Issue 5: Silver Wings SKC

hot, HOT, HOT in Wichita KS

There are three things you almost never want to hear at a kite competition.

#1 A TV weatherman saying, “The Kansas winds should give us a break today, unless you’re a kiteflyer.”

#2 A chief judge saying, “It’s fly or die, and all boundaries are hard.”

#3 The organizer saying, “We don’t have a wind meter, but so what?”

Saturday (the only day I attended) at Silverwings was more track meet than kite festival. A steady 0 mph wind blew (or didn’t blow) all day. There were occasional gusts of up to 1 mph, but they kept coming from different directions. It wasn’t unusual to see flyers directing their ground crews to move a kite over there, no, back this way, no, let’s try it over here. Troy Gunn delayed competition until almost noon, but finally the Experienced flyers took the field. Running backwards, sideways, and in circles, nobody really excelled in EIP, but Phil Broder pulled off a 13 point win over Brian Guile. This makes the third national event this season (along with Mid-Atlantic SKC and the Kalamazoo Kite Thingy) where Broder won EIP. The wind didn’t improve for EIB, and flyers and judges alike were clearly wilting in the 100 degree heat. Broder won again over Guile, but this time by a mere 4/10ths of a point. It was Broder’s first-EVER ballet win in six years of competition.

Masters competition faced the same conditions. It didn’t seem to bother Mike Delfar, who won MIP. Ballet began with Tomarra Taylor, flying on a sprained ankle, going through a 270 degree wind shift before running out of room. Then a hurricane blew in (relatively speaking), and with 1 mph winds blowing from only two different directions, Shane Snowden triumphed in MIB. Who needs indoor flying when you can have the same conditions outside in the sun?

But Saturday night there was an indoor fly, for those people who hadn’t died of dehydration or gotten tired of running around pulling a kite. After a hefty barbecue dinner – if it’s 100 degrees, why not light up the grill? – at Sluggers sports complex, the indoor soccer arena was filled with indoor flyers. The Astroturf surface proved perfect for indoor work, as Jeff Howard auctioned off a variety of kites and accessories in the background.

Off the competition field, Jerry Hershey and the Wichita Windjammers had kids making sled kites to benefit the Muscular Dystropy Association. It was great to see one of “Jerry’s kids” take a sled kite, put his motorized wheelchair into reverse, and go racing across the grass, the kite soaring overhead. Everyone made the best of the light winds and kept their sense of humor.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t stick around for Sunday’s events, but judging from the number of novice and intermediate flyers, it looks like the Central Conference is doing a great job of getting new people involved. With a good base of new flyers, Silverwings could be a hot festival, regardless of temperature, for years to come.