Issue 31: Of Royalty and Friends

You got a favorite Kite? No, not that new one you bought a couple of months ago – an OLDER favorite? You know the one I’m talking about… The one you keep hidden in the bottom of your kite-bag – the one you swear you’ll never sell…

– It might be the kite you took to the beach and loaded with line laundry for the first time – it was Soooo pretty.
– Maybe it was your first real stunt kite… the one you first learned to axel. Wow, what an incredible feeling!
– It could be the one that got you into power kiting – the one that gave your first huge grin, and the road-rash too!
– How about the one you used in your very first competition? You won so often you had to “move up” the next year.
– Could it be that quad that you just clicked with, the one you could use for rock-steady dive-stops 2 inches off the dunes?
– Or maybe it was the kite that all the kids and grandkids learned on – the one that’s really “part of the family” now.

Well, if you’re feeling guilty about that kite – DON’T! If we’re honest here, we’d all tell you we have one. There’s a name for these wondrous critters. They’re called “Princess Kites.” Yep – rarely flown anymore, honored beyond all reason, and loved to death. The kite might be a brandy-spankin’ new one, but it might show some signs of wear too. I’ve seen a few that are so tattered and worn that they’ll hardly fly at all. And we’ve all got them hidden away… waiting… Yeah – our kiting “Royalty!”

I bet you have some fond memories of kiting people too! Nope – not the folks you fly with every weekend. And I’m not talking about the in-laws that baby-sit the kids while you’re flying either. Or the spouse that says “You deserve a little time to yourself, honey – go fly a kite,” even though spouses like that are certainly gems. I’m talking about the ones that got you into the sport in the first place, infected you with “the kite bug,” and showed you how much fun it really was…

– Your spouse bought a big Rokakku, three tube-tails and a pair of spin-socks – and you flew them together at the beach.
– An acquaintance showed you a stunt kite and let you fly it – and you bought one just like it the very next day.
– Your pal put you in a buggy, handed you a foil, and said “GO!” And you “played with the wind” for the first time.
– The guy who showed you punch-turns, speed controls, and stalls? And he came in second to you in a ballet competition a year later?
– How about the quad pilot who could “paste” it anywhere – and you could too after only an hour’s help. Incredible!
– Maybe Dad or Grandpa just put a line in your hand and said, “Here… Hold this!” and you flew that diamond – awestruck.

Good memories – Strong memories. Memories of flying kites. Yeah, maybe you still see some of these folks everyday; at least we hope you see your spouse that often. And, maybe some of those folks aren’t around anymore too. They all share something pretty special, though – they helped you get into kiting, helped in a big way. Yes, they’re certainly your “Kiting Friends.”

Princess Kites and Kiting Friends. Can we ever have too much of either? Hey – can you ever really get enough? Together, they make up a very special part of kiting. Call it “tradition” if you will – or maybe it’s really “nostalgia?” In any case, the will to care for both kites and kiting people is strong, and it’s good and honest to care about these things you value.

So how do we make sure the kites and the people will be there forever?

How do we maintain a firm grasp on that history, that “Heritage,” if you will?

How do we offer our joy and delight, in both people and kite – to our kids and their kids?

How do we share our special “kiting” times with our family, our friends, and our community?

Well, believe it or not, there’s an organization that specializes in exactly that… Looking back, and using the past to ensure there’ll be a strong kiting future. It’s the only one of its kind on the North American Continent, too. It’s name?

“The World Kite Museum and Hall Of Fame”

The name says it all: the first part covers those Princess Kites and the second part takes care of our Kiting Friends.

Yes, it’s a rather unique place, this museum. Like most museums, they specialize in collecting, documenting, and displaying stuff – in this case, our favorite kites. But they also offer the kiting fraternity a whole lot more, too.

“Oh, sure… Another museum with a few artifacts,” you say. No, not really… Here’s what this museum (and Hall of Fame) really does:

– The museum owns a unique collection of over 1500 kites – including oriental paper and bamboo kites, historical kites such as Paul Garber’s Target Kite and World War II “Gibson Girl” kites, a wide variety of traditional single-line kites, various multi-line stunt kites (2, 3, and 4 liners), and an excellent collection of paper “advertising” kites.

– Of course, the museum displays their kites too, although the majority of the collection is usually in storage due to exhibit space restrictions. Yes, the displays are changed regularly.

– The museum also shares the archives of the American Kitefliers Association (AKA), so they have access to all of the AKA’s publications – including all the “how to” articles, the minutes and notes of meetings, the competition rules and schedules and results, and a whole host of AKA historical documents.

– In addition, the museum has acquired copies of nearly all of the kiting magazines ever printed in the USA – some in printed form and some on film – so kiting’s printed “history” is there, intact, and available.

– The museum doesn’t just keep printed history either. They’re recording the “voices” of kiting too, in a unique “oral history” program where long-time Kiters discuss their past contributions to the sport. Yes, the designers, manufacturers, retailers, competitors, and the kite innovators. Real Kite History recorded live! These recordings are available for study by researchers and authors, and they offer unique viewpoints on our favorite pastime.

– In addition, the museum runs various “educational programs.” They teach “kite” classes in local and surrounding school systems. They offer a variety of programs for adult touring groups, local organizations, and Elder Hostels.

– And… the museum also offers six full-weekend hands-on kite workshops each year.

– Finally, the World Kite “Hall of Fame” honors those unique individuals who have “Made A Difference” in our sport, by inducting new Hall Of Fame members annually.

Whew… All right, so this “World Kite Museum and Hall Of Fame” is really a going concern, then? Yes, it certainly is! It’s located in Long Beach, Washington, and is open to the public daily.

But I guess you’d like to know how all this relates back to our discussion regarding “Princess Kites” and “Kiting Friends,” right?

Obviously, there’s a tie between the “Princess Kites” we love and cherish and the museum’s kite collection. And, if you’d like, the museum will gladly take your “Princess Kite” and add it to their collection – and give you a tax-deduction receipt for it too if you’d like.

But we should also mention that the museum’s collection represents our “Kiting Heritage,” both for the USA and the world. As such, it acts as the “keeper” of 1500 “Princess Kites” and associated paraphernalia and documents, representing the sport of kiting as a whole.

Well, how about our “Kiting Friends?” All right, I’m sure you can draw the parallel, here too… The “Hall Of Fame” members represent everybody’s “Kiting Friends” – from Francis Rogallo who invented the first controllable delta kite back in the 40s and 50s, to our favorite kiting pal of comic-strip fame, Charles Schultz’s “Charlie Brown!” (Sorry – there’s no “oral history” from Charlie Brown.)

Yeah, Kites and People… They’re the real substance in kiting that we value, aren’t they! Just enjoyable times with a kite in the air, surrounded by good friends and family. What could possibly be better?

Now I want to give you sort of “the inside scoop” on The World Kite Museum and Hall Of Fame if you will. Oh, there’s no “dirt” or anything like that, if that’s what you’re thinking. Heavens! These folks are “the keepers of kiting’s heritage” for cryin’ out loud. As such, they’re simply above reproach.

No, this is something quite different. It’s just that “The World Kite Museum and Hall Of Fame”…

…needs your help!


Yeah, it’s true. We need you!

Oh, Boy… Here it comes… Another membership solicitation…

Nope – nothing could be further from the truth here (We’ll get to that later). This is much more important than a membership. The museum needs to grow, and to do that – they need your help, pure and simple.

Let me explain, and you’ll see what I mean…

The World Kite Museum and Hall Of Fame got started about fifteen years ago, and after some organizational stuff, moved into a small single-floor “beach cottage” in downtown Long Beach and opened the doors to the public. The initial donation of some 700 oriental kites started the museum’s kite collection. Traffic was low, and the staff consisted mostly of unpaid volunteers.

After all these years, the kite collection has more than doubled in size and is stored in a space cramped to overflowing. In addition, the museum started collecting kiting documents and other paraphernalia, including the AKA archives and all those kiting magazines and publications – so that just adds to the museum’s storage problems.

The museum also began to offer educational programs, workshops, and conferences. Well, where do you hold them? Yeah, space problems again…

Well, how about working space then (building displays and refurbishing kites, for examples)? And how about office space? How about a conference room? How about gift shop space?

Okay – now you’re beginning to get the picture…

In fact, here’s a truly “World Class” kite museum, with the best collection of Japanese kites outside of Japan, with the USA’s largest kiting archives, and with a very large kite collection… still struggling along in a thousand square foot bungalow!

And to make things worse, I suspect they’re still struggling along with one or two paid staff, and existing mostly with wonderful volunteers. Nope – I haven’t looked at their budget… I didn’t ask, and they didn’t offer.

Well, how do they keep going, then? Not very well, would be my guess… but I do know a few facts – enough to indicate the true state of affairs.

– At any given time, 95% of their kite collection is in storage. They simply haven’t the room to display any more. Yeah, the storage costs them money.

– If they hold a conference, workshop, or gathering – they rent the necessary space. Yeah, that’s pretty pricey, too.

– I suspect lots of work is probably done out of peoples homes, including much of the “office work.”

– I could fit their “office space/conference room/gift shop” in my bathroom, for cryin’ out loud! Yeah – it’s THAT small, THAT tiny really…

– Employee “training rooms” and “lunchrooms” and the like? Naw… they eat out. There’s hardly enough room in there for a microwave.

Simply put, “The World Kite Museum and Hall Of Fame” has outstripped its space, and probably its budget, too. It’s time to either grow, get bigger and better, offering more to the kiting community – or resign themselves to these “limits” the building sets.

Well, bless the keepers of kiting’s heritage for making the right choice. They’ve chosen to represent us into the future. Boy, have they chosen!

Okay, The World Kite Museum and Hall Of Fame currently has an expansion plan going… and it’s a real doozy! When this campaign is done, the museum will truly have a masterpiece that ALL of kiting can be proud of…

They’ve worked with Washington State and the City of Long Beach to select a site for a new museum. It’s a “done deal” folks. They have their name on nine acres right off the main entrance to the beach – located directly between the city itself and the Pacific Ocean!

They’ve worked with an architectural firm. They have a completed design, ready to go, for a new building that includes:

– Display space that’s more than tree times the space in their entire current building.

– Climate-controlled storage space for up to 5000 kites, plus storage for additional print and recorded archives.

– A small auditorium for lectures and film viewing.

– A real gift shop.

– Office spaces and workrooms for the staff, plus some workspace for visiting researchers.

When all is said and done, the museum will have over 12,000 square feet of space overlooking the Pacific Ocean. And, they’ll also have the staff to run it!

And you know what else? They have a pretty hefty “target” for this Capital Campaign, too! I hope you’re sitting down as you read this. I mean, this is no small undertaking, here…

The World Kite Museum and Hall Of Fame has a fund-drive running. They’re calling this campaign:

Building a Legacy for the Future…

and the price tag is $3.35 million. Yep – Million!

See, I told you it wasn’t small potatoes. No, we don’t expect you to mortgage your house. No need to cancel the kids’ college educations, or raid your retirement fund, or live on cat food for the rest of your lives either… I told you I’d explain it. So – here’s how the museum raises the funds:

– They stay constantly active in the hunt for government and Foundation Grant funds.
– They build a constituency of Kite-flying people across the continent and around the world.
– The constituency joins the Capital Campaign in helping to raise funds.
– The museum will happily accept any personal donations you wish to offer, and will work with you if you wish to make a multi-year Campaign Pledge.

By the way, the museum has already raised $420,200 toward their target, so they’re already roughly one eighth of the way home. A large grant came from Washington State, but there’s also some City support, a museum building fund, and contributions from museum directors and a bank as well – all specifically donated to fund the museum’s expansion plans.

All right… For a bunch of folks like us who usually put a few nickels and dimes away to save for that next new kite, the whole thing’s kind of daunting, isn’t it? Yeah, you’re not alone, there…

But before you just close out of this article in dismay, I’d ask you to consider this:

– Remember those “Princess Kites” we all have? Wouldn’t it be a shame if nobody cared about your “Royalty” after you’re gone? Maybe a little bit of history isn’t a bad thing after all…

– And, remember those “Kiting Friends” we discussed way up at the beginning? Tell me – who’s going to teach your great-grand-kids the delights of kiting? So, do you think calling a few great kite innovators “Our Heroes” might help a little here?

– And what about your Kiting Heritage? Yeah – the history that was already there when you got into kiting… Without a few innovative kites and the special people to build them, we’d all be flying paper and pine-stick diamonds on cotton string. Isn’t that Heritage worth a little bit to you?

So, I’m gonna ask you to seriously consider two things. First, there are simpler ways raise money than the museum’s list above. Here’re just a few I’ve thought of:

– Just put a check in the mail to The World Kite Museum and Hall Of Fame (Their snail-mail address is shown above). For the amount, use 25% of the price you’d planned on paying for that kite you’re saving for. Shoot, use 50% if you’re feeling flush…

– Instead of eating at a fancy restaurant after the next kite festival, buy sandwiches at a deli, go out for pizza, or (God forbid) eat fast food instead. Just donate the difference to the museum, will you?

– Does your local Kite Club host an event? Maybe you could run an auction or a raffle on the museum’s behalf, or set up a card table and pass out museum Membership Forms…

– Next time you’re out flying with your pals, tell them about this article and ask them for a few bucks to help out. Send in whatever someone cares to donate.

– Last time I heard, PayPal still worked. I expect The World Kite Museum and Hall Of Fame would get the money if you decided to send some just on a whim… Try it and find out!

– I’ll bet you have better fund-raising ideas than I have… Think up your own ways. Send them to me, and I’ll put them in KiteLife and we’ll share them around a little.

The other consideration is to think about a membership in The World Kite Museum and Hall Of Fame. Yeah, just think about it, that’s all… As part of the membership benefits, you’ll get their newsletter. It’ll be a handy way to keep track of the museum’s expansion plans…

Enough! I’m done… and you? Well, all right, that’s it, then. The Membership Form link is right below.

Fair Winds and Good Friends –



Share your ideas in the Kitelife Forum!

The World Kite Museum and Hall Of Fame 112-3rd St. Northwest, Long Beach, WA
Phone: (360) 642-4020
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Author:Dave Shattuck

As one of our regular and most prolific contributors, Dave "Geezer" Shattuck is a driving force here at Kitelife and a regular at many NW events as well as other locations throughout the year.

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