|The Washington, D.C. greater metropolitan area has had a kite club for many years. The current incarnation, Wings Over Washington Kite Club (WOW), was established in 1996. The founding president was Jim Cosca; over the years, the list of club presidents includes Mike VanMeers, Chris Shultz, Harold Ames, Jim Hodges, Paul LaMasters, Jeff King, and Dave Ashworth. Presently, Jim Cosca is again the club president.
WOW is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to “getting out the word” about the joy of flying, building, watching, and designing kites. Our club members are not restricted to one type of kite; single line, dual line, quad line, fighter kites, and other multi-line kites are enjoyed by all WOWsters.
The joy of flying kites is the focus of the club members, and the goal would be to share this joy with as many people as possible. This goal is accomplished in many ways. On the first Sunday of every month, club members and friends meet at the Washington Monument on the National Mall for First Sunday Fly. Like letter carriers, WOWsters fly in all weather and wind conditions – rain, snow, sleet, hail, heat, high wind, no wind, some wind – tough individuals that they are! WOWsters invite everyone to share in the joy of kite flying by sharing their kites and flying knowledge with anyone who is interested (and with some folks who are not). You do not have to have a kite to fly with WOWsters; you just have to be in their general vicinity, and they will put a kite in your hands. No matter what your skill level, WOWsters will make sure you get a kite in the air. A very important home event for WOW is the Annual Smithsonian Kite Festival, but club members participate in many kiting events throughout the year.
As much as WOWsters enjoy flying outdoors, they are also perfecting their indoor flying techniques. They have flown their kites in many gymnasiums, auditoriums, and in the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. The premier home indoor flying event for WOWsters is the annual indoor kite fly at the National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall. Indoor kite flying is quite an art and a passion of many club members.
Many club members are master kite builders and participate in and conduct kite building workshops. A club member took first place in kite building at the 2008 American Kitefliers Association (AKA) National Convention. Other members have received all expenses paid trips to domestic and foreign locales based on their kite building expertise. WOW also organizes workshops at which participants may build a kite or bring their broken kites in for repair and rejuvenation.
In addition to kite building workshops for kiters, WOW also conducts many worshops for children. At these workshops, we teach kite safety, present some of the many types of kites, and build sled kites from a kit. Most who attend these workshops are children, but once an adult builds a kite and gets out on the field to fly it, they remember how joyous and relaxing kite flying can be and are once again “hooked.” WOWsters love it when that happens!
Club members also compete in many national and international competitions. In addition to kite building, the club boasts some expert sport kite and fighter kite competitors as well as a contingent of flyers who participate in Rokaku battles and Hot Tricks competitions. It is “serious fun” for everyone involved.
The club also helps to stage many events featuring kite flying. WOW can provide sound, demonstrations, kite games, exhibits, bubbles, wonderful ground displays, and smiles for everyone. Of course, this is all in addition to kite flying!
WOW inadvertently discovered that the club had been honored in China when Chris Shultz took a trip to that country. When the park near the Weifang World Kite Museum was under construction, they were provided with information on kite clubs throughout the world. WOW was one of those chosen over all of the other clubs that were considered to be honored with a plaque near the museum displaying the club logo, a great honor.
Although WOW has dedicated members, they know that they are members of a much larger international family and make sure that they are active members of that family. One of the great joys of kiting is meeting new people who, after a day of kite flying, are then friends. There are really no strangers in the kiting world for WOWsters – only people we have not yet met.