Welcome back to Kitemaker Profiles for November/December! In this issue we will get an insight to two award winning kitemakers from the US. The first, Larry Mixon, is an all round kitemaker and flyer of both single line and dual line kites. The second kitemaker is Peter Betancourt, a well known dual line specialist kite maker.
So, once again, sit back and enjoy reading about these kitemakers and seeing some of the wonderful kites they have made.
Kitemaker: Larry Mixon
Location: Corona, California, USA.
Children: Chad, Vichelle and Stacy .. one grandson … Jacob.
Hobbies: Skiing and Golf
Favorite Food: Chinese
Favorite Music: Classic to Rock and Roll
Favorite Magazines: Golf and Kiting.
IRC nick : kitedad
Web Site: http://www.pe.net/~abhozkit/
Most rewarding achievement: Being married to Linda for 17 years and raising 3 kids !
Tell me a little bit about yourself please Larry.
I’m an adventurous kind of guy that likes to ski down some pretty bad mountains. I have been involved in kiting for almost seven years now and have been building for about four years. I got interested in kites when I bought a kite for my daughter Stacy to fly at the beach. I didn’t even realize that I had bought a dual line kite until we got to the beach and started putting it together. I was hooked from that minute on. I got a catalog from Into the Wind and ordered a 5 foot Rocket. I went to the nearby elementary school and taught myself how to fly it. I can tell you this is a kite that can take abuse! My next kite was a Team High Fly. This is when I became interested in building kites, as I wanted more kites and they were going to cost so much. I started thinking that I could make one, no problem. So, by looking at a kite and a kite plan I figured out how to make one. My first stunt kite was a 7 foot kite called The Larry Kite. I only made 2, one for myself and one for my daughter, Vichelle.
I heard there was a local kite club called The San Diego Kite Club and I made a phone call to them. They told me that club meetings were held the 3rd Saturday of each month. We joined the club and became very active members. I was Vice President of the club for 2 years and continue to support the club in anyway I can. Flying with a group of people like the members of the club is fun and there is always plenty of food! People always kid us about being overachievers, along with the likes of Jose Sainz, Randy Tom, the Lindsays, and Ron Gibian. As club members it is hard to not get teased once in a while. The club is and always will be a big influence in my life of kiting.
One night we were at Fred Martin’s home (he’s a past San Diego Kite Club President), when he showed me how to appliqué. I started making single line show and art kites. I progressed to bigger and more intense kites quickly. I make more single line kites than anything, but I do have two dual line kites that I sell. The name of our company is Above the Horizon Kites and we have been in business approximately 2 years. Through our website, word of mouth and stores we sell the Factor and Equal dual line kites. The Factor is a low wind competition kite and the Equal is a beginner’s kite. I will also make single kites for anyone that wants them. Of course, they are special order and I do not duplicate my kites.
The time I spend making a kite varies from kite to kite. I’ve made one in six hours and the Totem Pole took six months! I have been very fortunate in winning many awards for my kites, from Best of Show to a second and third at the AKA Convention, in Santa Monica, CA. (Ed: More recently 3 Firsts at Long Beach 1998). My most rewarding kite has been the King of Diamonds, although the Totem Pole is very different. Most of my ideas come from things I see and think would look nice flying. I like to decorate the sky with the unusual.
There are two times that I can remember as memorable moments in kiting for me. The first time I stood on the beach at Long Beach, Washington, and saw nothing but kites everywhere I looked, that was totally unbelievable. The other was when I won two awards at the AKA convention. That was the first time I really felt like a kite maker.
I guess you can tell my favorite place to fly is at Long Beach, Washington, Kite Festival. Long Beach is my idea of a perfect week. Beautiful kites in the sky and wonderful fellowship between other kite flyers. We are all there for one thing, to celebrate kites and flying. This pretty much sums up my philosophies about kite flying. To put beauty in the sky, to celebrate friendships with other flyers and to see the unusual take place.
I have done some workshops on kites for kids, as well as helping J.R. Tolman in Long Beach for the last two years. Here is where the rewards are, to see the look on the face of a child when he first flies his kite. This helps me think that kiting will carry on in the future. I look at others’ kites and think of my favorite kite, a very simple kite, something that brought me the most joy, I know that what got me into building is to find the unusual and beautiful. As an adult, I still get this feeling. When I finish a kite, take it to the field for its first launch, I still get that look of joy on my face.
I fly in competition as an individual. I am an experienced flier and will be moving up to Masters next year. I compete in dual line, quad line and this past year have flown Experienced Pairs with my wife Linda. We are Team Factor, named for my dual line kites.
To see that kite scoot into the air, brings to mind a sentence from a recent movie, “It doesn’t get any better than this!”.
Err … Thanks Larry ….. err… (searching for my dropped list of questions … glancing at my watch ..)
“Is that the time ??? Gee thanks Larry for sharing your experiences with us .. I’m sorry, very sorry, but I have to fly! Bye!”
PS. Following my interview with Larry, but prior to going to print with this article, Larry was again very successful at both the WSIKF and the AKA Nationals in 1998, picking up a number of places and awards for various categories for his kites.
Congratulations Larry … well done!