Kite Shows

Every now and then people get the idea to have kites at an event. This web page is an attempt to get everyone on the same page when it comes to kites, what kites are, who has them and flys them, and what the expectations and limitations are at an event.

What is a kite?
A kite is a heavier-than-air object that flys in the air by using a string to hold it in place so it can convert wind in to lift. Kites come in many different shapes, sizes, and prices. But they all have one thing in common: They need wind to fly. Wind to a kite is like fuel to a car. Both quantity and quality matter when it comes to wind. It is important for Event Organizers to acknowledge that kites are very, very, weather dependent. Sometimes the wind blows, and sometimes it does not. That gets us to where is good to fly.

Where to fly: Some basic site requirements.
Kites need open space and clear, unobstructed, unrestricted access to wind. A single soccer field surrounded by 40-foot tall trees doesn't really work. Some Show Kites are 100 feet long. They are too big, and pull too much, to be held by hand. To launch them, the first step is to anchor the flying line with either a stake on grass, or a sandbag on sand. Then the flying line is laid out. Then the kite is attached to the flying line and stretched out. That means the kite needs an area, a field, as long as the kite and the and the string put together. To fly a 100-foot kite at 200 feet, it requires 300 feet of field to launch it.

Obstacles such as trees, buildings and hills create turbulence in the wind that can make it very difficult to launch a kite and keep it the air. Turbulence causes kites to crash together in the air or sometimes lose stability and crash to the ground. For this reason, experienced kite flyers often try to avoid flying kites over trees or people. Experienced kite flyers can deal with difficult conditions. It just means that they use a little more real estate and cooperate very well when bad things happen.

And that brings us to kite string. Kites can't fly without string. Today's kite string is not the friendly, furry, cotton string that many of us grew up with. Today's kite string is almost always synthetic, either nylon, dacron, or polyester. Synthetic string cuts. The string cuts kites, other kite strings, and people. For this reason, for mutual protection, experienced Kite Flyers who fly Demos, or Exhibitions, or Shows, prefer a designated, dedicated, area where they can fly without worrying about injury to a spectator, or losing an expensive kite because it was cut out of the sky by someone's kite string.

Some kite flyers use flags (banners) to mark their kite string.

Arrow Flag

Who are these 'kite people'?
Kite Flyers are an incredibly eclectic group. Robert Ingraham, who founded the American Kitefliers Association nearly 50 years ago, described kiters as a congregation of individualists. Nearly all Kite Flyers fly for fun. When they go to a Kite Festival, they are free to fly whatever kite the wind will support, and can put it wherever it will fly best, whenever the wind is the best. When there is no wind they sit and talk and make repairs and everyone knows why nothing is flying.

Some Kite Flyers make their own kites. Most Kite Flyers buy their kites. The good news is that there are kites for every ability and pocketbook. The bad news is that some kites sell for $7,000. Kite Flyers fly kites because they love it. It is their hobby and their passion. They can describe every kite they have and its quirks, its strengths and it weaknesses. Most Kite Flyers do not fly kites professionally. They do it as a pastime. That being said, they prefer to fly what they want, when they want, the way they want. If they are asked to put on a Show, or an Exhibition, it often means cramped space, poor conditions and damaged kites.When they are asked to put their prized possessions at risk, they often ask for compensation for travel and wear & tear on the kites.

Kite Festivals:
Kite Festivals are all about flying kites. The best Kite Festivals are organized around locations which ideal for the best wind, usually near water. When (and if) the wind comes right off the water, there is nothing to break up or disturb the wind and make it turbulent.Kite Flyers like nice, smooth, clean, wind.

When the wind is smooth and clean and everyone knows what to do, a lot of kites can be flown in a small area.

Kite Shows and Demonstrations are quite often the opposite of Kite Festivals. Instead of being arranged around what is best for kites, Kite Shows and Demonstrations tend to be requested and organized around where and when people will be in a certain place, regardless of how inhospitable that place and time might be to the kites. People who request Kite Shows should understand that kites are extremely weather dependent. Wind to kites is like fuel to a car. Good wind equals good performance. Lousy wind equals lousy performance. Kite Flyers have very little control over the wind.

A kite that flys beautifully in smooth, clean wind at a kite festival may not fly at all in low area that is surrounded by trees and hills and buildings.

Did someone say kites?

We can bring a few kites to a Kite Show.

 Some of the kites we bring to Kite Talks.
 Our Sutton 252 FlowForm. 252 square feet of kite.
 Our Peter Lynn Trilobite kite. 45 feet of kite and 35 feet of tails.
 Our Trilobite and Black Octopus at Kites on Ice in Madison, WI.
Launching a Peter Lynn Manta Ray. 35 feet wide and 100 feet long.
 Our Manta Ray in flight.
 Our Manta Ray in light wind at Ocean City, MD.
 Our kites at Brenton Point, Newport, RI.
 Samuel Franklin Cody War Box kite that I made.
 Our 20-foot Premier Frog kite.
 A Mikey Mouse Rokkaku Kite that I made.
 A John Freeman Goin' & Comin' kite that I made. It is a box kite, turned inside out.
 A large 'snowflake' Facet Kite that I made.
 If it doesn't fly, it is not a kite. A wall hanging, soft sculpture, but not a kite.
 A 28-kite steerable stack of kites that I really like to fly.
 It doesn't need much wind, and it is impressive to watch.
 Look, ma! No tail! No bridle! It can't fly - it has a hole in it!
 A kite is a kite is a kite, right?