As the weather turns brisk, many of the sunny day activities that draw us out into the great outdoors are no longer an option. No matter how clear the sky may be, it’s just not very comfortable to bask on the beach when the wind is whipping sand into your face or constantly toppling your umbrella.
At least one classic outdoor pastime is even better in the fall than it is in the summer, though. The brisk winds of autumn make some of the best conditions for kite flying.
Invented in China approximately 2,800 years ago, kite flying has been a popular activity ever since. In addition to being fun to fly, kites have served some important functions. Meteorologists once used them to predict the weather, Ben Franklin famously used them in his scientific endeavors, and the Wright Brothers built many kites together before eventually moving on to create the first viable airplane.
Though kites are often dismissed a being for kids, many adults enjoy flying them for both fun and sport. With enough wind and a clear area, anyone can learn to fly a kite. This fun, family-friendly activity is open to people of all backgrounds and income levels, and kites can be purchased for anything from a dollar or two for a small plastic model from the grocery store to hundreds of dollars for complicated sport kites that can be manipulated to perform breathtaking stunts in the sky. Many people even make their own kites from basic materials they have right at home.
Kite flying is a great way to get outdoors in the fall and get moving. It’s also very relaxing, which is good both body and mind. Here’s a basic overview of how to fly a kite:
1. Find a clear open space, such as a field or beach. Try to avoid trees, houses, power lines or large hills, which can not only ensnare your kite, but will also make the air currents rough.
2. Watch the wind. Determine which direction it is blowing and how hard. The perfect amount of wind will rustle leave on the tress, but not necessarily bend the branches. Less wind probably won’t lift a kite, while more will make it difficult to control.
2. Stand with your back to the wind and hold your kite up as high as you can reach, with the nose (top) pointing upward, then let it go. If the wind is good, the kite should rise on its own. Slowly let out your line. It will begin to descent toward the ground. Give the line a sharp tug and the kite will rise again, higher than before. Repeat this process until the kite is high in the sky — 100-200 feet — where the steadiest winds are. If you have a very large kite, or the wind is light, recruit a friend to help you. Ask them to hold the kite, then walk about fifty feet away. Have them release the kite while you pull in on the line.
3. To control a kite, simply pay attention to your line. If the line starts to go slack, reel it in slightly. If the kite is pulling hard against the line, let a little more out. When you’re ready to bring the kite down, simply reel it in with the line.
Want to build your own kite? You can find some basic plans here.