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Maryland International Kite Expo: An Event that Soars Sky High!
Oh, Go Fly a Kite!
With a cool breeze coming off the Atlantic in Ocean City, Maryland, USA it was a perfect day to do just that, go fly a kite! That's a good thing too because it so happens that was the weekend of the annual Maryland International Kite Expo, being held this year from April 29-May 1, 2011. The Kite Loft in Ocean City hosts this event every year. From the novice to the stunt kite pros, they all get their flights on to dazzle onlookers and just to enjoy themselves in this age old past time.
Some of the featured events at the MD International Kite Festival include Rev Riders Demo, Giant Kite Show, MASKC, Sport Kite Demo, Sky Dog Band Performance Live, Learning to Fly, Games, Candy Drops, Display Judging, and informal Auction at Shenanigan's. So if you wanted to play or just play sideline, it was all good!
Kites Flew Way Back When?
The earliest mention of kite flying you might think of is in 1752 when popular legend says Benjamin Franklin flew a kite in an experiment to learn about static electricity during a thunderstorm. Really, though, kite flying is much older than that and can be traced to many older cultures like those in China and Japan. Kites may have been in use for over 2,500 years and they have global appeal. Today kite flying is as much art as it is science. For example, kites are now used for flying, kiteboarding on land and kitesurfing on water, and even powering buggies on the beach at speeds you'd reach on the highway! That's not all. As you can see, they can be both high tech and beautiful in form and design. There is team flying for stunt sports and exhibition, indoor flying, large inflatable kites, and power kites. From windsocks to power kites, the innovations seem endless.
Even though there is fascination for all of that, I just went to the International Kite Expo in Ocean City for the pure pleasure of it. Seeing the bright colorful kites in the sky made me think back on the leisure of childhood and the constant teetering efforts in this current life to slow down, regroup, and simplify, even for just a moment, and I did that. Do you remember having such gentle and calm fun as a kid? Yes, I used those words calm and gentle in the same sentence with fun. If you don't recall, it's not too late. Both adults and children enjoy flying kites. It is such a peaceful hobby or sport that can really relax you, clear your mind, and lift your spirit. It always makes me happy!
No PDAs Needed!
You won't need your Blackberry, iPhone, or laptop for this. You won't even need much money either, as you can get a kite for less than $20 to start. Now if you are really into kite flying, you could spend some money. A few custom kites I saw today were around $600 each. As I browsed, one of the Kite Loft reps told me that a kite could run into the $1000s. There were all kinds of characters and appliques on kites to choose from, anything from sharks to mermaids, and more; one to suit nearly any fancy or favorite. So there must be one for everybody, right? Plenty of people must want to fly kites because at least 50 million kites are sold each year in the USA, according to the World Kite Museum.
Safety Tips for Kite Flying
Whether you are a beginner or advanced, you will surely have a memorable time flying a kite. If you decide to take it skyward with a kite of your choice, here are a few cautions from Ray Bethell, multiple Kite World Champion:
1. Never fly a kite near power lines.
2. Never fly a kite during an electric storm.
Apparently, only Benjamin Franklin could break one of the first two rules and live to tell about it. We, however, better not try it because both could be harmful to deadly.
3. Never fly near an airport. In fact, in most places in North America, it is illegal to do so up to 5 miles radius.
4. Never fly over people or animals. Eventually a drop in wind will bring your kite down, and just imagine trying to get it back from a dog or hitting a person unintentionally.
5. Always stand on solid ground, avoiding holes in the sand or ground that could cause you to trip and/or fall.
6. Always wear eye protection on sunny days to prevent undue exposure to UV rays, and apply sunscreen as well.
7. Stay downwind from sidewalks and pathways. Leave at least 20 feet to back up, in case you need to. This will prevent you from backing up into a motorist, cyclist, or pedestrian and causing an accident.
8. Fly your kite clear of any obstacles. This will prevent crash and damage to it.
9. Never fly a kite near or over a roadway. This could distract a driver and cause and accident.
10. You can fly your kite in parks and on beaches. These provide the open space needed to fly higher without hazards.
How to Fly a Basic Kite for Beginners
* Choose a day with a breeze or none of the following steps will get your kite off the ground for more than a few seconds. The beach is one of the best places for a constant breeze.
*Start by holding the string about 10-15 feet from the kite.
*Run with your face toward the wind and the kite and tail at your rear.
*The kite will lift. As it lifts, give up more string gradually.
*You can then turn around and face the kite. As you continue to let out more string, it will then go higher and higher.
*A drop in wind will cause it to come down in elevation. When that happens, run a little more. If the wind does not pick it up, it will come all the way down. No matter if it does. You simply start over again.
As you get the hang of it, you will be able to keep it in flight longer and longer. Professionals set records for continuous flight for hours and hours on end. The World Kite Museum says the record is 180 hours. Whew! That may not be your goal, but you get the idea.
Then one day when you're more experienced, like an older man I know, you will be able to tie your kite to your beach chair and have it fly effortlessly, as young ones marvel at you and wrestle with their awesome new kites. His satisfaction is not so much in the fact that his kite flies without moving a muscle, but more so in that these younger ones will inevitably ask him this simple question: "How do I get my kite to fly like that?" He smiles and shares the instructions above.
Now if you want directions about flying stunt kites, that man is just an amazed spectator to see their aerial feats along with the rest of the crowd. Feel free to ask the experts at Kite Loft or even the enthusiasts surrounding you at the festival. Many of them are glad to share flying tips with you. Also, there is an awful lot of great information found at the KiteLife.com, an online magazine that is all things kites, from flying to calendar of events, etc. Check out the YouTube videos on their site for short demonstrations of some the fantastic things being done with kites.
Take a look at this short YouTube video of team flying my son took at this kite festival in Ocean City.
After a pleasant day at the kite festival, you may say...
You Can Catch the Next Flight!
Check out the links below for info on these and many more kite flying events in both near and far way places.
- Chicago Botanic Gardens
The Chicago Botanic Garden is an educational resource intended to grow, display, and document plant materials of both ornamental and
- Missing Page | Bristol International Kite Festival
Bristol International Festival of Kites, Air Creations
- Ray Bethell - Multiple Kite World Champion
The world's premier multiple kite flyer from Vancouver, BC Canada
- World Kite Museum and Hall of Fame - Washington State International Kite Festival
The only American Museum dedicated exclusively to the history of kites, kitemakers and famous kite fliers, home of one of the best International Kite Festivals on the planet!
- The Kite Loft, Ocean City Maryland, Stunt Kites, Kites, Kitting Accessories and Toys.
Retailing kites and kite related accessories in Ocean City MD and secure on line shopping, The Kite Loft of Ocean City Maryland
- Kitelife Magazine - Main Page
Bi-monthly Internet publication and archive with a dazzling array of kite articles, plans, event coverage, commentary, videos and photos, Kitelife is a lifestyle publication.
- The Largest Kite Store and Hang Gliding School in the World | Kitty Hawk Kites
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- Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, North Wildwood, The Wildwoods, NJ, New Jersey boardwalk, NJ Beach Vacation
Wildwood Boardwalk Vacations, Jersey Shore, New Jersey Beaches, NJ Beach Vacation
- Highline Kites of Berkeley On-line
Highline Kites of Berkeley is the proud sponsor of the Berkeley Kite Festival and West Coast Kite Championships. We carry HQ Kites, Prism Kites, Carlisle Kiteworks, White Bird Kites, Peter Lynn Kites, Flexifoil kites, kite parts, kite accessories, an
- Herefordshire Kite Festival
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- San Diego Kite Club