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It’s been over two weeks since I’ve flown a kite.  I am feeling some withdrawal symptoms.  That may sound strange to some people.  But flying kites brings relaxation and a sense of accomplishment.  Relaxation from watching the single line kites floating in the sky and accomplishment from improving on my control of a stunt kite.  And when the weather is good, the wind is right and you don’t get out to the kite field, the days seem wasted.

After not flying for a while, it is dangerous to walk into a kite shop.  There is inevitably a kite that is new and begging to be flown.  And it is sure to be a kite you’ve been debating about buying for a few weeks.  The end result is an addition to the kite bag, a show kite for special occasions and festivals.

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Dia de los Muertos Skeleton Kite by Premier

 

 

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After some discussion, we decided to broaden our scope and travel a little further to attend some kiting activities.  From what I had seen online, Kitemania South seemed like just the gathering we would enjoy and it wasn’t too far to drive.  So plans were made and off we went to Treasure Island, FL.

We arrived a day early in order to get our bearings and a little rest after the two-day drive.  I did get out on the beach for some flying.  Winds were light and gusty and the temperature was cooler than it should be.  But I did get up a couple of kites.  I was especially pleased that my mini-circoflex flew.  I hadn’t had it out of the bag in quite some time.  There were several other kite flyers taking advantage of the day.  Several deltas and couple of large flowforms were in the sky also.

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Saturday started out promising.  I got out early and flew my Dream stack.  It took a little work to find enough wind and I ended up quite a ways down the beach from our hotel.  Like most resort beaches, the high-rise hotels and condos block any wind not coming off the ocean.  It was a satisfying start to the weekend.  Then the gray clouds moved in.  Of course, the lack of sunshine does not stop kite flyers from doing their thing.  Canopies were erected, banners set out and the kite flying began.

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Unfortunately,  the day did not continue in this fashion.  Along with the colder temperatures came the rain.  For most of the morning, the flyers huddled under the canopies, coming out to fly in between showers.  But eventually the rain won and we all retreated to the covered patios to visit and exchange “feathers”.

Ah, yes, the “feathers”.  An activity that was unique to this gathering is the exchange of “feathers”.  Those attending this gathering create feathers out of ripstop nylon, tyvek, fabric, paper or anything that is at hand.  The feathers are then traded as the weekend goes on.  The trading brings old friends together and gets everyone actively involved in meeting new people.  It almost becomes a competition to get as many feathers as possible from as many people as possible.  The range of creativity is amazing.  The feathers are sewn, glued, painted, dyed, printed and colored with markers.  And are made in all shapes and sizes.  A couple were even made out of actual feathers.  Each feather has a story and will trigger memories of this gathering for a long time to come.

I made what I felt was a distinctly North Carolina feather, the Hatteras Lighthouse.

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Then, after trading all weekend, I came home with around forty new feathers.  And I’m already thinking about what I’ll be making for next year.

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Thankfully, the rain stopped in the evening and there was some night flying.  This included a ghost delta and some other deltas of varying sizes with programmable LEDs.  They were beautiful.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any decent images.  Just blurs of color in a black sky.

Sunday was windy.  Very, very windy.  Most of the kite flyers didn’t bring kites out because the wind was too strong.  Us included.  So the day was spent visiting and making the let of the feather trades.  There were flyers who had kites that could handle the wind so all was not lost.


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It was truly an enjoyable trip.  We are planning on going back next year.  And staying an extra day to get in some more flying and visiting.  Here’s hoping the weather is more Florida-like than this year.  That is sunny, warm and dry.

Fair Winds All.

Our long and very pleasant stay with our daughter, grandson and very new granddaughter has come to an end.  We were sent home and told under no circumstances were we to miss the Carolina Kite Festival in Atlantic Beach, NC.  Our kite flying hiatus has come to an end in a very big way.  Two days of endless kite flying, old kiting friendships renewed and new kiting friendships made.

The Carolina Kite Festival was held this past weekend.  The temperatures were perfect and the winds were obliging most of the time.  Saturday’s winds were perfect in range though a little gusty.  Large inflatable kites were flying at one end of the beach all day.  There were mass ascensions of many types of kites and performances by the kiting celebrity guests and some local talent.

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The Bay Area Sundowners, a stunt kite performance team from San Francisco, CA, flew several routines with their trains of Hyperkites.  They are regular guests at the festival and people look forward to seeing them each year.  Big Al Sparling, another regular from Chicago, IL, came and flew the big kites.  The kids attending the festival decorated and flew small sled kites.  “Purple”, the pink playsail, made an appearance and was a hit.  And, of course, so was the candy drop.  The one of the highlights of the day was the flying of the ribbon kite.  This kite is 440 feet long and is the largest ribbon kite in the world.  It is handcrafted by Randy Tom, an internationally known kite maker.  A new guest to the festival was Dodd Gross,  a kite designer and a champion stunt kite flyer.  He gave stunt kite demonstrations and seminars.  Representatives from two kite companies were in attendance, Jim Christianson of Skydog Kites and Chris Schultz of HQ Kites.  Both flew kites from their respective companies.  It was a busy, busy day.  Lots of folks came to see the kites and many brought their own kites and joined in on the fun.  That was the key word for the day, FUN!

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Dodd Gross and the Low Wind Kiting Seminar

Dodd Gross and the Low Wind Kiting Seminar Attendees

Sunday started out a little disappointing.  There was no wind at all.  The ocean was glassy and the skies were partly cloudy.  Thankfully, kite flyers are an enterprising group and several got out their fighting kites and demonstrated how to fly with no wind.  Yes, it is possible.  As the morning went on, there came a breath of wind and we got the low wind kites out of the bags and put them in the air.  By noon, the winds had increased and become steady.  A perfect day for kites.

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Ribbon Kite

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Bay Area Sundowners

The big kites went up and the mass ascensions and performances began.  Two mass ascensions of note were the Sky Skimmers and the Kites Unlimited Revolutions.  Both of these kites are only available at Kites Unlimited kite shop in Atlantic Beach, NC.  The Sky Skimmers are made by Jeri Dixon, one of the owners of the shop.  The special black and white Revolution kite pattern are made specifically for the Kites Unlimited shop by Revolution Kites.  I should mention too that the Hyperkites the Sundowners flew are also only available at Kites Unlimited.  This is starting to sound like a commercial but I can’t help it.  Kites Unlimited is my favorite kite store and the main sponsor of the Carolina Kite Festival.  I hang out there way too much.

I did something at this festival that I had never done before.  I got out in the performance field and flew for the audience.  The wind had come up in the afternoon and was blowing steady down the beach.  I trained my two Kites Unlimited Revolutions, one full sail and one vented sail, and flew to some music that was playing at the time.  It was a spur of the moment thing and went pretty well.  It went so well I dug out some music of my own choosing and flew my progressive “Dream” stack.  I trained my Dream On stunt kite and my Little Dreamer stunt kite, both designed by Dodd Gross and sold by Skydog, and flew them to the song “Time In A Bottle” by Jim Croce.  I lost the wind once on a low pass but put them back up and finished the music.  It was fun and I think I’ll do it again sometime.  Maybe with a little more practice beforehand.

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So how do I sum up the weekend?  Long days, tiring but fun, Fun, FUN!!!!!  And that’s what kite flying is all about.

Fair Winds All.

 

We spent the Labor Day weekend at the Mile High Kite and Craft Festival in Beech Mountain, NC. This tiny town of about 350 people has hosted this festival for the past twelve years. We’ve attended the last six. It is a gathering of kite people from several neighboring states and kite clubs. The weather hasn’t always cooperated but the fellowship has been good regardless.

This year it didn’t rain. Yeah!!!!! But the wind didn’t attend either. Saturday was an open fly and a kite builders competition. The chamber of commerce was giving away small sled kites to the children attending the festival. After decorating the kites, there were a lot of kids and adults running up and down the side of the mountain getting their kites to fly. There were a wide range of kites brought from home or purchased at the vendors’ booths. Whether the kites would fly or not, there were still a lot of smiles all day.

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There was just enough wind for the entries in the competition to fly for the judges. Five kites were entered in three categories. The most competition was in the Flat-and-Bowed category with three entries. The other categories, Soft Kite and Stunt Kite, had one entry each. All kites were judged for the benefit of the builders. After flying, the judges went over each kite with a fine-toothed comb, asking questions and giving advice on what was good and what needed improvement. For me, that was the best part. I learned a lot. The winning kite of the day was my Fled entitled “Smile”

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Sunday was the official festival day. The sound system was set up, banners and ground displays lined the demo field, and the flyers were ready to put on a show. But, again, the wind decided not to show up. All the kite fliers pulled out their light wind kites and tried to get things up in the air. And, again, kids and families were running up and down the mountainside with all manner of kites. Some flew for a bit and some were just dragged along the ground. Yet, there were still smiles on faces all day. During the dead calm times, there were boll races for young and old and giant soap bubbles floating across the field. There were three remarkable demos performed on Sunday. One was a ballet using a white indoor Rev, another was a pairs stunt kite ballet and the third was a ballet using a standard Rev (the flier spent a lot of time walking backwards). Amazing feats in little to no wind. One enterprising young man ran up and down the mountain pulling his giant octopus behind him. It should be noted he only did it once.

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I did fly my Dunton-Taylor box and my sport kite, Wisp II, a few times. The Skate wouldn’t go up and we didn’t think to pull out the Laima. In between flying attempts, we visited with old friends and met new ones. From our point of view, it was a great weekend. We’re looking forward to next year on Beech Mountain.

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Fair Winds All.

Much to my surprise, the Wisp II arrived early.  I was hoping it would come before we left for the Mile High Kite Fly at Beech Mountain, NC.  In fact, it arrived a week early.  Kudos to Into The Wind for the extremely fast delivery.  So my red Wisp II, my husband and I went to the beach today to try it out.  The winds were really low to nonexistent so it was a great trial for this kite.

The Wisp II is a dual-line, low wind stunt kite.  It is rated for two to five mph winds.  I tried it out on fifty foot lines to get a feel for it before leaving for the festival.  It was so much fun.  Even when the wind stopped and the flag at Fort Macon was wrapped around the pole, this kite kept on flying.  It felt like there was nothing on the other end of the lines.

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The Wisp II by Into The Wind

Beech Mountain, here we come.

Fair Winds All.

Six-stack of Hyperkites

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