Saturday, March 07, 2009

A Kite HasThe Right To Flight At Great Height..

Back in the 1940s as a boy living on Pipkin Street in the South Park area of Beaumont I made a bunch of kites. Now “bunch” really isn’t as refined as saying “many” or “several.” But you see, I did not make just “many” or “several.” I made a bunch. There were kites all over my bedroom and even some lying around on the floor throughout the house. Mama said they were “messy.” You see, she simply did not understand about kites. All kites have to be somewhere so it wasn’t my fault.

The most interesting kites I ever made that actually flew were about 7 inches high by 5 inches wide. They would not survive outdoors because the March winds were too gusty. However, they would fly inside the house in a breeze produced by my dad’s Emerson electric fan. Dad had one of those old oscillating fans that normally sat over in the corner of our dining room. It would turn back and forth and blow three speeds of air depending on how the switch was set. In fact that is how and when I learned the definition of “oscillate.”

Anyway, I used light-weight tissue paper along with leftover balsa wood strips from my model airplane hobby. Regular kite string was too heavy for the mini kites so I used thread from my mother’s sewing machine. Mama gave me a spool of thread so I would quit appropriating needed ingredients from her machine bobbins.

I have not tried making a mini kite since the late 1940s but I know it should still work if you want to give it a try. Following are the instructions:

• Obtain two small balsa wood sticks and trim to desired lengths.
• Tie the sticks together forming a cross.
• Run an additional thread around the ends of the sticks to stabilize the
• Place the framed cross against some tissue paper and trim around the outer
edges of the thread frame.
• Fold the paper edges over the thread of the frame and glue the folds in

You now should have a two-stick mini kite (if you don’t then email me for clarification).

As for the kite’s tail, I found that two small paper clips attached to the bottom of the vertical stick worked just fine. This will depend upon the size of your kite and the velocity of your breeze.

Now find your indoor breeze. Usually electric fans are easy to come by. At least they were common in pre air-conditioner days.

One afternoon I made a mini kite. I set my dad’s fan so that it would not oscillate. I tied one end of some thread to the center of the fan cage and affixed the other end to the kite’s bridal (use thread for the bridal and fashion similar to those on regular two-stick kites). I turned the fan on at the lowest speed. The kite attempted to fly but began looping. I added a paper clip as a tail. The kite still looped so I added another paper clip. Then the kite flew. The thread from the fan to the kite was about three feet in length. The little kite would fly for up to 30 seconds before falling off to one side. A larger fan might have worked better.

I loved kites as did most of my friends. In fact this 73-year-old kid has six kites out in the garage that have never been flown. I have collected them over the years but just never have had the time to go out and fly them.

But if anyone ever tells me to “go fly a kite,” I’ll be ready.

Winston Hamby


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