Scott Skinner
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Another year has slipped away and memories of Y2K have become distant as the first decade of the 21st Century has almost passed. As we mark this moment, I want to take a look back at how we in the kite world have progressed to this exciting time: kite surfing a mainstream sport, resurgence of kite cultures throughout Southeast Asia, talk of “mega-kite-shows,” and real possibilities of significant kite power on land and water.

For most of us baby-boomers, we were influenced by an “old guard” of kite fliers, a group predominately from the WWII-era “greatest generation.” Can you imagine the raised eyebrows of their peers, when in the 1950s or 1960s these pioneers went out to fly kites? Here in the US, we remember Domina Jalbert, Francis Rogallo, Paul Garber, and other national figures, but there was a whole cadre of kite people who influenced me and my contemporaries. I’d like to offer some remembrances of people who had serious influence on my kite life, and ask that you take a moment to remember others who might have guided you.


My first international trip for the specific purpose of flying and seeing kites was with Dave in 1988. I had been involved with kites for over ten years by then, but had very little hands-on knowledge of ethnic kites. This trip to China changed everything. Dave led kite excursions to Japan and China for many years throughout the 1970s and 1980s and introduced countless people to the magic of Asia and its kite traditions. On that trip in 1988, among others, there was a “retired” actress, Gloria Stuart, who had traveled with Checkley to Japan in the mid-1970s. Gloria became famous again when she was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in “Titanic,” but she had carried on a love affair with kites since before WWII. Checkley was an active member in the fledgling early years of the AKA, virtually hosting the annual convention at his Seattle home in 1982. Sadly for the American kiting family, Dave passed in early 1989 while planning another trip to Japan.

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