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Kite builder to share simplest hobby secrets

March 18, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

by Richard T. Meagher / staff photographer

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Kite builderKite builder to share simplest hobby secrets

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - There are kites so high-tech and so aerodynamically designed that they can be flown on days when there's no wind.

Those aren't the kind that Bill Flohr designs and builds.

"I'm a simple guy who builds simple kites. I used to try to make those high-tech things, but I only got frustrated. Now I'm back to the basics," said Flohr, 45, who lives in a house at 227 Philadelphia Ave. in Waynesboro that resembles a box kite with its squat shape, flat roof and sharp angles.

Flohr's annual two-part, kite-making workshop, which this year will be held Thursday and March 26 at the Renfrew Museum Visitors Center, is not for the innovative.

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His raw materials consist of a little gift wrap, plastic garbage bags, some sticks and string.

His students will learn how to make a sled, the simplest form of kite, which is fashioned from a cut-up garbage bag tied between two parallel sticks.

"I must have made a thousand of them in my life. A sled always flies," Flohr said.

Participants, using wrapping paper, also will make a Vietnamese kite - an ancient design - and two others called Eddy and Bermuda.

The four kites are of the simplest form. They cost less than a dollar to make and all fly well, he said.

Flohr, whose day job is putting together prescriptions at a Smithsburg pharmacy, has been playing with kites seriously for the last 21 years. As a youngster, his first kites were the diamond-shaped wood and paper "Hi Fliers" that his generation and generations before bought in drug stores and five-and-dime stores for less than a dollar.

His interest in kites waned during his teenage and early adult years, but resurfaced when, in his mid-40s, he went on a vacation to Hilton Head Island, S.C.

"I took along a plastic parachute kite that my father bought me when I was boy," Flohr said. He relearned an important lesson - that the main idea behind kite-flying is to have fun.

He tries to pass that idea on to his Renfrew students.

The two-part seminar costs $10 and the only requirement is that students attend both sessions so they can benefit from Flohr's knowledge and come away with four kites they can use.

Flohr's students will learn that kites originated in China 2,000 years ago. Their popularity spread to Japan and Korea and they were brought to Europe by Marco Polo. Then they found their way to the American colonies and into the hands of people like Ben Franklin.

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