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This past weekend was the 31st Carolina Kite Festival at the Sands Villa Resort in Atlantic Beach, NC.  This festival is sponsored by my local kite shop, Kites Unlimited & Bird Stuff, Etc., also found in Atlantic Beach, NC.  We had no idea how this one would be attended as Hurricane Florence hit us hard and many people are out of work and out of their homes.  Also, many of the hotels and condo units were damaged which made accommodations in the area harder to find.  But it didn’t deter most of our regular out-of-town flyers.
















The weekend started with very high winds and chilly temperatures.  It rained the Friday before and was cloudy most of the day Saturday.  The winds kept a lot of the attendees from flying their single line kites as no one wanted to have a broken kite.  Luckily, the winds were blowing steady down the beach which made it much better for the large kites to fly.  And there was a grand show of large kites.












The weatherman was both right and wrong about the weather on Sunday.  The sky cleared and the sun came out which warmed up the afternoon.  But the winds never let up, came across the buildings along the beach and became more turbulent.  Fewer big kites were flown.  But there were more people with their single line kites out on the field.

A couple of our special guests this year were Ray Wong and Randy Tom.  Both are makers of art kites and hail from California.  And both brought kites to be sold at the kite shop..  Photos of their kites are on the Kites Unlimited & Bird Stuff, Etc. Facebook page.

The Bay Area Sundowners Kite Team came from San Fransisco to perform both days.  They are always a joy to watch.  They perform routines flying stacks of thirteen hyperkites in red, white and blue.  Many spectators come year after year to see them perform.  Saturday’s wind was a little too high but they gave it a try anyway and did a good job.  The slighter winds on Sunday were better and the team flew a couple different routines throughout the day.

On the third kite field, the stunt kites were flown.  Dual line and quad line stunt kites were in the air as the wind and the whim of the flyers allowed.  Along with all the flying, there was a kids’ kite building table for children to decorate and assemble a small sled kite and a candy drop from a high-flying delta kite.  A few brave souls even went out on the beach Saturday night to fly their kites with lights on them.  I emphasize “brave” as it was very cold after the sun went down.

Although it seems that I spent most of my time running around with my camera photographing the event, I did get to fly a couple of my single line kites, a friend’s quad line kite and visit with kite flyers I hadn’t seen in quite some time.  The festival was deemed a success and plans are already in the works for next year’s event.  For more pictures and some video from the festival, check out the Kites Unlimited & Bird Stuff, Etc. Facebook page (Kites Unlimited & Bird Stuff, Etc.).

Fair Winds All

The community kite fly this past weekend was canceled because of too much wind.  Most people do not understand that you can have too much wind which results in broken lines and broken kites.  And there is a portion of us flyers that do not like being dragged down the beach by a kite.  Instead of flying, I set myself an impossible project – to build a train of five kites by the time the Carolina Kite Festival occurs.  This gives me six days.  The kites I plan on building are a variation of a plan I saw online.  I’ve changed the kites outline, am using fiberglass instead of bamboo and adjusted the flat kite with a dihedral to give it some bow.  I have no idea if this will work.

The kites will be yellow with black appliqué.  The patterns come from some images I found on the Internet.  The kites are small, five-sided and meant to dance around in the sky.  They will be ultimately flown on a single line with branches out to the side so they can move without entangling each other.

Four different designs are appliquéd on the kite skins.  They are enlarged using an opaque projector to a size that will fit the kite.  The theme is honey bees.  So the first and middle kite will be a single large bee.

It actually took only two and a half days to get all the skins stitched.  The designs are rather simple so that made things easier.  The next step was to decide to hem or to edge bind.  Edge binding gives the kites a black outline which will set them off in the sky.  And then there were six pockets to sew on each kite to hold the fiberglass rods which form the frames.  Pockets take longer than anything when making a kite.  Especially when there are special folds to make each pocket fit closely in each corner.



I framed one kite and tried to test fly it before doing all five kites.  The winds were terrible so a good test flight was impossible.  But I did find out that tails will probably be necessary.  So I spent one evening making zig-zag tails.  These are similar to a fuzzy tail and provide more drag than a simple straight tail.  They are also easier to make than fuzzy tails.  There still is framing to do on four of the kites.  My job for tomorrow.  And I’m planning on doing some more test flying between tomorrow’s rain showers.  Here’s hoping I get it all done and they fly well for the upcoming festival.

Fair Winds All

This past weekend I was on Ocracoke Island, NC for a photography workshop.  The weather was the best we had had for several weeks.  Sunny, warm and with moderate breezes.  I really hated missing the community kite fly.  I also hated the thought of not doing any kite flying at all.

Not really knowing what the schedule was going to be for the weekend, I still threw some kites in the back of the truck.  Who knows, there might be some free time during the weekend.  And, heaven forbid, I not go to the beach at some point.  So it was that on Saturday I skipped lunch with the workshop participants and took myself to the beach for a “kite fix”.  Since I wasn’t going to have a lot of time, I left the stunt kites behind and only took a couple of the smaller single-line kites.


The wind was coming from the east which meant it would be rather turbulent coming off the dunes and going to the ocean.  The first kites up were a train of tropical bird kites by Into The Wind Kites.  There should have been three but one needed some repair so only two made it into the sky.  The only other kite to fly was my Drumbox kite.  All the kites would go up for a while and then settle to the sand.  But I made the best of it.


While I was loading everything back into the truck and preparing to rejoin the photography group, a gentleman walked up to me in the parking lot.  He told me he and his wife enjoyed watching the kites and appreciated my efforts.  This made me feel so good.  And just re-affirmed that a short kite fly is better than no fly at all.


Fair Winds All

A beautiful day and some time away from the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.  The sun shone and the clouds moved across the sky.  It was the first kite flying day of the autumn but the temperature was more like the summer.  Hot!!  The beach had changed dramatically.  A lot of the dunes were worn away by the waves and the rocks that usually provided a place to set our kite bags were buried in the sand.  A lot of the beach grass was also gone.























On the bright side, the wind was good and it felt so right to be flying again.  The variety of kites in the air was amazing considering there were only five of the regular flyers present.  I put up the Brasington Stealth Delta from this summer’s workshop.  It flew quite well, even when the wind changed direction and strength.  I tried to fly the modified edo I call the Koi Pond.  It didn’t care for the lighter winds and so I was unable to anchor it and move on to flying a stunt kite.  And I need the practice.

It was a shame there were so few people walking on the beach to see the kites.  Several were whimsical and guaranteed to draw smiles.  Who can not smile upon seeing a flying hippo.  Others were guaranteed to fly no matter what the wind would do.  And then there were a couple that kept the flyers hopping as they went up, drifted down and had to be put up again.  Anyone who thinks kite flying is a passive sport never tried to fly on a day of changing wind
















In between tending kite lines, there was talk of the upcoming kite festival.  Especially some of the obstacles that have the potential to effect the number of flyers present and the number of spectators.  The one thing there was no talk of was canceling the event.  Just as the kites adjust to the whim of the wind and fly, so the flyers will adjust to the circumstances and fly, fly, fly.

Photos courtesy of Steve McGraw.

Fair Winds All


Fort Macon State Park is open.  Although the fort itself is closed because of damage from Hurricane Florence.  The early report concerning the weekly community kite fly was encouraging but we couldn’t verify the information because we weren’t there.  Whereas kites are important, grandchildren are more important.  And our youngest granddaughter turned three.  There was no way we were going to miss the party.  As seems to be the rule, the day was perfect for kites and we were absent.  No doubt we will hear about it when we stop at the kite shop.


The good news is the Carolina Kite Festival will go on as planned.  It will probably have a different “feel” than other years because of the hurricane recovery.  We have no idea how many participants can or will come nor what kind of accommodations will be available.  But there will be color in the sky and camaraderie on the sand.  Of that we can be sure.

Fair Winds All


December 2018
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