February 8th National Kite Flying Day

This could be a wonderful day to go kite flying! Never mind the snow, or rain, it’s not important, make Ben proud and fly that kite! Remember to put a key on it so that if lightening strikes you can learn the same lesson he did! Mainly, don’t fly kites in electrical storms!

Kites have been in use since the Chinese military flew them some 3,000 years ago. I’m not exactly sure why they flew them but historical records show they did. It was probably to scare their enemies or maybe while their enemies were looking up admiring the kites the Chinese attacked on the ground.

Either way, kite flying has stuck around and brings hours and hours of fun, and a little frustration. Just remember if it happens to be snowing, or raining, you just have to run a little faster to get them started. (And I suppose keep them flying)

How to celebrate – Go pick out a really cool kite. Enter a kite combat competition. Make sure you are in a field with no overhanging wires

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August 23rd National Ride The Wind Day

August 23rd National Ride The Wind Day

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Today is not the type of day I thought it would be at all. It is all about human powered flight machines. Hang gliders and bicycle type flying machines allow you to literally, ride the wind. The Gossamer Condor 2 currently holds the record flying at 11 miles per hour and going 2,172 meters in Minter Field, California.

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The article about the Condor 2 does not say how the landing was. So maybe man really can fly… albeit with a little help from Mother Nature and a few well-placed pedals.

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How to celebrate – Learn how to hang glide. Build your own bicycle flying machine. Estimate how long it would take to fly from coast to coast in the U.S. using the Condor 2.

 

August 23rd Ride The Wind Day

We don’t often think of the wind unless we are in a storm or a hurricane (Which actually is a storm anyway). We think of it as blowing our roof away, bending trees until they break or taking the hat off our head and sending it to someplace like China where we will never get it back.

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But the wind can be our friend too! When it is a breeze we can go fly kites with our children (Or on our own). You can feel a friendly breeze at the beach or when you ride a motorcycle. And you can forget going anywhere if there is no wind and you are sailing! You’ll just sit there like a bump on a log. (What does that really mean anyway?)

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You can para-sail, fly balloons, blow out candles on a birthday cake… you can try to capture it, dry off in it or break it. (Think about it) It helps you when you drive, if it’s behind you, you can pick up lost time if you are flying

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You can glide, free style, have a bad hair day parachute (If you are into that) pretend you are a bird.  If it wasn’t for the wind, we would never have been discovered in America, or brought here anyway. We would have probably never called Chicago the Windy City or see a cloud float by overhead.

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We owe a lot to the wind. Even those gentle summer breezes we are enjoying right now are the wind. So use it to your advantage, we are able to harness things like the wind today that they could only dream of long ago. It is just another gift given us that we can use to our benefit.

How to celebrate – Go fly a kite! Try hang-gliding. Have some broccoli and create your own wind.

August 23rd National Ride the Wind Day

Since the beginning of time, man has tried to harness the wind to bend it to his will and make it work for him. He made it turn large blades attached to giant wheels made of stone to grind wheat and oats and corn to make meal for bread and a base for many foods.

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Man figured out how to make the wind propel ships through water to move them faster than man could row, and with much less effort. The more sails the ship could hold the more wind it could capture and the faster the ship could go. Of course, when there was no wind, or very little wind, these ships floated calmly in the water. When storms would hit, ships could be blown off course by thousands of miles.

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But man always looked at the wind as a way to fly. He built model gliders to watch how they would respond to different winds in the hopes he could learn to control the flight. A few of the models worked for short distances, but it wasn’t until powered flight became available that the controls to make a glider work came along. While you could catch the wind, get the lift, and fly, you could not control where you were going, or whether you might suddenly plunge to the ground in mid-flight.

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During World War 2, gliders were used by nearly every army. The ability to fly more troops and equipment on course rather than haphazardly by parachute. Parachutes could easily be caught by the same wind the gliders used but the trooper could not control where he landed, the gliders could. Often the flights ended in tragedy but when they worked, they massed forces behind enemy lines in a way no other means could provide.

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Today we have learned how to harness those winds for sport. Building mini-gliders that can be operated by a single flier.

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And the windmills that ground grain back in the day now produce electric power all over the world. The wind indeed offers a great potential for all mankind and it’s just there for the taking.

How to celebrate – Come up with as many things as you can about how the wind affects our lives. Try paragliding for yourself. Find out what percentage of the power supplied to your town is powered by windmills.