OVERLAND PARK, KS (June 2, 2015) -- If anyone tells Tallgrass Creek retirement community resident Neta McCall to go fly a kite, she will happily do so. Neta, the proud owner and pilot of about a dozen multi-shaped, colorful kites, has been enjoying the delightful airborne sport for about forty years. And he still flies her kites today – in the Midwest and Southeast United States-- whenever she gets the chance.
"I loved flying kites as a child, but the quality was so poor then you could get about one flight out of a kite, so I lost interest," says Neta. "Years later, when my children were young, I discovered the quality had improved greatly, and we all took up kite flying together."
Neta flies her kites whenever the wind allows and has flown them in fields, parking lots, and parks around the Kansas City area. Her hobby includes a pair of gloves to protect her hands while the kite is being tossed about in the sky and an anemometer that measures the wind's speed (7 to 15 miles per hour is optimal).
When she walks through the halls of Tallgrass Creek carrying one of her colorful kites, she usually attracts a trail of both staff and residents eager to see the kites take flight.
"The Kansas wind is fickle, so what starts out as great flying can sometimes not last long," says Neta. "But it's always a thrill to see the wind catch and to watch a kite float through the sky."
Neta's kites are all different, colorful, and when airborne, resemble flying pieces of art. Her favorite is called a box kite, which consists of two parallel, rotating boxes held together by a fiberglass bar.
"They are very eye-catching," says Neta. "For me, it's all about color and shape."
Neta neatly packs all of her kites in portable cases. She usually has one or two in the car so if the wind is right, she can pull over and enjoy her hobby. She takes her kites on yearly trips with friends to both North and South Carolina beaches and says the beach is the perfect place to fly a kite.
"You have plenty of space to move around, the wind is great, and you usually meet lots of people," says Neta.
Children, in particular, flock to see Neta's kites flying. She patiently shows them how to fly the kites and will even loan them out for a day or two.
"I love introducing this sport to people," says Neta. "They are always surprised at how quickly you catch on and how easy it is to fly a kite."
One new enthusiast—thanks to Neta—is Tami Peckham, Tallgrass Creek's communications specialist. After seeing Neta's kites fly, she decided to give it a go.
"It's really much easier than I would have thought," says Tami. "It's impromptu, doesn't take much time, and is actually quite relaxing."
Though Neta is the main kite flyer in her family, husband George is an enthusiastic supporter and on-looker. Neta has introduced all four of her grandchildren to the sport.
"The kids and I all fly kites together, and George is our cheerleader," says Neta. "We all love it, and our grandchildren have even introduced kite flying to their friends."
Neta stays in shape by walking miles each week with her husband. Together, they cover the spacious, Tallgrass Creek campus and utilize some of the close-by walking trails.
Neta also volunteers at her inner-city church and manages a clothes closet available to about 150 people in need. But she always makes time for kite flying.
"I love the fresh air and exercise associated with flying a kite," says Neta. "It also keeps me aware of my surroundings and literally takes me to new places."
• Kites were invented by the Chinese in the thirteenth century and were first made of leaves.
• Throughout history, kites were used in wars and battles, including during the Civil War, for signaling and communications.
• Japan banned kites in 1760 because too many people preferred kiting over working. China banned kites during the Cultural Revolution for the same reason.
• In the twentieth century, kites were banned in East Germany because of the possibility of lifting people over the Berlin Wall.
• The Wright brothers, American inventors who built the first airplane, loved kiting and used them as the basis for their invention.
• Kiting is a fast-growing sport that is great for all ages. More than 50 million kites are sold every year.