The next time someone sarcastically tells me to “go fly a kite,” I’ll take them up on it.

But it’s not as easy as it looks.

So often I’ve driven by local parks and seen the colorful spectacle of kites dancing over tree tops and effortlessly hovering over open ground, but never fully understood the wonder of how it all worked. I just remember the disappointing experience I had one summer after buying a plastic kite from a store and never even getting it off the ground, which really deterred me from ever wanting to try again.

Ted Shaw, director of the Great Lakes Kitefliers Society of Western New York, suggested I give it another shot. Shortly after meeting Shaw and a few of his friends at Gratwick/Riverside Park I realized that kite flying is much more than just recreation.

“I was depressed for a while,” Shaw said. “Kite flying brought me back into a social situation.”

For fellow member and GLKS President Russ Kelly, flying a kite was the closest thing he could get to his passion as a former helicopter pilot for the United States Army.

Their love for flying has even gotten them to take up sewing. While many of the parts and materials can be bought pre-made, experienced fliers take the time to design their own kites, it allows for more variety and the ability to manipulate how well it can fly.

The one thing that kite fliers cannot count on is the wind. The wind is not always consistent; it is essential that a flier is sensitive to wind direction and speed for the best flying experience.

After watching Shaw maneuver the two-line stunt kite that stood almost eight feet tall, he handed over the reigns to me. I had the overwhelming fear that either that it was not going to move or just-my-luck I would get swept away and plopped into the Niagara River. I yanked back on the spectra lines and to my amazement the kite soared up into the air, shortly there after it crashed ... but at least it was more successful than the first experience.

With each take off I got a better sense for steering and wind direction. Although it became easier there was much more to learn that an hours worth of practice would never suffice. Kite flying is an acquired technique which many experienced professionals are still trying to master. I was just grateful for the opportunity to try again.

Officially organized in 1988, The Great Lakes Kitefliers Society is approaching its 19th anniversary and has close to 70 members. The public is always welcome to see what they have going on.

Their annual Fathers Day Fly is June 17. For more information log on to their Web site

Contact intern Kelly Lovering at 282-2311, ext. 2266.