Benicia’s Spring Breeze Makes For Perfect Kiting
Best Benicia Kite Flying Locations
Catching a breeze is easy in Benicia. With encouraging winds in spring and fall, and acres upon acres of grassy, scenic parks, kite flying is a fun and obvious choice for family entertainment. Colorful examples of the latest kite styles can be found soaring over Ninth Street Park, which also has the advantage of offering the best waterfront views in town, as well as picnic areas, sand volleyball courts, a kids’ playground and a sandy beach. Kites are also seen along the First Street Green, twirling gracefully against blue skies and the deeper blues of the Carquinez Strait.
City Parks Supervisor Theron Jones cites Matthew Turner Shipyard Park at West 12th Street, or Benicia Community Park as good spots for kite flying. He advises staying away from City Park and its mature trees. Lynch Canyon, south of Fairfield, is also a prime kite flying area. The 31st annual Berkeley Kite Festival, put on by Highline Kites, offers an entire weekend of kite flying and other entertainments, July 30-31.
Kite Flying Popular Across the Globe
Ushered in with warmer weather, “April marks the unofficial start of kite-flying season,” said Chris Gatewood, owner of Benicia Kite and Paddle Sports. A popular pastime all over the world, encouraging a kite to dance on the breeze is pure airborn artistry, and one that’s easy to learn, or relearn, with You Tube videos providing instructions. Kite flying rituals and customs marking special occasions have roots in many countries. According to Wikipedia, kites were invented in ancient China, where materials ideal for kite making were readily available. Kites were then introduced to Cambodia, Thailand, India, Japan, Korea and the Western world. In one of America’s favorite stories, the kite was instrumental in research by Benjamin Franklin, when he proposed an experiment to prove that lightning was caused by electricity, and by the Wright Brothers in the development of the first airplane.
Other Kiting Sports
Benicia’s gusty winds also provide a great opportunity for kite surfing on the Carquinez Strait, and hang gliding from surrounding hills. “Benicia is a great place for playing in the wind,” Gatewood said. Waterfront areas are also popular for kite surfing. Paragliders are known to take their hang gliders and fly off the hills from Channing Circle and along Columbus Parkway, he added.
Purchasing a Kite
While spring breezes are abundant in Benicia, kite shops are not. Still, some can be found. A small assortment of kites are available at Bookshop Benicia and at Mozart Einstein & Me, both on First Street. The simple diamond-shaped kites can often be found in hobby shops and in local drug and retail chain stores. Gatewood suggests ordering kites online from his wholesaler, HQ Kites & Designs USA. People can also go to Highline Kites at the Berkeley Marina. Whether kite flyers pick a spot along the water or head to a hilly area, Gatewood has a bit of advice—pick a clear patch of ground away from trees and power lines, and pay due respect other fliers and park-goers. “There’s a lot of room for others to play and fly. Be conscious of others so that everybody can enjoy the park,” he said.
The 411 on kite flying courtesy of the American Kite Association:
- Types of kites: Diamond, Delta, Box, Dragon, Parafoil, Inflatable, Cellular, Sled, Novelty and Stunt.
- Wind speeds of between 5-25 mph are best for most kites (before it blows too hard). Flying is most fun in medium winds.
- The more room you have the more line you can let out to take your kite higher.
- Never fly in the rain or lightening, or over roads and power lines.
- Stand with your back to the wind, hold your kite by the bridge point and let the line out. If there is enough wind the kite will go right up.
- Add a tail to the kite to help it remain stable in strong winds.
- It’s believed kites originated in China in 200 B.C.