My first great hobby was building kites. Here are a few pictures of the hundreds that I made.
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I enjoyed making big kites. This one was twenty-feet tall and had a forty-four foot wingspan. In this picture it's hanging on, and completely blocking, the end of my house. For a large kite it went together very quickly and was well-behaved in the air.
Clockwise from the upper left: My two favorite fighter kites, I called the larger one "The Assassin." It was blindingly fast and maneuverable. Next is a prettier, but less functional Japanese-style fighter. Below that is a Flettner kite. It creates lift by rotating. Bottom right: a true giant... a delta with a fifty-foot wingspan. The biggest kite I ever made was a diamond kite (a square flown point first). That monster was sixty-four feet from nose to end and had a sixty-four foot wingspan. When it flew the earth trembled. Lower left: my wife, Gail, holding a small tetrahedral kite. Above that: one of the many dragon kites I made. This one had one hundred parallel faces and measured sixty-feet long. A real head-turner when it was in the air.
Again, starting in the upper left... A small (14 inches tall not counting the legs) octopus kite. Right of that, a nine-foot tall version. (Again, not counting the legs. They added another forty feet to it's height.) Below that, Tasmanian Devil, a two-foot tall modified Eddy kite. Left, a Japanese Daruma kite. They fly these kites when their luck is bad then paint the eyes red when their luck changes to seal the luck in.
Here are some of my favorites. Top right: a Delta patterned in the style popularized by the great kitemaker Hod Taylor. This one has a thirteen-foot wingspan, flies like a dream, and the colors seem to glow when it's in the air. To the right of that is a French military-style kite. It's six-foot tall and is the most stable kite in the air I've ever seen. It looks like it was painted on the sky. It is so stable you could take pictures from it... so I did. Below it is a self-portrait of me in younger days taken from that kite's point of view. Below that is an eight-foot tall Japanese fighter. The young man in front of it is my son, Jeffery... who's all grown up now and studying to be a psychologist. Lower left: an eight-foot diameter All Saint's Day kite... 215 separate pieces of cloth sewn together. It looks like stained glass in the air. The frame is built on an umbrella framework so it folds up into a neat, manageable bundle. Finally, above that is a seven-foot wingspan delta, a classic design and a great flier.
picture of the All Saint's Day kite in the air.
The tail was 25 feet long, most of which isn't shown, and made
from 6-inch strips of cloth sewn onto a cloth ribbon.
I confess that the press of my current hobbies (astronomy, telescope making, gardening, writing, cooking, and maintaining this website) have kept me from flying any of these kites in years. But I still have them all. They're old trusted companions and one sweet day we'll get together to glide on soft breezes and fill the sky with bright colors.
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