Escaping kite

It was all about half an orange at the end of the day.

‘A kite race.’

Joe swung his legs through the air, perched with Jill and Jan on the tree branch too high above the autumn leaf litter. Speckles of sunlight dodged between the few leaves clinging tenaciously to life, wrinkled and withered, long past their best before date. The sun lit Jill’s red hair, making it sparkle to match the sunset above the forested hills.

‘A kite race?’ she said.

‘Yeah.’ Joe twisted on the branch, too quickly, swayed and clutched a handy bough with both hands. He pretended it was all deliberate. ‘We can get the others in, too. Each of us makes a kite and see whose flies highest and for longest.’ He lifted a finger, moistened it with his tongue and held it up as if testing the wind – of which there was none at that moment. ‘Good windy weather.’ He grinned. ‘Should be fun.’

So the kite race was organised and all the kids set to with balsa wood, glue, brown paper and string, and parental advice which was mostly ignored.

‘No bought kites,’ Joe instructed, but it wasn’t necessary to say so. Most of the fun was in the creation, in the judging of the length of the tail, of the careful depictions of dragons and butterflies and Millie the family cat on the brown paper, being careful not to tear it.

‘Where are we going to do this?’ Jill asked.

The playing fields were agreed on as the best place. There would still be trees to contend with, but they weren’t too high to interfere, or too thick.

The group of kids gathered on the day, which, as Joe had predicted, carried a sufficiently stiff breeze as well as cool bright sunshine. They set out their kites, encouraged by the advice-giving (and ignored) mums and dads. They lined up and ran, kites in hand, waiting for take-off, keeping a good distance from each other, down the length of the field to get their handiwork up into the air.

Two never made it – one child cried and left in a tantrum. The other shrugged and watched the rest of the race, cheering on his mate’s kite.

The kites flew, light as birds, soaring and dipping, but Jan’s (with the drawing of Millie the cat on it) escaped its poorly attached string, and although it flew the highest and the longest – it may still be going for all we know – it was disqualified. Jill didn’t cry, but boasted she really should have been the winner.

And the half-orange? That was the estimated gap, according to the independent judge, Miss Hale the school teacher, between Jill’s rainbow-painted coat and Joe’s (winning, plain brown paper) kite.

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2 thoughts on “Escaping kite”

  1. Sounds like a great competition and lots of fun had by all (except maybe Jan and ones who never launched). My contribution:


    It was massive, measuring five metres across by seven metres long.
    Jason had been saving for months to buy the dragon kite and now it had finally arrived.
    He and his family lived near the local Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) base and he would spend much of his spare time watching the fighter jets take off and land as they trained for their combat manoeuvres.
    The 12-year-old knew that he couldn’t fly the aircraft, so he settled for the next best thing – a giant kite.
    Jason couldn’t wait to test it out. Unwrapping the packaging, he carefully followed the assembly instructions as his magnificent creature came slowly to life in the nearby park.
    Wind is in the right direction, he thought. This should be lots of fun.
    The ball of string was long – at least 50 metres – and as he slowly uncoiled it and began to run, the dragon kite took on its own persona. Jaws agape, it swirled into the air, alternatively rising and dipping as it reacted to the prevailing wind gusts.
    Jason ran the full length of the field, letting the string play out as he went. The kite was now high in the air, its long dragon tail whipping busily behind it.
    Suddenly, the unthinkable happened. A strong gust of wind wrenched the handle from Jason’s outstretched hand and the escaping kite disappeared into the clouds.
    The boy was crestfallen. It had taken him a long time to save the money he needed to buy the flying machine and he knew it was unlikely he would ever see it again.
    Flight Lieutenant John Saunders had been putting the F-18 fighter jet through its paces that same morning when he began his descent to land at the base airfield.
    As he flew through the clouds, a red and yellow apparition caught his attention.
    “What on earth is that?” he muttered.
    However, before he could work it out, the plane’s cockpit was shrouded in darkness.
    Saunders could just discern the colour of whatever was covering the Perspex – red and yellow. Apart from that, he couldn’t see anything.
    “Flight one to base, flight one to base,” he said over the intercom. “Am flying blind. Something is wrapped around the cockpit and I can’t see a thing.”
    “Base to flight one. Are you able to operate your instruments?”
    “Yes, they seem to be ok.”
    “Good. We’ll guide you in.”
    With careful manoeuvring, skill and more than an ounce of luck, Flight Lieutenant Saunders was able to land the plane safely on the runway.
    As he extricated himself from the cockpit, it was only then that he realised the source of his dilemma was a giant red and yellow dragon kite.

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