Issue 50: Kites… Life.

The Equation is: Kites + Life = Kitelife.

Pretty simple, eh? Well, maybe… but it also can be pretty complex when you think about it! And, here at Kitelife, we sometimes DO think about things like this…

I often wish Mike Gillard were still around… There’re SO many questions I wanted to ask him, and never got the chance. The meaning of equation above is certainly one of them… I’d ask, “Mike, what did you envision when you settled on the name Kitelife for your new, online kiting magazine? Why the word ‘Kitelife’ and what did you mean by it?

Yeah, I’ve gone back an re-read Mike’s opening comments in Vol #1, Issue #1 – again! And there’s some small substance there, but it’s also open to interpretation too… Anyway, the first paragraph covers about all Mike has to say about the original Kitelife “philosophy,” and it’s short enough for inclusion here:

WELCOME to the first issue of KiteLife! We hope you enjoy it; we have had a lot of fun putting it together. If we have done our jobs, this will be a lasting resource for all kiters, and for those who are curious about kiting. When I bought my first kites in ’91 (a 4′ delta and a Trlby, by the way) I had no idea that kiting would turn out to be such a life-changing experience for me. The friendships that have been formed, the things that I have learned, the great places I have been able to travel to were all things that I didn’t expect when I gave “Klig’s Kites” in Myrtle Beach $28.00 for those two kites. Maybe, just maybe, this ‘zine will help get a newcomer into the sport, or increase your interest in the sport.

And so, I guess we’ll never know what Mike really thought about when he originally created Kitelife, what he felt way down deep… but with this 50th issue of the ‘zine, maybe now’s as good a time as any to make some educated guesses…

Let’s start out with an amazing history. When Mike Gillard started the magazine, he was able to attract a stunning list of contributors early on… If you look at the early issues, you’ll see names like:

Dick Barnes
Phil Broder
Hunter Brown
Bob Childs
Richard Dermer
Ron Despojado
Carlo Didier
Maggie Engvall
Elain Genser
Ron Gibian
Dave Gomberg
Fran Gramkowski
Robin Haas
Al Hargus III
Peter Hugger
Corey Jensen
Kenny Killingsworth
Ron Kramer
Bruce Lambert
Collette Lemons
… and a host of others
Chris Matheson
Matther R McGee
Pete Mikula
Rich Miller
Sharon Musto
Phil Napier
Hans Jansen op de Haar
Graeme Poole
Mike Reagan
Ron Reich
Craig Rodgerson
Steve Santos
Ed Shenk
Allen Stroh
Bert Tanaka
Sandy Wagner
Steve Walt Webb
Bob White
Rob White
Mike Woelle
Mark Lummas


Now, granted, 1998 isn’t that long ago, but look at the list of people who made contributions in just the first 13 issues, and see who on that list had a major hand in shaping the sport of kiting over the years.

Add in some of the others who’ve contributed to Kitelife since then, and you can see the “movers and shakers” have been here all along!

So much for history… Let’s talk about where Kitelife has been, and where it’s going… and maybe we’ll get back to that philosophy part later on, too.

Kitelife started with a fairly heavy emphasis on the competitive Sport Kiting part of the kiting, and by and large Kitelife has stayed there.

No, it’s not that we’re convinced that Sport Kiting (read dual-line and multi-line) is all there is… only that it happens to be the portion of Kiting that the current in-house Kitelife staff knows the most about.

So – if YOU are knowledgeable about some OTHER facet of kiting (and if you are fairly literate) – be it KAP, or Power/Traction Kiting, or Fighters, or Kite-Making, or any other area – WE WANT TO TALK TO YOU!

Kitelife has also made serious attempts to be a “benign” resource, available free to all, world-wide.

Indeed, at last count, better than 30% of the looks at Kitelife (also known as “views” in the web business) come from outside the USA. We’re both pleased and proud of that figure.

But the “benign” part is at least as important to us as the “world-wide” part. We view our job to be offering solid information and opinions, but not to champion some “cause” or take sides in some conflict. Yes, we have our views, but we work hard to keep them to ourselves, not counting “good for all” ideas. And we won’t countenance anyone else turning Kitelife “political” either – nope, not even if we privately happen to agree with them.

And the other important part of that sentence is the word “Free.” The majority of Kitelife’s archives will continue to remain a “Free” resource – open to anyone who is interested in the sport.

And another part of the equation, though certainly US-stated, is the Kitelife commitment to “growth” – both as an online magazine ourselves, and as a part of the greater kiting community, and we mean world-wide again.

Unfortunately, there’s a fair amount of talk about kiting as a “declining market” now – at least here in the USA. And Kitelife would probably go on record as being adamantly “pro” growth, but we’ve sort of held back – thinking that might be a political issue again. I doubt anyone would say they were against “growth” per se, but the discussions about what if would take to grow the sport of kiting (some say “fix” the sport, as if kiting were “broken”) can get a bit “heated.” Yes – we’ve observed a few of those discussions.

Finally, how about getting back to the original discussion…

Kites + Life = Kitelife

Well, since we don’t know for certain what our founder, Mike Gillard, meant when he named the ‘zine, let’s give YOU some options and see what YOU think!

John (Editor/Publisher) thinks:

Frankly, I tend to think that Mike was primarily thinking of it truly in terms of kites and life intertwined, but knowing him, he was probably capitolizing on the ‘Life Magazine’ theme as well… In addition to working for improvement in kiting, he always had a cunning business sense.

Dave (Assistant Editor) thinks:

For me, in many ways Kites + Life = “Kitelife” is very apt.

Kites, and the kiting community, “center” me and keep me sane. As a full-time retiree, unpaid by Kitelife, it had needs to add something to my life. And what it really adds is “access.” Access to the kiting community which I have come to know, to enjoy, and to dearly love! Is kiting equated to “life” then? No – I had other things I enjoyed well before I got back into kiting… but my life is richer and fuller now than it’s ever been – so from that perspective at least, there’s a certain amount of truth to that equation…

And YOUR feeling, dear reader, is:


Finally, one last quote from our founder, here. Mike said at the very tail end of his Vol #1, Issue #1 piece:

One last idea – if each of us made an effort, every time we fly, to put a kite in a non-flier’s hands, would that be a good thing?

Yeah, Mike… We think that might be a VERY good thing!

Fair Winds and Good Friends,

Dave “Geezer” Shattuck

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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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