If you live in Pittsburgh you probably have to put down your snow shovel first. None the less, March is National Kite Flying Month.
When I was a little girl, we lived near a giant field that was alternately planted with corn or soy beans. In the middle of the field stood a giant black walnut tree which necessitated climbing the fence with buckets to retrieve these delicious nuts. The field was also the best place to fly our kites. My mom was a genius at kite making. She seemed to know just how big to make the kite and how long the tail should be. The greatest thing was that she always had us design our own kites before she stepped in to give the final tweaks which got them in the air.
We moved when I was 12 and my kite flying days were interrupted until I had a niece and nephew old enough to enjoy the art of kite flying. By this time, my mom had hung up her scissors and put away her tissue paper, so we bought kites. Some were quite ornate and complicated, but the best kites were always the simplest because they flew the highest and danced brilliantly in the wind.
Frequent moves when my sons were growing up allowed us to fly kites in Sacramento, Chicago, Dallas, and Philadelphia before coming to Pittsburgh. This time I got to be the mom and wield the scissors, but mostly my sons loved to go pick out their kites at the toy store.
The biggest challenge we faced here in Pittsburgh were trees and power lines. Power lines can be a major safety issue. Kite lines can come in contact with and become tangled on electrical power lines, causing power blackouts and running the risk of electrocuting the kite flier.
While flying our tissue paper kites in a field in Indiana or our nylon versions at the beach in Florida my biggest worry was flying too close to my one of my siblings’ kites and getting them tangled together.
Flying kites with my sons opened my eyes to all the potential hazards.
If you venture out this spring, have fun, but be safe and follow these common sense rules for kite flying:
Never fly kites in an area with above ground power lines.
Do not fly kites in rainy weather - Wet kite lines can conduct static electricity and lightning when the weather is stormy.
Before you put your kite in the air, inspect the ground you will be running on and remove any large sticks or rocks that could trip you up.
Kites with large surface area or powerful lift can actually lift kite fliers off the ground or pull them into other objects.
In urban areas, there may be limits on how high a kite can be flown, to prevent the kite and line infringing on the airspace of helicopters and light aircraft.
Keep your kite away from trees - If your kite does becomes stuck in a tall tree, use common sense before climbing up after it.