Icarus Has Company

A Kite Flying Fantasy, of sorts

Wayne Troutman struggles with the lines of his 13-foot parasail as the capricious wind rises and drops and never settles into a steady flow.

Wayne Troutman struggles with the lines of his 13-foot parasail as the capricious wind rises and drops and never settles into a steady flow. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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Earlier this week, on assignment for the Roundup to do a shot for an article, I was at the Payson Event Center. I was waiting in the announcer’s booth at the west end of the event center for the person I was to shoot to come back from an errand.

It is a curious thing; sometimes I am troubled by vexing situations that seem to have no solution, or no alternative path to follow, but when I am on assignment, everything falls away and I am in this moment. So it is now, personal issues hit this dusty arena floor and I focus.

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His current favorite being this parasail. A parasail is generally made of nylon and has air pockets that catch the wind and give it the ability to soar, float, speed through the air and lift people off the ground if conditions are favorable.

I tend to notice little things, although in this case it wasn’t exactly little, I saw what looked like a parachute bobbing up and down in the parking lot at the Payson Event Center.

I thought; “As soon as this task is finished, I’ll meander over there and find out what that is, exactly.”

Well, being the person I am, I became absorbed in the task at hand and promptly forgot about this colorful cloth floating smoothly on gusts of air in the late afternoon sun.

I finished up, left my cameras on “on,” because one never knows what is around the next horse trailer, gate, large truck or other obstruction of one’s view that may be the next great shot of the moment and started walking back to my car.

As usual, my head was on a swivel, looking for the next shot, though my mind was nowhere near my body at this particular time. I glanced over to the empty parking lot and saw this guy flailing his arms at a huge, brightly colored cloth spread across the gravel lot. I kept walking to my car for about three steps and then the flash in my head popped my mind back to here and now.

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Wayne Troutman expounds on the different kinds of large kites available for flying.

That cloth in the air was now on the ground and this guy was trying to get it in the air again. I turned at my usual, casual pace and headed in his direction. At one time, I walked pretty fast just about everywhere. Not so much anymore. I saunter, it’s a lot easier on my back these days.

He sees me coming and says something I can’t hear.

“Howdy,” I call.

It sounded like he said; “Hi” back at me.

I asked my usual obvious question: “Trying to fly a kite?”

People do this to me all the time. They say: “Take any good pictures?” I’d like to say, “Nah, I just take the terrible ones and throw those contest winners away.” But, I don’t. Can’t afford to rile the local populace.

“Well, if the wind would stay steady, maybe I could get this thing off the ground,” he said with no rancor, like this happens to him all the time.

I introduced myself and he begins expounding on kites; parasails in particular. He talks, I shoot. He doesn’t seem to mind the camera at all. Perhaps age is a factor with some people. Once you reach a certain age, you no longer worry about people sticking cameras in your face, or much of anything else. It just doesn’t matter anymore.

We flap our jaws for awhile, mostly he does. I’m a good listener. I finally ask him his name.

“Wayne Troutman,” says this thin, wiry man whom I make out to be about my age (not going to tell you).

Troutman tells me about kites, how long he has been flying them, restrictions one must abide by, regulations and manner of flight kites generally take.

As a young man in Tempe he was flying a kite near Sun Devil Stadium that he managed to get it way, way, up in the air — out of sight almost. Before long, from everywhere comes a swarm of police. Unbeknownst to Troutman and his cadre of buddies, they’d intruded into Sky Harbor’s air space, forcing big jets to alter course.

“Wow, how about that!” I exclaim.

“Yes, sir, it sure caught us by surprise,” He chuckles.

Photographing his attempts to get it aloft, he somehow senses the childlike rise of yearning in me.

When the wind died and the kite collapsed in a heap of cloth and tangled lines, Troutman says, “Why don’t you give it a shot?”

“Sure, why not?” I say. I put my cameras on the hood of his van and pulled on his gloves, which barely fit my oversized hands (But that’s another story).

We wait, and wait, and talk, waiting as the wind comes up and dies down and comes back. I finally get the kite up in the air, but my flight lasts but a minute. The wind just isn’t cooperating. Not being used to this activity my arms tired quickly, but I keep at it until the wind was no more.

I tell Troutman I have work to do and need to be on my way. He takes his gloves back. As I walk away, I look back once or twice. What an image, his arms outstretched and jerking sharply. I smile and trudge reluctantly down the road.

Early the next morning as I watch the sky change from black with diamonds of light poking through the space of time, to another dawn, I realize the kite episode was a lesson in life for me. Something I needed to learn again.

You can have all the equipment you want or need, you can have all the space there is to do whatever task you have at the moment, you can have all the time you need, but if you don’t have the wind, in this case, you have nothing.

What am I saying? It takes all the elements available to get a kite aloft, keep it in the air, and get it to fly for a sustained period of time.

In this case, I am referring to relationships. Relationships are akin to kite flying. You meet this kite, it’s a beauty. It has all the equipment, line and style to soar into the wild blue; your lines are the right size, strength and durability, your gloves are pigskin; because they hold the line better. You have the space and time to fly for as long as you need. But, if you don’t have wind, oh dear one, you are simply standing outside, holding a kite that is just taking up space on the ground.

Of course, one does insert love, or companionship or connection or friend or relationship or whatever your vexing situation is, in place of wind.

And then, there is this: tomorrow the wind will rise and with it your kite will soar, and dive and flutter and fly and tug and pull you around with so much force you almost wish the air was calm again. So, come back, tomorrow is your day to fly.

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