Photos by Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Jay Farlow of Fort Wayne, a member of Hoosiers Kitefliers Society, flies his vented quad lines sport kite in Trinity Presbyterian Church's field.
Farlow started flying kites after seeing fliers at a festival in 2010. He now travels to festivals to participate.
Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette An Ansel Toney kite flown by members of the Hoosier Kitefliers Society.
Dick Claycomb and his wife Terri of Hartford City prepare his kite for takeoff. They are members of the Hoosiers Kitefliers Society.
A sailboat kite flown by Jay and Peggy Farlow with the Hoosier Kitefliers Society.
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 1:00 am
Kites flying high again
Wide appeal of kites, sense of nostalgia gives hobby new life
TERRI RICHARDSON | The Journal Gazette
It was a festival in Michigan that launched Jay Farlow into the hobby of kite flying.
Farlow, of Fort Wayne, says he and his wife had planned a long weekend of hiking and other events, but instead stumbled onto the festival and spent two days on the beach watching kite fliers performing air ballet.
That was in 2010 and eight years later he is still hooked on kite flying, often traveling to kite festivals and “fun flies.”
His wife flies kites too, but she is “not as excited about (kite flying) as I am,” Farlow says.
Farlow is among a number of people who are picking up the hobby of kite flying – most remembering what it was like to fly kites as a kid.
While the hobby might be unusual, it has a long history as a pastime for adults and children. The practice of flying fabric on the end of a string began more than 2,000 years ago in China. Since then, kites have been used to conduct scientific experiments, power surfboards, take aerial photos and much more.
“Kite flying is really a broad subject,” said Nic O'Neill, president of the American Kitefliers Association. “There is a kind of a kite for everybody out there. It's a solo, partner and family sport.”
For many, the activity involves something more than recreation, she said. Kites appeal to artistic people who like to create works of art to fly in the sky; to engineer-types who try to improve on the kite's design; and to performers who like to develop kite-flying routines choreographed to music.
“The best thing about it is you can come at it from different points in your life and have it be a completely different experience,” O'Neill said.
Farlow is a member of the Hoosiers Kitefliers Society, which hosts several kite flying events in Indiana, and says that many adults fly all types of kites – some quite complicated and some they sew themselves.
Farlow, who is retired from broadcasting, says there are as many ways to participate as there are different kites. Some kites have single lines, while some have two or four. He says it's the different aspects of the hobby that draws people to it.
Right now, Farlow flies a four-line kite. The kite has two handles and each handle has two strings – sort of like a marionette, Farlow says.
“That's the kite I have been having the most fun flying lately,” he says.
What type of kite a person flies, depends on how much of a physical workout they want, says Deven Gieseking at Phil's Hobby Shop in Fort Wayne.
Gieseking says there are stronger kites that stand up to the wind or there are kites that will allow you to have a nice, relaxing kite flying day.
Either way, Gieseking says he has seen more people coming in and buying kites, many of them adults “showing up with their kids to get them into kite flying.”
“It's a lot of trial and error,” O'Neill said. “Part of the reason I love kiting is that you have to risk trying and not succeeding. The best way to learn is to go out, undo the string and let your kite fly.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.