I had the opportunity this week to have lunch with a friend from Prism kites. It’s really interesting what is going on in the world of kites. The companies that are making it, the companies that are struggling, and really, the transformation that is currently going on in the entire kite community. While this definitely is not bashing the AKA, nor is it supporting them, as well as KTAI, I feel these two organizations have passed their prime use of service. It is too easy today to search for fellow kite flyers, whether in Youtube, Google Plus, Twitter, or any of the other social media apps available to the public and easily follow things such as #Kites, #PrismKites etc. There are groups on Facebook, there are communities on Google Plus, and quite frankly, the instantaneous relay of pictures, information, and data, really has made these things slowly irrelevant in the kite world today. Don’t get me wrong, we still need local clubs, to organize flies, propagate Kite flying, and still be general ambassadors to the hobby. But I did learn something very important in my lunch. Kiting is definitely changing. Gone are the days where it seems to be a very specific hobby, or sport, and in are the days that is has become a “Life Style” Recreation… what I mean by this is the following: More kite manufacturers, are slowing promoting and catering to the “Outdoor Life Style” as something to do, while you are possibly on your adventure.. Do I for the most part take kites with me on trips? Yes, I do, just because I enjoy passing a few minutes flying, relaxing etc. and it seems others now, are too. Are they interested in joining a club, flying really big show kites, and hanging out with others who are deep into the hobby? Probably not. Their hobby is hiking, climbing, or other outdoor activities, and the kite, well, its a chance to relax and pass some time. So as kitefliers, the challenge is simple: We need to find a way to become relevant to this new “Kite Flyer” as well as Kite shops, and manufactures. Generally, flying kites takes up my whole weekend(s) in the spring and fall. I don’t want this to change, however, I would like to see the casual kite flyer come out and enjoy the bigger representation of something they also enjoy. How will we do this as a community? I have no clue, and I am not sure this will even ever get read by anyone that cares or can do anything about it… But that’s what this little space in the internet is for me, the opportunity to just vent. I want the kite hobby to continue, I would love for others to find the same passion that I have for it, but I just do not see that happening over the next years… That is why as a community, we need to learn to adapt, or die. I hope we adapt….
So it has been since spring since I have posted. A few reasons: 1) Laziness 2) Lack of things to say 3) Flying was a flop this year. and finally, My kites were lost on their way to the festival in Frejus France.
So I attended a festival this fall in Frejus, France – a nice small town just west of Nice and Monaco. On my way over, my friends at Air Canada proceeded to lose my very brightly colored blue kite bag, and could not get it to me in a reasonable amount of time. (5 days?) Well, I landed in Rome, Italy, on Wednesday morning, and proceeded to the baggage claim, and no luck. The bag was not there. This is exactly why I always carry on my clothes. That was the bad news. The good news, I was going to tour Italy from Rome to Frejus (Look it up, it takes the southern coastline of Italy and France) with my friend Moreno. We went from Rome to Genoa on Wednesday. Spent the day in Turin, and toured Juventus Soccer Stadium and museum on Thursday, and then proceeded on our way Friday morning to Frejus.
The trip, was fantastic, how often do you get to combine you trip to Europe, with your two favorite past times, and in turn, enjoy some fantastic scenery the entire trip? The answer, simple, NOT OFTEN. SInce I did not have my kites, I helped my friends from Gubbio fly all of their kites. In all honesty, they had more than plenty, and my kites would have easily crowded the field, so in a way, it all ended up for the best. I also received a kite fro my friends, and hand made character – that was pretty cool. Somehow on the trip we discussed song lyrics, and I think I just blew the entire country of Italy collective minds. We were singing along with the radio, to Dire Strait’s “Money For Nothing” and the Lyric “And your Chicks for free” came up. I caught my friend singing in english, “You Get your money for nothing, and your CHECKS for free” Well, in all honesty, that lyric made a lot sense. But it was wrong. So I proceeded to tell him the correct lyric, what do you know, ALL WEEKEND, it was a topic of conversation. Next topic, “Whats a Chick” part two of my lesson to my Italian friends.
The festival had no wind Saturday morning, a great afternoon of flying, and then, rain all day Sunday. We still had a great time together, and still enjoyed the company of each other, I sampled, and brought home with me, more of Moreno’s “Italian Moonshine” (Home Made Limoncello) He dropped me off at the Genoa airport on Monday afternoon, I flew back to Rome Monday night, was reunited with my bag at my hotel, and then proceeded to fly home on Tuesday morning. It was a great trip. I loved my time in Turin, I enjoyed hanging with my Italian friends, and most of all, I cherished the Saturday afternoon of flying on Saturday. Who knows where my next trip will be, but I know this; It will always include my friends from Italy.
So as promised last winter, there would be a new kite, and a familiar kite gone. Goodbye to the Air Guitar (Long Live the Air Guitar) and Hello to “Charlie” the new pup from Peter Lynn Kites. It made its debut this last Sunday in Papillion, at the spring kite fly. It should possibly see the light of day this weekend in Underwood, Iowa, or possibly next weekend at the LaVista kite fly. Its large, and stable, and flew great in 20 mph winds on Sunday. The crowd loved it. We are happy with it, and are now learning just how to pack and unpack as well as store bridles. I am looking forward to flying him quite a bit. The name, is a reference to an old friend of mine that got me into flying, and I hope, 10 years after his death, is still smiling down on me with all of the flying I do. You will also start seeing more pictures of him appear in the pictures section. I plan to go to Europe again this fall, late though, after all of our flies, and head back to see my friends in Gubbio Italy, as well as then head to France for 3 days of flying. This weekend will be busy with kite orientated activities, which is nice, I first started going to regional fly’s as there were not enough things to do in the Omaha area. Now we are up to almost 12 events in the area, so no need to drive hundreds of miles from event to event. I will post more pictures after this weekend.
With the doldrums of winter 2016 upon us, its hard for me to get excited about outdoor activity. But its coming – probably one of the busiest local fly schedules I have ever had. Due to this, and some other factors, I am looking to eliminate all regional flying. Its nothing against all the great regional festivals, but when I first started this I had exactly 2 times a year to fly locally in an organized matter. Since then, we have expanded this fly schedule to have 12 flying dates, in and around the Omaha Metro area. This number of flys really does take up a lot of our spring and fall weekends, and leaves us less time to get other things done in life. Adding 4-8 regional flies into the mix literally leaves me no time to enjoy other things in life during these time periods. So, I have decided to limit my flying to local and try it a year to see how things work out. We may change this plan in 2017, but at this time, it looks as if flying regionally is a thing of the past for the Kuhns. Not to forget, I do have a new piece coming this spring, compliments of Peter Lynn Kites – out of New Zealand. While I still will not reveal it yet, feel free to check out their big kites and see if you can figure out exactly what I got. While I may no longer do regional, this will not stop me doing international festivals every so often, and I am hoping to make Frejus this year with my Italian friends at Eolo Gubbio … Time will tell. Out this year is Fano, denmark, but I am hoping in the next couple of years to get that back on the radar. Until my next rant.
So coming into the new year, I have decided to change up my inventory a bit. Gone is the Air Guitar (Long Live the Air Guitar) and coming soon will be a new inflatable. While I will not reveal it until I have it in my possession, rest assured it is on its way, and I will post pictures. I am beginning to like flying smaller single line kites, and stunt kites almost better than the big show kites. While Show kites will never go out of my inventory, I think you will find I will be flying the smaller stuff more. I love working with the folks at Prism Kites – they produce and sell probably the best engineered kites in the industry, whether single line, or stunt. Not only that, they are not temperamental artists that think the world revolves around them, instead, they make the world go round! Any of their stock can be ordered from Picture Pretty Kites, or bought from your local retailer.
So I had the opportunity to go back over to France for a weekend, to go flying. I had the chance to hang out with my friends from Gubbio Italy, as well, and get a chance to “Fly” Italian! First off, the Italians have an incredible ability to create some very favorable characters, that are not copies, or nock offs, and they are fantastic. One of their most recent is the BoneFish. This creation looks like a Fish Head and skeleton, in cartoon depiction, and they make them in any color you can imagine. They fly all by themselves, but for the festival and tight quarters, they were always on a pilot. I learned a lot from my Italian friends, mainly that yes, you can fly very high, and make a much steadier pilot. Well, to be exact, over 2.5 spools, and over 800+ feet in the air. While I was a bit shocked by this, (I normally only fly at 300 ft.) I told my friend Moreno, “In America, if you fly over 500 feet, you have to have a license on the object, so I only fly at 300 feet.” he looked at me and said, “Yes, in Italy, we cannot fly over 100 meters as well, or you get in trouble” I took by the unsaid smile, and twinkle in his eye, that hey, we were in France, and anything went, since we did not know the laws, so to speak. So of course, I asked the dumb question, “What is the length in France?” the response I received with a devilish smile and a school boy giggle was, “I am sure its the same in France”. This pretty much summarized my trip, a lot of fun, and a lot of mischief, however, nothing that would get us in much trouble.
I learned that getting up at 8 AM did not mean you would be to the flying field by 9:45, but you would make it before 10:00. I also learned that while we may have gotten to the field “On Time” the Italian ability to find room to fly was no problem. The easy going weekend, always found us sharing pilots, or sharing line, or at times, combining line, to go very high to get stable winds on the beach. A great lesson in cooperation. An even better lesson in friendship as well. If you take a look at the pictures page, you will find many new pictures up from this festival in Martigues, France. It was a small town outside of Marseille, and was very near the airport. Which made getting to and fro my flights very easy. I left Omaha o Wednesday afternoon, and returned the following Monday afternoon, as one of my co-workers said, I took a long weekend to Europe. That long weekend was exactly what the doctor ordered. I was able to enjoy a great time, with good weather the entire weekend. I enjoy flying in Europe, but for that matter, I also enjoy flying in the USA as well. It was just interesting to think that there were flyers there from Italy, France, Turkey, Tunisia, Malaysia, India and Brazil. Its not often you get an opportunity to be able to enjoy such a situation, and have great food, as well as wonderful friendship that knows no international boundaries. More on that maybe later this week.
If you look at the picture to the left, you will notice blue sky, but if you look really close, yes, Virginia, there is a kite way up there. Probably illegally, and I am sure an Italian and an American broke all kinds of international laws that day considering air space, however, on that day, for those hours, we really did not care :) Have a great day. – Jeff
Over the weekend, I had the chance to fly at two festivals at once.. The club had two events on Sunday, both the Bellevue Earth day event and our clubs annual spring fly at Papillion. Both events were well attended, and I also met a great photographer, who took a few pictures of my kites, and then ended up over at the other festival, and got more pictures of the clubs kites. Her blog can be found at pausesandclicks Julanne Kowalski is her name, and she is quite a talented photographer. Take a look at her blog, I know from looking at it, I am now subscribed, and really enjoying her talents. I am hoping to possibly invite her out on a regular basis to our events, as my pictures pale in comparison to her talent. :) The LaVista Kite fly is this weekend, and the weather outlook looks great so I look for another great event. It’s been nice to have out many different kites, that have not flown for quite a while. I think it has been over 2 years since the HQ Flo Form has made it out of my basement, and probably over a year since the 252 has seen the light of day. I am trying to rotate my kites, and make sure all kites get out and flown. Also, I really have been enjoying flying my stunt kites quite a bit. I wish I had more talent to do more tricks, but in all honesty, just flying them seems liberating. Flying them make time pass way too fast. I am adding a few pictures from Julanne to the picture gallery, take a look and see what you think. Also take a look over at The Midwest Winds club site as well, to see more of her talent!
While it was a bit cold, the wind could not have been better this year for Clear Lake Iowa’s Color the Wind Kite Festival. Larry and Kay Day always put on a great show, and it is always a great day to take in the sights and sounds of Kite fliers from all over the midwest. This festival always draws a very large crowd, and Larry never disappoints. There will be quite a few festivals coming up i the near future, so look for quite a few new pictures and posts coming soon. Who knows where we will be this year.
I really have not done a lot of winter stunt kite flying ever, but this year, I think I will plan to try and get out and do more. One thing I also am thinking, is shrinking my inventory even more. While I have paired down my single lined show kites, I really need to think about doing the same with my Stunt kites. I have a ton of them I just plain and simple do not fly any more. I mainly only fly the prism stuff any more, why? because it just plain and simple flies. Even their cheap kites fly like expensive ones, They have balance, dexterity, and you really can feel the kite in the line. I really lately have began to want to fly more stunts. I am not sure why, but I really have been missing the flying on two lines, having fun, and really always changing how I fly.
So 2014’s flying season draws to a close. It was a good year, flying in a blizzard, flying in the rain in Italy, the First fly in an Omaha park in a very long time, and tolerable weather for all of the flys. I had fun, at all events. It was fun to make new friends, see old friends and enjoying the time with everyone. Yesterday, I had a great time with my friend Todd. I did not put the large show kites up, instead, I flew stunt kites, 2 line or 4 line kites that you can control the speed, direction and balance of to make it do acrobatic things in the sky. It was good to spend time with my friend, and it was also fun to let other club members be the main draw of the festival. Sometimes, it is just fun to blend into the crowd, be part of the scene, not steal the scene. In 2015, Jen and I are going to mix things up a little bit. We are going to at least 2 new festivals, and not attending a couple of our regulars, we are also hoping for a big surprise very close here in Omaha, but that is for another post. People say, variety is the spice of life, and I guess, in 2015 we will find out if that is true. This winter, I have some pieces to fix, and I might actually try my hand at making something, but we will see, I have not decided if I will or not yet. Yesterday was cold, but the wind was good, flying stunt kites was a refreshing break from the normal routine for me, so I am very glad I did it. Here’s to a great 2014, and I really hope an incredible 2015.