finally, flight

In photography by webmeister Bud

This past weekend, we finally got some kites into the air.

20080506 - finally, flightCanon EOS 400D (XTi) · Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5
17 mm · 1/1000 s · f/14 · ISO 400

This photo represents the triumphant end of a weeks-long battle against nature to fly some flippin’ kites.

After several attempts to sustain more than three seconds in the air at various locations, back we went to the waterfront, where kites are flown all the time and, indeed, a number of kid-quality kites were bobbing around in the sky, mocking us, as we arrived.

But we weren’t flyin’ no kid-quality kites. Nossir. We had us a $30 stunt kite. Jump back. With its own carrying case, yet. Oh yeah. Watch out, groundlings. We’re comin’ for ya with our pointy-nosed kite.

Or not.

Looking at the timestamps on the photos taken while we were there, we spent no less than ¾ of an hour in constant desparation, throwing, pushing, willing this stoopid thing into the sky. No dice.

A brilliant flash of red caught my eye.

Sitting on a bench overlooking the water was a gent, maybe in his 50s, removing large pieces of red fabric from a case. In ten minutes, he’d assembled a gigantic bird-shaped kite — its wingspan must’ve been eight feet — and, with five steps up the hill, a casual toss, and five steps back to the bench, this terrifying, bug-eyed spectre of cuteness was six thousand feet in the air, staring down at us.

We started to pack up.

Mr. Kite, seemingly not satisfied with dominating our sky with his canary red sentry, nonchalantly tied his kite string to the bench and wandered off up the hill to his Westfalia!

Boggled with this blatent alpha-kite-dog sign of dominance, we feebly made some final attempts to lift our backup, a pocket kite, higher than, oh, six feet, but to no avail.

Back he sauntered from his Westfalia, white and neon green fabric in hand this time. Returning to the bench, he unfurled— What’s this? Oh, a slightly larger version of the pocket kite. Just had to show us up ONE MORE TIME, eh, Kite Master??!?

But what to our wandering eyes should appear, but the first signs of failure. Tho’ he made a good go of it, Wonder Kite Man wasn’t able to sustain the bigger pocket kite in the air. It didn’t make any sense to us, but he knew what was going on.

He came over and explained that no, he was not trying to rub our collective noses in his kite supremacy, but was instead trying to fly a kite of similar design to ours to see if there was too much ground turbulence.

There’s . . . ground turbulence?

Yup! Turns out that this guy was not only one of The Nicest People On The Planet™ but he MADE, with his own hands, both the kites he was flying at this year’s annual Fort Worden Kitemakers Conference in Port Townsend, WA.

Yeah, he knows a thing or two about kites. He made a number of great suggestions to us about the type of kite we should’ve been flying in that type of wind (we should’ve been flying a Delta-style kite in a light- to moderate-wind day, naturally. Duh), and we went straight to Interactivity Games & Stuff on Fort Street to deal with another one of TNPOTP™ and pick up two more kites, determined to take flight.

Our opportunity presented itself while we were Geocaching later that day. On Mt. Doug. Yeah, 700 feet up. We’s gettin’ us some REAL WIND!

And there ya have it. We got our kites into the sky, we felt free, we got ’em tangled, we felt silly, we got ’em untangled . . . it was a triumphant, victorious end to our bout of sky envy.

And, after all that, yes, this is a photo of a kite only about 8′ in the air. But, with the sun, it made for the purdiest photo of the day, and was taken during the reel-in of the kites after we’d finally conquered the skies of Gordon Head.