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Kites

KiteLife Website
Member of the American Kitefliers Association,
Pilot # 131387.
Member since June, 2015.






What's In The Kite Bag    Kite Festival Pictures    Kite Links
Kite Videos    Kite Gallery
Article, "Beneath His Wings"
Article, "World Renowned Kite Artist"
Article, "To Fly A Kite"

Robert Hilliard's Youtube Channel

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.

My journey with sport kites began in March of 2014. That's when I bought my first sport kite, a Prism Quantum. I've always had a fascination with kites of all kinds. When I was a child, 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

Call them what you want, 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.



Robert teaching his son Wesley how to fly a diamond kite in 1988.
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 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.


Kite Videos and Pictures


Utilizing my GoPro on some of my sport kites at the Trinity Wind Festival, Dallas, Texas, October 29, 2016

My Skyburner Nik Nak on the beaches of Opfel Park, Galveston, Texas, Texas. October, 2016

My TOTL North Shore Radical on the beaches of Quintana, Texas. October, 2016

Flying my Skyburner NikNak. I love the feel of this kite. Tracks very well. June, 2014

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


On the beach at Surfside Beach, Texas.
 
Getting sport kites ready to fly.



Putting together the Nik Nak at Opfel Park in Galveston, Texas.
 
Well... we can't fly all day without some refreshment.



What's In The Kite Bag?

Pictured below are the sport kites that I currently have in my kite bag. It's by no means complete, but it represents a number of different types of sport kites for various winds and types of flying.

My go-to kites for just about every outing are the Prism Quantum Pro, TOTL North Shore Radical and the Skyburner Nik Nak. But, the smaller, lighter kites take the show sometimes especially when I attach a tail or two. I have a number of Prism brand kites in my bag as well as some vintage kites that I love to fly.


Prism Quantum Pro (Purple)

  Quantum Pro Specifications:
• Status - In Production
• Condition - Excellent
• Skill Level - Advanced - Competition
• Sail - Ripstop Polyester, Mylar Laminate
• Frame - SkyShark P200, 5PT Wrapped Carbon
• Wing Span - 94"
• Adjustable counterweight system included
• Advertised Wind Range - 2 to 20 mph
• Robert's Wind Range Experience - 8 to 25 mph
• Robert's Optimum Wind Experience - 15 mph
Made in the USA - Handbuilt by Justin Edwards, Chief Product Manager for Prism Kites in Seattle on 11/23/2004
Hilliard Kite Gallery


Prism E2 (Jungle)

  E2 Specifications:
• Status - Out of Production
• Condition - Very Good
• Skill Level - Beginner to Intermediate
• Wing Span - 91" (231 cm)
• Pull - Medium
• Frame - Carbon .6 oz ripstop polyester
• Sail - Mylar laminate
• Weight - 6.7 ounces
• Advertised Wind Range - 3 to 25 mph
• Robert's Wind Range Experience - 8 to 25 mph
• Robert's Optimum Wind Experience - 12 mph
Made in the China
Hilliard Kite Gallery


Prism Nexus (Spectrum)

  Nexus Specifications:
• Status - In Production
• Condition - Excellent
• Skill Level - Beginner to Intermediate
• Wing Span - 60" (152 cm)
• Pull - Light - Medium
• Frame - Pultruded Carbon, Fiberglass
• Sail - Ripstop Nylon, Mylar Laminate
• Advertised Wind Range - 4 to 22 mph
• Robert's Wind Range Experience - 5 to 20 mph
• Robert's Optimum Wind Experience - 10 mph
Made in the China
Hilliard Kite Gallery


Prism Nexus (Ice)

  Nexus Specifications:
• Status - In Production
• Condition - Excellent
• Skill Level - Beginner to Intermediate
• Wing Span - 60" (152 cm)
• Pull - Light - Medium
• Frame - Pultruded Carbon, Fiberglass
• Sail - Ripstop Nylon, Mylar Laminate
• Advertised Wind Range - 4 to 22 mph
• Robert's Wind Range Experience - 5 to 20 mph
• Robert's Optimum Wind Experience - 10 mph
Made in the China
Hilliard Kite Gallery


Kestrel

 

Kestrel Specifications:
• Status - Out of Production
• Condition - Excellent
• Skill Level - Intermediate to Expert
• 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
• Advertised Wind Range - 2 to 25 mph
• Robert's Wind Range Experience - 10 to 25 mph
• Robert's Optimum Wind Experience - 15 mph
Made in the USA by Joel Scholz and Sky Delight Kites
Dated: 1/25/2000 - Signed: Joel Scholz
Ray Bethell's Review on the Kestrel
KiteLines, Summer 1994, Article on Kestrel
Hilliard Kite Gallery



Skyburner Nik Nak (Blue & Plum)

  Skyburner Nik Nak Specifications:
• Status - Currently Out of Production
• Condition - Very Good
• Skill Level - Intermediate to Expert
• Sail - Polycarbonate
• Frame - 1570 Pultruded
• Wing Span - 78"
• Height - 36"
• Weight - 4.4 oz
• Bridle - Spectra 3 point
• Advertised Wind Range - 0 to 10 mph
• Robert's Wind Range Experience - 6 to 15 mph
• Robert's Optimum Wind Experience - 10 mph
Made in the USA by Sky Burner/John Trennepohl
Sail sewn by Heads Up Kites, Mike Dennis and Pam Kirk
Hilliard Kite Gallery


Skyburner ADX (Aqua/Yellow Combination)

  Skyburner ADX Specifications:
• Status - Out of Production - Made 2003
• Condition - Very Good
• Skill Level - Intermediate to Expert
• Sail - Polycarbonate
• Frame - Sky Shark P90/3PT
• Wing Span - 87"
• Height - 39"
• Weight - 9 oz
• Bridle - Spectra 3 point
• Advertised Wind Range - 3 to 25 mph
• Robert's Wind Range Experience - 7 to 20 mph
• Robert's Optimum Wind Experience - 10 mph
Made in the USA by Sky Burner/John Trennepohl
Sail sewn by Heads Up Kites, Mike Dennis and Pam Kirk
Hilliard Kite Gallery

HQ Tramontana "Tricktana"
(Purple/White with Green Tips)

  HQ Tricktana Specifications:
• Status - Out of Production (Produced pre-2001)
• Condition - Excellent
• Skill Level - Intermediate to Expert
• Sail - Ventex polyester
• Frame - Avia .210 carbon
• Width - 77"
• Height - 40"
• Bridle - Sleeved dyneema, turbo
• Advertised Wind Range - 4 to 15 mph
• Robert's Wind Range Experience - 8 to 20 mph
• Robert's Optimum Wind Experience - 15 mph
Made in Germany. The Tricktana was one of the kites in a new Tramontana 2000 range which was developed by Chris Matheson for HQ Kites
Hilliard Kite Gallery


TOTL North Shore Radical
(Black with Gold Stripes)

  North Shore Radical Specifications:
• Status - Out of Production
• Condition - Excellent
• Skill Level - Intermediate to Expert
• Sail - PC31 Icarux fabric
• Frame - Easton Aluminum/Carbon 4-49 tubing
• Wing Span - 92.5"
• Height - 45"
• Weight - 13.0 oz
• Bridle - Spectra 3 point
• Advertised Wind Range - 5 to 15 mph
• Robert's Wind Range Experience - 10 to 25 mph
• Robert's Optimum Wind Experience - 15 mph
Made in the USA by Top Of The Line Kites - Sewn and built by Mike Dennis - One of only three of this type in the USA
Hilliard Kite Gallery


Pro-Wasp

  Pro-Wasp Specifications:
• Status - Out of Production
• Condition - Very Good
• Skill Level - Intermediate to Expert
• Wing Span - 96"
• Frame - Easton a/c tubes
• Sail - 3/4oz. Carrington Spinnaker nylon
• Robert's Wind Range Experience - 10 to 25 mph
• Robert's Optimum Wind Experience - 15 mph
Made in USA by WindWalker Kites/Terry Crumpler/Gayla Industries
Hilliard Kite Gallery



Mike Dennis did an excellent job building and adjusting my new TOTL Northshore Radical.



My Joel Scholz Kestrel, flying with one 50' tail and two 25' tails.



Flying the Kestrel is a dream come true for me. I love the old school sport kites from the 1980's, 90's and early 2000's.



Flying the Prism Quantum Pro at the Flight of the Monarch Festival in September, 2015. My wife, Kathy took this shot while I flew the kite holding the strings together right above her camera. Nice effect with the strings.


Kite Festival Pictures/Kite Links/Kite Videos/Kite Articles

Below are some kite festival links and pictures that we've attended as well as numerous kite-related links I have found to be helpful. At the end of this page are some articles I have written concerning a great kite maker and the state of kiting.

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 Trips, Festivals and Pictures

2016

10th Annual Sertoma Kite Festival - Waco, Texas - May 7, 2016
Gulf Coast Trip - Surfside Beach/Quintana/Galveston - October 12-16, 2016
Trinity Wind Festival - Dallas, Texas - October 29, 2016

2015

Note: Many Kite Festivals for Spring and Fall, 2015 were not attended due to cancellations or postponements.
Flight of the Monarch Festival - Grand Prairie, Texas - September 19, 2015

2014

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
Flight of the Monarch Festival - Grand Prairie, Texas - September 27, 2014



Kathy and I at the 10th Annual Sertoma Kite Festival in Waco, Texas - May 7, 2016.
 
Getting ready to fly my Kestrel with tails for the first time.



All good things must come to an end. Disconnecting lines for pack up.
 
Kathy got to fly her Martin Lester Baseball Legs kite.



The height of the day was getting to fly my newly acquired TOTL Northshore Radical.
 
Everyone looked to see what was causing all the noise. Love the way the NSR flies.



Man, kite and wind. Ready to launch again.
 
Purchased this NSR from Mike Dennis. One of only three of this type in the US. Mike did an excellent job adjusting the bridle. Didn't have to make any adjustments at all.



Other Kite Videos

This is the video that got me into flying stunt kites. Excellent video entitled, "Romancing The Wind" by Ray Bethell. Ray flies three Kestrel sport kites at one time.
Ray Bethell's kite dance video in Vancouver, BC. This time the kite ballet to the music of Debussy. Video shot and edited by Robert Holbrook.

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

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




Beneath His Wings

by Robert E. Hilliard

In the late 1970’s, a man from Vancouver, British Columbia traveled to Hawaii on vacation. While there, he noticed a group of people flying kites on the beach.

While he had always thought that flying kites was for sissy’s, he became interested in the fact that they were flying kites with 2 lines instead of one. It peaked his interest and when he returned to Vancouver, he tried his hand at flying a sport kite.

Little did the kiting world know that from these humble beginnings a man would develop and hone his kite piloting skills to become a 3 time American Kite Association champion but most of all, he would become a man of deep passion for the sport that desperately loves kiting and his fellow man.

It took Ray Bethell a number of years to learn how to fly. He started by flying one sport kite, then he tried flying two which he became successful at in a short period of time. He achieved this by flying one sport kite from his hand and the other from his hip. Living in Vancouver, Ray would develop his piloting skills at Vanier Park located next to the downtown area. Every day, the Chinook winds would make their way into Vancouver from the Strait of Georgia affording Ray the clean winds he needed to hone and perfect his craft. It would take him hours and hours of grueling practice, days of successes and failures.

By 1980, Ray was flying in team competitions on the West coast of Canada and America. It was during this time that Ray decided to try flying three sport kites simultaneously. Within a matter of a few short years, Ray had developed his unique style flying a sport kite from each hand and one from the hip.

Once the word got out that there was a pilot able to fly three sport kites simultaneously, Ray was asked to compete at kite competitions in the Freestyle and Ballet categories. His popularity grew with each competition. Soon he attracted the attention of kite manufacturers and event organizers from all over the world.

Successes like these don’t come easy. It takes a lot of hard work to perfect a style that Ray was becoming known for. But for Ray, this was more than just flying kites at a kite competition. Ray brings with him the human element. He loves to fly and he has developed the passion it takes to give back to his audience. Ray is one of the very few kite pilots that make you feel he is performing just for you. As a spectator, one can see the passion that Ray exudes in his performance and Ray doesn’t want anyone to walk away without falling in love with kite flying and the joy it can bring.

The flying records and awards have mounted up. In 1991, he flew 2 kites, one from each hand. 1992, 3 kites, one from each hand and one from the hip. In 1993, he flew three kites simultaneously for 8 hours and 42 minutes. 1994, Ray flew three kites for a record breaking 12 hours and 12 minutes. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, Ray flew a number of stacked kites, the highest totaling 39! While accomplishing all this, Ray’s considers his greatest asset to be the kiting fans and friends he has developed along the way. For Ray, this is not about popularity and ego… it’s about people and the joy of kiting. He calls this, “Good Stuff” and he’s been featured in numerous videos talking about not just his flying skills, but about his passion for life and his interest in the success of his fellow man.

Age has slowed Ray down a little bit, but it hasn’t stopped him. He is the picture of health although he can’t attend every event he would like to. When Ray is not attending a kite competition, you can find him flying in his beloved Vanier Park. In October of 2006, A park bench was installed in Vanier Park in Ray’s honor. He considers it to be the most outstanding gesture of love a man could have. Next time you’re in Vancouver, take a stroll through Vanier Park and sit on the bench dedicated to Ray. On some days, you can even watch Ray perform his multiple kite flying technique. Ray would want that for you. In Ray’s mind, the wind will forever be beneath his wings. He beckons you to join him.





Additional articles written by Robert Hilliard





World Renowned Kite Artist

by Robert E. Hilliard

If you asked Joel Keith Scholz if he truly felt he was a world renowned kite artist, his humbleness would probably urge him to answer in the negative. But deep, down inside there’s an artistic creativeness and drive that keeps reminding him of his kite designing accomplishments. And those accomplishments are very hard to ignore.

Scholz made his first kite at age 9 however, it was somewhere between being a graphic artist-cartographer, laboratory technician, x-ray technologist and art teacher that his kite designing talent really took off. And that newly-found career began in 1986 and lasted some 15 glorious years.

During that time, Joel racked up numerous awards and accolades. He quickly became world renowned for producing the most innovative and finest quality kites. Joel was described in American Kite Magazine as “One of America’s best kite designers”. In Kitelines Magazine he was hailed as being “On the forefront of the next generation of kite makers”. His kites set world records and ultimately found themselves hanging in museums throughout the world.

Not bad for a man that learned how to design kites from spending years on a sailboat in central Texas. With the love and support of Bonnie, his wife, Joel has taken his love and passion and made it into something that all of us can own and enjoy. His creations fueled a generation into kite flying. His love of design and artistry in the wind created numerous award winning kite pilots such as Ray Bethell, who flies three of Joel’s Kestrel sport kites simultaneously and holds the world record for non-stop, multi-kite flying for 12 hours and 12 minutes. That’s what makes a person like Joel Scholz happy. It’s the love of the wind and flight itself that has given Joel the incentive to design world famous, award winning kites.


In 2001 Joel moved on. He licensed his creations to other companies and concentrated his efforts on the design and manufacture of remote controlled craft. But to say that Joel Scholz made an indelible mark on the kite world is a total understatement. From 1986 until 2001, Joel made some of the world’s finest and best performing kites. Every kite, whether it be single line, dual line or quad contains his passion, his very essence. Every kite from the stitching right down to the bridle contains a piece of his soul that embodies who he has been and continues to be… a world-renowned kite artist.

The next time you're at a park on a windy day and kites are flying in the distance, ask those kite pilots who made the kites they're flying. A good pilot always has a Joel Scholz kite in his bag.



Additional articles written by Robert Hilliard





To Fly A Kite

by Robert E. Hilliard

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 wane 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.


    

Kite Search/Association/Historical/Misc

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 Documents

AKA Kite Event Organizer Manual - AKA version on PDF
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
Kite Guys Stunt Kites - Introduction to Stunt 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 Retailers

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
Kites.com - 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 Manufacturers

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 Designers and Builders

Lam Hoac
Joel Scholz
Jerimy Colbert
George Peters
Kisa Kites Designs
Kathy Goodwind
Martin Lester
Martin Blais
Robert Brasington
Tiger Li
Buteo Huang
Peter Lynn