Spotlight on an American Flight Pioneer: ENTHUSIAST BRINGS OLD KITE BACK TO LIFE

Ben Ruhe
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A student of early historical kites, Jan Westerink of Zutphen, Holland, was searching patent databases when he found a design by Matthew B. Sellers, an American flight pioneer, that caught his fancy. The kite has wings like a glider and an eye-catching tubular tail. It was patented in 1908, meaning its 100th anniversary was due this year. Westerink, a former industrial designer turned handicraft teacher who has built replicas of several dozen largely unknown kites from the first half of the last century, decided to build this one. Patent sheets not specifying measurements or even materials, he guessed at the size and used bamboo and undyed cotton cloth in its construction. Instead of using hemp line, as Sellers almost certainly did, Westerink instead substituted nylon line.

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