Go Fly A Kite

Flying a kiteJenny and I went to the top of Signal Hill yesterday to fly a three-dollar kite we bought at the grocery store last week. It says on the package that the kite comes with 400 feet of string. What it doesn’t say, though, is that the end of the string isn’t actually tied to the spool. So if you let that sucker out all the way, you might as well kiss your kite goodbye. Especially if you’re next to Atlantic Ocean. And so I offer, for your viewing pleasure, actual videotape footage of…

The Kite That Flew Too Far (24mb) / Low-res version (5mb)

About Phillip

Phillip Cairns is a beekeeper in St. John's, Newfoundland, who writes about beekeeping at mudsongs.org.

16 Replies to “Go Fly A Kite”

  1. Bummer. Looked like fun though. I had a very similar experience with a kite of not a very similar price. I had a very pricey parafoil kite that I was flying on the beach in the middle of a cold January many years ago. A swivel snap broke and the kite flew off into the ocean. If it were summer, it would have been close enough to swim and retrieve, but it was the middle of winter and the tide wasn’t bringing it in. All I could do was watch it float away.

  2. I bought a $5 kite on the weekend for my daughter. We’ll try it on the next good windy day. I remember flying kites in my youth, tieing fishing line together to make it as long as possible. I remember climbing a lot of trees trying to retrieve them, not being able to control their descent.

  3. You know, I have no memory of flying a kite when I was a kid. I do remember once, though, going to a track field of some sort where some people were making an attempted at flying the world’s biggest kite (maybe not the world’s biggest, but certainly the biggest kite I’d ever seen, before or since). I remember seeing them spread the kite out on the ground trying to put it together, and the frame was made from galvinized steel pipes. It was a moderately windy day. They should have gone to Lawrence Town beach. The thing never took off and never had a chance. We left before they tried because we knew it was hopeless.

    I’m going back up Signal Hill this afternoon after work (with a new kite).


    I meant to tell you about the first time I lost a kite…

    I was at Conrad’s Beach, down the road from Lawrence Town beach, and I tied my black “Space-Man Jim” kite onto a 1000-yard spool of fishing line. The kite went up, up and up. So far up, in fact, that eventually we couldn’t even see it. For the longest time it was a little black dot, then it disappeared altogether.

    I was there with my girlfriend, Carolyn, and she had to get home for supper and I didn’t have time to reel in the kite. So I tied it to a tree and left. We came back the next day with a thermos of hot chocolate, ready to make a day of it, slowly reeling in the kite. It was going to be a good day!

    I went to the tree and the kite was still flying. Still couldn’t see it, but it was up there. Sadly — and it was a sad thing, one of those occasions that feels like an omen, that no matter what you try to do to have a good time with a person, whoever that person might be, it never works out. After a certain point in our relationship, that’s how things were with Carolyn and me.

    Anyway, sadly, as I was untying the fishing line from the tree branch, the spool slipped out of my hands and the frigging thing flew up in the air and took off. The spool first dragged and bounced around on the ground for a couple seconds as it continued to unwind, just enough time for me to think I had a chance of catching it, and then zoom, away it went, straight up into the sky (the end of this string was tied to the spool). There must have been a hell of a strong wind 1000 yards up, because that spool disappeared from sight in about 5 seconds. And me running after it, nearly stumbling over myself, trying to keep up with it and not lose sight of it at the same time.

    We didn’t have the good sense to laugh at ourselves. We stood around for awhile looking down the beach to see if the kite had landed somehwere. But that thing was up there. I’m guessing it flew up into the clouds and eventually landed miles and miles away.

    Whenever I visited that beach afterwards, I used to look around for the kite, like some kid hoping find his dog years after it ran away. Never saw a sign of that kite anywhere.

    But today will be my day! Right after work (I get off at 2:00pm), I’m going to Canadian Tire and I’m gonna buy the longest spool of fishing line I can find, and then I’m going up that hill and I’m gonna fly that sucker until it disappears into the sky. And then I’ll take my time and reel it in and make a day of it.

    It’s a nice sunny day today. Should be good.

  5. I liked the video and I liked the second story too. Too bad you keep losing your damn kites though, you should be more careful!

    Buy like, 10 spools of fishing line, all like 50 pound test and see if if you can get that sucker up to 10,000 yards. That’d be cool.. Someone who isn’t lazy like me should search and see if there’s some sort of world’s record for kite height, then phil should surpass that, so we don’t have to look down on him for not knowing much about puter hardware and crying whenever he puts magnets all over his montior and can’t explain the colour messing up.

  6. JODY: You might need to add instructions on how to view the video file. I’ve received a bunch of emails from people telling me they get a lot of goobly-gook when they click the video links. The same thing happens to me through Mozilla and Netscape. Works fine with Internet Explorer. Stupid WMV files. I’ll see if I can generate a low-res MPEG version which is compatible with everything.

    Mozilla/Netscape users: Right-click the video link and select “Save Target as…” After saving the file to your hard-drive, open Windows Media Player to view the video.

  7. Caitlyn and I tried to fly our 5 dollar kite this afternoon (I left work early to do this), but the stupid thing kept coming a part. Plus, I live in subdivision land where there’s no long scretches of land to run around without being near power-lines or cars. I got lots of exercise though.

  8. Your kite fell apart? ‘Tis true then: things fall apart. You paid too much for it! You should never pay more than $3 for a good kite. What kept falling apart? Did you put it together correctly? Go to the ocean next time. If your kite doesn’t fly apart, trust me, it’ll fly out there. You must have picked some real junk gimmicky kite.

  9. Holy shit, I’d be killing someone if I bought a nice expensive $5 kite like that and it just fell apart.. Someone should suffer for this!!@#%@%#$^#^

  10. First, the damn wind wasn’t cooperating; it wasn’t blowing steadily. Second, I was in a field full of damn trees (yeah, I know – smart decision). Third, gusts of wind moved the plastic joints on it causing it to warp then crashing to the ground. Fourth, I run like a sloth. I’m going to do some kite research.

  11. I didn’t fly my kite yesterday after work. I went to Canadian Tire and bought the fishing line, but was too tired to climb the hill after that. The next sunny day.

    By the way, anyone notice in the video how the weather suddenly changes from sunny clear blue skies to a dark sky completely filled rain clouds?

  12. > anyone notice in the video how the weather suddenly changes

    No, but that’s Newfoundland. No surprise.

    I’ve been reading some kite sites and I think the wind was too strong when I tried flying mine yesterday. I didn’t think you could have too strong a wind.

  13. It is possible to have too much wind. If you look closely at the Kite That Flew Too Far, you’ll notice that the weather changes as soon as I go up the hill (i.e., the first shot of my successfully flying the kite). That’s because it was filmed on a different kite-flying trip — on a day when we had just the right amount of wind.

    The stuff on the video that comes before that was filmed a day or two earlier when the wind was so strong that it nearly destroyed my kite. Most of that sad and pathetic footage was filmed behind a big cliff where we thought the wind wouldn’t be as strong. The wind wasn’t as strong, but the kite was already so bent out of shape by that point from trying to fly it in the strong wind, it would just go up and then come straight down. It was impossible to control the kite. Not that it needs much control once it gets up there, but getting it up there in really strong wind — good luck. The tell-tale sign that your kite is a goner: it just keeps flying and circles until it crashes. Once it start circling all the time, you’re frigged.

    Man, we should start our kite website.

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