Issue 1: Bongo Hotline

Compiled by Kitelife staff from reader submissions


Don’t Panic, from the Northwest U.S., will continue competing in 1998. Monica Barber will be taking a less-active role with the team to allow for more time with family and their kite store. The team had an outstanding year in ’97, their first in Masters class, placing in the top 3 in both halves of the American Kite Circuit, and nearly winning Team Precision at the AKA Grand Nationals. Mike Benedict will be joining Dan Villegas and Jim Barber. They have their sights set at the top rung for ’98.

Sadly, the boys in black, Airkraft have called it a day. This observer considers their ’97- early ’98 routine (Airkraft – The Future is Flying) to be the most incredible display of the possibilities of team flying the world has seen. Airkraft truly changed team kiting, and they will be missed. Carl and James Robertshaw will be flying as pairs (Pairkraft, natch), Nic Boothby is playing with the “Decorators” Rev demo team, and Jeremy Boyce is busy with impending fatherhood, and, sadly, closing his kitestore in London. RIP Airkraft.

Portions of three US teams have combined to form a new six-person combine, Shanti Air. Al Hargus and Vicki Romanoff (ex-Capt. Eddie’s and Pair of Pairs), Mike Donnelly and Gina Ignazzitto (ex-Higher Powered) and Pete DiGiacomo and Dave Hoelter (What’s Up) will be flying the Opus 8 kites from Shanti. They have been working hard every week in the rotten Ohio weather getting ready for a full US competition season. Watch for them at MIKE, GLSKC, and ESKC. Six person teams are great fun to watch, but the difficulty level increases exponentially as the number of fliers increases. It looks like these folks are putting in the time to conquer that steep learning curve.

A team always near the top of the US ranks, Chicago Fire, suffered the tragic death of team mainstay Jerry Elkerton last fall. Jerry was a wonderful guy and his presence will be missed for years to come. Eric Wolff, Kathy Brinnehl, Dan Brinnehl, Russ Faulk, Bob Neiman and Frank Feiseler will form the rotating lineup for ’98. Expect to see them fly in several configurations, but always expect them to put on a good show.

Top US team in ’97, Captain Eddie’s Flying Circus will be standing down for most of ’98. A combination of factors – work, family, burnout from a too-full ’97 season led to this decision. The team will be doing their normal rigorous show schedule, and will attend numerous events, but competition is on hold until at least June. They may contest several summer regionals to allow qualification for the Grand Nationals.

Reigning two-time World Champions, Skydance, will continue their juggernaut into the ’98 season. They certainly shattered the conventional wisdom that a three person team couldn’t equal a larger ensemble in the impact affected on judges and spectators. Besides the competition scene, they are working on more and better demo routines to entertain mass audiences, a positive for kiting in our book.

1995 World Cup qualifiers Invisible Wind are said to be planning a comeback in ’98. Lineup is Al Washington, Jim Baldo, Susan Thonstad, and Steve Bates.

Team TKO will be competing in the Central US events, and plan on flying at the Grandnationals. They made a great transition from Experienced class to Masters in ’97 and should have a successful season flying kites from Top of the Line.

Airwest plans on starting 1998 the way they finished ’97, with dominating performances. At the Grand Nationals, their new “Get Ready” ballet soundly defeated a strong field. They have further refined the routine over the winter, and trained Tom Fine to replace Bert Tanaka, who has left the team for work, family, and golf reasons. They are planning to contest West Coast events, and to travel to Japan.

Top US Experienced class team Bumperkites (great name!) will move into Masters class in ’98. They absolutely decimated the Experienced class last year, and should do well in ’98. Great fun to watch these folks!


AMERICAN KITE’S “Flier of the Year”, John Barresi, plans on a full competition season in ’98. With his team not competing, John should have more mental bandwidth available to focus on individual routines. Kite choice is undecided at this time.

Dorothy and Lance Wagner, the Sudden Flight pairs team, are celebrating a new addition. Andrew Hunter Wagner was born on Super Bowl Sunday, all are doing well. No word yet on when Sudden Flight will be flying as a three person team.

Dodd Gross will continue his normal breakneck pace. His Flight Schools are coming back to the US after an absence, with possible classes on both coasts in the coming months. Dodd also has new designs available from Rev, HQ, Eolo Sport, and Spirit of Air! He is truly an Equal-Opportunity Designer. Also, he keeps cranking out the great videos, check them out if you haven’t already.

Kitelife Roving Correspondent David Gomberg surely wins the prize for most miles flown in search of the perfect festival. Spring plans include FIVE CONTINENTS in six weeks. Scheduled events include Roaring Forties in Tasmania (March), Dubai International in the United Arab Emirates (March), Berck sur Mer in France (April), Miami and Maryland in the USA (April) , and Uchinada in Japan in May. Plus, he continues to serve as President of KTAIand on the AKA Executive Committee by fax and e-mail, while running his own business with the support of his long-suffering partner, Susan. We are trying to coax Susan into doing a series of articles for kite widows, but so far, she will not give up the secret to her patience.


The Miami International Kite Festival is all set for April 17-19 at South Beach, in the Art Deco area. This is a great event, no competition pressures, just lots of fun. Click here for more info.

Also upcoming in April is the Maryland International Kite Exposition, held on April 24-26. Roger Chewning and crew have done a fine job in turning this into a must-attend event.

Kitelife will have full coverage of both of these events in the May issue.

Sunday, August 2, 1998, 5th Annual Canal Days Kite Fly and Exhibition at Lakeview Park, Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada, from 10:00 a.m. to dusk. Barbecue following for registered fliers. This event is part of the City of Port Colborne’s Canal Days Festival celebrating the city’s Great Lakes Marine heritage. Last year over 60 fliers participated from 3 Ontario kite clubs and one New York State kite club. Official crowd estimate: 6500

The Mid-American Sportkite Classic, Kalamazoo, MI (June 20-21) has been rewarded AKM National status. This is a must-attend event for sportkiters. John Cosby and Elaine DeRoover have done a tremendous job in making this one of the must fun-filled sportkite events in the country.

Robyne Gardner, Region 5 AKA director, has assembled a calendar of Midwest events, also has info on some other events.


We heard a report that the new Revolution “speed” quadline kites are capable of doing one of the coolest dual-line tricks, the “flic-flac”. One of our staff SWEARS he saw it done by a fellow named “Slim” on the beach in San Diego. Quad ballet events may be even more interesting in ’98.

Long-time kite lunatic Corey Jensen’s Colors of the Wind booklet is a treasure. It is a 36 page full color magazine-style publication focussed on beginning fliers. It has coverage of about every type of kite and kiting activity there is.