kites have been used to do scientific experiments, power boats, take pictures from the air and much more.
"There is a kind of a kite for everybody out there," said Nic O'Neill, president of the American Kitefliers Association.
O'Neill told the Associated Press that kite flying can be done alone or with friends and family. Kites appeal to people who like to create works of art to fly in the sky; to engineers who try to improve on the kite's design; and to those who like to combine kite-flying with music, she explained.
"The best thing about it is you can come at it from different points in your life and have it be a completely different experience," she said.
Grant Lovett began flying simple kites as a child, but moved on to more costly and complex kites as an adult. Among the latter is a nearly 13-meter long inflatable kite.
Today, Lovett likes making his own kites. He builds them from strong, lightweight materials and products designed for sailboats.
"I've always been interested in stuff that flies," he said.
Lovett likes taking his creations to public events and sharing them with others. He attends kite-making classes and looks for new models on the internet.
"I don't make tons and tons of the same thing," he said. "I like making new kites, finding new designs."
Lovett makes kites of different shapes and sizes because flying conditions can differ greatly.
Flying kites requires skill, but also a little artistry, he noted. Experience makes a difference, as does the weather.
"Part of the reason I love kiting is that you have to risk trying and not succeeding. The best way to learn is to go out, undo the string and let your kite fly," O'Neill said.
Ideally, you want a nice steady wind and a place away from trees and buildings, O'Neill said.
Sometimes the best flying conditions happen in winter — on a frozen lake, said Kay Day, who with her husband organizes the Color the Wind Kite Festival. It takes place every February on Clear Lake in Iowa.
The festival adds color to the winter sky and gives people a reason to go outside, she added. The Days invite expert fliers to come share their love for kites with locals and visitors. This year, more than 100 children attended a kite-making class.
"Kiters are a really good group of people. It's a family," said Larry Day.
The kiting community makes everyone feel welcome, said PV Nguyen of Portland, Oregon. She says her two children started flying kites about three years ago after attending a kite festival. "The kite fliers we know want to teach the kids everything they can," she said. "They like that there's a new generation coming up."
Her sons, Dylan, and Cardin, fly with kiters of all ages. "I do enjoy seeing different people," Dylan said.
The 13-year-old also likes the happy feelings that he experiences when his kite moves through the sky.
"It's really calming," he said.
I'm Susan Shand.
The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted the report for VOA Learning English. The editor was George Grow.
Words in This Story
kite – n. something light that is designed to be flown in the air; a plaything
association – n. an organization or group
inflatable – adj. able to be filled with gas or air
festival – n. a special time or event when people gather to celebrate something
steady – adj. firmly fixed; not changing
stuff – n. things
string - n. a long, thin piece of material that one uses to hang things or connect things together