- Associated Press - Sunday, May 3, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Don Murphy’s skies aren’t just blue.

Murphy, president of Midwest Winds Kitefliers, likes to see a little color up above, the Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1Pbk60U ) reported. He paints the sky with a collection of about 250 kites, some as large as 500 square feet, billowing high above the Nebraska soil.

National Kite Month, sponsored by the American Kitefliers Association and Kite Trade Association International, runs through May 10. At its heart, the promotion is meant to spread kiting as a hobby through public events and community outreach.

“It’s just fun - the power of the wind, the color of the sky, and you get something up in the air of a weird shape,” Murphy said.

Murphy has been flying kites in the Omaha area for about 30 years, sometimes facing the occupational hazards that come with the territory. In the right conditions, the unassuming aircraft can reveal a dangerous edge.

On one occasion, during a photo shoot on a particularly windy day, a gust caught one of Murphy’s large kites, lifting him up and slamming him back to the ground. He injured his shoulder.

Safety is always the first topic Randy Fox addresses when he talks at area schools about building and flying kites.

Fox, a member of the Kitefliers, has been guest lecturing in classrooms for about 20 years, schooling students on the history of kites and showing them how to build their own. He often opens with the story of one of history’s most famous kites: the one Benjamin Franklin tied a key to and flew in a thunderstorm.

The story is a case study in how not to fly a kite, Fox said.

“You don’t want to put metal rods in your kite,” he said. “You don’t want to fly in storms. You don’t want to fly near buildings.”

The ideal space for flying is free of power lines and “kite-eating trees,” Murphy said.

Murphy and Fox recommend the sports complex in La Vista and Lawrence Youngman Lake, near Elkhorn High School.

The group’s outreach efforts focus on showing people that kites can be more than the flimsy diamonds assembled by children in their backyards. They can be grand, colorful pieces of art, such as the massive dragon kite in Murphy’s collection.

And maybe, Murphy hopes, curiosity will push one or two newbies to go outside, grab a string and share in his hobby.

“Sometimes it’s pretty relaxing to just sit back and color the sky,” he said.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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