paper kite beginnings


Hello.  This my first post, joined moments ago.  I am interested in peoples beginnings.  Early flying for me began in the fifties  as a child in Northern Ohio flying Top Flite fifteen cent paper kites. The frame was a flat wooden spine, with a staple holding the spreader, bowed by a string across the back.  They had some kind of slick coated paper with a reinforcing string around the perimeter of the sail which slipped into simple saw cuts in the frame sticks.  The bridle was fabricated from your cotton flying line and was a critical mysterious process I left to my older brother.  The printed image on the kite was a stylized jet plane if I remember correctly.  Adjustments were made by sliding the spine left or right for balance & the bow string would be tightened or loosened with some feeling that we were correcting the flight characteristics somehow.  Advanced assembly would include Scotch Tape reinforcements where the string exited the paper & at the bridle holes.  These things were fragile.  Then there was the flying techniques....more to follow,  Any comments?

Have a picture of me launching one from that era that I just found. From before I have any memories, that would place it in the mid-late 1950's probably 57 maybe 58 but I do have memories from 3 1/2 - 4 yo. Early 1960's I recall Mom giving us a quarter to run down to Monkey Wards in the spring, with Dads discount that got a kite and 2 rolls of line. Rip up one of Moms old sheets for tails and us kids would fly them for a few days. Then come the weekend it was a family trip to the "Kite Field". At times we would train the 5 kites out with 2 rolls between each and tie the off to see if we could see them from the house.

For the the last two years we've had 4 generations of kiteflyers at our local festival and family flys, even had all 4 make the trip up to the WSIKF Festival this year.

I still have a fondness for yellow kites as my brother had a sweet flying one that would launch easily & go high.  We did not understand smooth wind or turbulence but could run endlessly to get through the lulls.  Winding the string was something we spent considerable effort trying to improve.  Cardboard tubes lasted awhile but ultimately crumbled.  Flat board winders could be whittled into shape but our poor winding techniques put numerous tangles in our string.  We never called it line.  String was pretty cheap & we bought new line often.  A few pop bottles found at the road side cashed in for the two cent deposit would get more string.  We also used the ripped sheet tails, never considered anything else.  I always tried to fly without a tail so I could get more string out.  It was my first memory of what would later be called ultralight.  Dayhiker is a reference to my fondness for super ultra light backpacking.  I use a nine ounce day pack for several day hikes.

Charles P:
My first experience with kites was in the 70's. My father would build diamond kites and box kites from balsa wood and news papers. It was loads of fun but a far cry from the stunt kites I fly today. Personally I have never attempted to build my own kites as of yet but I sense that being something that I will try in the near future.  ;)

We never had any success with the one box kite my brother bought.  I believe it was a blue Hi-Flier and very expensive, at least fifty cents.  The assembly was tough due to the tension needed to get the panels flat.  It was tough to get it high enough to catch sufficient wind.  When you got it up there I don't remember it being stable.  A couple crashes & it was done.  We probably tried to fly it in the street in front of the house & would have done better in a school yard if we would have been smarter.  There were no real instructions, books or advisers to help us along.  Maybe I'll get a modern one soon.  In the early sixties we moved to the mountains where no one flew these kites.  We lived in Southwest Virginia for two years & then moved out West where the wind was a bit better.  But that was a time of a transition to another phase.  "One word, plastics"


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