Back From A Mile High

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.


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”


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.


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.


Fair Winds All.

A Lot Of Catching Up To Do (Part 1)

Life has been hectic since the last post.  And it bothers me that I have left this so long with no updates.  I will try to do better in the future.  We haven’t been flying much for one reason or another.  The first reason is Hurricane Irene.  She may have only been a category 1 storm when she passed over our heads but the rains and winds were enough to disrupt our lives significantly.  We were lucky in that we had no damage to our property.  Although we did have to have three trees taken done to avoid later possible damage.  Needless to say, the regular weekly kite fly was canceled.

Right after the clean-up was completed at both houses, it was time to pack up the car and leave for the Mile High Kite Fly at Beech Mountain, NC.  This festival was so named because Beech Mountain is 5,506 feet above sea level, the highest town in the state.  Saturday is set-up day and a kite builders competition.  I decided to take the plunge and enter some of the kites I had built.  Hopefully, the judges would be kind and I would pick up some pointers on kite building and competing.  I spent a couple of hours Saturday morning attending to details on my kites and getting very nervous about the competition.  The judging is done in two stages: in the air ( how will it flies and looks in the sky) and on the ground (how well it is made).  I entered four kites in three categories.  In the flat & bowed kites, I entered the Penelope Cat della porta and the Green Bay hata. (Side note on the hata – I finished this kite and flew it for the first time on Superbowl Sunday.  Need I mention who won Superbowl LXV?  Go Packers!!)  In the soft & flexible, I entered the Eagle painless parafoil.  In the box & cellular, I entered the Dunston-Taylor box delta that I had finished the night before leaving for the festival.

Dunston-Taylor Box Delta (custom kite)
Green Bay Packers Hata (custom kite)

The winds on Saturday were light and variable and the skies were cloudy.  Not the best day to show off one’s handiwork.  But we do the best we can with what we’ve got.  There were a total of none kites entered in the competition.  They all flew to one degree or another.  I had the hardest time getting the parafoil to fly but once it got up, it flew steady like a champ.  There wasn’t quite enough wind for the flat & bowed so it took some work to keep them in the air high enough for the judges to see what they looked like.  But we managed.  The Dunston-Taylor box is a light wind kite so there was no problem there.  The judges’ scores were tallied but the results weren’t going to be announced until the next day.  More nervous waiting.  I did get some great comments from the judges and a lot of good advice and suggestions.  Lots of encouragement to keep on building.  And have to admit, it was fun and I look forward to doing it again.

Sunday was the festival day.  The day full of flying and kid’s kite-making and kid’s flying up and down the mountainside.  But there was no wind.  Yes, even less than the day before.  But that didn’t seemed to stop the kids.  They ran up and down and up and down trying to get their kites in the air.  Some brought their own kites to fly and some bought kites from a vendor on site.  The clouds became thicker and darker and around one o’clock the skies opened and the rain came down. We were ready to wait it out until there was thunder and lightning. Then the tents came down and the banners were put away and the festival was officially over. It all ended too soon. There was a fliers cook-out later that evening despite the rain. Thank goodness for picnic shelters. At the cook-out, the winners of the kite builders were announced.

I was truly surprised when I found out I won first place in soft & flexible with my Eagle parafoil. I truly thought my competitor’s kite was better but the judges thought otherwise. Hurray for me!!!!! Then I won a second place in flat & bowed with the Penelope Cat della porta. A second Hurray!!! Two awards in my first competition. Pretty good. I’ve started planning for next year.

The Eagle (custom kite)
Penelope Cat (custom kite)

More later.

Fair Winds All.

Another Aspect Of Kiting

This weekend was spent at the Old Dominion Stunt Kite Competition at Dorey Park in Richmond, VA.  We had never been to one before and wanted to see what constituted a stunt kite competition and renew friendships with some people we hadn’t seen in a while.  While we were warned that the competitions could get very boring and had prepared a back-up plan if needed.  It turns out, we never left the park.

The competition is divided into two types; precision and ballet, and is set up for dual and multi-line kites on three levels; novice, experienced and masters.  Also there is competition for pairs and teams to fly.  Apparently, they have changed the precision competition rules and, instead of just doing figures, the flier must tie the figures together with transition moves.  This makes it more of a fluid routine and makes it less boring because it not just the same thing over and over and over.  Of course, the ballet routines are never boring.  The choice of music for a ballet routine is as varied as the style of flying.  The winds were a challenge all weekend.  No wind, then some wind, then no wind, then some wind, etc.  And rain on Sunday made things even more interesting.  The competition kept on, even in the rain.

Pairs Dual Line Ballet

There were a fair number of kite builders in attendance.  Most were competitors as well as builders.  I had several conversations with them and shared a couple of the kites I had made.  And they shared theirs.  We talked sewing techniques and ideas and I learned quit a bit.  I also got to meet people who I had only known from the online forums and found out their true names.  It made me feel like I was a part of something and not just a faceless voice on a computer screen.  I’m finding that sharing brings us all together.  No matter where we come from.  One person in particular was trying to get me to tell the secret pattern of my current kite build.  It’s not going to happen.  The secret will be revealed in due time.

I tried to put up a couple of single line kites over the weekend.  Between the two days, I’d say I got maybe a half hour of flight time with about three different kites.  Two were kites I had made and one was the Chiroptera I won in the raffle.  So for two kites there wasn’t enough wind and for the one there was too much.  I had wanted to fly my Vamp Devil but I never took it out of the bag.  If the pros were having trouble keeping their kites in the air, what hope did I have.  And, at times, the competitors were having trouble.  One of the great things was that even though these fliers were serious about winning and earning league points so they could advance in the standings, they weren’t above laughing at their mistakes and enjoying the time together.  As this was my first competition event, I can’t say whether it is this way at all the events.  I sure hope so.  By the way, I was informed that as I did manage to fly a kite at Dorey Park I was now considered a member of the Richmond Air Force, the local kite club.  I think this decision was made so I could be drafted to help tear down the field equipment at the end of the day.  I have to admit, I didn’t put up much of a fight.  Many hands make light work.

Saturday night was a cookout at one of the local kite members house in the country.  What a special place.  And what great food.  The awards were given out for the first day’s flying.  And there was an auction for some kites that were donated to raise money to help fund the competition.  I stayed out of the auction as I had already received a new kite.  I had gotten the Chiroptera, the raffle kite, that morning from the builder.  He even signed the kite for me.  The party broke up about dusk as the next days flying was to begin early.

Competition Kites

Sunday was Father’s Day.  We got to the field late because we had a special Father’s Day breakfast.  And John got to open a Father’s Day present from our daughter.  It was a figurine of Charlie Brown trying to fly his kite.  The inscription on it was “Believing Is Halfway to Flying.”  So appropriate.  He as thrilled.  We got our canopy set up and talked to a few people when he got another Father’s Day surprise.  The dog got him a red Vamp Devil.  Now John has never flown a quad line kite so he was in no way expecting one.  Especially from the dog.  But he wanted to show it off so we hung it on the back wall of the canopy so everyone around could see it.  And it’s tail billowing out behind it whenever the wind came up.  It caught a lot attention from people who had never seen one before.  Hardly anyone realized it was a quad line until we told them so.  And then the rains came.  We stayed dry under our canopy and gave shelter to several kite bags.  The Vamp Devil was put away so it wouldn’t get wet.  The rain was heavy at times but not steady.  At the coast we would call it “coming in squalls”.  And of course, it quit when it was time to give out the awards and pack up for the day.  Then it was off to a restaurant for a Father’s Day dinner.  A place of John’s choice for a dinner of his choice.  Well, really his second choice.  The first one was crammed and the waiting line was out the door.

This morning we slept late and took our time coming home.  Made a couple of stops on the way and still got home in good time.  Did we have a good time?  Yes!  Will we do it again next year?  Most probably.  The pressure will be on for us to fly in the novice class.  We have been warned.

Fair Winds All.