Why Wichita Is Perfect For Kite Flying

Oct 16, 2013

 There's a store on the east side of Wichita called Wings of the Wind; they sell kites.

On a bright, windy afternoon store owners Mark and Susan Adams are at Wichita’s Coleman Middle School, doing what they really love, flying kites.

“If it dives down then you just give out a lot of line and most of the time it will correct itself and give it a jerk when it's pointed back up and then it will go right back up again,” says Mark.

The owners of Wings of the Wind have sold hundreds of kites since opening their doors last October. Mark Adams has had a passion for kites most of his life. He opened his first kite store in Wichita when he was 20 years old.

“We were the first kite store in Kansas and just had so much fun bringing kites to this area and people saw these gorgeous kites up in the sky and it just really caught on.”

And it has caught on again, nearly 40 years later, as the couple discovered when they opened their store. Customers are buying one, or several kites at a time.

Durell Gilmore, 26, launches his snowy owl bird kite at Edgemoor Park. He enjoyed flying kites as a child with his church youth group. He now takes along his children as part of family bonding time or simply unwinds alone, tugging and releasing the kite on a string.

Durell Gilmore, 26, launches his snowy owl bird kite at Edgemoor Park.
Credit Carla Eckels / KMUW
Durell Gilmore and his snowy owl bird kite at Edgemoor Park.
Credit Carla Eckels / KMUW

“It’s real peaceful and it’s fun too,” he says.

Heather Cartwright, 34, enjoys kite flying at Coleman and College Hill Park. In May, she packed her kite to fly along the beach in Greece.

Credit Carla Eckels / KMUW

“It's kind of soothing and relaxing you get kind of a Zen like experience just staring at the kite in the sky and it just feels really natural and a little spiritual," she says.

Owner Mark Adams says kite flying is a good investment, which can be as little as $7.95 for a simple kite.

"So many different sports you have to put a lot of money into, get the gear and all that but something like this is very inexpensive to get into or you can put into it as much as you want," he says.

Kites have changed over the years. Susan Adams says most of them of their kites are made of ripstop nylon fabric and fiberglass bars, unlike traditional kites, which are made out of paper and wooden sticks.

“They are a lot more substantial and aerodynamically sound” she says.

Kite enthusiasts are interested in stunt kites, kites without strings, even kites that can be seen after dark with the addition of magnetic lights. Mark says most everyone has a kite story. He won't soon forget one of his own teenage kite flying experiences and his kite took a sudden nosedive.

“You should never fly a kite next to a telephone lines or when it’s raining," he says. "But I did and right towards the very end of the K-State-KU game, it got caught in the power line and everybody's TV sets went off all over. I don't know 20 blocks or so, and man, I had people so mad at me,” he laughs. “It was a fun memory for me.”

KWCH meteorologist Mark Larson says Dodge City ranks as the windiest city in the country but Wichita has its share of windy days, too. Larson says usually kite flying works best when wind is between the 10 to 20 MPH range.

“You usually are going to have the wind picking up for maybe a day or two in advance and just pick that window of time," he says. "The sun doesn't set that early. You can still get some evening time flying a kite before 7 o'clock and dusk and the wind will usually stay up until sunset during the fall.”

Whether spiritual, therapeutic, or just plain fun, Wichita kite flyers of all ages say, they just love it. 

Wings of the Wind, at 5420 E. Central in Wichita, will collect names to form a new kite club at the first anniversary open house, Saturday, October 19, from 10 to 5 p.m.

Do you have a favorite kite flying spot in town? Let us know and we'll add it to the map.