New Year’s Day with the San Diego Kite Club, Part 2

Banners in the breezeWell, I didn’t quite finish my post from the other day so here’s “Part 2” – after watching the synchronized kite fliers, the wind picked up a bit and the banners started fluttering a bit more, which is always a good thing at a kite festival. I was particularly fascinated with the red white and blue set that resembled an America flag (pictured on the left). If one looks closely (double click on the photo for a larger view), it’s possible to see some of the goodies set out for the raffle located to the right of the flag banners. Mentioning “raffle,” shortly after I took this picture, I went back to watch my boy work more on his kite when, rather suddenly, our friend Iris, ran up to me to make sure I received my final set of raffle tickets because the drawing was about to begin. Last year, my boy and I did exceptionally well (we won several kites!) so I purchased the same number of tickets this year. While we didn’t win as many things (not that it matters) we still won! In fact, of the two items I had hoped for the most, one was a Cody box kite. Cody’s are very stable American kites that have been around for a long time and were originally invented by Samuel Franklin Cody (no relation to Buffalo Bill). Interestingly, these were used as a man-lifters (yes, they were big). While Cody’s resemble box kites, they have an extra set of wings that make them look rather bat-like. The Cody I won isn’t very big but that doesn’t matter – it still looks cool. Then, my boy had the winning ticket for a “Kite Dynamics Kite Building and Experiment Kit” which can be used to about a hundred different kites, as well as many variations. Again, too cool!

At the conclusion of the raffle, there was also an auction in which we managed to get several more kites at a steep discount from what they would cost retail – we won a box kite, a stunt kite, a Prism Triad, and a “cube kite.” All in all, it was a very inexpensive (but great way) to build our collection.

My kite archMany people usually leave right after the auction but, as there was still sunlight to fly in, we stayed a bit longer. I managed to get my kite arch up with the help of Dan, current president and one of the founding members of the San Diego Kite Club (they were a bit tangled and he helped me undo the mess). Fortunately, the wind came up enough so that the arch could go up for a short while. Unfortunately, the breeze died out but that was merely a signal for us to call it a day. After packing up my kite arch, I decided to take a quick video of my banners with my carp and my Catherine’s Wheel attached. Sadly, one of my banner poles broke so I was only able to put up two of my three banners. I was very happy; however, that my Catherine’s Wheel which worked like a charm. 

Once the car was packed up, I took my boy to Belmont Park where we spent the evening on the bumpercars before heading home. As always, I can’t imagine a better way to have some fun than to be with him.

New Year’s Day with the San Diego Kite Club

Huge trilobits at the 2008 New Year's Kite Festival in San Diego

For the second year in a row, my boy and I went to San Diego for their annual New Year’s Day Kite Festival and it was, once again, fantastic! This year, we went down a bit early and arrived on New Year’s Eve around 11:30 AM in order to enjoy a fighter kite competition. While there were not too many competitors (and I certainly didn’t enter as I haven’t flown for a couple of months), the participants were outstanding! As expected, my boy and I met Dave and Iris (two of the nicest people anywhere!) and Dave filled us in on the backgrounds of some of those were engaged in kite warfare. Unlike fighter kite competitions in other parts of the world where the goal is to cut the line of your opponent’s kite (and often glass coated lines are used), the intent of American competitions is to merely touch the line of your challenger from either above or below – and that selection is based upon the call of the judge. According to Dave there was a least one national/international champion flying and many other well-known fighter experts – including Victor Heredia, the creator of the famous “Vic’s Fighter Kite”(who also owns Kite Country in San Diego.” I was particularly interested in watching Vic fly as he is legendary in the kite world. Naturally, he was specular and so were the other competitors (sorry, but I don’t remember their names). While the wind was almost non-existent, fighters are extremely light and can fly in almost anything. Following the competition and award ceremony (where winners were presented with incredible paper sculpture trophies made by Dave), Vic gave my boy and I a few tips on how to fly the Hoopty fighter I had bought from him a few months ago. My boy then spent some time flying it and, within a short period of time became quite good at it (fighters, while small, require a bit of training to get them up). It was a real joy to watch him. Of course, my job was to pick up the kite and help him launch it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of the fighter kite competition or the trophies (I used my cell phone camera and I suspect I hit the shutter button too soon – that erases the picture instead of saving it). Dave was kind enough; however, tell me where to find the pattern for the incredible awards he made; those are located on the Canon Paper Craft web site. The awards that Dave made for the event contained the “Chinese Dragon” mounted on wood and were exceptionally beautiful.

Following the fighter kite competition at Mission Bay Park (Tecolate Shores), my boy and I thought we would see if we could find something to do. Surprisingly, everything we went to was either closed or was about to close. We ended up going to the hotel for the evening in order to wait for the New Year. We spent a couple of hours playing various Nintendo DS Lite games (we got a matched set a year ago – I figured it would be a good way to “bond” with him as his nose is usually buried in an electronic game of some sort). While he nearly always beats me (especially at action type games), I can usually beat him at slower strategy ones. After shooting off cheap (plastic!) cap guns to make some noise at midnight (we couldn’t find anything else), we called it a night. Interestingly, we ended up with the same room (207) as the one we stayed in last year.

Banners and trilobitesAs soon as we woke up in the morning, we grabbed a bite to eat and took off for the kite festival, located at Mariners Point. While the weather was gorgeous, the was almost no wind of any kind – only the very largest kites were able to get aloft and, even then, had problems staying up. Just the same, there were a lot of banners and other goodies that could still flutter in the wind. As the day wore on, the wind picked up a bit so a few kites did get up. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get my 30 sq. ft. Sutton Flow Form up – and that’s usually one of the easiest to fly.

Shortly after noon, we dined on goodies provided by the San Diego Kite Club (lunch was catered this year) – carne asade and other yummy goodies. That was almost immediately followed by some of the terrific Rev fliers who launched their kites and practiced synchronized flying. Even with the light breeze (it really was nothing more than that) most of these folks are so experienced that they were still able to get their extremely lightweight Revs up. Looking at the photo on the right, it’s easy to see that not too much was flying – again, only the huge trilobites and a few Revs. Getting back to the synchronized fliers, some of the most experienced (and expert) folks were still able to do some amazing things – watching them is always one of the most fun event’s to watch. I’m always amazed at how much they are able to control their kites. The following video shows some of the incredible things they did.

I was also able to get a shot of the group as they were making their kites dance across the sky (in other words, I was almost underneath the kites and looking back at them as I took this photo). These consisted of the four (expert) members of “Team Too Much Fun” (a rather appropriate name) and four others. While I’m not sure if the video picked it up, I did hear one or two of the fliers comment on how difficult it was to keep the kites up. Even so, they were still great to watch.

Synchronized kite team

Later in the afternoon my boy tried making a sled kite assisted by Dave. The following video, taken with my cell phone (hence the poor quality), shows him hard at work. The one good thing about a kite festival where there isn’t much wind – you can always make more kites (one can never have enough)!

While my boy was working in his kite, I took some time to look at some of the other flying things that I either have already made or hope to make. Of particular interest was another Catherine’s Wheel. Other than the two I’ve made (one of which didn’t spin because of a mistake I made), I had only seen them in photos. Interestingly, it was about the same size as mine but each cell was sewn individually – mine used fewer pieces but accomplished the same thing. Something else I notice – when I first put mine up for the day, the bridles wanted to twist so I had to adjust the swivel.

Catherine’s WheelI noticed that the other Catherine’s wheel also seemed to have the same problem but, interestingly, it didn’t spin in a full circle – instead, it usually looked like an upside-down “U”. While I can’t tell what caused it, my guess is that it either had a problem with the bridles (which I doubt) or could have been caused by the swivel it was attached to. Regardless, it was still fun to watch. The next time I take my boy to the science museum, I’ll have to look at the exhibit that can reproduce the problem but with a bicycle chain instead. Eventually, I plan on making more Catherine’s Wheels, although bigger than the one I currently have.

 Well, it’s getting late and there’s still more to post so I’ll save that for tomorrow.

Catherine’s Wheel, Second Attempt

Well. . .it’s been too long since I’ve updated this blog. I’ve had a rather difficult (to say the least) summer and really haven’t had much of a chance to do anything. I finished my second Catherine’s Wheel a few weeks ago but there simply hasn’t been much wind. I finally got a chance last week (Sunday, July 29th) to try it out. The breeze just happened to come up and I had it in my car so I gave it a shot. As is evident from the video below, it works!

The problem with the first one is that I hadn’t sewn it together properly (the instructions were about a clear as mud) but I realized what needed to be done and my second one works! Too cool! While the video isn’t the greatest (it was taken with my cell phone) it still shows that I was successful! I want to make some larger ones in the future – I’m especially interested in attaching three or more together with each one spinning in a different direction.

As I mentioned above, this has been an extremely stressful summer – I’m very glad I had my boy with me. Unfortunately, we just haven’t had much of a chance to fly. I’m hoping that things will calm down a bit (I already know they won’t) but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I really do need to make more kites and assorted goodies. My plan has been to make some fighters but even that hasn’t been possible.

The Kite Regalia

Kite RegaliaGosh, flying kites is FUN! Yesterday was very hot (I just hope it doesn’t get humid like last year) and decided to take my boy to the beach. Of course, I brought far too many kites but happened to have all but one of my own creations; the only one missing was my first kite, the square flake. As it turned out, the beach was packed (but, because I paid for an annual pass to go to State Beaches as it is much more cost effective) but, because the beach are is so wide (we went to Huntington Beach), there was still a lot of real estate to set up shop. 

So. . . guess what I did (just one guess now)?! I set up my full regalia of kite creations! I’ve got to admit, it’s quite a thrill to see everything up in the air. I had my new kite arch, my banners, my carp windsock, my bol, as well as my entire flock of duck windsocks. Just as exciting was the fact that there was a good, strong steady breeze. The only bad thing is that I forgot my KAP rig (darn!) – both the weather and my kite display would have been perfect for KAPing. Oh well . . . maybe next time! 

Fortunately, I did have my cameraMother, Child, and Kite Arch and managed to get quite a few ground-based photos. Digital cameras are absolutely wonderful in that you can take as many photos as the memory card will hold and, of course, there is no need to develop anything. As a result, I know take a lot of pictures and shift through them to find the ones I like. Yesterday’s photos were not exception – I managed to get quite a few that I liked (more than I normally would). In addition to numerous views of my compete set of flying things, I had several favorites; including a photo of a mother with her child who decided to park themselves on their backs directly under my kite arch. Double clicking on the picture will open up a larger version on Flickr. Once there, look at the larger photo sizes in order to view the mom with her kid. I can’t think of anything more flattering than to have something like this occur! 

Pelicans and the ArchIn addition to the wonders of enjoying the beach on a warm summer afternoon and flying kites, I’m always thrilled when any wildlife show up – in this case, a flock of pelicans flew by and, as luck would have it, I had my camera too! While I only got a couple of photos and didn’t really have time to set up my camera, I did get a couple of shots. My favorite is the view of the pelicans flying past my arch. 

While the pelicans were only around for a few moments (long enough to fly by), my own flock of Line of Ducksducks managed to stay pinned to the sky. I’ve been amazed at how stable the ducks are – they actually stay right-side-up while they’re flying. There must be something inherent in their design that allow them to remain that way. Bol

Another one of my favorite photos happens to be one I took of my bol. I didn’t realize it until I arrived Through the Eye of the Bolhome, but the hole in the bol (no, I’m not attempting to be a poet), was centered over a life guard tower. I didn’t catch this until I was editing my pictures to post on Flickr. I cropped it in order to highlight the neat view! 

Finally, I was thrilled with the picture of the “duck tails” – a composite of my duck windsocks Duck Tailsbehind a partial view of my arch. In addition to the pun (which is intended), I thought it made for a rather interesting shot.

Another maiden voyage

Kites and you-know-whoIt’s been a busy week since I last posted – I’ve been preparing materials in order to sue the Los Angeles County Child Support Services Department for their theft, fraud, and other vile actions. I did; however, get down to Doheny State Beach where I sat on the grass for a couple of hours in order to add the tails to my arch kite.

To say that I was pleased with the results is an understatement – I was absolutely thrilled with the results! I still can’t believe that I’m actually making so many cool kite things – sewing has turned out to be a bit easier than I imagined and I’m having a ball with it. If nothing else, it’s great Kite Arch Maiden Voyage“therapy” and is quite inexpensive (far, far cheaper than buying kites).  It only took a few moments after I launched the arch (I was a bit worried as I had read that arches can turn into a tangled mess if they’re not launched properly) before others started coming over to comment. One guy offered to take my picture, using my cell phone, while holding on to the end of the arch – granted, the clown in the photo kind of spoils the picture (grin) but the kites sure look great! 

As I alluded above, I had no problem launching my kite arch – the picture shows the arch in its full glory. It also shows how they were constructed – each kite has one spar (the vertical one), and the horizontal “spar” consists of Dacron line that is sewn across the back. I used Dacron tape to make the spar pockets (note the kite near the bottom left) and surveyors’ tape is attached to the bottom of each kite, using Velcro, to serve as a tail. Kite Arch The breeze was somewhat irregular; however, and the arch would go up – and come down. One of the interesting things is that the arch would self-launch when the breeze would pick up again. As a result, there where times when only a part of the arch would be aloft while, at other times, all of them would reach towards the sky and pull the line taut. As always, I had the most fun watching others enjoying the kites – seeing their reactions is almost as fun as flying.