2013 Heritage Matters-1: Let's Go Fly a Kite!

By Arlene Thiessens Terry, President

What was more fun than a wide open field, a warm breeze, and a dancing kite? For our young fliers, it was an educational adventure. They learned about science, physics, history, culture, weather and ecology without even thinking hard. And for us Adults, it was a chance to feel young again.

Kite flying was a special joy and it was easy when we learned how.  Also it was a very inexpensive activity for our family. As a young family we enjoyed flying kites, but found there were tricks to making the kites rise into the air and also keeping them up there.

Kites fly because of two things: the flow of air around and over the frame of the kite, and the kite’s resistance to that wind which is provided by the string that is held by the person flying the kite.  We learned that when kites fly, they are changing the normal air flow. They blocked it, and forced the air to go around the kite. The air would change direction and speed as it moved around the kite, sending the kite up into the air.

We found that kites usually need to be balanced so we would fasten a bridle line. This bridle line would be attached in two places.  One tied at the bottom of the center stick and the other at the front or nose of the kite.  Kite lines are usually made out of kite string, which is stronger than yarn or basic string.  The line the kite flier holds is called the towline. This line should be attached to the bridle line at an exact point where the kite is balanced.  Usually, this is in the middle of the bridle line, which would allow the kite to fly because it divides the air flow up evenly around the kite.  Now the towline forces the kite to stay in one place so it forces it to up and not forward. The length of the towline affects how high the kite will fly, and also how stable it will fly.  The higher the kite the more resistance, or drag, will be created.  The longer the length of the towline, the higher the kite will fly. To control the towline we each made us a kite winder. 

As a family we would have fun trying to get the towline adjusted to the bridle line so the kite would not take nose dives.  We learned it took a special skill to conquer this task, but we each became pretty proficient in flying each of our kites. We also found that most of our kites would need a tail. Although they say that tails are not necessary, we found that the tail allowed the kite to fly in a more stable manner.  The tails, we found, created drag which slowed down its sideways movement and showing more of the front of the kite to the wind. We found that the tail would create a lift to the front of the kite which would allow more air to get under to lift the kite.  Also, it was fun to see the tails wiggling in the wind and also added decoration to our kites.

How much fun are you having learning about our family histories?  Are you putting any effort into doing something about your own family lines?  Do you need to adjust your bridle line? Do you need a kite winder to keep some of your lines in tow? Help by doing your part in recording your own names in your histories.

Think of a Few People Who Made You Feel Special
Life Sketch of Joseph Spencer Burk


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