Issue 7: ProFile – Jeff Howard

Jeff HowardPERSONAL DETAILS :

Location : McAlester, Oklahoma, USA.

Age : 29

Occupation : Kitemaker and flyer.

Web Site: www.pksdistribution.com

Favorite Food : Italian

Favorite Beverage : Coffee and dark beer.

Favorite Book : Into the Wild

Favorite Music : Alternative and Blues

Favorite Magazines :

Kite Passion by far! (Ed: What about Kitelife, Jeff?)

Kite Book :

All of them… you can get good information from them all!

Other Interests :

RC cars and planes since a child, motocross bikes, mountain biking, and I still climb once in a while, when I’m not buggying or catching up on orders. I had two dreams after graduation from college, I wanted to be a summer bum and I wanted to be a ski bum. I spent three years doing exactly that ……. What a life !!!!

Personal Background :

I have always been infatuated with flight since an early age. I love adventures and challenges !

Professional Background :

I am an instructor in outdoor sports, rock climbing, kayaking, mountain biking. I went to college at Spartan School of Aviation, where I received licensing to work and fly aircraft, of which I’m still paying for !!

What is your most rewarding experience ?

Building my own successful business … one kite at a time!!

What is the silliest thing you have ever done ?

Rock climbing nude at the Gunks in New York!!! Anyone want to come along next time?

What is the most dangerous thing ?

Solo rock climbing. What a rush you get being up high and knowing nothing matters other than climbing. It definitely clears your head !!

How did your interest in kites begin Jeff ?

I’ve messed with kites since I was a child, but only in the past 8 years have I got serious. It is the only sport that I haven’t gotten burned out on! My interest first began after I read an article in the ‘Outside Magazine’ about Don Tabor and his kites. Then a few years later, a friend showed me an old ‘Into the Wind’ catalog. After looking at the kites, I noticed that you could also buy parts ……. My dreams started to flow from here !

I started making kites a little over seven years ago, I pinched my Mom’s sewing machine for a short time, got some materials and went from there.

What type of kites do you make Jeff?

I like building all types of kites, and of course, sport kites were my first interest. Then, I gradually got into single line kites, then being influenced by my sailing past, got into the buggy side of kiting. Right now, I am making a few changes to some older model kites and am working on new designs all the time in the sport kite and fighter kite areas.

Making kites has been my full time job for the last seven years. I sell my kites at a few selected retailers and websites. If anyone would like to find out how to get my kites, please call me or ask your local shop about them.

What materials / equipment do you use, Jeff ?

I use all the latest kite building materials, polyesters, nylons, carbon, but also I use a lot of the old stuff …. Plastic, wood and other things that might apply ! I get my materials from a large range of places, some direct, some through distributors. I sew on Bernina sewing machines and I have really come to love them ..and no, given the chance I wouldn’t switch to any other make! My job depends on my machines! Sometimes it spooks me as to how well I know the machine. I cut using hot knives and cold also on a large glass table. In designing kites, I still do all this by hand with pencil and paper using bow rods, rulers etc.

Do you have any construction tips for readers ?

Ummmmmmmmm …. Yes!

#1 ALWAYS log what you do to a kite so you don’t end up repeating yourself, get a note book and log EVERYTHING you do to the kite.

#2 Get a set of fibreglass rods, attach the line on one end, make it so you can adjust it on the other end … this is a great way to get the curves you want.

Have you won or received any awards for your kites ?

The biggest reward I have ever received has been the smiles on the faces of those that have flown and enjoyed my kites! Especially the one from my own smile seeing Shane Snowden when he won Masters class ballet at the ’98 Nationals flying my Precisionist kite! In fact, the Precisionist has been the most rewarding kite for me to make. It took me years to get it the exact way I wanted it and it’s still taking top honors at events and doing the latest of tricks and I’ve had it out for about 5 years now! I believe this is because I build every one myself, ONE by ONE! I can just remember every kite I have built. I’ve had people tell me about or show me their kite, and I can tell them where they got it and when I built it.

The Precisionist has just about taken over the competition in Japan, thanks to Akira Suzuki. I have also sold kites in Europe, Australia, Colombia, South America and all over the USA. I have only advertised once, which I thought was a waste of money. I have found out, that if you build a great kite, you will be talked about, just enjoy flying and making and things will flow from there…..slowly but surely.

What are your philosophies on kite making ?

When you have an idea on a kite to build, write down what you want it to do, then, don’t give up on the design until you get all the points you wanted out of it, whether it takes you a few days or a few years. Many of my designs sat on paper for a year, gradually changing, then when I thought I had it right I would build it. Many of these kites never even took to the sky, some still hang in my shop today.

Who had the most influence on you in kite making ?

The younger kids and close friends … why ? because they just go out to have fun, life is a short journey, so you better enjoy every moment as much as possible.

Who is your favorite kite personality ?

This one is a tough question. At the moment it would have to be Scott Skinner of the Drachen Foundation, he just always has a smile on his face and is always looking for fun and also puts a ton back into kiting.

Which is your favorite kite festival ?

Wildwood Festival – just a ton of things going on and a bunch of great folks .. and of course the beach !

 What kite flying experience is your most memorable Jeff?

One time, on the dry lake bed in the buggy at sunset, the wind was just high enough to keep the foil in the air and everything was quiet …except for a slight hum coming through the lines. I was just out there by myself, watching the lights of cars go into Las Wages !

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time, in terms of kite making?

I see myself still involved and building kites. I really like the people involved, too many good friends to get out. I see myself involved in many other ways as well, I’m always getting into something else with the sport other than just making. Tell me one sport other than kiting, where you can become the world’s best and it doesn’t matter your age, color, height, race etc ?

Finally Jeff, do you have anything else you would like to say to our readers ?

As I tell my sponsored fliers, go out there and have fun, the rest will follow !

And to all the people reading this if you haven’t flown a truly hand built custom kite before, give it a try, you won’t go back to mass production !!

Thanks Jeff, what a refreshing attitude towards kite making. Thanks for sharing it with us! 

Share this page:
Share

Tags:

Author:Graeme Poole

An active kite designer, builder and author, Graeme Poole comes from Adelaide South Australia. An international traveler as well, Graeme's trademark kites are his dragonfly designs.

View Graeme Poole's Profile →

Social Networks

Sign up for e-mail news from KiteLife!

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

SUBSCRIBE TO WIN AND LEARN

This website is made possible by our official KiteLife Subscribers, who receive access to our full archive of video tutorials and automatic entry into regular prize drawings every 4-6 weeks as thanks for their support – are you signed up yet?

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO