Ted Shaw has been involved in kiting for over twenty years. Drawn to kites by viewing their simple beauty as they hung in the air at a kite festival known as "Paint the Sky" hosted by the Great Lakes Kitefliers Society (GLKS) of Western New York, Ted has now become President of the association.
I have had the pleasure of knowing Ted for all of those twenty years. I first ran into him when I was at a kiting event run by GLKS shortly after he had joined the group. He was just getting started then, but his inquisitive engineering mind led hem to ask all kinds of questions about kites, how they were made and how they flew. You could tell immediately that he was going to be serious about this activity.
Over the ensuing years Ted and I became good friends. We have travelled together to over two dozen kiting events, many far afield, and we have thoroughly enjoyed each other's company. He has a dry, wicked sense of humor and we have shared numerous laughs. As it turns out he spent many of his teenage years in Long Beach, Ontario at a summer cottage only a few miles from my home. As we reminisced we told tales of roller skating in the Long Beach Roller Rink and we wondered if we had actually been in the same crowd at the same time even though we did not know each other then.
Ted has become one of the great ambassadors of kiting. He builds most of his own kites, hosts workshops in his spacious barn studio on his property, is involved heavily in GLKS his local club, and travels to many events put on by the Niagara Windriders, the Kitchener-Waterloo Wind Climbers and the Toronto Kite Fliers.
Ted constantly promotes kite flying at these and other events. You will often see him walking along the perimeter of a kite festival field with a kite high on the end of the line. Stopping here and there he passes his kite line into the hands of a stranger and tells them all there is to know about kite flying. Entranced, these folks often break out with a big smile and carry on long conversations. I suspect that for many of them this little interlude is the high point of their day and it leaves a positive image of kiters and kite flying.
The Buffalo News, in its May 19, 2013 edition, did a well deserved feature article about Ted, a fine flyer I am proud to call my friend.
Kiting seems to have more than its share of fine people committed to the hobby/sport. It is generally characterized by people who love to share: share the sky, share building tips, share flying techniques and share personal friendship.
No one exemplifies this better than Carlos Simoes of Cambridge, ON. Carlos is a wonderful person, fine family man and highly skilled kiter who simply loves to build and fly kites in a sky that he shares with friends all across North America.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Record newspaper did a feature on Carlos that shows his deep love of kites, the sky and the people who share his passion for tethered flight.
I am indeed fortunate to have Carlos as a close friend and compatriot of the winds! I hope you enjoy this well deserved tribute to a guy I call my 'Wing Man'.
I first met George Paisiovich at a kiting event in Vineland, ON. I had not known him before the event, but he captured my attention immediately.
I was adjusting the line on a kite that I had launched and looked back towards the sidelines of the flying field when my eye caught a Steiff Roloplan kite being launched into the blue sky. What immediately struck me was the fact that the kite was not a replica; it was an original from the early 1900's. You could tell immediately that this kite was both pristine and old; something you just do not see flown in ordinary circumstances.
I walked over to the kiter at the end of the Steiff line and asked the obvious: "Is that an original Steiff?" George answered with a huge smile, '"Yes, isn't it a beauty?" I agreed and was somewhat dumbfounded that a kite of this vintage and value would be flown at an ordinary kite event.
What I did not realize at the time was that this simple deed of flying a valuable kite treasure as an ordinary act really exemplifies George Paisiovich.
George is passionate about kites and kite history. He is the Director of the Kite Museum of Canada. George is currently in the process of moving the collection from its initial site on Pelee Island to London, ON.
I have spent countless hours talking with George about kites and their history. The word that most often comes to mind when I think of his connection to kites is the word joy. George admires the beauty and elegance of each kite that he collects. He takes delight in gathering up old black and white photos of ordinary people, kids and adults alike, flying kites in the past. He will often say: "Look at their smiles" -or- "Doesn't that just capture the essence of kite flying".
I have also come to know that George feels a strong need to save kite artifacts for Canada and Canadians. He wants this country to have its own connection to kites of the past and to the kite heritage that is uniquely Canadian. To that end, he has worked with Parks Canada, the A.G. Bell National Historic Site in Baddeck, and the Bell family to promote wide knowledge among Canadians of the rich kiting and aviation heritage that springs from the kite work of Alexander Graham Bell in Nova Scotia.
At the same time as he works to gather kite artifacts, George knows that he is only the temporary custodian of the past. He relishes the joy of sharing the kites in a new museum and exhibition setting that he is working to establish in the coming years in his home of London, ON.
Recently an article in the business section of Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper featured a story about George and his collection of historic kites and kiting artifacts. Read it and I think you will have some insights into the joy that George derives from kites and from sharing their story.
Kites are often regarded as a universal device that are present in the culture of most nations of the world. As evidence of this, one only needs to look at stamps that depict kites which have been issued in a multitude of nations.
Russ Mozier of Florida has compiled an outstanding set of over 300 kite stamps from around the world. Russ' Picasa page of kite stamps shows them in both individual photos and in a slide show format.
The site is well worth browsing. You will see a wide variety of stamps with kites on them. Many show the kites that are indigenous to the culture of the nation issuing the stamp. These stamps are another interesting source of learning about kites around the world. Other kite stamps in the collection show significant events in the history of kite design (e.g the Australian kites of kite pioneer Lawrence Hargrave).
I first met Russ and his wife Pat Mozier at a Kite Festival in Wildwood, NJ in 2004. At that time Russ and Pat were members of the South Jersey Kite Flyers. They conducted a workshop on small kites that can be used with children in classrooms and which can be built at almost no cost. I have used the Sode kite design that Russ and Pat so capably demonstrated in hundreds of workshops since that event. The kite is now a staple of workshops given to children by both the Niagara Windriders Kitefliers Association and by the Toronto Kitefliers who adopted it after I introduced them to the design in 2011.
Recently Russ and Pat moved to Florida where they are now membera of the Central Florida Kite Club. Russ and Pat have their own web site, Kids Kitemaking, where you can learn more about their work with children and kites.
The United States Army has invested time and money in a hybrid balloon-kite combination device that is designed to be a platform for low-level surveillance in areas where larger blimp-like aerostats or expensive drone aircraft are not feasible to use.
The Stars and Stripes news service released information and photos of "Helikites," a half-kite, half-blimp aircraft for low-level surveillance. It can readily be deployed by armed forces personnel for military purposes in remote areas where air-borne surveillance cameras would be useful.
This device, which combines the properties of a blimp and a kite, and carries communications and surveillance equipment, is among the pilotless flying equipment currently being tested by the Army base at Fort Benning, Ga., Stars and Stripes reported Monday, May 20, 2012.
According to Wikipedia, the names 'Helikite' and 'Helikites', are Registered Trade Marks relating to a type of kite-style aerostat designed and patented by Sandy Allsopp in England.1
UPI.com in its May 21, 2012 story entitled Army tests blimp-kite hybrid 'Helikites', stated:
Since many of the American military bases in Afghanistan are not large enough to accommodate and maintain the large aerostats that hover over battlefields and enemy lines, sending back photos and other information, "We are looking at small, more tactical aerostats that can be used at those small bases, " said Maj. Peter Moore, product director at the Fort Benning-based Rapid Equipping Force.
The Helikite is among the small aerostats being tested to learn how long launch and recovery operations take, how they perform in windy conditions and how long training programs for operating personnel will take, the newspaper said.
Helikites range in size from a model 6 feet long capable of lifting cameras and communications equipment, to an aircraft 24 feet long that can lift as much as 30,000 pounds of equipment, said Sandy Allsopp, owner of the British firm Allsopp Helikites, which makes the aircraft for the U.S. Air Force and Navy, and the British Army.
The Allsopp Helikites have a wide variety of peace time applications as well. The devices can be used for lifting:
- Scientific instruments and equipment
- Radio antennas and radio relay or jamming equipment
- Sensors and weather instruments
- Pollution sampling equipment
- Aerial photography and video cameras
- Acoustic sensing instruments
- Thermal imaging and mine detection devices
- Remote sensing and radar arrays
- Advertising displays.
In short, anything that needs stable aerial positioning can be lofted using the Helikites.
The modern version of the aerostat-kite hybrid has a historical precedent in the work of Canadian born Domina Jalbert, inventor of both the parafoil and the 'kytoon'.
Domina Jalbert, born in Saint-Jean-de-Matha, Quebec, moved with his family to the United States where he received a pilot's license and had a deep interest in kites. Early on, Jalbert had a small advertising business using large kites.
Jalbert worked for the United States Rubber Company which built barrage balloons to help protect the coast line of the United States from attacks by enemy aircraft. Barrage balloons were large tethered aerostats that dangled metal cables that were designed to inflict damage on low-level aircraft that came into collision with the cables.
Since tethered balloons are affected by strong winds which tend to drive them lower in altitude and make them oscillate at the end of their tethers, Jalbert took his knowledge of kites and began to develop a hybrid balloon-kite device which he called a "kytoon".
Using the balloon to form the keel of a kite, Jalbert affixed kite-like wings to the keel. The effect of the wings was to both create lift when a wind was blowing and to stabilize the kytoon so that it would not wildly oscillate across the sky at the end of its tether.
Jalbert's patent was filed on April 14, 1945, near the end of World War II. After the war, the kytoon did not receive much attention and it gradually drifted into obscurity. Jalbert went on to design and patent the parafoil in 1964. His contributions to kites and steerable parachutes have made him one of the great kite pioneers.
Allsopp's Helikite is a much improved hybrid aerostat-kite device over that envisioned by Jalbert back in 1945. The Helikite still embodies the concept of lift via the balloon when the air is still. It also uses the properties of the kite when the winds come up: lifting the device against the wind to ensure that the payload is sustained in its elevation and does not dart wildly from side to side on its tether.
The Helikites, which are already used by the British Army, are also rather wee: The vehicles currently range in size from 6 to 24 feet in length. For comparison’s sake, consider that the Air Force’s much-contested Blue Devil 2 blimp, which might one day soar the skies above America instead of Afghanistan, measures a whopping 370 feet.
Blimps rely on helium to get them off the ground and keep them airborne. By adding a kite to the mix, the Helikite boasts an enhanced flying ability — one that’d increase its ability to haul cargo, which is likely to include plenty of surveillance gear. A 24-foot Helikite, according to its parent company, Allsopp Helikites, can lug 30,000 pounds of equipment. That’s five times the weight that aerostats of a similar size can lift. All that, and the Helikites can fly as high as 6,000 feet — keeping them safely out of range from gunfire or grenade attacks.
The military is also testing the battle-kite’s ability to help with communications in far-flung regions. A hovering battle-kite, equipped with communications gear, could offer mobile networks that’d vastly improve the sketchy wireless linkages currently available in remote realms of combat. According to the company, a Helikite elevated to 600 feet should be able to yield 113 square miles of Wi-Fi coverage.
And the Helikites, which cost an estimated $50,000 apiece, also have a key advantage over the other aerostats in the military’s array: Because they’re so small, and benefit from the wind-catching powers of a kite, they require way, way less helium.
That’s good news for the Pentagon, which is already facing potential helium shortages from keeping so many aerostats aloft. In a report issued just last year, the Defense Logistics Agency lamented that “industry cannot keep up with the increased [helium] demand” required by all those blimps.
Clearly, Allsopp's Helikite is an up-to-date device that should prove to be very useful in both military and peace time applications. Although their is similarity in concept to the historical kytoon developed by Domina Jalbert in the mid-1940's, the Helikite is clearly a superior device that is multi-functional and highly utilitarian.
It is interesting to reflect on the history of the kytoon as we appreciate the advances made with the design of the Helikite.
- 1From the Wikipedia article entitled Helikite.
- An interesting article about the work and contributions of Canadian born kite pioneer Domina Jalbert can be found in the Popular Mechanics article He Flies Kites for Love and Money by author George Sand. Popular Mechanics, Vol. 109, No.3, March 1958 - Pages 82-86 and 248. The article features several photographs of Jalbert's kites and devices as well as a line drawing of the kytoon.