Kites and kiting can be a delightful hobby for the budget conscious or the youngster
looking to get the most out of their allowance, the average customer at Tumbleweeds & Tarantulas. As with any hobby, however, the sky is the limit. Consider the Joachim Nellissen Giant Red Dragon kite from ProKitesUSA at a mere $1,999.99. Designed to be used in wind speeds of less than 20-miles per hour, this monster is 72 inches wide by 408 inches long and requires use of a 500 pound test string line.
If you prefer something a bit larger, Peter Lynn of New Zealand designed the “MegaFlag” with no sticks or spars and was recognized by in the Guinness Book of World Records for his efforts. This fully functional, self-flying kite is an astounding 10,400-square feet in size! Abdulrahman Al Farsi and Faris Al Farsi, however, beat out Lynn a few years later and set a new record for the largest kite ever flown. Displayed at the Kuwait Hala Festival in Flag Square, Kuwait City, Kuwait on February 15, 2005, this behemoth was 10,968.4-feet in size.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are miniature kites and various subsets including nano, micro, thumb, palm, hand and magnum. These range in size from 0.4 inches to 12-inches. As with giant kites, makers take great pride in their skills, and even more importantly, in flying their masterpieces. And just as with regular kites there are competitions. Published plans and instructions for these miniatures are readily available, and specialty shops that cater to this niche market. There is even a miniature kite guild.
Need more inspiration for getting excited about kites? May I suggest the Weifang International Kites Festival held from April 20th to the 25th in Weifang, in China’s Shandong Province. As the name implies, this is truly an international festival with tens of thousands of spectators and participants traveling from throughout the world to attend. The opening ceremony is a spectacle that eclipses the opening of the Olympics or movie premier in Hollywood. Lat year the soccer stadium that hosted the ceremonies was filled to capacity, 80,000 people, and 40,000 chairs were brought in for the overflow crowd.
Kites from the 40 different participating countries paraded across a central stage followed by an escort carrying a sign identifying that participants country. Official Chinese television covered the entire proceedings. After the parade of kites, more than 10,000 dancers, acrobats, and drummers performed. All of this was followed by three full days of kite flying competitions. The closing ceremony was another extravaganza that included choreographed fireworks displays, awards, and more performances. For kite enthusiasts the bonus was a tour of the Weifang Kites Museum.
Whether you like kites large or small, ostentatious or plain, competition or simply whiling away an afternoon with a kite dancing on the breeze, Tumbleweeds & Tarantulas is here to help.
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America