Saturday, March 5, 2011

To Infinity and Beyond!

Every year on the first Saturday in March my job includes hosting a Kite Flying contest.  Driving to the event I was listening to "In Their Own Words: The Space Race".  These are the actual recorded conversations between NASA's astronauts and Mission Control, covering the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions.  As a kid I thought Gene Kranz, NASA's Flight Director, was the voice of God.  Two things struck me about their voyages into space as I headed out to watch kids launch kites into the sky: there were incidents I now more fully appreciate as an adult...and the little kid in me still got butterflies in my stomach at hearing, "10..9...8...".

I drove up wondering how many butterfly kites we'd have this year.  The part of my brain wandering down Memory Lane was marveling that anyone had ever wanted to be the first guy to sit in a metal tube perched on an explosive while encouraging someone to light it up.  I guess life is more interesting depending on your point of view.

Well the view last year for kite flying was a perfect day with beautiful blue skies. Today, it was not.  On the plus side, it WAS windy.

Which is why this year, I took more shots of people's faces...their expressions...while playing with kites than the actual skies themselves.  Well, you can see why.

Yep, a storm was a brewing....
which isn't real comforting when you're standing on a football field
(American kind guys!) 
surrounded by stadium lights resembling lightning rods.

And yet I kept waiting for Snoopy to peek out of this airplane 
to challenge the Red Baron to a dog fight.
(Note to non-American pals: a reference to the "Peanuts" cartoon strip)

This rainbow beauty, 
which won "Longest Tail" 
just danced in the wind 
like one of those Chinese Dragons 
you see in the movies in "Chinese New Year" scenes.

Seems there was a reason for's a Dragon kite.

After the dreary sky, I started concentrating on faces.

And families at play.



And after a while, even Moms got in on the fun.
Gee, I hope that's not her kid. 

And then the camera battery got tired and went to sleep.  So there's no shots of the winners...although that plane won Best in Show, flown by an 8 year old little girl who'd never flown a kite before.  And was really afraid to try.  Both her grandfather and I had tried to encourage her to just try...while grandmother looked at both of us as if she wished we'd shut up.

Afterwards, as the girl stood there, holding two trophies and grinning in utter amazement, I leaned down and whispered in her ear, "I told you girls could do anything.  All you have to do is try."   She smiled even broader.

I wonder if that's what astronaut mothers told their sons when they were growing up?


steven said...

wickedgood kites hope and ohsocool kids!! i've got a kite in my closet waiting for the wind and the temperatures to meet up in some sort of sweetspot. steven

Jimmy said...

Ahhhh... the sweet whispers of pleasant memory lanes. A small sanctuary of peace that is hard to find, even on the clearest of days.

Ponita in Real Life said...

Kites from my childhood were made from brown paper bags cut open flat, glued to thin sticks, tied with string and some tempera paint for the design. We had a blast! Glad your kids did too!

Larry said...

wow it's been many years since I've flown a kite... now you got me wanting to go buy one and give it a try. funs tory

hope said...

steven, there was the biggest variety yet! Unfortunately that gray sky took away from the shots...and the good shots had someone walk in front of the camera at the last minute!

Jimmy: there are times in life we all need to be a kid, even for a few hours.

Ponita: you and I flew the same kind of kites. :) Sometimes we'd decorate them so much it was a wonder they achieved flight.

Larry: it's still howling outside today...I think it'll be kite flying weather for a while so go get one!

mapstew said...

I bought a big smiley face kite last year 'for Helena'! The look on her little face when I eventually let her have a go! :`)


Titus said...

What's going on?! My post just got eaten!

Anyway, great post, great kites and I want the tri-plane one! And loved the NASA musings. Those first astronauts - would you have believed the bosses when they said, 'Yeah, of course we'll get you back. The little pod bit drops in the ocean. It won't sink...'
Big cheer for the winner!