Issue 68: Washington State Intl Kite Festival (WSIKF)

The Washington State International Kite Festival (WSIKF) – An absolutely GREAT one this year…

WSKIF!!! What can I say? On the West Coast – this is THE BIG ONE! And if you missed this year’s WSIKF, you really missed something special…

Last year, we were pretty much completely rained out, with Saturday being the only decent flyable day in the week, but this year it was definitely WSIKF “pay-back” time! And the summer of 2009 hasn’t been all that hot either, because the early summer was plagued by either extremely low or unusually high winds and frequent overcast and low temps – meaning it wasn’t much fun being on the beach.

So it turns out that the 2009 pay-back version of WSIKF was absolutely WONDERFUL!!! With the exception of Thursday, it was clear skies, mid-80s, and really great winds everyday. And for Thursday the only minor change was a high overcast, so we only got to mid-70s instead… And so, all the normal activities occurred right on schedule – with NO weather-related cancellations! Of course, the normally-scheduled events schedule all went off without a hitch.

Jane Holeman and Evonne Miller had it the fields all in place and organized when we arrived, and Monday saw the beach and skies filled with kite-trains and huge arches. Those without a kite in the air were busy getting their passes and permits and their “camps” organized, checking into their “homes” for the week, and greeting old friends.

On Tuesday we all watched or participated in the “camps” competition, and the the individual and team Rokkaku battles were held – in between what became a rather constant affair through out the rest of the week – seeing the beach-skies filled with LOTS of Revolutions.

Then on Wednesday, stuff REALLY got rolling… “Kids Day” reigned supreme on the beach, and Ray Bethell arrived and began demonstrating his phenomenal flying mastery. In the evening, the Elementary School gym opened for “indoor” flying for the first time, and TWO dinners competed for folks to feed – the traditional Washington Kitefliers Association Lasagna Feed and Raffle and a new iQuad/RevGuild “Meet, Greet, and Eat” for all of the incoming Revolution fliers.

Thursday ended up as our one cloudy day when the Handcrafted comps reigned supreme and some Mass Ascensions were flown including a somewhat impromptu new North American record of 36 Revolutions in the air simultaneously. And the day ended with the AOK dinner and raffle down in Ilwaco in the evening.

Friday kicked off the Sport Kite competitions and a whole host of other events too. Evening activities included an indoor competition, plus a fun outdoor Night Fly, followed by a fine Fireworks display, leading us into “the weekend.”

Saturday saw a continuation of the Sport Kite events, another HUGE Mass Ascension of Revs (a documented 65 in the air, 50 in formation), plus individual and team Rokkaku battles, along with the popular Teddy Bear Drop, and the Parade of Colors, all followed by the WSIKF “Banquet,” Raffle, and Auction Saturday night plus another dandy fireworks show to end the day.

And Sunday ended the whole shebang with the Memorial Fly and a few more Mass Ascensions, along with the final Sport Kite competitions. Then it was Mass Get-Away time for another year.

So long, WSIKF. See ya next year!

WHEW!!! Have we left anything out? Well, actually – YES, we certainly have!!! But by now, you should understand that going to WSIKF is something of a “Marathon” event rather than a “Sprint” – meaning its physically impossible for someone to be at all of the individual events, or even be everywhere on that huge field simultaneously… So while it’s almost impossible to imagine “all that stuff” above occurring in a week, if that’s your overall impression of WSIKF – you’ve covered the overview fairly well, but missed the whole “essence” of WSIKF entirely. So now it’s time to cover a few of the events or items that are noteworthy, or at least of more than passing interest…

Lest any of you are unaware, there are also two somewhat “separate” events that occur at WSIKF every year:

– One is the “Indoor Competition” schedule at the Long Beach Elementary School with practices Wednesday and Thursday evenings in the school’s gym and the actual competition on Friday night.

– And the other occurs daily on fields “D” and “E” at the southern end of the beach. The North American Fighter Kite Association hosts a separate week-long competition, culminating in “The Fighter Lite Line Touch World Cup Competition” as part of the NAFKA World Cup Competition on Friday during the day. Since the “World Cup” Competition is really a series of very different comps, only winners for each event are listed on the NAFKA website.

Anyway, Iqbal Husain from Switzerland was one of this year’s “International Guests.” Iqbal builds those “Chinese Dragon Kites” – long strings of kites, trained together… but they are NOT specifically dragons, or at least not ONLY dragons, in Iqbal’s mind! Instead, Iqbal creates other concepts and “creatures” using the chinese dragon kites as a model. So he offered several other instances of really fascinating things in the sky – like a 200’ long Dachshund flying in the sky instead… and we were also treated to a gorgeous Pied Piper dragon, too.

Basir Beria from Afghanistan was also an invited “International Guest” at WSIKF. Basir was the official “kitemaster” during the filming of the movie “The Kite Runner,” and he participated along with several other international fliers in discussions and demonstrations regarding the sport of “Fighter Kite” building and flying.

Indeed, Basir shared his experiences in working with the film industry on “The Kite Runner” in a special event at the World Kite Museum on Tuesday Evening. And Basir also donated one of the kites that was actually flown in that film to the WKM Auction for the WSIKF “Banquet” on Saturday night.

Ezequiel Fernandez from Buenos Aires is an international “team” competition Sport Kite pilot. At the ripe old age of eighteen, he has already “captained” his team in World Sport Kite Competitions, twice. So he came to WSIKF to fly Sport Kites. There were two problems with Ezequiel. One is that we could NOT get him off the beach. He flew, and flew, and flew some more. He must have flown for at least 50-60 hours during WSIKF! The other problem is that he took home the 1st place ribbons in the Experienced Multline Precision and the Experienced Multiline Ballet events – and the local pilots are sorta whining and grumbling about those “darned immigrants” again, all in good fun.

And, come to think of it, we also shared the field with a delightful fellow from “Down Under” too. Kevin Sanders, whose wife is the AKA Director for Region 13, was making a busy round-robin tour of the globe’s western hemisphere – having first been to Columbia, and then he stopped off at the Dieppe Festival in New Brunswick, Canada, and Kevin also decided to delay departure back to his home in South Australia. Kevin is an all-around nice guy, a masterful kite builder, and a pretty darned decent pilot, too. We’re glad you decided to share our patch of sand during WSIKF, Kevin.

Speaking of the AKA, I have NEVER seen so many “Past Presidents of the AKA” together at a festival before (other than the AKA Convention, of course). On the field were Richard Dermer, Susan Skinner, Corey Jensen, and David Gomberg… along with Gary Engvall, the current AKA President – and also Barbara Meyer who is running for President against Gary in this year’s election – AND… three AKA Regional Directors.

Yup – Four (4) AKA PAST-Presidents, plus one “current” office-holder, and one more who would like to be “next year’s” President – ALL at WSIKF! I guess we’re finally “coming up in the world,” eh?

Of the three AKA Regional Directors at WSIKF this year:

– Marla Miller of Region 10 was her usual hip-deep in event organization (and the occasional raffle-ticket sales, of course!) and conversing with folks – greasing the wheels of WSIKF, Region 10, Fort Warden Kitemaking, and the AKA!

– Amy Doran of Region 9 was busy practicing, or demo-ing, or competing in various Sport Kite competitions (both dual-line and quad-line) or simply out flying her Revs with the assembled Revolution herd…

– Ben D’Antonio of Region 12 spent most of his time at his “other” job as General Manager for Revolution Kites. When Ben wasn’t “hanging with the troops” out there flying team and practicing, he was out giving “Rev” lessons to all commers. As was Lolly Hadzicki also, President of Revolution kites.

Yes, that “Grand Old Man” on the beach was here again this year – mesmerizing everyone with his very spectacular flying… Ray Bethell from Vancouver, B.C. is 83 years young now, and he still flies his three dual-line kites simultaneously. What a MARVEL he is! He still puts those Joel Schulz “Kestrels” into the air with 100’ tails, so Moms and Dads and Children of all ages still flock to watch his flying mastery. WOW, what a SHOW!


"Good Stuff" - Ray Bethell

Ken Conrad from Seattle treated those who chose to watch to a bird’s-eye view of both the festival and also the City of Long Beach. Ken had his radio-controlled “airplane” kite aloft, and it was transmitting KAP video down to a computer monitor so folks could watch. It was really delightful to see the entire festival venue and environment from above and in “real time” too. Thanks, Ken!

Also attending this year was Barry “Bazzer” Poulter – the man who created the lovely “Comet” kites a while back, followed by many other new and innovative designs. Most recently, Bazzer has devoted himself almost entirely to creating Revolution “masterpieces” and some of the newer production Revolution kites as well. During WSIKF, Baz spent 110% of his time on the field, however, as a member of iQuad – the world-famous Revolution “Demo” team…

Another old friend shows up at WSIKF every other year. So Robert Brasington of Tasmania arrived, fresh from the Dieppe festival held in Canada earlier this year, bringing many of his lovely hand-built creations to grace the flying-field skies and awe all observers. I hate to say so, but your author is a real sucker for Robert’s kite creation work, so my van left WSIKF a bit fuller than it arrived, and my wallet came home a wee bit thinner.

It was a delight to see so many of the “older” fliers around again this year, too. Brian Champie and Dan Burnham were up for WSIKF again this year, along with Brian’s sister Sharon Champie – who spent much of her WSIKF time down at fields “D’ and “E” with the “Fighter Kite Crowd.” I And it was also great to see Donald “Doc” Counce and Mike Sterling (of Cyborg Fame) again this year.


Still – “missing” were some treasured friends and acquaintances too. Folks like Ellen Pardee, John and Marzlie Freeman, Miriam Schafler, and Lam Hoac were noticeably absent absent. And we’d have loved to see Dave Hoggan and Steve Hall and Chris Miller and Aaron Champie up here too – among some others. But noticing their absence just means we think they belong here at WSIKF. We miss you, folks!

Vendors – Oh, yeah… WE certainly HAD ‘em! The usual number were here… 40? 50? So who really counts? The Espresso trailer was right up front by the World Kite Museum tent, meaning the closest place to the beach. The Dunes booth still makes the best fish-n-chips, the guy who sells pulled-pork and ribs and sausage sandwiches is still the best of his genre, and you can still get fresh biscuits and gravy for breakfast every day – right there on the beach! But, if you just gotta have a real sandwich for lunch, the Cottage Bakery is still the place in town to go. Among the other vendors, those fancy beach-chairs with the fold-up awnings seemed to be a hot seller this year, too – along with sunglasses!

The World Kite Museum is in Long Beach, just a short stroll away from the beach, and is always worth your time. One of the WKM events at WSIKF is their annual indiction of new members into their Hall Of Fame. This year, the Hall inducted Brooks Leffler from California for his long-time efforts in Kite Aerial Photography. And they also honored Gerard Clement of France for his continual work as the principal organizer of the annual Berk Sur Mer Kite Festival and also for his leadership of the World Sport Kite Championships in Europe and around the globe. And the museum also inducted the late Sam Houston into the Hall of Fame for his many innovations as a “Kahuna” in Handcrafted Kite Making, as well as his efforts in befriending and mentoring many kitebuilders around the world.

Finally, we would be remiss if we did not strongly emphasize the presence of the Revolution pilots on the beach at this year’s WSIKF! Five or six years ago, a quad-line kite on the beach at WSIKF was fairly unusual, if not a downright curiousity. Well… It’s been anything but a quiet, gentle, “revolution” since that time, folks – and most of it can be laid to the formation of Team iQuad, a group of Revolution pilots out of the Pacific Northwest, and to iQuad’s willingness to go anywhere, usually just for their expenses, and to fly anytime, and for anyone.

It’s always great to see iQuad fly, of course. And this year, playing a key role in the formation of “RevGuild,” a Rev-specific kite club through which they share a “knowledge” base about “all things” Revolution, iQuad let it be known that Revolution pilots were all welcome to join iQuad for a week of fun, frivolity, and Rev-flight during WSIKF! And did the Revolution Pilots ever respond! Well… The presence of quad-line flyers at WSIKF in 2009 was never in doubt. This year at WSIKF, iQuad took – and held, and ruled – their portion of the field.

Flying in the night fly yet again, iQuad wowed the audience with a brand new light system that sent four boldly lit Revolutions into the sky preceding and throughout the fireworks show and while I didn’t make it out to see for myself, but reports said it was a truly incredible show… Be sure to see the special photo gallery at the bottom of the issue index, Scott Weider managed to capture some truly mindblowing images during the night fly.

And in the process of flying their kites and “growing the sport,” as they most assuredly have done, in many ways iQuad has made the sport of kiting “better” too. They have brought the sport of kite flying an audience “interest,” a solid demonstration of flier “competence,” and an overall “enthusiasm” for the sport of Kite Flying that simply hasn’t been around in kiting for a while…

No, that is not to down-grade any other portions of the sport of kite flying at all. Indeed, any interest or enthusiasm for any part of the sport is very worthwhile, and any growth in the sport only makes all of us, as kite fliers, stronger for it. Kudos to iQuad, and to all who fly with them. Your enthusiasm credits us all!

Anyway, for those of you concerned about the state of my kite-bag, I did manage to increase my “stash” a bit during WSIKF. A six-pack of Brasington “Darts,” plus a lovely Brasington “Genki,” started me off, and I added a Joel Shultz “Dragon” delta won in a raffle, plus a Green’s of Burley “Star Roller” in the WSIKF silent auction. Added to the hoard I already have that have NOT seen any air-time – yet – and I have my work cut out for me.

Yup – this one was a bang-up GREAT festival (finally), and my faith in WSIKF is back in place. Oh, yeah – I survived! Enough coffee, a little decent food, and a usable bed – and I’m set to ramble. The new kite-van did admirably. I’m “good to go” as they say… Matter of fact, I’m already off to the next festival as soon as I put this report into an outgoing email.

Fair Winds and Good Friends –