PHOTO SLIDESHOW: The Midwest Winds Kitefliers festival
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Omahan Jeff Kuhns says there's no better way to release the pressure of a long workweek then to send it floating on the wind with one of his giant kites.
Kuhns, who works for CSG International, said there is a lot of stress compiling data for cable and communications companies. He began flying kites in 1999 to get his mind off work.
“My job is very high stress and kite flying is kind of a yin to that yang,” Kuhns said. “It's just so relaxing and fun to be outside with the kids and the kites.”
Kuhns was one of a half-dozen members of the Midwest Winds Kitefliers at the La Vista Sports Complex on Sunday for the club's spring outing. The club sent nearly two dozen giant kites into the sky. Across the parking lot, nonmembers flew their own smaller versions.
Kuhns put up two of the more popular kites: a yellow, 157-foot long and 18-foot wide “Air Guitar” and a 65-foot purple and green fish that is accompanied by a 50-foot squid. The guitar was made by Canadian Martin Blais and is one of only two in the world.
“Adults seem to like the guitar and the kids really like the squid and the fish,” Kuhns said.
The Air Guitar, at a cost of about $4,400, is an amazingly detailed soft parafoil kite that includes a brown wood grain fret board and spinning tail adorned with musical notes.
The smaller original Air Guitar, also owned by Kuhns, won best figure kite at the 2003 American Kitefliers Association builders competition, scoring highest in both visual appeal and flight performance.
Kuhns said Sunday was only the third time wind conditions allowed him to fly his giant Air Guitar. He said the 10 to 15 mph winds were “absolutely perfect” for all sorts of kites.
Don Murphy of Omaha, the president of the Midwest Winds Kitefliers club, said members were delighted by the large turnout of observers. Perhaps 400 people strolled the grounds near 66th and Harrison Streets beneath the behemoth kites, including dozens of squealing children crawling under “ground bouncing” caterpillars that hovered about two feet above the grass.
“This is an excellent crowd and the winds are excellent,” Murphy said. “I'm always glad to fill the sky full of color and that's what we've been able to do.”
Parents like Nate Driml of Omaha brought along cameras and enjoyed watching their kids romp below the sailing kites. Driml's three children, Alex, Avery and Evan — ages 6, 4 and 2 — ran, jumped and shouted with glee at the sight of so many flying creations.
“Whatever wears them out,” Driml said. “We'd do this again in a heartbeat.”
Across the parking lot, Todd Newton of Omaha was getting reacquainted with kite-flying. Newton was operating the dual controls for his friend's Hawaiian Spin-Off, a stunt kite.
“You forget how much fun this really is,” said Newton, who estimated that he has about 60 kites of his own. “It's been at least two years since I've flown one, but it's like riding a bike.”
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