Issue 53: Up the River Indoor

This business about going to Arlington is getting to be decidedly “old hat.” I’d certainly been there before, and have always enjoyed this one. And, unlike most of the events we attend, the Third Annual Up The River (UTR) Indoor Kite Festival will be a decidedly “local” affair, and the grandstands in the High School gym will fill with families and friends of fliers and townspeople. There’s not much “drop by” traffic for this one, folks.

So, your humble “geezer” is on the road again on a Friday afternoon, headed for the festival, held on February 11th and 12th this year… Yep, off on a little 150 mile drive to Arlington, Oregon – straight east, right up the Columbia River from Portland. The trip goes easy and well, and I pull into town and find the High School again. I’d actually been lost in this town of 600 folks the first time John and I attended, but I’ve got the school “nailed” now. Actually, once you’ve been here before, you can’t miss it! Ollie-Ollie-In-Free!

So I pull up and walk in, say “Hello” to a few folks, and quickly make my way to the “stage” in the School gym. The Girls basketball team is down by several points but nearing half-time in the varsity game – and some indoor “demo” flying is on the agenda for the half-time show this evening. All of the kite pilots are already assembled backstage, save David Hathaway who is driving down from British Columbia. No matter, Alan Cunningham will sub… and then the second period ended and we were up. I was handed a mike, and we were off and flying – iQuad at its finest, well… as far as Arlington understood anyway. But the performers did very well, everything considered. The only beef was that they ran a little long on the clock. Oh – and the Lady Honkers (Arlington’s official school mascot) pulled it out and won!

We would repeat this scenario again between halves of the Men’s basketball game, save for two changes. David Hathaway slipped into the door with about 30 seconds to spare so he replaced Alan in the lineup. And team iQuad reduced their show’s length by a couple of minutes (about half of the reduction being that the announcer cut his palaver to a minimum) in order to accommodate the Male Honkers – but to no avail. Unfortunately, the male half of the school did NOT manage a come-back.

Actually, this festival promised to be a good one. While Arlington is decidedly an “out of the way” venue for us, we expected about a dozen pilots – some of whom fall into the “world-class” category. In addition to our usual Northwest Sport Kite League gang (including John Barresi, who definitely falls into that “world-class” realm), we also had folks like Lam Hoac, who’s just in the process of deciding to move down to Vancouver, WA from Toronto, Ontario, and also Paul DeBakker, who has roughly half a dozen sport kite championship titles from the Netherlands where he was born and raised, and he now lives back on the USA’s East Coast and has flown in – for Arlington(?).

Well, we spent the next couple minutes packing stuff away, but we’d planned to leave the kites onstage overnight. And eventually, the evening comes to an end, and it’s time to hit the local tavern for pizza and potables before we all hit the hay.

I head off to join everyone else at the Tav, then grab a coffee and order pizza – and wait, while the pilots all grab a shower and get into non-sweaty duds. It’s okay – I like them better when they’re all cleaned up anyway. Besides, I can eat about half of my pizza before “the mob” descends and we get into intense kiting discussions and lots of general tom-foolery. Did I say THAT? Nah – it’s all patently untrue. These kiters are all as simon-pure and lily white as the driven snow, so they would NEVER exhibit any foolishness! (Yah, right!)

Lam Hoac and I were fortunate enough to be bunking at the home of the Cunninghams, so instead of heading for the motel across the parking-lot from the tavern after dinner, we head up the hill to claim a couple of beds, and re-meet the Cunningham’s “pet” family. Sam, the old dog is just as gentle as she’s always been, and cat Cosmo is doing her usual “Oops – new people – gotta hide!” bit. And I am also introduced to Maki, a young female dog who almost instantly decided that I need to be “owned” by her – at least for the weekend. And Colleen Cunningham explains that I should not feel “special,” because Maki just wants to be loved by everyone – which includes me, I guess.

I awoke to an empty house the next morning. Lam and the Cunninghams had headed to the gym early, so Maki and I wandered around a bit and I sipped the first mug-o-the-day before heading off to find breakfast “downtown,” and then it was time to head for the gym.

Normally, any NWSKL “AKA Sanctioned” indoor fest I attend has about four different types of events that occur. The “free-fly” is just what the name implies – free time where anyone can use the floor to fly kites, including kids who’d like to learn indoor flying. Then there’re the Comps – normally flown as judged “Open Individual Indoor Unlimited” (OIIU) competitions among all the assembled competition pilots. A third event is named “Hot Tricks,” where the competitors fly against each other in a timed event, alternating every 30 seconds, three minutes long total-time competition, with “single eliminations” the rule, and “winner-take-all.” And, finally, there are Demos, where pilots fly to music (as they also do in the OIIU comps), but are free to use costumes and props and even multiple people. The demos are where pilots exhibit their “riskier” tricks and more innovative routines. We would see all of these events at the Up The River fest.

Saturday morning started with the usual free-fly, with all of the assembled pilots out working their gear to get it ready for the Demos and Competitions to follow. And those who were paying attention also noticed Paul DeBakker flying an interesting new kite he’d brought along, called a “Reflection” from Focus Designs. Well, Paul happens to be an integral part of Focus, and indeed, this is a refined version of a kite we’d first seen in Paul’s hands as a prototype in Lincoln City, Oregon at Lincoln City’s first indoor festival, three years ago. And more than a few pilots WERE paying attention to Paul and the kite, too.

But we were soon into the early Demos so I grabbed a mike from Rick Wright and lit it off, and Paul – among others – had his chance alone on the floor. I have to say (without giving very much away) that both Paul and the Reflection might well be creditable forces in indoor flying arenas for a few years – starting right about now!

And, after a string of demos, most of the assembled competition pilots had used their chance to display their chops, and “demonstrate” their skills with their kites. In addition, Team iQuad flew a 3-person “team” demo, where there were three iQuad pilots on the floor flying simultaneously. This was their second outing with this routine, the first being at the Windless festival just a month earlier in Long Beach, Washington.

Then we were into the first OIIU competition of the festival. Unfortunately, the announcer who is working the mike also needs to monitor the queuing of the music, note when the judges are ready, let the next few competitors know when they’re due up, and pay attention to the Floor Director, so I actually see less than a third of each pilot’s routine. And instead of trying to “BS” you into believing I saw all these wonderful routines (some were, and a few weren’t), I’ll simply refer you to the scores instead. But I WILL say that (judging from both my incomplete memories and from the scores), Bud Hayes put it all together and flew one of his very best routines, Paul and the Reflection came close to edging Bud out but didn’t quite make it, and Alan Cunningham’s birds continue to impress the


1 Bud Hayes 85.800
2 Paul DeBakker 85.400
3 Alan Cunningham 83.300
4 Lam Hoac 82.200
5 Jerry Cannon 80.900
6 Wayne Turner 79.700
7 Scott Davis 77.100
8 Todd Rudolph 74.600
9 Amy Doran 67.000
10 Jennifer Brown 66.200
DQ David Hathaway 0.000

Then it was time for a bite to eat, courtesy of the “Honkers Booster Club” there at Arlington High. Sandwiches and tater-salad as I remember, and also a chance for another cup of coffee. Oh – and a chance to get some (rather chilly) fresh air – meaning I could walk across the street and grab a smoke before I had to speak into a mike again.

So we were quickly into a short free-fly time again while everyone got a chance to relax a bit, digest lunch, and get ready for the “other” comp of the day. Okay folks, right back into “showtime” and we’re doing it all over again. The judges were ready, the pilots were reasonably so, and I grabbed the mike and we got the next show started. Announcing is an all right chore, I guess and when we finally finished we had both the comps completed, and nobody had complained that I’d mispronounced their names. As before, I can’t comment much, except to say that Lam Hoac is still an excellent pilot and competitor. Scotty finally “hit one” too, having suffered a long string of just so-so scores, and Bud appears to be “in the hunt” this year. Oh – and notice who’s in position #4 in this second round of comps, please. Yup – definitely not on his game today.


1 Lam Hoac 88.300
2 Scott Davis 87.200
3 Bud Hayes 84.600
4 John Barresi 84.300
5 Paul DeBakker 84.000
6 Wayne Turner 81.670
7 Alan Cunningham 81.650
8 David Hathaway 77.800
9 Todd Rudolph 76.100
10 Amy Doran 73.200
11 Jennifer Brown 72.900
DQ Jerry Cannon 0.000

Immediately following the last competitions of the day, it was “demo” time – that time when pilots can get out and “play” and display the riskier stuff that they don’t use in competition – or the routines they’re developing, but they aren’t ready for “prime time” yet… Nearly everyone demos – some several times each festival. As far as the “demo” hit parade went, first place most probably went to Penny Lingenfelter (…Her with her Cecile B. DeMille “Cast of Thousands”). I do believe this one was her Dr. Seuss “Green Eggs and Ham” routine, but I could be wrong.

Soon, the afternoon session was over (and your announcer’s voice was glad of it) and we all shared a roast pork dinner with all the trimmings for our supper. Yum! Yeah, there was dessert for the kids, too – though a couple of we 50+ year old “kids” had to constrain ourselves to a single dessert helping. Free-flying followed, and we all had a chance to finish putting our tickets in the raffle bags before Alan Cunningham announced the final standings in the day’s comps, and then began pulling out tickets and awarding all those prizes. And immediately after the raffle, Alan auctioned off a Rev 1.5, which made for a successful night of fundraising.

OK… You have the picture on “most” of Saturday, now. What was not part of the public program was the reception at Alan and Colleen’s house following our sessions at the High School. The Cunninghams opened their home to all the “visitors,” and Alan and Kyle proceeded to demonstrate their expertise with sushi. Subsequent reports included comments like, “Well beyond gourmet, into the Exotic Sushi Competitions realm…” If you’re a kite pilot and into sushi, you missed a good one, gang! Besides, there was a little “normal fare” for we common folk, plus kite videos on the tube, plus the extraordinary camaraderie that always develops when kiters converge. Folks – the “afterglow” party was worth the whole drive.

Sunday morning was a repeat of Saturday for Maki and I, though I didn’t stop at the restaurant for eggs and hash-browns again, opting for a second cup of coffee after my shower, followed by a straight run up the hill to the High School.

And, as you might expect, we were into another free-fly period again – this time followed by the favorite of the pilots – the indoor Hot Tricks Shootout. The pilots LOVE this event, due to the head-to-head nature of the competitions. There’s no waiting until some “banquet” for the winners to be announced. And in this case, we started with eight pilots competing and finished with a single winner. Oh, and there was a single “double elimination” found to pick the 3rd place winner. Yup, the only results that count are listed below.


1 Lam Hoac – Fire Extinguisher
2 Scott Davis – Shovel
3 John Barresi – Hose Nozzle

Please note – the “items” listed after the names above were actually presented to those recipients. The Fire Extinguisher went to Lam because he was “Hot!” The shovel went to Scotty because he wasn’t. And the nozzle went to John – I guess because someone figured he was “all wet?”

Anyway, we followed Hot Tricks with a little free-fly time before Alan got it together and passed out the “feathers” to say thanks to everyone who’d helped with this fest. And then one-by-one, we all packed, loaded, and hit the road for home. We had another successful indoor fest in the bag. Time to turn it around and take it down the Columbia, headed for Portland again.

Next year we expect the crowd will be larger… There continues to be lots of curiosity after these events! We had plenty of quality pilots for this one, and everyone had a bit of fun. Paul DeBakker even sold a few Reflections while he was there. So thanks to ALL the people who donated their time, effort, and stuff to help make this festival work.

Fair Winds and Good Friends –

Dave “Geezer” Shattuck