Light breeze grounds kites

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Register/Bob Johnson
Sean Beaver maneuvers a huge wind sock to inflate on the ground for a crowd gathered at the SAFE BASE end-of-school event on the Allen County Community College soccer field Thursday afternoon. When fully extended and flying, the wind sock is 190 feet long.

“Sometimes you plan as far ahead as a year and then when you arrive, there’s no wind,” said Linda Larkey of the Kansas City Kite Club Thursday afternoon at a SAFE BASE year-end event.
The celebration centered on giant kites that were to sail above Allen County Community College campus. Instead, hundreds of people — kids and adults — were entertained by smaller kites and a couple of a huge wind socks that were inflated, but grounded, by a too-gentle breeze.
“You need a solid eight-mile-an-hour wind and better yet, one between eight and 15 miles an hour,” Larkey said. “But that’s the way it is. You never know until you get somewhere whether you’ll be able to fly.”
The scaled back show didn’t trouble two busloads of SAFE BASE kids.
They got to touch and look inside a huge wind sock that resembled a caterpillar. They also got to dart about ACCC’s main soccer field twirling streamers and pulling small parachutes members of the Kansas City Kite Club brought to Iola.
Sean Beaver, club president, didn’t unfurl all his large kites, but a wind sock he did unleash awed spectators.
Swaying gently on the ground, much of the tunnel filled with air for a short time, giving onlookers an idea of its magnitude. It is 190 feet long with tail streaming when fully inflated and aloft.
“All of my kites are purple with black and white accent,” a tribute to his alma mater, Kansas State University, Beaver told the crowd.
In the air, a white pilot kite was flown, but wind-generated lift wasn’t sufficient to permit it to guide the larger kites. The pilot kite, similar to a tug boat, helps control the large kites and keeps them properly deployed.
Angela Henry, SAFE BASE director, was disappointed, mainly for the kids, that the wind wasn’t strong enough for a full demonstration, but said there was a possibility the kite club members might make another trip to Iola. She said a Saturday could draw an even-larger crowd.
As it was, two sections of bleachers were filled, people stood along the north side of the soccer field and others parked around campus and in Highland Cemetery to take in the spectacle.
“I never expected this large a crowd,” Beaver said.
An added attraction was several passes high over the field by Bob Hawk in his powered parachute.
While the kite show was subdued, SAFE BASE enrollees and others came away with full tummies. Henry and her staff grilled hot dogs and also handed out soft drinks and chips to all comers.
The event wrapped up the academic year for the after-school program. A summer schedule includes trips to Old Cowtown in Wichita, Woolaroc Museum and Game Preserve near Bartlesville, Haskell Indian Nations in Lawrence and Exploration Place in Wichita.