Issue 44: Tangents w/out Trivia

Quite a few people have talked about the decline of participants in our hobby and sport of Kite Flying over the last few years! Some blame the drop in attendance on too many rules, some place the blame on not enough rules. Many fliers want to have more of a fun experience. While other want it all to be more serious! No matter what happens you can’t seem to please everyone!

One thing I do know for sure that has changed over the years is that fact that there aren’t many of us involved in kite flying that walk to our local kite field. No one I know of rides a bicycle to that special kite festival! Unless you only fly kites in your own back yard, you and all the rest of us drive some kind of vehicle to fly our kites. Driving means using gas!

I don’t think I need to mention to anyone that the price of gasoline has risen drastically in the last ten years! The cost of the drive from Columbus, Ohio to Ocean City Maryland has doubled since I made my first trip there in 1994. Some people want to blame the high gasoline prices on hurricanes, some say it’s because of excessive profits by the big oil guys! But in my opinion it really seems to come down to our own personal choices. Simply put ‘We are addicted to gasoline’ and ‘we are addicted to our hobby of kite flying’

For some things we really don’t have much of a choice, we HAVE to have the stuff! Most of us can hardly stop driving to work, and we really don’t want to tell our kids that they have to walk 10 miles to school. So we just keep buying that fuel for our set of wheels no matter what it costs.

Some of that need for fuel is necessary and unavoidable, but going someplace ‘just to fly a kite’ really doesn’t fit into ‘Hard Necessity’ AND kite flying isn’t a ‘Minimalistic Hobby’ either meaning the ‘Stuff’ we want to take with us to a kite festival can and often does fill up a considerable space in our vehicles.

Our choice of transportation can and most often is determined by that ‘need’ to haul kite gear. I have to admit that I took a couple of my kite bags with me when I bought my latest ‘mode of transportation’ (2001 Saturn SL-2) just to make sure my kites would ‘Fit In’

My personal ‘situation’ becomes even more acute when I have to determine which of my numerous kite trains accompany me on a ‘kite trip’ If I wanted to take ALL of my trains I would probably need a large pick-up truck and a trailer to get them all in. If I decided to take ALL my kites with me to a festival, I think I’d need a semi-trailer to get there.

So in my opinion it all comes down to ‘Personal Choice’ as to whether you decide to travel to a kite festival in a mode of transportation that uses very little of that expensive gasoline, but doesn’t carry more then a few fighter kites in the glove box.

OR you decide that you need a four wheel drive camper RV with a microwave in the kitchen so you can bring more kites then you’ll ever fly for a weekend in the ‘Cargo Bay’ I could have purchased a more fuel efficient vehicle then my Saturn (which gets around 35 mpg on the highway, by the way!) BUT I know I cannot get all the kites I want to fly at a kite festival into a Mini-Cooper so I made a personal choice and ‘I pay the price’ but it’s worth it to me.

Truth be told because I see most of my true best friends at kite festivals that I have to drive to get to. I AM willing to pay TWICE the price for the fuel to get there. I think my friends are worth it.

There are many reasons that attendance is falling at many kite festivals and sport kite competitions across the USA. Many fliers are diligently working to fix and alter the reasons for these declines we CAN control.

BUT the cost of gasoline is one ‘factor’ we cannot control, the only part of that cost we CAN control is our use and addiction to it!

Just remember that in the year 2010 we will all probably be saying, ‘Remember way back in 2005 when we were ONLY paying $3.00 a gal. for gas!’



P.S. Charlie Sotich of Chicago and famous miniature kite builder, who can carry about 50 of his kites in a shoe box, drives a mini-van ……………. Everyone gets to make that Personal Choice?

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Author:Al Hargus (RIP)

A leader and expert on all things kiting for over 20 years, Al Hargus III was regularly involved in all aspects of the community, he could often be found walking through the audience at various events, speaking with and educating the public while they were there, experiencing what kiting was all about... We lost him to the great unknown in December of 2006, he is dearly missed.

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