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What's In The Kite Bag    Kite Festival Pictures    Kite Links    Kite Videos    Article, "To Fly A Kite"

Robert and Kathy holding a George Peters Skybird kite.
Kites. They've been around for thousands of years.

The art of kite flying has become not only a hobby, but a challenging sport as well. A wide variety of kite kits and kite accessories are available at department, hobby, and toy stores. Many have taken on the challenge of designing and building their own kites.

When I was a child, I used to love to fly kites. I made my own diamond kites with sticks of wood, string and newspaper. I would notch the ends of the sticks and run string around the kite, then cut a piece of newspaper to fit and glue the ends. For a tail, I would take several old rags and tie them together. My string was rolled up on a short piece of a tree limb.

Sport/Stunt/Dual-line Kites

Sport Kites present a whole range of different opportunities. By flying with two lines the 'pilot' can maneuver the kite left and right, up and down to perform however they please. The two flying lines are connected to handles or straps on one end and connected to the bridle of the kite on the opposite end of the line. The pilot controls the kite by pulling in one line to make it turn in that direction, if you pull the right hand line the kite will turn to the right. Sport kites are easy to learn how to fly but tough to master.

The Sport Kite was inspired by the very earliest of hang-glider designs. Just like the big man-carrying kite, a typical Delta stunt kite has a main spar and 2 leading edge spars with fabric stretched between them. One, two or even three horizontal spreaders are also

Robert flying his Skyburner Nik Nak with Gomberg skywriter tail.
used to keep the kite's shape. The shape is vaguely triangular, with some designs looking more bird-like with swept wings. The 2 lines allow the Delta to be steered left and right when up in the air. That means, with practice and a bit of skill, you can make the kite fly just about any pattern you like. The more serious fliers like to use Spectra line for controlling these kites, due to the material's low stretch and high strength. In precision flying contests, many of the 'figures' consist of straight lines joined by sharp turns at the corners.

I'm told that a general rule for lineset length is: 10 times the wingspan for trick flying, 15 times the wingspan for precision flying. 90# is a common weight for lines. Although anything up to 200# can be used easily. One of my favorite lines to use is a Shanti Skybond set 100'/100#. Also known as dual-line or stunt kites, the sport kite is used in the following categories: Beginner Kites (Standard), Freestyle Kites, Ballet Kites, trick kites and Low Wind Kites which includes the Ultra Light kite (UL) and the Super Ultra Light kite (SUL).

When learning to fly, it's important that control of your kite becomes the priority. When starting out, it's inevitable that you'll crash your kite a number of times. However, after gaining some flying experience, controlling your kite in flight and in landings should be your primary focus. After that, it'll be up to you as to what type of flying you enjoy most... trick, precision, ballet or all of the above and even ones that haven't been mentioned.

What's In The Kite Bag?

Pictured below are the sport kites that I currently have in my kite bag. I consider my bag to be complete with kites that can fly in low winds (0-10mph) and kites that can fly well in medium to high winds (8-25mph). My go-to kites for just about every outing are the Prism Quantum Pro, the Premier Widow and the Skyburner Nik Nak.

Prism Quantum Pro Purple
(Dated: 11/23/2004 Signed: JAE)

Skill Level - Advanced - Competition
Sail - Ripstop Polyester, Mylar Laminate
Frame - SkyShark P200, 5PT Wrapped Carbon
Wing Span - 94"
Advertised Wind Range - 2 to 20 mph
Robert's Wind Range Experience - 8 to 25 mph
Kite Gallery

Prism Quantum Pro

Developed for world-renowned Team Cutting Edge and winner of the 2005 and 2006 world team championships, The Quantum Pro is the ultimate, state-of-the-art competition machine for serious pilots.

Fully tunable with an optional CNC machined weight system, the Pro delivers glued-to-the-sky precision in a wide wind range with all the latest freestyle acrobatics including yo-yos, cometes, and the entire competition trick repertoire. Hand-wrapped, tapered carbon frame gives you instant response throughout the flight envelope, and a three-position bridle lets you configure precision and turn rate for individual, team, or pairs flying styles.

Special leading edge fittings capture the lines in yo-yo moves so you can roll up the kite multiple times in flight, fly it around, then unroll with panache into your next trick.

This kite replaces most everything in my collection. The Pro combines world-class performance with a stunning look and attention to detail that mark it as a champion. I purchased the weight system separately and use it with the kite.

Premier Widow Green

Skill Level - Intermediate to Expert
Sail - Ripstop Nylon
Frame - Wrapped Carbon - Skyshark P300
Wing Span - 96"
Height - 36"
Weight - 10.4 oz
Advertised Wind Range - 4 to 20 mph
Robert's Wind Range Experience - 8 to 20 mph
Kite Gallery

Premier Widow

The Widow is the lead kite of the Spider Series kites developed by Jon Trennepohl and Wayne Brunges. These are the same designers that developed other fantastic kites like the Nighthawk and Magnum as well as many others.

The design for the Widow is based off of the famous Skyburner Widow Maker and sets a new standard in affordable high performance stunt kites. The sail is high performance rip stop nylon that has flat feld seams, Skyshark carbon frame, tail ballast, yo-yo stoppers and more. Many things that you would only find on the most expensive stunt kites are included in the Widow from Premier.

The Widow is designed for the serious pilot who wants a kite that does all the new school tricks with deadly accuracy without having to empty the bank account. With its quality features and superior build quality, it is a kite that will become one of your most favorite to fly and is one of the best built kites on the market today.

Kestrel by Joel Scholz and Sky Delight Kites
(Dated: 1/25/2000 - Signed: Joel Scholz)

Skill Level - Beginner to Expert
Advertised Wind Range - 2 to 25 mph
Robert's Wind Range Experience - 10 to 28 mph
Sail - .75 ounce Ripstop Nylon
Frame - AFC 2400 Graphite
Recommended line - 150# test
Dimensions - 90-3/4"W X 40-1/2"H
Weight - 11.6 ounces
Made in the USA
Ray Bethell's Review on the Kestrel
KiteLines, Summer 1994, Article on Kestrel
Kite Gallery

Joel Scholz Kestrel

In February of 2014, I watched a video on YouTube where a man was flying three sport kites simultaneously. That man was Ray Bethell, Multiple Kite World Champion. And the kite he was flying was the Kestrel, built by Joel Scholz.

The video entitled, "Romancing The Wind" (featured at the bottom of this page), gave me the inspiration to persue the art of sport kite flying. I immediately started looking to see if I could obtain a Kestrel. That proved to be somewhat difficult because Joel wasn't making the Kestrel anymore. However, much later, I found a Kestrel that had been in a gentleman's kite bag for a number of years and had never been flown!

The Kestrel kite was the first sport kite in a line of kites that Joel Scholz made from his own design. From this same design, Joel also made the Hummingbird, Neptune and the Jaws sport kite. This Kestrel is signed and dated by Joel Scholz and was finished on January 25, 2000.

Joel Scholtz has been described in American Kite Magazine as "One of America's best kite designers, and in Kitelines Magazine as "On the forefront of the next generation of kite makers".

Joel's kites have won many awards, set world records and hang in museums through out the world. The kites Joel made from 1984 until 2001 are somewhat rare and highly prized. I've become a fan of anything made by Joel Scholz.

Skyburner Nik Nak Blue & Plum
(Signed: John Trennepohl)

Skill Level - Intermediate to Expert
Sail - Polycarbonate
Frame - 1570 Pultruded
Wing Span - 78"
Height - 36"
Weight - 4.4 oz
Advertised Wind Range - 0 to 10 mph
Robert's Wind Range Experience - 5 to 12 mph
Bridle - Spectra 3 point
Made in the USA
Kite Gallery

Skyburner Nik Nak

An outdoor, no-wind Sport Kite, the Nik Nak is considered to be one of those staple kites in every pilot's kite bag. It's tough enough to take a little abuse and is designed to do all the latest tricks. It's easy to fly, from novice to expert. It has an extended wind window that gives you more room in less space. It has a lightweight performance design with the durability to last with molded connectors, kevlar reinforced nose, molded center T and aluminum ferrules.

The Nik Nak is designed by Jon Trennepohl and Wayne Brunjes. Sails sewn by Heads Up Kites, Pam Kirk and Mike Dennis. Color choices vary. The one I have is blue and plum.

My experience with the Nik Nak is positive all the way around. This kite is one of my go-to kites everytime I go somewhere to fly. The flying characteristics of this kite are excellent. I love flying this kite in winds of about 8-10 mph with a 100 ft. Gomberg tail. It's fast and responsive yet has very little pull. One note about the Nik Nak. There are two small, thin battens that go in the back of the sail, and need to be removed when storing the kite in a bag. What you have to avoid is losing them. I carry a small plastic bag and when finished flying I take the battens out and put them in the bag. The Skyburner website is excellent featuring all of their products with excellent customer service.

Black Dog UL by Skydog Kites

Skill Level - Intermediate to Advanced
Adveertised Wind Range - 2 to 10 mph
Robert's Wind Range Experience - 5 to 12 mph
Sail - Ripstop Nylon
Frame - 4mm & 5mm Carbon Fiber
Recommended line - 100# test
Dimensions - 77" x 28.5"
Made in the USA
Kite Gallery

Black Dog UL

The Black Dog is a very unique sport kite. It is designed as a trainer and introduction for those pilots ready to move up to advanced slack line trick flying. It also comes with factory installed features normally found on much more expensive sport kites. The Black Dog basically came from another one of Skydog's successful designs, the Thunderstruck.

They enlarged it, replaced the fiberglass frame with a durable high tech carbon frame, tweaked it out a bit, added a weight system, yo yo stoppers, covered the leading edge to avoid line catches, and basically gave it everything their higher end sport kites have for tricking.

Don't let it's 6 foot wingspan fool you, this kite is capable of all of the advanced big wing sport kite tricks. The smaller size allows the flier to learn these tricks without the pull associated with larger wingspan slack line sport kites.

Founded in 2008, the Skydog Kite team has over 100 years of experience in specialty kites. They've focused their passion and industry knowledge to help create the world's best flying, highest quality and affordable kites. Their staff features award winners in both design and flight.

Jaws by Joel Scholz and Sky Delight Kites
(Dated 12/1/1999 - Signed: Joel Scholz)

Skill Level - Beginner to Expert
Advertised Wind Range - 2 to 25 mph
Robert's Wind Range Experience - 10 to 28 mph
Sail - .75 ounce Ripstop Nylon
Frame - 2400 Graphite or P2 SkyShark
Recommended line - 150# test
Dimensions - 90-3/4"W X 40-1/2"H
Weight - 11.6 ounces
Made in the USA
Kite Gallery

Joel Scholz Jaws

About a year ago, I started flying single line kites. I quickly gravitated to dual line or sport kites earlier this year. As I started delving into the world of sport kites, I always found one constant... a good pilot always had a Joel Scholz kite in his bag.

Joel has been described in American Kite Magazine as "One of America's best kite designers, and in Kitelines Magazine as "On the forefront of the next generation of kite makers". Joel's kites have won many awards, set world records and hang in museums through out the world. I fell in love with a video by Ray Bethell entitled, "Romancing The Wind" and I definately became hooked on sport kite flying.

Joel Scholz doesn't make kites anymore and his company, Sky Delight Kites has gone out of business. In 2001, Joel licensed his kite creations to a company called Go Fly A Kite, (GFAK). Now, GFAK is no longer in business also. In further researching "old school" kites, I find that the kites Joel Scholz made from 1984 until his merger with GFAK are rare and highly prized so I've become a definate fan of anything made by Joel prior to 2001. The Jaws kite is a variation from the Kestrel kite. Joel also made the Neptune and Hummingbird kites from that same design. My Jaws kite is signed and dated by Joel Scholz, but it's not numbered so I don't know how many were made.

Prism 4-D Cobalt

Skill Level - Beginner to Expert
Wing Span - 58" (147 cm)
Advertised Wind Range - 0 to 15 mph
Robert's Wind Range Experience - 3 to 10 mph
Speed - Fast
Pull - Light
Frame - .098 high modulus Microcarbon
Sail - Icarex Polyester, Mylar Laminate
Flying Lines - 50' x 50 lbs Spectra (15.2 m x 22.7 kg)
Made in China
4-D Manual
Kite Gallery

Prism 4-D

Just about anywhere... just about any time, the Prism 4-D makes stunt kiting a blast when nothing else will fly. Its 58" wingspan makes small spaces big so you can fly in tight quarters with ease. At barely 2-1/2 ounces, its super-light weight gives it the buoyancy to stay aloft in swirling breezes and even indoors, where walking backwards with short lines provides enough lift for a huge range of graceful aerobatics.

Prism made it a cinch to put together. They designed a little wingtip fitting that instantly tensions and de-tensions the leading edge with no knots to fumble with. The bridle is clean and simple with limit knots so you're always within the adjustment range. And the included 50-foot Spectra flying lines are the perfect length for smaller spaces while still allowing a generous wind window.

I haven't tried it indoors yet but if you like to fly indoors, there's room in the case for a second, shorter lineset so you can hone your skills on those cold, dark winter days. In the air, the 4-D has the precision and presence of a much larger kite. The line feel is balanced and responsive without being twitchy like most small kites. Its light weight and buoyancy makes it forgiving in turbulence and gives you time to recover as the gust passes. For freestyle fanatics, it'll do a huge range of tricks without the heavy feel of many trick kites. I purchased this kite used and I'm very impressed with its performance. I've flown this kite numerous times and find it fun and responsive outdoors. It flies so lightly that I have to switch from straps to finger straps just to feel how it's doing.

Diving Lady by Crystal Kite Company
(Dated 10/1992 - #25)

Skill Level - Beginner to Expert
Size - 96" Wide x 42" Tall
Weight - 19 ounces
Advertised Wind Range - 5 to 25 mph
Robert's Wind Range Experience - 8 to 25 mph
AFC Carbon Frame, 0.2300"
Signed / Dated 10/1992 / Numbered #25
Made in the USA
Kite Gallery

Crystal Kites Diving Lady

The Diving Lady is a sport kite that was made by the Crystal Kite Company located out of Lahabra, CA. and Cancun, Mexico. Crystal Kite Company reportedly went out of business in 1998, but their kites become available from time to time on Ebay and other outlets for sale.

All of their designs were applique or made with multiple panels. There are at least 25 or more Diving Lady's that are signed and dated. This Diving Lady is dated 10/1992. Their top end kites were framed in 5-6mm carbon tube and were made very well.

I consider the kite "vintage" since it's not made anymore and dated 1992. After an extensive search, I can't find anymore data on this kite other than locating another flyer that owns a Diving Lady numbered 10 dated 12/1991. So, if we figure off of a production rate of 1.5 a month, that puts the approximate start date for the Diving Lady at about 10/1/1990. When production ended and how many were made, I don't know.

After purchasing this kite and taking it out of the bag, I can say that I'm impressed with the design and color of the kite. If you have any factual information about the Diving Lady sport kite or Crystal Kite Company, feel free to contact me by email.

Additional Sport Kites (In my bag)

Stingray by Premier Kites
P-66445 - Made in China
Robert's Wind Range Experience - 6 to 15 mph
Kite Gallery

Blaster by Go Fly A Kite (GFAK)
Budweiser "Get Wet" - Made in China
Robert's Wind Range Experience - 8 to 20 mph
Kite Gallery

Festival Pictures/Links/Videos

Below are some kite festival links and pictures that we've attended as well as numerous links I have found to be helpful. At the end of this page is an article I wrote entitled, "To Fly A Kite".

Also there are various videos including a video illustrating the multi-kite flying talent of Ray Bethell. Ray's an award-winning multi-kite champion. His video "Romancing The Wind" inspired me to start flying sport kites.

Kite Festival/Event Pictures

Arlington Kite Festival - Arlington, Texas - April 5, 2014
Edmond Kite Festival - Edmond, Oklahoma - June 28, 2014
Bonham Kite Festival - Bonham, Texas - July 12, 2014
Plano Balloon Festival - Plano, Texas - September 20, 2014
Monarch Festival - Grand Prairie, Texas - September 27, 2014

Putting together the Prism 4D in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Flying my Prism 4D in Grand Prairie, Texas. Very light winds.

Watching all of the kite activity in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Setting up Jaws to fly in Plano, Texas.

Flying my Skyburner Nik Nak in Plano, Texas.

Getting ready to the Nik Nak in Bonham, Texas.

Flying my Nik Nak with a Gomberg 100 ft. Skywriter tail.

Flying a Prism Quantum in Edmond, Oklahoma.

Ready to go fly a Prism Quantum.

Caricature of me flying my Prism done by Cassie Peng.

Four kites out of my kite bag. L-R: Blackdog UL, Jaws, Kestrel and Nik Nak.


Kite Search/Association/Historical/Misc Links

American Kitefliers Association (AKA) - World's biggest kite organization
Kite Event Calendar - American KiteFliers Association Calendar
KiteLife Magazine - Publication devoted to the sport of kite flying
National Kite Month - History of the kite and annual celebration
World Kite Museum - Also Washington State Kite Festivals

Kite Organization/Forum/Informative Links and Documents

AKA Kite Event Organizer Manual - AKA version on PDF
AKA Region 8 Kite Events Calendar 2014 - For Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas
AKA Team Flying Manual - by Troy Gunn and Jerry Hershey
DAKO - Dallas Area Kitefliers Organization
GWTW Forum - Gone With The Wind Kite Forum
Ian Newham's Sport Kite/Kite Design Website - Everything you'd ever want to know about Sport Kites
John Chilese Website - Ace Kite Photographer
Ray Bethell Website - Multiple Kite World Champion
TKO Professional Sport Kite Team - Texas Kansas Oklahoma Professional Sport Kite Team - Facebook page
TKO Professional Sport Kite Team - Texas Kansas Oklahoma Professional Sport Kite Team - Website
International Sport Kite Compulsories Book - AKA Compulsories Book v2.2.1 All Teams from AKA Website
International Sport Kite Compulsories Book - All Teams on Reed Design Website
International Sport Kite Compulsories Book - Condensed for Single Dual-Line
Sport Kite Magic - Sport Kite Flying and Advanced Techniques by David Gomberg

Kite Online Retailer Links

Above It All Kites - Kite retailer - Long Beach, Washington
A Wind Of Change - Kite retailer and accessories - Salt Lake City, Utah
Big Mike's Kites - Kite retailer - Dallas, Texas
Chicago Kite - Kite retailer - Chicago, Illinois
Fun With Wind - Kite retailer - North Reading, Massachusetts
Gomberg Kite Productions - Show kites, inflatables, tails, line laundry, and banners - Neotsu, Oregon
Goodwinds - Kite accessories, rods and parts retailer - Mt. Vernon, Washington
Into The Wind - Kite retailer - Boulder, Colorado - Kite retailer - Edmond, Oklahoma
Kites and Fun Things - Kite retailer - Plymouth, Michigan
Kite Loft - Kite retailer - Ocean City, Maryland
Kite Stop - Kite retailer - Titusville, Florida
Kitty Hawk Kites - Kite retailer - Nags Head, North Carolina
Smooth Wind Kites - Kite retailer - Elk Grove Village, Illinois
Wind Dance Kites - Kite retailer - Charleston, South Carolina
World Wind Kites - Kite retailer - Austin, Texas

Kite Manufacturer Links

AirDynamics - Custom Kite manufacturer and retailer - Hereford, United Kingdom
Benson Kites - Kite manufacturer - Bradford, United Kingdom
HQ Kites and Designs USA - Kite manufacturer - Powells Point, North Carolina
New Tech Kites - Kite manufacturer - Austin, Texas
Premier Kites - Kite manufacturer - Hyattsville, Maryland
Prism Kites - Kite manufacturer - Seattle, Washington
SkyDog Kites - Kite manufacturer - Colchester, Connecticut
Sky Burner Kites and Sky Shark Competition Air Frames - Kite manufacturer - Plymouth, Michigan

Kite Videos

My latest video entitled "Higher Flying" where I utilized a friends drone for many of the shots. November, 2014

Had a windy Sunday afternoon and decided to fly my green Blaster with a 50ft. red tail. November, 2014

My second video flying my Skyburner NikNak. I love the feel of this kite. Tracks very well. June, 2014

First video flying a Prism Quantum dual-line in wind that's non-existent. March, 2014

An excellent video entitled, "Romancing The Wind" by Ray Bethell. Ray flies three Kestrel sport kites at one time.

TKO Kite Team performing at the Plano, Texas Balloon Festival on September 20, 2014.

Sport Kite flying with a GoPro at the Oregon Coast.

Good video of the legendary Top Of The Line Kite Team in 1990 from San Diego, CA.

To Fly A Kite...

Kiting has an interesting history in the USA. It seems to have experienced a 20+ year popularity streak from the 1980's up until the early 2000's. During that time a great number of kite manufacturers sprung up and offered all types of kites for the public. The economy was strong and our past time as Americans appeared to gravitate to activities outside the home.

Sport kites also appeared to come into vogue. Sport kite teams were created and numerous kite competitions and festivals were held to accommodate the growing number of people getting into kiting as a hobby. Kite stores were opening up as well as individual kite makers building and offering all types of single-line, dual-line and specialty kites.

All the world was grand with kiting until about 2008. The downturn in the American economy began to cause many kite stores and manufacturers to go out of business. Kites that were once made in America were being manufactured in China to help cut costs and increase profits. In the mid 2000's the popularity of kiting seemed to wain as technology got more involved in our past time. Children, who normally spent their time outside, started staying indoors with their cell phones, computers and gaming units. Adults were affected also finding very little time for leisurely activities and hobbies. Kiting, as we know it, took a big popularity hit.

Today, there are still kite manufacturers in the USA, but you can probably count them on one hand and the ones that actually make their kites here in the states are even more scarce. Brick and mortar kite stores have been replaced with mobile kite units. Many stores reside online only under the auspices of Ebay offering a limited line of kites. Due to this decline, many in the kite community have been asking questions such as, "Will kiting ever return to its former glory?" and "What will it take to make kiting a popular hobby once again?" Many think as long as the economy is in the dumps, so kiting will be also. That could very well be true, but I tend to feel that as Americans, we might need a change in our lifestyle.

In my opinion, our lives have become too cluttered. Taking the time to relax and fly a kite, go fishing or even read a book seems to be far down the priority list. Maybe it's time we break away from our technological strongholds and focus on relaxing activities outside the home... like kite flying. To fly a kite, all you need is some wind, space and of course, a kite. Kiting is an excellent way to relieve stress. Try to attend some kite festivals and any kite club flying days at a local park. The benefits to your health and mental well-being just might be immeasurable. Maybe that's why kiting has been around for thousands of years. Will our bad economy continue? A flip of a coin might answer that. Will the downturn in kite popularity continue? It will as long as we let it.

- Robert E. Hilliard