Issue 5: Novice Class

philrafThanks again for joining me in Novice Class. I would like to introduce you to some great Novice kite fliers that I have had the opportunity to get to know through the Eastern League events. Hopefully, this column will prompt readers from other areas of the country to contact me ( with information on Novice kitefliers from other regions. One of my goals when I started writing this column was to give some “press” to novice competitors… Today’s novices could be tomorrow’s masters, so let’s get to know some of them.

While preparing this column, I was reminded of the enthusiasm and excitement of being a novice. I sincerely hope any of you reading this column get more involved in kiting. I know that my column is skewed towards competing, but there’s room for everyone in this sport. Even if you don’t compete (and I know many great kitefliers who don’t!), help out at the events… if you’ve been watching from the sidelines and have been upset about judges decisions, get involved and judge.

Torrey Lindemann (winner of the Newport Cup!), Terry Murray, and I had the opportunity to have a competition seminar for Novices at the Newport 98 festival. We rounded up the novices after the Novice Individual Ballet competition and discussed many aspects of competing – from Wind Rules to sponsorship. All the novices were very appreciative of the seminar. I wish to encourage organizers to get someone, preferably an individual who has been competing for a couple of years, to sit down with the novices at all events – ideally have that person watch or judge the novice events. The novice competitors who read this column should go to the event organizer or head judge and ask them to meet with the novices after they compete. I know that this can be a difficult task because everyone is very busy getting ready to perform, but I know that each time I attended a session for novices (usually by Dave or Sherrie Arnold) I walked away from it with useful information, and that is what I’ve tried to share with you in this column.

Novice Stars of the Eastern League

Bucky Stella

bucky1Bucky is from Black Forest, Pennslyvania where he is the Fire Chief and Forest Fire Warden. He just celebrated his 41st year as a volunteer fireman and recently dedicated the first fire station in Black Forest…. the fire station previously was housed in his garage. He arrived in Black Forest after his sons took over the family business and truly loves the township of 87 residents and 95% state forest land. He often jokes about the snowmobile rides in the winter to get the mail, which I’m sure is why Bucky and his wife Peg often spend the winter in Florida. Besides the winds are a little smoother than those in Black Forest.

bucky2He has been flying kites for about 5 years and started competing about 3 years ago. He placed second at MASKC 96 in NIB during his first competition! Ballet is Bucky’s forte and he’s got the first place finishes this season to prove it (Liberty, Outer Banks, Georgia, and Treasure Island). This season was Bucky’s most competitive year and with his numerous first place finishes was awarded First Place in the Eastern League for Novice Individual Ballet. His music has included Fanfare for the Common Man and You Light up my Life. The Prism Illusion is now the choice for Bucky in competition, however his Skynasaurus still has a special place in his kite bag.

Richard Courmettes

richc1It’s hard to miss Rich Courmettes (pronounced: COR-MET) at a stunt kite competition. He not only don’s a red “Wind Pilot” baseball cap and a stars and stripes motif shirt but he’s often out there judging, field directing or crewing for other competitors. Rich’s attitude toward the sport is to learn, share knowledge, get involved, and give assistance to others first, then second, compete for the fun of it. He admits that every time he does his ballet routine it’s a different performance. “My strong point is precision, not interpretive kite dancing.”, he says. He finished in second place this season for both the AKA’s Northeast Conference and the Eastern League Flyers Circuit. He usually flys a ‘MEFM’. “Probably one of the best precision kites ever made.”, he adds.

Rich got involved in judging sport kite events even before he flew a dual-line kite seriously. While visiting Myrtle Beach in April of 1996 he came across the Spring Games Stunt Kite Championships. “I found it fascinating and never knew that there were people flying kites to music as well as trying to scribe perfect figures in the sky like ice skaters. The quad line events really blew me away”, he remembers. He relates that Tom and Sue Mason extended a big “Howdy” to him at the event – a perfect stranger.

“Typical of that ubiquitous southern hospitality I’m so fond of.”, he says. During the games, Tom encouraged interested spectators to ‘shadow judge’ the next event. Rich quickly stepped up to take a clipboard and pencil and move out beyond that forbidding yellow ‘CAUTION’ tape that keeps viewers on the safe side. He remembers Steve Cseplo and Abel Ortega were among the officials for the next Individual Precision event. The first flyer took the field and went through the prescribed figures and freestyle portion. Rich remembers: “The judges conferred about the scoring of the figures and would give ‘newbies’ like me some real pointers. The judges pretty much agreed on the abilities of the first flyer but I was very hesitant to bring up a point that was bothering me very much. According to the diagram that was on my judge’s sheet, the flyer flew one of the figures backwards. I couldn’t keep my trap shut any more. After all, I really wanted to learn how to compete some day. Ah-hum!

Excuse me, but didn’t the flyer do the Pyramid (#8) counter-clockwise instead of how it’s drawn here? A long silence persisted. Sure enough, I embarrassed three judges and was probably the reason that that flyer got such a low score that day because they did agree with me. After that, I felt this is the sport for me! I had contributed something the first time out, even though I was feeling bad for the now forgotten flyer (who may be reading this article right now) and the 3 embarrassed judges.”

Rich’s first competition was Wildwood, 1996 when he entered NIP ‘just for the fun of it’. He finished 7th out of 20 entrants with a cheap kite that had no name. That year he only attended a few events not even knowing about the Eastern League. Since then he’s taken Dave and Sherrie Arnold’s Judging Seminar (which he highly recommends) and attended his first AKA Convention where he judged an event. He now winters in Sarasota, Florida but still calls Rochester, N.Y. (“the land of faint winds except in winter”) his home. “One hundred inches of snow per year is more than I want to handle at this age.” (Psst! He’s 53!) “Besides it’s hard to fly kites between the snowflakes with frost bitten ears and fingers!”, he muses.

richc2On the personal side, he’s a retired Engineering Manager from Eastman Kodak where they knew him as ‘Dick’. He retired at age 47!!! (How do you do that?) He now does freelance website design such as the local baseball team, the Rochester Red Wings. His kiting and computer interests include contributions to the AKA Website, like the wandering Eddy AKA Kite and the new ‘WINDcast’ link. He’s a photographer, a camper, a rail fan, a Zydeco dancer, a world traveler, an investor, and a money collector (?). His own website reveals he’s got a Bachelor’s degree in Physics, is a long time member of Mensa, yet still has a sense of humor.

When asked about some advise for novice flyers, he says: “Phil, you’ve been advocating the three P’s: Precision, Precision,Precision, for some time now. I can add three more P’s: Practice, Perseverance, and Playfulness. Stick to it, but always have fun doing it. You’re a tough act to follow Phil, but Bruce (Lindemann), Bucky (Stella) and myself will join you in Masters Class someday, so keep practicing!” He grins.

Rich is really looking forward to the Grand Nationals at Ocean Shores, Washington this fall. And he says that anyone who wishes him a ‘Happy’ on his birthday (Oct. 14th), he’ll buy ’em a drink!

Now that’s a way to make friends in this sport!

Bruce Lindemann

brdI’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Bruce Lindemann over the past year and a half while competing against his son Torrey (who is now competing in Experienced Class!). Torrey and I started out in Novice together a couple of years ago. Bruce jokes about waiting until Torrey moved up to Intermediate before competing himself and often introduces himself as “Bruce Lindemann, Torrey’s dad.” However, I want everyone to know that Bruce is a great kite flyer… not just Torrey’s dad… Bruce has earned many plaques and first place finishes this season as well and will be in intermediate class during this AKA season.

Both Bruce and Torrey compete with Prism kites and really like the Illusion. When asked about it he replies, “It’s a great kite, stable for precision and will do all the tricks that I’m trying to learn how to do!” Bruce flew the Illusion to first place – Novice Individual Precision and second place – Novice Individual Ballet in the Eastern League. Bruce resides in Eastford Connecticut and can be found flying an Illusion at most northeast sport kite competitions.

David Franzi

kite1I first saw David at Wildwood in May of this year. He had just finished second in Novice Precision. At the banquet I congratulated him and could see that his family was very proud of him… Wildwood wood is special wood… and David had just earned a second place plaque to display at home. This was his first year in competition. Being from the Newport, Rhode Island area, David has the opportunity to fly with some of the best kite fliers in the world, Bob McBroom, Scott Weider are often at Brenton Point to offer assistance and suggestions. He focused on novice precision and competed in Narragansett (1st), Wildwood (2nd) and Newport (2nd) respectively. He’ll be moving into intermediate class next season at the Narragansett regional in September. David also attended a buggy clinic in April and would like to explore that further in the future. David is twelve years old, is going into the eighth grade next year. He is a headmasters honor student. David is also a talented artist (his primary interest is sketching in pen and pencil) and he plays the sax quite well. He looks forward to many fun years of kiting and flies quad, dual and single line kites as well as indoors, but is keeping competitions light and easy.

Matthew Perry

matthewMatthew is 10 years old and started flying kites approximately one year ago at the Newport 97 event. He loves to fly his Prism Fanatic, but also flies a Rev II, Speed Limit, Mastrale and just about any other kite he can talk you into letting him try when on the field. He has come a long way this past year and placed 3rd in a field of 12 fliers in Novice Individual Precision (his second competition). One of my fondest memories of the Newport kite festival was watching Matthew getting tugged around by a 6 or 8 ft Flexifoil at the end of the competition… He was loving every minute of it.

Lisa Stambaugh

Lisa is a member of the Susquehanna River Rats Kite Club in Pennsylvania and has been flying kites for a couple of years. She recently started competing at the Georgia International Kite Festival this past season. This seasons highlights include second place finishes in Novice Individual Ballet at Treasure Island, MASKC, and Wildwood and a First Place finish in Novice Precision at MASKC in Ocean City. Lisa can usually be found taking in all the sites (kites and other attractions) at events. When competing you’ll usually see her with a lollipop MEFM at the end of her lines.

Jodie Taft

Jodie is from the Richmond Virginia area and just started flying kites last fall. After attending many events and providing assistance to all fliers in the Richmond Air Force, especially her grandmother – Marion Proffitt and myself (Marion and I fly pairs together as Grams and Ounces), Jodie is entering the competition field on her own… with us as ground crew!! Her first competition was MASKC 98 in Ocean City. She then placed in both NIP and NIB at Old Dominion and earned Second Place in Novice Individual Ballet at Newport 98 in a field of 10 competitors. Jodie’s favorite kites include her Cathedrals, MEFM’s, and most recently – the Vanishing Point (loaned to her by Mike Book of the Susquehanna River Rats at the Old Dominion SKC). All of us in the Richmond Air Force Kite Club are excited about the upcoming season for Jodie and wish her well.