Let's Go Fly a Kite!

Everything you need to know to master the art of flying a kite.

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All of us have vivid memories of flying kites as kids. For every heartbreak when a kite lodged in a tree, there's a tale of triumph for the time you got one so high it took two hours to reel it back in. Recapture that joy. Pack a kite or two with your picnic supplies and head to your favorite park with your family.

Build-and-Fly

If you'd rather buy a kite, Oregon-based David Gomberg, president of the American Kitefliers Association, suggests a delta-design kite. Its triangular stealth-airplane-like design soars on the gentlest of breezes and is amazingly stable. Good kites cost as little as $20, Gomberg says. Buy one online or at a hobby store.

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Location, Location

Fly your kite in a spacious park or any open terrain that's a half-mile or more from roads, buildings, and trees. Don't fly when lightning threatens, and always stay clear of power lines. Moisture can collect on kite lines and conduct electricity.

3, 2, 1, Liftoff

The best way to launch a kite is to stand with your back to a 10 mph wind. Let out about 50 feet of line and have someone hold up the kite. Once the kite is released, give a firm tug or two to create lift.

On the Line

Use synthetic string that's specially made for kite flying. Fishing line is difficult to see and, like old-fashioned cotton string, flexes too much.

Do-It-Yourself Fun

Making and decorating kites can be as much fun as flying them. Look for designs and tips in library books and on the Internet. The basic formula for making kites hasn't changed much in a thousand years. The traditional 4-point diamond kite is still popular, as are classic box and triangular kites. And when you substitute plastic or vellum for paper and hardwood dowels for balsa wood or bamboo, you'll have a more durable, easier-flying kite than any you made as a youngster.

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