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Bob Homan flies a bol kite near Cedar Crest.

reasons for this is that nylon doesn’t tear as easily as paper. He adds that very lightweight kites can be flown indoors because they do not require any wind to stay aloft and explains that the very large kites—some with as much as 600 feet of surface area—are really works of art. Although father and son are eager to fly the new kite, they have no intention of using it to replace any of their old ones, which include a custommade multibox kite and a round kite. “We’ve often had our vehicle full of kites when we’ve gone to events,” Bob says. “We’d anchor the single-line kites in the ground while we’d fly the two-line kites.” Bob quickly adds that there are also three- and four-line kites. “The three-line kites usually have the strings arranged in a triangular pattern, and the four-line kites have lines at the top and the bottom.” He describes flying a four-line kite to be “like playing video games with your hands handcuffed together.” The Homans are avid kite fliers, although Bob says it was Paul who “got me into kites.” Nearly 10 years ago, Paul saw someone flying a power kite, visited with him and was soon looking for the experts in Topeka. It didn’t take long before the whole family was interested, and Paul was not only flying kites but building custom ones with the help of the Topeka Kite Fliers, a group of local enthusiasts founded in 1992. John Marr, president of the club, notes that the group has approximately 30 members of all ages. These members represent a variety of interests ranging from kite flying to kite building, with some members preferring miniature kites and others specializing in large multistring kites. Many like Marr, who remembers flying kites with his father, became interested in at an early age; others like Bob Homan became interested much later. While many enthusiasts started with kites bought at local stores, Marr says that most serious kite flyers advance to ordering custom-built kites over the internet. Marr also notes that while many kite fliers enjoy flying just for fun, others become interested in competition, which can range from local contests up to ones on the national level. These provide different levels of competition ranging from novice to masters with novice junior classes for youth. Most competitions consist of patterns for the fliers to perform with their kites; while novices get simple patterns, the patterns become more complicated for advanced fliers. There are even freestyle competitions where contestants select their own patterns to display their expertise. “In competition you go out to prove your skill,” Marr says. Both Marr and Bob Homan stress that one of the biggest draws for kite flying is that an entire family can enjoy it with minimum cost. It’s equally a hands-on hobby and a spectator sport. “Even if you just want to watch,” says Marr, “kite flying can be like a ballet in the sky.”

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A lot of twist and a little competition

Now in its 17th year, the Twisted Lines Kite Festival and

Competition is considered the premier event of the Topeka Kite Fliers. Described as “a fun-filled, kite-flying weekend with a little competition thrown in,” the three-day festival begins at 5 p.m. Friday, June 5, with a night flight and continues through Sunday with buggy racing, which uses power kites; a fun fly, which is open to the public, and a kids’ fly featuring a candy drop. The sport kite competition is open only to members of the American Kite Association. This event offers members a chance to earn points toward qualification for the association’s national show in October. While most events will be at 21st Street and Urish Road, indoor kite-flying events will take place in the Topeka West High School gym. In addition to providing fun for kite competitors and spectators, the festival raises money for the American Diabetes Association. Other events hosted by the Topeka Kite Fliers are “Fun Flys” at Cedar Crest on the first and third Sundays of each month, weather permitting, and a Halloween Fly in a local cemetery. The club is also a main sponsor of a benefit walk for the diabetes association in October at Lake Shawnee. Club members offer kite demonstrations for local schools, churches and Scout troops. For more information on the festival, contact Bob Homan at bjhoman1@cox.net or (785) 273-3715. Additional information on the Topeka Kite Fliers can be obtained from Homan or club president John Marr at (785) 246-0836

TOPEKAMAGAZINE Spring 2009

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Topeka Magazine Spring 2009  

Topeka Magazine Spring 2009