The Mile of Hope is an annual weekend on the beach for families with children who have cancer. It is sponsored by the Optimist Club of Raleigh, NC. Twenty-five families spend the weekend visiting area attractions, going on a sightseeing cruise and spending time on the beach. It gives them a chance to get away from the routine of hospital stays, drug treatments and therapies.
Saturday morning is beach time. The families spend time on the beach wading in the water, building sand castles and flying kites. Kites Unlimited of Atlantic Beach provides kites for all the children. The Carolina Kite Club members bring some of their “showiest” kites and fill the sky with color for all to enjoy. We’re also there to help the children get their kites in the air and solve any problems they might have.
This year was one of the best years for the kite fly. The winds were moderate and directed down the beach (no obstructions), the sun shone and the temperatures were mild. All kinds of kites were in the sky; dragon kites, critter kites, power sleds, delta kites, a Legs kite, and a Triangulation. The theme of the weekend was “dragons” so we made sure the big green Skydog Dragon was in the air as well as the large White Bird “Friendly Dragons” and their accompanying smaller “Friendly Dragons”.
By the end of the morning, we were worn out from walking up and down the beach. But it felt good to see the smiles on the children’s faces and hear their laughter as they played in the sand. And looking around, you could see that the adults were having just as much fun as the children.
A person couldn’t ask for a more beautiful morning. The temperature was mild, the sun was out and the winds were light, in the 5-7 mph range. The clouds moved in not too much later but the beach was still the place to be. This was the day for the first flight of my new light wind kite, the Laima. It looks like a bird soaring high in the sky and floats on the lightest of winds.
There was quite a variety of kites in the air along with my Laima; a white Ghost delta kite with a jellyfish on the line, the low-wind Skate, a Triangulation and a smaller power sled.
This was also a good day to do some test flying of new kites. Two of Skydog Kites new offerings flew very well in the light winds and you couldn’t help but smile when looking at them. One was a parrot and the other was a butterfly. Perfect kites for families on vacation.
I took advantage of the morning to fly my little Wisp. It is such a great low wind dual line stunt kite but oh, so sensitive to the inputs. It took me a couple of launches to get used to it again. Then the fun began. Loops and dives and tight little spins.
Before leaving, I took some time to try out the Reflex from Revolution kites, their latest model quad line. The early descriptions have it as a low wind kite for the beginner quad line flyer. So this was the perfect day to give it a trial.
To me it appeared to be a slower flyer but easy to handle. At times it seemed to drift in the wind and feel soft on the handles. I wasn’t using the light-weight handles that come with but had it on my regular no-snag handles. I had an easier time with an inverse hover which I’ve never been able to do well. This trial was an easy fly, no hard “spanking” or tricks. Mostly smooth moves and slow lazy turns and loops. Just want a beginning flyer would try to do. I didn’t try the launch from a flat position nor the classic “dive-stop”. I did like the Reflex more than I thought I would. So there you have it.
It’s that time of year where it is not winter anymore but it is not quite spring. The temperatures have started to moderate but you still need to wrap up and wear your hat. Some need to wrap more than others.
There was a good crowd of regulars at this fly and the wind was cooperating. Not too strong, and not too weak. It was a good day to test fly a couple of the new kites coming out this year. So up went two new Kritter Kites and a new Travel Diamond. All of them flew quite well and looked really good in the sky. The most surprising was the Travel Diamond. It hung above our heads all morning and handled gusts easily. The Nemo Kritter Kite made us laugh as his little fins flapped in the wind, making him look like he was swimming.
The rest of us dug older kites out of our bags, kites that hadn’t seen the sky in months or even years. Some of these kites are still available in kite shops and some are no longer being made. As we stood and watched them, I realized that each one had a story to go along with it. Each one was more than just a pretty thing that flies. The kites hold our memories. They may commemorate an event, honor someone no longer with us or just remind us of good times spent with friends and family.
So grab a kite and head to the beach or the park or the nearest big field and make some memories. I guarantee you’ll smile then and later on.
The weather cleared, the temperatures moderated and new kites were ready for their first flight. Ever since I flew the two stack of Revs I had in my mind to try a stack of three. The day finally came when I could train my three Rev custom B-Pros (full vent, mid vent, full sail) together. The winds were about 11 mph when we reached the beach. It took me a little time to get all the kites ready and the lines attached. Upon launching, the pull took me by surprise. They flew great but I did have to be careful and ride the brake a bit. After landing, a check of the wind showed it had risen to gusts of 14 mph. This made me a little nervous because I certainly didn’t want to break anything on my first three-stack fly. I flew enough to know I had control and to get photos of those great looking Revs.
In order to have some additional color in the sky, I put up both of my Brasington trains. They danced in the wind and drew compliments from some of the beach walkers. That’s what this kite flying is all about. Bringing smiles to those who see the kites in the air.
The weekly club fly was a couple of days later. Temperatures had dropped and so had the wind. The usual Sunday morning state of affairs. But this time I was prepared. I recently purchased a new low wind kite, the Skydog Black Dog UL. I had flown this kite a few years ago and was impressed with it. With all the low wind days we’ve been having, I decided to treat myself. It didn’t hurt that this kite was in my favorite color combination, red and black. The cooler temperatures and low wind kept all but a couple of flyers at home. They missed a beautiful day on the beach and I had a fun morning flying my new kite.