Were you a kite flier as a kid? What kites did you fly? Now that I'm flying kites as an adult, so many people have told me that their kite flying memories as kids were mainly about frustration. Were yours?
While I have vague recollection of using a box kite and an inflatable kite, a mylar dragon kite is the only kite I remember flying successfully in my youth. I had a red kite with a gold Chinese style dragon printed on its face. I remember taking this kite to a local field and flying it many times, enjoying its easy flights and crazy circles when the wind picked up. I'm sure this positive experience as a teen helped me reclaim kite flying again 35 years later.
Two years ago, I purchased a 45' mylar dragon kite made by Quicksilver Kites in Colorado. For a mere $10, the kite has been a totally satisfying bargain. It provides big colorful drama and is easy, easy, easy to fly as long as you have at least a 5 mph wind to lift the tail. Once in the air, the translucent material becomes illuminated when backlit by sunlight and makes a light rustling sound as the long tail ripples in the breeze. This kite has a super light pull, making it especially thrilling for kids to fly. It flies well in steady light winds and arcs and circles in stronger winds or gusty breezes, becoming a trickier flier at its outer limit of 18mph. The Mylar Dragon has been durable and problem free for me with many flights, though I hear if the tail gets a cut in the edge, it will rip off when flown. If you fly a mylar dragon kite, check for any cuts along the tail edge and repair with scotch tape before you fly!
Turns out this delightfully fun and affordable kite has a unique history in the U. S. Based on a traditional Chinese design made of rice paper, the dragon kite had a major rebirth in the U.S. in the early 1970's in San Francisco, where they could be seen flying everywhere in the city for a heyday that lasted well into the 1980s. By using space age material, Quicksilver Kites was able to extend the previously limited tail length of 10' up to 45', then hustled for years to keep up with the demand for the kites, which are still popular as "the best $10 kite on the planet". A fascinating history of their business growth can be read on the Into The Wind blog here.
I think my mylar dragon kite of the '70s was 12-15' long, but now I'm wondering, was it a Quicksilver kite? I'll probably never know for sure, but I am grateful for its early successful influence on my kite flying.
How about you? What are your early kite flying memories?