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'Kite Man' takes flying by the tail

March 17, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - To many, he is known simply as "The Kite Man."

Waynesboro kite maker Bill Flohr loves to make and fly kites and has been enjoying his hobby for 20 years. Early on, Flohr competed in kite making and flying competitions and has won a few awards.

But for Flohr, kite flying is simply fun.

"I just do it because I enjoy it," he said.

And kite flying offers something for all ages, Flohr said. "Flying kites is a good family thing to do," Flohr said, who has involved his wife and children in his hobby for years.

Flohr, of Philadelphia Avenue, wants to reassure parents that kite flying with the kids doesn't mean having to get in shape for a cross-country running event.

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"One thing I always stress. If the wind is right and your kite has been made well, you never have to run to get a kite up," Flohr said.

Flohr is bringing his love of kites to the community in the form of two adult kite-making workshops on Wednesday and on March 26.

The workshops, sponsored by the adult education committee of Renfrew Institute, will be held at the Renfrew Museum and Park Visitors Center from 7 to 9 p.m.

The workshop is held in part to promote interest in the upcoming fourth annual Renfrew Fun Fly, an event for all ages, to be held on April 12 at 10 a.m. in the meadow behind the museum house, located off Pa. 16.

Flohr also offers a bit of kite advice for those ready to start flying.

March a bad month

Contrary to what most people believe, March isn't the best month to fly a kite, Flohr said.

"March is probably one of the worst months," Flohr said.

March winds are often gusty, too strong and unpredictable to fly a kite, Flohr said.

The best months to fly a kite in this area are April, May, September and October, on days when there is a calm but steady breeze, Flohr said.

"It's just matching the right kite to the wind," he said, adding that the best kite flying conditions are often on days when you wouldn't think a kite would fly.

Traced back to the Orient centuries ago, kite making and flying was for ages a fixation for many because of man's desire to fly, Flohr said.

Over the years, different kite designs were tested and used in experiments.

Most know the story of Benjamin Franklin's famous kite flying experience that supposedly led him to the discovery of conducting electricity.

The box kite, developed by an Australian, played a big role in weather forecasting, Flohr said.

Different kite designs were also developed as an offshoot to the U.S. space program, he said.

For some, the hobby has turned into a serious business.

There are magazines written exclusively for the kite enthusiast, several kite clubs and organizations and a number of competitions, including the international Smithsonian Kite Festival to be held this year on April 5 in Washington, D.C.

Though some spend months designing and creating kites that will go higher, make different noises and catch the eye, a basic kite can be made by using everyday household items, including plastic trash bags and wrapping paper, Flohr said.

They'll fly just as well as the fancy ones, he added.

At the workshops, Flohr will instruct how to make the Vietnamese, Eddy, Delta and Sled kites.

Workshops are open to persons ages 15 and over. There is a $10 fee to cover the cost of materials.

Those interested should register by calling Renfrew Institute at 1-717-762-0373.

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