COLUMBIA — A man hangs on for dear life onto the 100-foot tail of a kite at Cosmo-Bethel Park on Sunday.
Steve Batliner attaches the little figure to the tails of his larger kites to entertain bystanders. On Sunday, he was at the park for the One Sky, One World event. This event takes place on the second Sunday of October to bring families and kite enthusiasts from Columbia, Jefferson City and Kansas City together to share kites or fly their own.
Due to heavy cloud cover and light rain, this year's crowd was sparse in the early morning but grew as the day progressed.
Batliner traveled from Kansas City and has been flying kites for about 15 years, usually sticking with dual-line and single-line kites with tails. He's accumulated a collection of 50 to 60 kites, he said.
"Why do fisherman need 500 lures?" Batliner said. "You just always want something new and different."
Batliner said he enjoys kite flying because it entertains people. He often flies the little man he ties to his kites down in front of people to see their reactions.
"It's just to make other people happy," he said.
Mother and member of the Riverbreezes Kite Club in Jefferson City, Bonnie Heinericks coached her son Logan, 10, to keep his kite in the sky.
"Let out some line, walk forwards," Heinericks said.
Logan's kite, 28 feet long and featuring a purple panther, lifted into the air while Logan looked over his shoulder to watch the flags staked into the ground, indicating wind direction and speed, Heinericks said.
Preferred wind speed is between 10 to 15 miles per hour, Batliner said.
Donna Houchins, central conference sport commissioner of the American Kitefliers Association, has been competing in kite flying competitions for 10 years.
Some of the competitions that kite fliers participate in include dual-line kite, fighter kite, miniature kite and kite ballet competitions.
In a dual-line kite competition fliers are required to fly their kites in specific figures and patterns. Ballet competitions are considered a discipline in dual-line or quad-line competitions, Houchins said. When the ballet portion is performed by teams it's "like the Blue Angels on strings," Houchins said.
Fighter kite competitors attempt to keep their kites in the air as others try to "saw" their lines using their own. Some fliers use majha, a paste consisting of broken glass that competitors apply to their kite lines in order to win fighter kite competitions, which is considered illegal, though it's still used in other parts of the world, Batliner said.
Miniature kite competitions require competitors to make kites no bigger than six inches in any dimension. As an indoor competition, fliers must attach their lines to the end of a pole because their body creates turbulence. Houchins has made several miniature kites, including one with spars made from cat whiskers.
Batliner flies kites in order to give others a new experience.
"You're doing something that's putting a smile on a little kid's face," Batliner said. "You're showing people something they've never seen before, and they'll say, 'I didn't know you could do this with kites.'"
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