Now lemme see… KITES… warm-weather clothes… KITES… toilet kit… KITES… spare line-sets… KITES… credit cards… KITES… cell-phone… KITES… WHAT???
Well, I’m packing the van for a run down to this incredible kite party. Headin’ south tomorrow. Yeah, close to 2,800 miles all told, take us at least a week, or maybe more. Yeah, honest… A Kite Party! In February!
Now, I gotta say this – My going to this Kite Party is CRITICAL!
Well, mostly – it’s for the incredible quality of the people and the kites that’ll be there…and also for my soul, of course! Renewal, after a long, wet winter, I guess…
And this Second Annual Kite Party is a very, Very special event! Yeah! Well, for one thing, it’s completely UN-organized – intentionally so! Nope, it’s NOT a Festival! Yeah, no scheduled events, no planned competitions. Not even any things you’ve GOTTA do. Just head on down to Huntington Beach, drag out a kite, and – just Shut Up and FLY!
Then – there’s the people, and the kites they’ll bring to this party… A whole bunch of top-quality fliers from around the country. Not just as fliers, either – genuine “quality” folks, too – including some fine
kitemakers. “Name” people are flying in from all over the USA and even a couple from England, too…
Wanna fly the newest, greatest, best kites – and learn the tuning tweaks and secrets? Want some quality time with the “best of the best,” from sun-up to sundown? Well – get yourself on down to Huntington Beach, then… It’s where it’s all happening. It truly doesn’t ever GET any better than this! EVER!!! …and when you get there, be prepared to – just SHUT UP and FLY!!!
Yeah, so… That’s why we headed south… Charly and I pulled out of Seattle late Tuesday morning and made it into California in one sweet shot. Then we tooled on down to Chico, CA the next day to visit Steve and Chris, owners of Gone With The Wind kite shop, and a couple of our favorite kite-folks. We followed them on to Los Banos for the night, giving us a clear shot down to Huntington Beach Thursday afternoon, just like we’d planned! We hit Huntington Beach by 2:00 pm – in plenty of time to fly! So much for the 1,350 mile trip down…
FREE AT LAST!!!
Now before I go any further, lemme set the stage for you… It’s February! It’s snowin’ and blowin’ back home. But We’re all on the Beach in Huntington Beach, California!
It’s blazing-bright sunshine here. The light breeze comes up every morning – say 1-3 mph early, then builds to 5-10 mph later in the morning. By mid afternoon, you can get 12-15 mph pretty regularly before it gradually begins to taper off again as the day begins to wane. By the time the sun sets again, we’re usually back to Ultralights… Night flying? Sure, but bring your lightweight kites. Yep, the same every day – regular as clockwork! Oh
– and daytime temps are in the 70s and 80s too!
The field is roughly a football-field in size. Level sand, right on the ocean. Parking is adjacent to the beach, and that’s Santa Catalina Island right across the water, there. And all the amenities (except your motel) are within a block or two’s walk at most.
The Dave Shenkman’s kite shop, “The Kite Connection,” is right up on the pier above you, too! Great for everything you forgot… Spare kites? Line-sets? Spare repair-parts? Maybe a friendly smile? The kite Connection has it ALL!
Yep – In February! When it’s blowin’ and snowin’ back home!!! Sure, it’s a rough life but somebody has to do it. So, a few of us (about 100) did YOUR share and showed up there for you… Tough, huh? Yeah – RIGHT!!!
Thursday afternoon is relatively quiet – for a Kite Party! There are only about a 12-15 fliers on the beach. Still, all that gorgeous sand, and Sun, and Warmth, and that superb laboratory-grade, WIND! Thank God for Huntington Beach! What a lovely sight!
The first person we meet is a youngster named Joe Branek. Charly and I shake hands with Joe after intros, and we all get to yakkin’ a bit. It turns out this seventeen-year-old kid flew in alone from Ohio – to his first EVER kiting event. The whole trip was a High School graduation present from his grandmother – who lives in the area. WOW – Some gift, huh? Well, after some chat, Joe heads out to pick up his lines and enjoy the wind, the sun – and his favorite kite. Turns out – he’s a pretty decent pilot, too! What a nice guy!
We make a quick trip up to the Pier to check in at The Kite Connection. Dave Shenkman, our host, is gone to the airport, so we meet kind Kristin, Dave’s store manager instead. After the usual cordial chatter, parking-passes get handled, we sign in, and all is well. We’re free to head on down and join the fly – and maybe we’ll see you for dinner, Kristin? (Turns out, we did eat together – about twenty of us)
Once we’re back on the beach, we discover some old friends are there. Jim Byrne, a superb guy and an awesome friend is in from NYC. And John Gillespie, an excellent Pilot and darn-good videographer, down from Northern Cal, is busy tricking the daylights out of some kite or other… Winn Lincoln-Rowson is down from our area, too – having driven the whole 1,300 miles solo. Maybe another 6-8 pilots out there… And, one-by-one, new attendees straggle onto the field, set up kites, and begin to whip the wind with every available kite! Oops – here come John and Bambi Chilese. Hey – and there’s the Iansons and the Haskells, down from Victoria, BC. …and, next thing you know, we have this Kite Party in full swing!
I break off to go introduce myself to a gentleman I’d been hoping to meet ever since the last Kite Party! Ron and Sandy Gibian build some of the most awesome Single Like Kites (SLKs) you’ll ever find, and I’d been dying to ask Ron some kite-bridling questions. We introduce ourselves, and the next thing you know, I’m helping Ron tune a big kite he has up – part of a custom set he’s brought. After that, the talk and laughter and sharing becomes easy and gentle, and we’re just a couple of old greybeards out on the beach – having fun playing with kites. We likely spent 2-3 hours together… I can’t even remember what we talked about… But I do remember that my face ached from all that “grinning” and I knew I’d met another great kiter! Isn’t this kite-sport great?
While Ron and I were yakking together, I DID happen to glance over and see Dave Shenkman and Dan Whitney, flying a matched pair of Rev 1.5s together. Jeez, with just a little work those two could really be something special! I was quite surprised too, because Dave hardly ever takes time to fly during these Kite Parties. Of course, Dan can fly anything with a fabric wing, and Dave’s the guy who has the video out on how to trick Revs! Both of ’em know their way around that kite!
Too soon, it was time to wrap things up and see about food and drink for a whole mob of kiters. We all ended up at a nearby restaurant, in the bar. Soon Dave Shenkman arrived – back from the Airport picking up Tim Benson and Andy Wardley. Finally the restaurant said they’d kinda like to have their bar back, please – so they gave us our own room. Good food, good friends, good chatter – and the end of a fine, fine day.
The morning broke bright and clear as usual, with a bit lower temps being the only anomaly. We’d keep sweaters on until about 11-12 am, but Friday was the only day that happened.
I should fill you in on our morning routine right now, I guess. We’re NOT the earliest risers on the planet, so we often miss that nice, early morning sun and breezes. Charly and I like to view that time as the “shower and coffee” hour – knowing we’ll eventually breakfast sometime later. Anyway, we headed for that beautiful Huntington Beach again, arriving at the crack of – oh, say 10:00 or maybe 10:30? By the time we park the van, it’s still Ultralight-breezes time – but not for much longer. The Standards will be coming out any time now…
We’re delighted by the number of kiters are on the beach already, including many we’d not seen the day before – there must be 25-30 of us out there. The normal on-the-field camaraderie is already in full swing, of course – so we make our way across the field, chatting and saying “Hi” to a few old friends and introducing ourselves to some we’d not met before.
Several of the designers and manufacturers are out in force too, with more showing up all the time. Andy Wardley has a Benson Innerspace going in the Northwest corner, with Tim Benson and his Gemini UL parked right next door. As we wander across the field, we can see Jon and Marianne Trennepohl unpacking kite-bags from their rental – heading for the beach. Paul Shirey is already on the field with his Aerostars, and Mark Reed will arrive later on with his Prisms. Sure, kitefolks will be drifting in all day long… Yep… It’s already a good gathering… and starting to turn into a real PARTY!!!
Meanwhile, I notice Dave Shenkman (The Kite Connection) and Steve Hall (Gone With The Wind) wandering together just off the flying field – perhaps busy dividing up the Internet Kite business for the coming year? Of course, those two wouldn’t do that… Would they?
All right – it seemed that everything was in good order, and mobs of folks were already having garboons of FUN! The wind is up and the sun is out! Aerial Acoustics music is wafting from the sound system. So, what’s on our agenda? Well, shoot… Charly and I figure they have this thing well in hand – it’s probably time for breakfast! Eggs, taters, meat… and a Triple-Tall Mocha for desert! (We ARE from Seattle, after all.) Anyway, let’s go eat! A couple blocks walk and a half-hour of time puts a smile on our faces, a warm glow in our bellies, and a full go-cup of Mocha in our hands…
We no sooner hit the beach again than I see Ron Gibian playing with those marvelous SLKs, so I head over his way to say “Hi!” I get that done somehow – barely – because Ron has 3-4 other people around him asking questions and engaging in him conversation. This kind of thing would continue throughout the Party, with Ron and I never getting another time where we could go one-on-one with each other. I guess that’s the way it is when you’re a kite-celebrity – not that Ron minds that very much, of course…
The dual-line field looked fairly full by now, so I decided to join in the fray – but with a slight twist. I had a few kites along that hadn’t seen any airtime in a while – including a brand new Addiction. I’d go up the beach a ways so not to compete with the heavy pilot congestion, and fly by myself for a while. So I took an old Illusion I’d just refurbished, the unflown Addiction, and my old Level One Extreme (a favorite) – and headed north.
As I walked, I noticed Tim Benson happily flying in sync with his own personal Gemini – amply demonstrating that he isn’t just “in tune” with the kite – he “IS” the Gemini… Tim would also hand out a few tweaking tips on his kites from time to time, and he’ll be glad to show you his new, updated Gem bridle, too!
After an hour or two of launches, snap-stalls, and my “carve-air” flying, I’d reacquainted myself with a few of my kites, and found myself well satisfied… and a bit thirsty. Time to put these babies away, get a soda, re-join the party and see what’s REALLY happening!
On the way back to the van, I notice Ron Graziano putting “The Machine” (his own new kite) and his flying skills up against Shawn Tinkham and his gorgeous Viper in an informal “Can YOU top THIS?” match – with Rob “Fireball” Autry kinda judging, but mostly just wanting in on the action with his STX 2.3… and Jim Hall and John Weldon and a few others just standing and watching – awestruck. This kind of “Hot Pilot / Hot Kite” activity continued on with various players and kites throughout the entire Kite Party – from early Friday until late Sunday! It shut down ONLY when the pilots lost a critical factor – the WIND!
Sometime during the day, Shane Hill ended up buying an Aerostar from Dave Shenkman and then asking Paul Shirey to autograph the kite and present it to Shane’s wife, Shelley, right on the flying field. Nice touch, Shane! And a very nice kite, too!
Anyhow, I’d no sooner downed a soda, than old friend and kite-paparazzi John Chilese corrals me, saying “NOW would be a good time to get those antiques of yours airborne!” So my first requested activity became demo-flying for our favorite photo-geek! Friday’s kites were the old TOTL Spinoffs – a pair of them.
The breeze was enough to support the 12-panel well, and the kite and I flew well enough for several good “Godfather” shots. Following that, I assembled the Ron Reich custom “Sunset” Spinoff, and we did the same program all over again. Both of these kites are quite pretty, and John Chilese loves to photograph those “oldies.” By the time we neared the end of the session, the sun was well down toward the horizon, and John just loves to shoot a backlit kite. All in all, we were both well pleased – and we finished just in time for dinner, too!
Now, “dinner” was a community affair… Walk a block and a half, take over the back half of a good Mediterranean restaurant, sit down and order – with about 50-60 other kiters! Charly and I sat with David Alfano, his son Dimitri, and Dimitri’s mom Jennifer Zimmerman on one side, and Brent and Catherine Jensen on the other. Nice pleasant conversations at our table, and throughout the room – which was a good thing since it took the restaurant a while to get everyone seated, menus handed out, orders taken, food delivered, etc.
Around us, several “groupings” were evident. Different manufacturers sat together. The “Hot Flier” contingent ate (and drank) together. A few SLK folks were huddled in a corner. The “generalists” – me included – were interspersed. After a day on the beach, it was our chance to finally yak with each other rather than “just shut up and FLY”… New kite friendships tend to form quickly and end up lasting – and there was a lot of that great kiter synergy going on around us. There were also lots of tired sunburned faces – some with big grins plastered on ’em. Folks out of the snow-belt, I bet! Anyway, we ate hearty and enjoyed ourselves tremendously.
After dinner it was a short walk back to the beach again, since we’d left the van in the beach parking lot. Well, maybe we’d make a short stop to look out over that nice beach and the ocean again – this time without any people on it!
Nope – it was not to be… When Charly and I got back down to the beach, John Gillespie was out there all alone – flying a kite at night, with red led-lights on it. The breeze had pretty much died by then, but John was still able to do some slow, floaty axels out near the shoreline. I presume it was his Mamba, but we could only see the lights on the kite and John’s silhouette – not the kite.
We stood and watched them “dance” together for about 5-10 minutes, enthralled with what we were seeing. Then – afraid to break that bond between man and kite – we stole away, climbed in the van, and drove back to the motel with easy, gentle smiles on our faces.
Charly and I awoke late, and wandered down to the field about 9:00 am. Yeah – the same glorious blue sun-filled skies, the same light and even breezes, and temps already in the mid-70s. Yeah – awfully “boring” stuff, huh? Too bad…
One of the first things we saw when we arrived were the decidedly low-key Clover Point Lawn Darters down from British Columbia – seen taking their ease in the welcome sunshine and warmth – something they haven’t seen/felt in quite a while. It’s the Lawn Darters that were responsible for doing all the name badges and Kite Party Tee-shirts. Great job, folks!
It turns out we’d already missed John Weldon’s Saturday morning “Vapor Fly.” There were actually several Vapors in evidence I guess, and several Zerostars too, plus John Gillespie’s WSO UL for a little variety. Yeah, we’d also missed Dave Shenkman’s Vapor-Fly auction too! DARN!!! Especially since we had nobody to blame for missing it but ourselves.
Now – before I go farther, I need to point out that this narrative all just goes to CRAP right about here! There was just too much happening, in too little time, to try and recount it all. Multiple things had been happening simultaneously throughout the event already, and I’m sure I missed 60-70% of ’em. Sure – I flat-out knew going in that I’d never be able to keep track of them all… And, ya’ know – it doesn’t really matter anyway… that’s simply one of the delights of the whole event! There’s so much going on, nobody can experience it all. So anyway – please don’t count on my “Saturday and Sunday Chronology” being letter-perfect. Okay? I might be off by as much as a full day on some things…
Again, some scene-setting:
* As we approached the beach, “The Johns” (Chilese and Gillespie) were already scurrying around shooting everything in sight with digital cameras, both stills and video.
* We also noticed Chris Miller off in a corner of the field – discovering true”Mamba Madness” for the third or fourth time again. That lady DOES have a thing about her Mambas!
* And, of course, Brian Champie and Dan Whitney were busy nearly covering the SLK field with their “big toys” again, right along with some very good-looking kites from Jim Cosca of Premier and Ron Gibian’s lovely stuff.
Then – throughout the day, the various “Hot Pilots” continued their almost “frenzied” flying of every hot kite on the beach, with unabated joy in their hearts and grins of rapture on their faces. This happened ALL the time, and it could be repeated endlessly – like about every third sentence!
Later on, we became aware again that Jon Trennepohl was displaying, flying, and demonstrating an amazing number of Skyburner and Level One kites. If you wanted to see or fly any Skyburner or Level One kite – Jon was your man! Meanwhile, his lovely wife, Marianne, enjoyed the beach, the weather, and the camaraderie of the people.
We caught sight of Mark Reed of Prism and Paul Shirey of Aerostar off discussing something serious – maybe kite aerodynamics, but maybe kite marketing strategies too. Mark had brought some of the new Prism Nexus and Quantum kites, and had a Quantum Pro prototype with him too. Paul displayed and flew his Aerostar Sano SS prototype too, along with the rest of his line.
In mid-afternoon, Dave Shenkman held an auction:
* Dave sold off a couple of Prism Mini-E2s that Mark Reed had contributed. Zammi Criste won both of them, and she’s likely off somewhere now – stacking up yet another outrageous combination of kites. She flew a stack of Geminis and a stack of Matchboxes. It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see her flying stacked Mini-E2s next year.
* Bambi Chilese won a brand new STX 2.3 for John as an anniversary present. SOME kinda kite, from SOME kinda lady! (Yes, John – another pretty kite for you to photograph!)
* And Donna Houchins showed up all those “old guys,” by winning a lovely Blue Moon MSE – and then assembling it on the beach and flying it like she and the kite were born for each other. Marvelous stuff!
While the party continued merrily with a super-charged force all it’s own, John Chilese and his camera had an especially busy day. Early in the morning, John photographed the first-ever AeroStar Mega-Shoot. Then, later in the afternoon, he presided over the over both the Manufacturers and the TrickTail Mega-shoots in close order. If you’ve not had the “opportunity” to be a participant (or victim?) in one of these affairs, it’s not to be missed.
I had my own session with The Godfather, however – setting up for “The Maiden Flight” of an all-white custom-made Prism Eclipse specifically flown down from British Columbia for the Kite Party. Yep – a new unflown custom Eclipse, with extraordinary pilot and all-around good guy Jim Byrne on the lines. The flight time was less than 5 minutes. Following that, the kite was disassembled, packed away, and has since been returned to Steve Brown up in Nanaimo, BC! There you go, SKB!
Following the “Eclipse” session, I was involved in the TrickTail Mega-Shoot (had five of them babies in the photo), and then John asked me to assemble and fly the Banshee Scimitar. What Chilese didn’t realize is that it takes a good 10 minutes to put that kite together if you’ve not done it in a while. Anyhow – he eventually got a bunch of shots, and I got to fly again. Good deal all around!
During the Kite Party, Dave Shenkman would hold an impromptu beach-auction periodically. Early on Saturday afternoon, Dimitri Alfano, with a little help from Dad David, won the auction for the Aerostar Stryke fighter Paul Shirey brought. Dimitri and David then walked out onto the field and flew it while Mom, Marjorie Zimmerman, looked on. Dimitri has to be all of about 4 years old!
In mid-afternoon, we had the pleasure of watching a demo by “Team Against The Wind,” consisting of Bob Fermin and his daughter Danielle, flying their Pairs routine with a couple of Prophesies. Bob and Danielle did extremely well, and were greeted with loud acclaim as they left the field. Great job, you two!
I later ran into old friend Rob Baptie, who was flying the Blue Moon Ichiban he bought from Dan Whitney’s collection. This kite was also unflown, since it had been sitting in the bag in Dan’s closet for roughly 5 years. Wonderful kite! Rob owns a very nice collection of fine SLKs…
I honestly don’t remember the end of Saturday’s flying sessions. I guess I was a bit tired, or thirsty, or maybe a little sunburned, or just weary from trying to keep up with all the activity… In any case, my last memory of Saturday at the beach is of standing in the parking lot, trying to fit all my loose kites back into their traveling bags in the van, when Jeff Dubron walks by with his daughter. Jeff lives in Albuquerque, NM – and his daughter lives in the LA area somewhere… It was nice to see a fellow my own age with his daughter – walking along together like that. Kind of reminded me of my own daughters…
Of course, the day broke clean and crisp and sunny, with a light northwesterly breeze. Temps in the upper 60s to start, but would eventually reach close to 80 degrees. Yup, just another ho-hum day in SoCal! What did you expect – Snow?
Like it or not, Sunday is the wind-down day – and, believe me we didn’t much care for the thought. But – there was sun, there was wind, there were kites, and there was time… Better get to the beach, pronto! So we did!
On Sunday, there’s kind of a kind of an ambiance to the party that we’d not sensed before. For one thing, everyone knows everyone else by now, so there’s not much indecision any more – we’re all friends now. The “Hot Pilots” are still out there spanking kites and grinning like crazy. We saw Rob “Fireball” Autry spend at least an hour putting an ADX UL through every gyration in the book repeatedly – plus a few that weren’t written down yet. But a few folks with early flights out are wandering around wrapping up line-sets and shaking hands, or up at The Kite Connection for last-minute purchases and good-byes, and some we caught up staring wistfully at the beach – knowing it was still snowing and blowing “back home.” Still – there’s lots of party left out there, so let’s enjoy it while we may…
After Charly and I made sure the beach – and the party – were still there, we decided that going to breakfast with Dan Whitney, the original owner of Gone With The Wind, might be an appropriate finish to the weekend. Dan’s a super nice guy, and a dandy kite-pilot too. And what a marvelous storyteller! You want to learn about the “bad old days” of Internet Kite Selling? Well, Dan knows and tells all as he’s eating. He’s just amazing – and delightful company too! We took our time over breakfast that Sunday.
Back at the beach, the “yank and spank” gang still has all the hot stunters up in the wonderful breeze, but it’s not “school-time” anymore. Everyone’s flying within their own heads now – what with flight times just hours away. Oh, sure, there’s some kite-switching back and forth, as friends share old favorites or try hot new designs. Oh sure, Winn Lincoln-Rowson maybe grabs the lines away from someone – still trying out other people’s kites. I think perhaps Winn challenged himself more than any other flier out there during this whole Kite Party – though there was plenty of competition for him in that regard…
Over in the SLK area, most of the fliers are still in the area, but some of their big stuff is missing. That’s not to imply the sky is empty, of course, but the need to display lots of huge kites has waned a bit… Still plenty of big kites up on display, of course.
I mosey over to say “Hi” to Ron Gibian again, and Ron introduces me to Allen Stroh – a long time force in the Southern California kiting scene, and someone who wrote for KiteLife Online Magazine, early on… We shared some thoughts on writing for the mag, and discuss the “missing” stunt kite league that used to be so strong in SoCal. Finally Ron interrupts, asking Allen to put up some of Allen’s “Gibians” to add to the overhead display – and I wander off to see what else is happening…
I happen by a portable sun-shelter where Mark Lummas is sitting with his young son Ben, watching while “Mommy” Jeanette practices with her kite – and she out-classes more than a few fellow fliers on the field when she flies. Mark and Jeanette form a Pairs team called “Bi-Dance,” and are also part of a four-person team named “Too Much Fun,” along with Susan Shampo and Ron Despojado. Between them, those four individuals probably have at least half of the national and international kiting honors represented there on the field this Sunday. Yeah – they’ve been around – and they’re getting ready to demo for us today…
As I looked across the beach, several people catch my eye. Alex Herzog is 12 years old, and he’s out there whacking his kite right along with the best of ’em and doing extremely well. And Joe Branek, the no-longer “newbie” from Ohio, is still out there with a big grin on his face – flying a kite he’d won at one of Dave’s auctions the day before. Then there’s Shane Hill, who flies with a physical impairment that doesn’t seem to bother him much at all, and he’s busy axeling his Aerostars with a special one-handed flight-handle he’s made. Yeah – they’re all happily proving that chronological age and physical dexterity have NOTHING at all to do with your motivation, stamina, attitude, or your excellent flying ability. These guys are just superb pilots – all three!
So I finally headed back toward the van to get out a kite of my own, when I spot Jim Byrne bringing out his fourth or fifth little-known kite for the day – and then tricking the crap out of it, just to please himself and everyone around him! I honestly believe John Chilese would be delighted to just follow Jim Byrne with a camera every day, just to see what marvelous “Mystery Kite” Jim would pull out of his bag next. Jim’s an incredible pilot, who happens to own an equally incredible kite collection!
I finally made it to the van, and return with the venerable Lollypop MEFM, one of my personal favorites. The congestion on the field is beginning to thin out a bit, and I figure to get some airtime in. I no sooner get the kite set up and the lines strung, then Dave Shenkman announces that Team Too Much Fun is gonna fly their demo, and would we please clear the field… Well, shucks – I’ve made it this far, so I grab the extreme northwest corner of the field and just fly a few lazy-eights until Too Much Fun is ready – then bring the Lollypop MEFM down.
Team Too Much Fun is incredible, of course. If you’ve not had the opportunity to watch them fly, you’ve missed something extremely rare and special. I think they should probably be representing the USA over in Berck, but I suspect they’d rather just fly for fun. The superb music and choreography, exceptional pilot skills, and the ability to MIX DUALS AND QUADS into their routines – make Too Much Fun an unbelievable team to watch. If we’d not already been standing to see the demo, these folks would have received a “Standing Ovation!” As it was, we just cheered ourselves hoarse instead! “WOW!!!” is really too small a word for it…
Gosh – How do you top THAT? Well, I’m not sure they topped it, but Pairs Team “Bi-Dance” took to the field to “Wow” us again with a Pairs demo. If “Too Much Fun” was intricacy and energy, team “Bi-Dance” was grace and loveliness… Mark and Jeannette Lummas flew a brilliantly choreographed, very controlled routine with as much precision and speed control as I’ve seen in quite a while. Another awesome performance, folks. Believe me, this crowd appreciated the show – and all the efforts behind it! Thanks, folks!
After that, there was nothing for it but to open up the free-fly again. All that sunshine, warmth, and WIND was going to waste otherwise. I headed back to pack up the MEFM – not even sure I belonged on the same field with those folks. On the way, John Chilese grabbed a backlit shot, just for the
Late afternoon saw the first-ever Kite Party “Tricks Contest” that was organized impromptu, on the field, by the pilots themselves – simply because there were too many Hot competitive fliers out there to think someone wouldn’t DEMAND to compete! Ron Despojado won going away. He slew the giants, too – Ron Graziano, John Gillespie, John Weldon, Andy Wardley, Alex Herzog, etc. Maybe Tim Benson and Shawn Tinkham were in there too. Ron flew last, doing a complete 360 with his Rev 1.5 during his minute-long stint, and finished with a great yank-and-catch as the music died… Astounding exhibition/competition by all pilots!
Well, Charly and I’d finally just “had it!” Too much fun! Too much good weather! Too much excitement! And – we weren’t particularly all that interested in just staying around to shake everybody’s hand, knowing we’d start on our own journey north in the morning… Besides, if the truth be known, we were both getting pretty hungry. So we left, and went to find the best meal we could find. Did pretty well with finding one, too!
Then, come Monday, it’s time to throw it all in the van and head home. SADNESS – almost to the point of grief. HUMAN AGONY! There’s something about an empty kite-field that just wrenches your soul after you’ve seen and felt all the joy it could bring. We stopped to say goodbye to the few hangers-on we could find, trekked to The Kite Connection to say so long to Dave and Kristin, and just beat feet for the border… We tried to make it home in one fell-swoop, but we got fogged up in mid-Oregon, so didn’t hit Seattle until Tuesday. Next year, we’ll just plan on two days coming home instead.
And for nearly week, I slept about 12 hours a day, paid left over bills, jotted a few notes about KP2 for this story, unclogged my email, and just “vegged out!” EXHAUSTED!
Worth it? We sure think so!!! We’d be back there again in a heartbeat, folks. We’re sure planning on the next one… See you all down in Huntington Beach next year?
Four days of glorious sunshine, steady predictable breezes, and shirtsleeve weather for flying. Eight or ten World-Class kiting champions on or around the field at any given time. At least a half dozen world-class kitemakers right in there with us – sharing the field and flying everyone’s Kites. People in from the USA, Canada, and England this year. Maybe 100 attendees all told… On-the-beach auctions. Demo flies. You fly MY demo-kite flies. Kite-team presentations. A gazillion one-on-one discussions. Mostly, though – it’s just YOU and YOUR KITE – playing in the PERFECT WIND however you see fit. Yeah, “the rest of it” is pretty darned wonderful, but it’s mostly a pilot and kite, one-on-one, breaking out of winter together… Hellacious great kite activity… Incredible stuff! A simply UNBELIEVABLE party, if you think about it! What more can I say? Did we have fun? You dang-sure betcha! KITE FLYING ECSTASY!
Heroes? Yeah, we got us a couple of HEROES!!!
* Dave Shenkman, owner of The Kite Connection, for one – who always says he didn’t do a thing but get a beach permit! Yeah Dave, in the proverbial”Pig’s eye!” We’ll believe that when Huntington Beach is under a foot of SNOW (in other words – don’t hold your breath!!!) WE know better, Dave…
* Kirsten Snyder, Dave’s shop person at The Kite Connection – who greeted everyone when they arrived, passed out parking passes, answered everyone’s questions, minded the shop all weekend long, and said goodbye to everyone when it was all over. You’re right Kirsten – you’re a “Gem!”
* John Chilese – who, in spite of his occasional wild “protesting,” actually loves taking kite photos. JOHN CHILESE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERY ONE OF THE COPYRIGHTED PHOTOGRAPHS IN THIS ARTICLE, and they are most gratefully used with his kind permission! Thanks, Godfather!
* And finally – The City of Huntington Beach, California! We take the venue for granted, I guess – but we really shouldn’t. The city’s care of that gorgeous beach, the accompanying park, the parking lot, and the downtown corridor where we eat, shop, and play – all add much to “our” Kite Party! We really appreciate the opportunity to play on your playground, folks!
Those of us who attended Kite Party II had an awful lot of fun, and we’re extremely grateful for the experience. THANK YOU ALL!!!