Issue 1: Tangents and Trivia

These pages will document the wanderings of a confessed kite addict. I’ve learned an awfully lot about kiteflying over the last twenty-five years. I’m going to take you all along that tangent and hopefully pass along a little trivia about what I’ve learned over those years. I have to warn everyone right off the bat that I maybe an old timer when it comes to kiteflying, but I’m sort of a greenie when it comes to the Internet and computereze. So bear with me. We all learn something new everyday.

I really don’t recall many memories of kiteflying when I was a little kid, so I guess that there were not many memorable moments in the air. I do remember that all the kites I flew were made of paper, and were mostly diamonds. If I recall correctly, they were made by Hi-Flier, which was the major kite company in the 50’s. I’d actually like to start my wanderings with the first time I flew kites as an adult.


I spent my early childhood growing up in Chicago, Illinois and in 1974 I was married and living happily in a suburb of Chicago. A high school friend of my wife was planning a trip to Chicago to visit her parents. Barb was bringing with from California her new boy friend, Charlie Moore. While my wife and her friend visited I was supposed to keep Charlie company. What were we going to do? I thought that we’d figure something out. Chicago is a really big place, you know. Charlie and Barb arrived and I was in for a pleasant surprise. Charlie was just about the most laid back guy I had ever met. He brought a guitar and a California attitude that I had never really encountered before.

I asked Charlie what he would like to do while the girls renewed old friendships. Charlie said that we should go fly a kite. “This is called the Windy City, you know!” said Charlie. FLY A KITE? Oh geez! Can’t this guy think of something better to do? Charlie saw my confusion right away. “No, I don’t mean that we should go and buy a kite. Is there a hardware store around here where we can go and get some garbage bags and dowel rods?”

So Charlie Moore and I went and bought a few dowel rods, plain black garbage bags, a bottle of wine and a bunch of snacks. We sat down in my living room and Charlie taught me to make three different kites all based on a standard garbage bag and 36 inch dowel rods. We made a delta, a sled and a box kite.

I was unfamiliar with deltas or sleds, but I knew what aAl.JPG (9597 bytes) box kite was. After we built the three kites we took the kites, food and drinks to a field across the street from my place. Previous to Charlie’s arrival I called this field a baseball field. Charlie was the first to explain to me that large open fields were made by God for flying kites and not much else

Charlie and I spent a very pleasant afternoon getting to know each other and flying kites. The delta was pretty much destroyed as soon as we launched it. If I remember correctly the winds were probably 12 to 15 MPH that day. The box kite didn’t do very well either, and that may have been a construction problem, I don’t remember, but the sled flew for the entire time we were at the field.

I learned a lot from Charlie Moore that day. He never used a plan or measured anything when we built my first kite, but that sled flew better than any kite I had flown or even seen in my first 26 years.

As I said Charlie was from California and a free spirit sort. I learned a lot more than just how to build a plastic sled kite. I really learned WHY you fly a kite. The reasons could be totally aerodynamic, but could also be a mental and even spiritual thing. Charlie told me that many of the people that he flew kites with were into remote control things. You know …radio-controlled airplanes, model trains, boomerangs, and other things that people controlled at a distance. (He also said that a lot of them are left-handed. Is that true? I’m not!)

What Charlie seemed to emphasis most often, was the people who flew kites. He noted that many, if not all kitefliers were also into other exotic hobbies and interests. Like wine tasters, people who enjoyed exotic foods for a hobby, people that collected sea shells, people that were astronomy buffs, and people that liked to make bubbles. It’s the free spirit thing that Charlie spoke of. It wasn’t really important what you did when you went to the field to fly kites, or what kite you flew. The important part was the people that you met when you got there. Kitefliers, he said, everywhere are as different a there are stars in the sky, but they all end up being the same kind of people. As I learned and as far as I’m concerned, the people in kiteflying are the best part of my entire kite flying experience.

People that I have met on the flying field are going to be one part of the tangents and trivia your going to read about. Many of these kitefliers aren’t around anymore. Some went off to other interests. Some went to that big kite field in the sky. Others just got angry for one thing or another and just left the hobby. Many of the kitefliers today, who have only been into the hobby for a couple of years, don’t even know who some of these people are. I’d like to tell you about some of them. I have a ton of pictures I’d like to share. Lots of tangents and trivia along the way.

Along with telling you about the Whys, the Who’s and the Where’s I’d like to tell you about the How’s of all the things that I have done over the years.

As you can see I have included plans for that first sled kite made 24 years ago. I am not claiming that this is the best sled plan, but I am stating that it is my first. My original was made with black plastic garbage bags and I used masking tape to secure the sail to the rods. Not the best but the first step on a long, long path across flying fields all over the country.

I will be telling you a lot of things over the next months. I met a lot of really great kitefliers in Chicago. We formed the Chicago Land SkyLiners Kite Club. I’ll tell you about those people and how to form a kite club.

I have been to a lot of <acronym title=”American Kitefliers Association”>AKA</acronym> National Conventions. I was on the staff of the 1988 Nationals in Chicago. I’ll tell you about all those people and how to stage and run one of the biggest kite festivals on the planet.

I made more than a few kites in the last 24 years. I’ll talk about those and include some plans. I’ll tell you about some of the failures as well, maybe you’ll learn something about kite making from those mistakes too.

Individual, Pairs and Team sport kite competitions, hosting kids kite making classes, trivia about traveling the nation to fly, tangents and really amusing stories about the people, places and kites along the way. Tangents and Trivia from the wanderings of a kite-a-holic are what it will be all about.

From the words of a famous singer, “…what a long strange trip it has been…”

I hope an interesting one for all of you. I would like you all to become just as addicted to this hobby as I am. I suppose that the term addict has some bad connotations these days. Maybe I should say “devotion to kiteflying”. I’m not sure, but some of you are already hooked, devoted, what ever! This is probably one of the only kind of addictions that is good for you.

I have one last comment about how it all began and Charlie Moore. Charlie and Barb eventually split up and Charlie moved to Colorado. He called me about 6 years ago and left his phone number on my message machine.

Charlie, I lost your number! If you’re out there, give me a call!

AL Hargus

Editor’s Note- Al Hargus has been a kiting institution for a long, long time. He was my “Charlie Moore” – stoking my interest, and showing me all the possibilities. I thank him for that gift. -Mike Gillard