Why He Flies

by John Batson

It seems that if you talk to ten different adult kite fliers you will get ten different reasons why they fly. As for me, flying kites reminds me of the carefree days of my youth. A time long before deadlines and commitment. A time before cell phones and computers. At least in my memories, it was a simpler time and place. What follows is one of those kite memories.

At times I think back to my earliest recollection of kite flying. It was in St. Louis along the banks of the Mississippe River that I first discovered the enchantment of the singing string. While it was more than 59 years ago now, it truly seems like just yesterday that my older sister Mary would often take me along on kite flying trips. From these journeys into the world of soaring in the skies grew a very special relationship between my sister and me that has lasted a lifetime. It is strange how the simplest of events can stick in your mind from when we were children.

I will always remember one day of kite flying in particular. The wind was cool and steady from the west, and the sky was gray and overcast, as it is much of the time in the late fall. We launched our paper-covered box kite from the top of a hill overlooking the river. It quickly gained altitude as the line buzzed off our spool . Within a few minutes it was a mere speck soaring 1,000 feet over the river. Softly clouds began to obsure the river below. Soon the clouds and the fog had moved in and we found ourselves enshrouded in a cool gray mist. The kite was lost from view with only its early bound umbilical cord remaining to point the direction of its captive spirit.

As time passed, a strange silence fell over my sister and me as we sat there on that dew-covered hilltop. After what seemed to me like hours, which I”m now sure was only 15 or 20 minutes, my sister looked down at me with a smile and without a word, cut the string.

In a flash our kite was gone. It seemed like the right thing to do. She had set the spirit of the singing string free. I will alway remember that cold, windy, gray day and deep in my heart I know that somewhere our kite still soars dancing on the wings of eagles.

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