Adults embrace childhood fun of flying a kite
Forget what you know about flying kites.
If you're like most people, that's probably not much.
Yet, more than 2,000 years before Charlie Brown's comical failure to launch, kites were used by fisherman in the South Seas and Micronesia to drag baited hooks across the water. Legend also tells of kites used for wartime reconnaissance in ancient China.
For modern-day devotees, flying a kite is akin to fishing in the sky -- an exhilarating and meditative experience that connects them with the mystical wild blue yonder.
"Most of adults think of kite flying as something that only kids do," says Con Engels, kite enthusiast and owner of Windstar Kites in Beaver. "But if you get into the sport-kite thing and power kiting, it's something that's really not for kids."
Engels, 50, is a member of the Fly Pittsburgh Kite Club, a 17-year-old organization that meets for informal monthly "flies" at Cooper's Lake Campground near Moraine State Park in Butler County. The terrain allows for a "clean" wind that is unimpeded by the rolling hills farther south, he says.
The club numbers about 100 members, who range in age from 8 to 70 years old, Engels says. He started Windstar Kites in 1996 because he says he couldn't find anybody who could tell him about kites.
"I've always loved kites," Engels says. "I've flown kites all my life. As a young man in my 20s, I got into sport and power kiting."
He sells various kinds of kites, from basic diamond-shaped models to triangular "delta" kites, box kites and sport kites, which are controlled with double and quadruple lines and often constructed of carbon fiber rods and ripstop fabric. He also conducts kite-building workshops for Scout troops and schools.
"It's just like fishing," Engels says. "When you start out fishing you might start out with a rod and a reel and a little tackle box. "But if you really get into it, you might end up with all kids of rods and all kinds of tackle and even a boat. It's sort of like that. You can get very well into the sport of kite flying. It can be very addictive."
Lisa Bookman and her husband, Michael Moore, have dozens of sport kites in their Robinson home. Moore flies sport kites in competitions and festivals around the country, from Newport, R.I., to Seattle, Washington.
"It's analogous to figure skating," Bookman says. "There are precision competitions and ballet. The ballet is choreographed to music."
Their collection also includes elongated Japanese fighter kites called Rokkakus, as well as miniature kites. They even have kites that can be flown indoors.
"You feel connected to the wind and the wind is connected to the universe," Bookman says. "It's really very peaceful."
Moore will perform kite-flying demonstrations at Kites for Kids, Saturday at the Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore. The event's organizers, KidsVoice, hope to collect 5,000 decorative and functional kites. Church and school groups, kids and seniors can contribute by printing out and coloring a kite template from the KidsVoice Web site, www.kidsvoice.org.
The advocacy organization serves nearly 5,000 abused or neglected children annually in Allegheny County.
"Some of them have never flown a kite," says KidsVoice executive director Scott Hollander. "Kites symbolize hope, a happy childhood and the chance to soar."
They'll close the street between Heinz Field and the Science Center for the kite-flying demonstrations. Weather permitting, they'll even fly kites from boats on the Ohio River. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and National Kite Month.
Pittsburgh's topography makes it a tricky place to fly kites because hills, buildings and trees disrupt wind flow. Kite fliers should look for flat, open land such as a soccer field.
It's also best to seek the high ground, such as the hill near the Oval at Schenley Park in Oakland, or Wilson Park in Greentree. The Fly Pittsburgh Kite Club also stages community flies at Treesdale Community Center in Gibsonia.
"In the winter is actually a good time to fly," Engels says. "We actually get more sustained wind in the winter than we do during the rest of the year. "
He and other members of the Fly Pittsburgh Kite Club even stage night flies, where they decorate their kites with lights. An occupational hazard, Engels says, is that occasionally someone might mistake the dancing lights for a UFO.
What: Kite flying demonstrations, crafts, games and live performances from Frank Cappelli, teen singer Sarah Marince and Jamie Bruno.
Where: Carnegie Science Center, North Shore
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday
Admission: Included in admission price of $14; $10 for children 3-12 and senior citizens
Details: 412-391-3100 or www.kidsvoice.org
Where: Cooper's Lake Campground, Currie Road, Slippery Rock, near Moraine State Park, just west of the Route 422 exit of Interstate 79.
When: 3 p.m. Friday-Sunday, weather permitting
Admission: Free, but nonmembers should check in at the campground office. Spectators and picnickers are welcome.
Details: 724-869-4488 or www.windstarkites.com .
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers rookie says Sam, his former roommate, has changed
- Fire victim’s ex-boyfriend jumps from Tarentum Bridge
- Steelers aim to create more turnovers this year with speedier defense
- Locke gets rocked as Pirates are knocked off by Diamondbacks
- Two cars strike horse near Fayette fair
- Steelers notebook: Shoulder pads get technological boost for Ravens game
- Fraud case reopens old wound
- Rossi: Buying trust is a must for Pirates
- McKeesport convenience store sells winning ticket
- Sewickley Township fraud case reopens old wound for New Stanton woman
- Roundup: Huntington Bancshares to cut 200 jobs; Kennametal posts drop in 1Q profit; more