Our 58th issue, and our second under David Hathaway’s editorship… April will mark our nine full years since Kitelife Magazine was produced by the late Mike Gillard, to fill a void left by the demise of great specialty publications like American Kite Magazine, Kite Lines and Stunt Kite Quarterly.
With the Kite Lines archival project having been completed this past week, we now host three full kiting publications with a combined 35 years and 122 issues worth of of interviews, plans, event reports, and more which I hope will stand the test of time and give us a window through which we can view the full history of organized kiting throughout North America, Europe and much of the world.
As I’ve been getting older (33 this coming June), and as I’ve graduallty shifted my focus from competition to promotion, I’ve found myself thinking about kiting in new ways. Many would agree that we’re at a point where our numbers are not increasing with regard to participants, and I believe our best areas for growth involve formats that encourage a strong sociodynamic and open the channels for information sharing, an equal playing ground for novices and masters alike.
It seems to me that the baby boomer generation successfully created this environment in the early days of kiting, born of the revolutions they were a part of in the 60’s and 70’s, quite a bit bolder, and yes, a little more shameless. We’re now dealing with a different set of generations, from a new era, perhaps a little less in touch with an artistic and expressive style of living, they often need to be coaxed, even stimulated to cross the line and join our ranks in the skies, blending the best of both past and present to lead the way for future kiting generations.
In all the discussions and planning I’ve been involved in with iQuad over the past two years, “critical mass” seems to sum up what I’ve experienced pretty well… I’d like to think it’s occurring in various walks of kiting as we speak, but we’ve especially seen it in the world of quad team gatherings. The common denominators seem to be a friendly and relaxed environment, free sharing of skills and information, close/social proximity to numerous other pilots and a format that gives fliers a clear format with achievable goals… With the nature of Revs (and a number of other quads), team flying becomes something like a big padded room that you can tumble and bounce around in, flying highly durable kites that are very easy to stop and recover.
All of this considered, the main component that I’ve seen come into play is the mood, the mission, the way new pilots are received into these groups, encouraged to participate and grow.
Now, that being said, I don’t think this dynamic is inherently unique to quad team flying, although it is a fertile environment for it… Instead, I’d tend to recognize the specific attempt to include everyone, and to transmit the experience to spectators, a direct outreach to pilots and audience members alike with a visual and audio experience that has FUN written all over it..
If we’re looking for growth in sport kiting, it might benefit us to look at kiting through fresh eyes like we’ve never seen it before… Sitting on the sidelines, seeing it for the first time, what would attract you? When I was first exposed, it was tails, loud kites and squadrons of kites following each other through the sky that moved me to “cross the line” and actually participate… Perhaps it’s high time that we come full circle and revisit those basic and instinctive pleasures, understanding that kites flipping about on the end of their lines don’t appeal to the general public, and focus on making it all about a social and interactive environment.
Please, don’t misunderstand… This isn’t a discourse about changing or eliminating any facet of kiting, instead it’s about specifically making time for the public, exploring ways to reach them while it’s happening, right there on the field… The effort of a few will go a long way, and I don’t believe it will take very long for us to find our groove again.