On this past Labor Day the Mile High Kite Festival was held on Beech Mountain, NC. This is a festival we never miss. First, because we get to see some kite friends that we don’t see more than once or twice a year and, second, because we get to the mountains for the long weekend. (And get away from the mad tourist surge at the beach.) This year was a very unusual kite fly. There was wind. At times, too much wind. The sun shone the whole weekend and the temperature was perfect. However, the wind was gusting into the twenties. Because we fly on the side of a steep hill at the top of the mountain, kites are seldom anchored and left to fly on their own. This was a good thing as no kites were lost to the extreme gusts. The banners that were put out to decorate the flying field took a beating. And some of the vendors tents as well.
This year I flew more kites and took less pictures. Probably a result of having wind. I got my two latest kite builds in the air; the 3do and the Stretch Tucker parafoil. Both of these were online workshops as the in-person workshops were canceled this year. The parafoil flew like a champ. The 3do needs some extra tweeking. Not unusual for a new build. I didn’t realize it until just now that both of my latest applique designs were Oriental themed. Other kites made it out of the bag off and on all weekend. That’s a lot for me to fly on the mountain. Unfortunately, there was no kite builders competition this year. Maybe because I was the only kite builder to bring something. So, by default, I awarded myself “Best In Show”.
After sitting home for a year because of the pandemic, walking up and down the hill was quite strenuous. You never realize the effect of inactivity until you’re inactive for a period of time and then try to pick up where you left off. We stay an extra day after the festival to sight see a little, maybe fly our kites a little and avoid the holiday traffic. This year we mostly napped. We did find a new coffee shop which also had great pastries. I can only hope they stay open and are there next year.
That’s about it for now. Stay tuned for more updates and latest kite flying news.
Lately our days have been filled with helping friends at the local kite shop. Last week we took an afternoon off to fly some kites and rest. We gathered up all our rokkaku kites and were going to have a theme fly. The wind was in the low teens and the temperature was warm but not too hot. Perfect.
We got two vintage rokkakus up and anchored and were putting together a third when a squall blow up off the ocean. Got the kite we were working on back in the bag so it wouldn’t get too wet and only then realized how high the wind had picked up, upwards of twenty-five to thirty miles per hour. What made us aware of the wind was our two sand anchors whizzing by our heads. The rokkakus took off in the high winds and lifted the anchors off the ground. There was a mad dash to grab kite lines and spools and keep the kites from going completely out of sight. Needless to say, there were some nasty line burns and cuts on our hands.
One kite ran into the side of the condominium, lost its lift and slid to the ground. So far, so good. It wasn’t going anywhere. The other was going to be our problem child. It lifted the anchor close to twenty feet in the air and way above the dunes. Then the anchor caught in a tree beside a neighboring beach house. Yes, you read right. The anchor caught in the tree. The kite was flying high above the house and out of reach.
Luckily, the resident of the beach house were there and were able to help get the anchor out of the tree. We tied the kite to a pole and released the anchor. Then neighbor brought the anchor to the back to the beach where we re-anchored the kite and walked it down. These neighbors really went beyond norm in helping retrieve the kite and I’m sure they will be talking about it for a long time to come.
Needless to say, we were done flying kites that afternoon. Maybe soon we will get the chance to fly the rokkakus again.
The weekly community kite fly was another matter. There was no wind that day. Not to mention it was hot. Tried to fly two different low wind kites; the Laima and the Skate. Both needed constant supervision to remain in the air. It just wasn’t worth the effort and the kite fly was cut short.
I’ve gotten behind in writing this blog. The weather was not cooperating and there have been other activities which have kept us from the beaches. The last day we flew was Memorial Day. Fort Macon State Park had finally opened so there was the weekly community kite fly on the holiday weekend. And it was a busy weekend. The park was crowded which made the kite fly somewhat of a challenge. More fishermen, more sun bathers and more people walking along the shore. This gave us a greater audience to view the kites but it also cut down on the space to fly.
Because of the holiday, we chose to only fly red-white-blue kites. And we only carried a couple as our kite cart is still in need of repair. We put up the handmade Painless Parafoil and our new Killip foil.
For the first time in a long time, I brought out a dual line stunt kite. The red-white-blue Window NG. I had forgotten that noise that this kite can make as it circles in the sky. It drew a lot of looks and comments. Especially with the twenty-five foot tube tail following behind.
I particularly enjoyed flying the Painless Parafoil as it is one of the first kites I had built. Although few people who see it recognize the stylized eagle I appliquéd on the bottom panel. The creator of the Painless Parafoil, Stretch Tucker, was supposed to give a workshop this summer in Pennsylvania but, in light of current events, he is unable come. However, I have his plans for the Flowform 16 and will be starting that kite soon. And, if I’m lucky, I will still be able to attend the workshop and finish the construction there.
The weather is not looking good for a community kite fly this weekend. So, for now, I will have to clean up the kite room and begin planning for the Flowform.
Another beautiful day on the beach with good winds and good temperatures. I pulled out a kite bag containing kites that hadn’t been flown in quite a while. For a couple of them, it had been years. It was a show of square-head dragon kites.
I find this style of dragon makes a great show in the sky and, at the same time, is very easy to handle. The head is framed with two spars crossed and it has a three-point bridle. Essentially it’s a della-porta kite with a large attached tail which has a slight taper down its length. Each kite is about twenty-five feet long. It takes a while to wind everything up at the end of the day but it’s worth it.
Two of these kites, the Green Dragon and the Dog, were made by Skydog Kites. The Dog is the logo of Skydog Kites and is still in production. In place of the green dragon, Skydog Kites now makes a pirate motif on a square-head dragon kite.
The other three dragon kites were made by Go Fly A Kite. A company that is no longer in existence. I guess that makes these kites collector items. After some research, I found the lion and tiger motifs were also used on smaller round-head dragon kites. They were advertised as the Wildcat Dragon kites. The Joker kite reminds me of my father. He liked to play cards with friends and, every now and then, would vacation at a casino.
It was a wonderful, relaxing afternoon; sitting in the sun, watching our kites dance in the wind. The walkers on the beach seemed to like watching the kites, too. Quite often, a cell phone would come out for a picture or two. As the sun went down, the temperature cooled a little and it was time to pack everything away for the day.
Luckily, the Sunday community kite fly at Fort Macon State Park has started up again. So there was an excuse for flying more than once. This week the winds went up a notch and made flying somewhat of a challenge. I only put up one kite, the Illustion Delta kite by Skydog Kites. It had a hard time with the rising winds and after a couple of crashes, I figured it was time to pack it away and return home.
Now to figure out the theme for our next trek to the beach.