Featured Archive Item
On October 16, 1908, cowboy showman and kite enthusiast Samuel Franklin Cody became the first man in England to achieve self-sustained manned flight. To honor one of the kiting world’s most famous and certainly most illustrious personalities, the Drachen Foundation will be using this “Featured Archive” column to highlight some of the Cody items it houses in its archive.
This month focuses on a model of a Cody war kite, purchased by Executive Director Ali Fujino at the Sotheby’s auction of the S.F.C. Cody Archive. It was purchased grouped together with samples of fabrics used in kite construction, a sales brochure for the Cody War Kite and two copies of an advertising leaflet for Pearson’s Magazine entitled The Kite That Lifts a Man.
The model (25 cm wide by 15 cm long) is composed of card, wood and thread, and is complete with a hand carved lifting basket. On the front and the back of the kite sail, one can see the hand drawn pencil lines the maker used as guidelines. Only a minor amount of wear has damaged this early-1900’s model, as the kite is intact but for a detached back-right spar. Also, the glue used for affixation appears to have discolored the cardstock.
Cody’s purpose in having this model created is unclear, although speculation is that it was a promotional model created to show others the simplicity of his man-lifting system. This speculation is supported by the detail attended to the model—even the basket’s woven detail is hand-drawn in with pencil.
Both the brochure—written by Cody himself—and the Pearson’s Magazine leaflet included in the sale of this artifact promote the use of “the kite that lifts a man.” Together, they document Cody’s ambition “to play an important part in the complete conquest of the air.”
For more information about and images of this archive item, please email email@example.com .
Oaxaca's Day of the Dead Takes Flight
In collaboration with celebrated Oaxacan museums, the Drachen Foundation is organizing a celebration of arts, kites, and culture in Oaxaca, Mexico, for the Day of the Dead 2008.
2007 JKA Fall Meeting, Aomori, Japan
On the northernmost tip of Japan's Honshu Island, in Fujisaki, Aomori, I and fellow Drachen board member Jose Sainz were the guests of Japan Kite Association President Masaaki Modegi at the JKA Fall meeting .
DF Celebrates Drachen Kite Journal
After 11 years and 25 issues, the journal team of Drachen says goodbye to our readers with this final issue. Under the research and journalistic expertise of Ben Ruhe, we have enjoyed learning new and exciting about the world of kites, its cultures and its people. Without fear and always with great enthusiasm, Ben has traveled more than four times around the world and visited almost every corner of kiting history, culture, art and sport. He yielded to no boundary—whether it geographic or political. He explored areas in kiting that hadn’t yet been touched, made many friends for Drachen and exposed many to kiting.
Throughout this time, little information about Ben himself has been given to the journal’s readers. A professional journalist with some of the best US newspapers, he took time off to vagabond around the world. He visited castles, kings and monks, never afraid to take colorful jobs when he needed money. After his world travels, he settled back in the nation’s capitol, Washington D.C., as an information specialist for the Smithsonian Institution. Beside his job at the Smithsonian, he gave much time to a personal passion for the boomerang (another object that flies.) Interestingly, this passion gave him much of the background to go on and report on the world of kites.
Ben was an important confidante and advisor to me before the Drachen Foundation had been born. I had traveled with Drachen administrator Ali Fujino to Ben’s Washington D.C. apartment to talk about book possibilities. Nothing came of that, but I got a glimpse of this mildly eccentric and wonderful man.
After closely examining every surface in the apartment, it was obvious that Ben was a voracious collector. More importantly, he had a variety of interests unlike anyone else—primitive spear points, modern art, boogie-woogie piano, and (his direct link to flying objects) boomerangs! A lasting memory from that visit was a visit to his artist friend’s apartment to see, first, his collection of art, but more importantly, his collection of marbles. Marbles! From then on, collecting, creating, and promoting kites seemed nothing more than mainstream to me.
When the Foundation was born, Kitelines Magazine was ending its great run and German and French kite magazines were coming and going; it was understood that a publishing arm would be a part of Drachen’s functions. When we established the Drachen Foundation Kite Journal to this end, it was understood that Ben would be its editor and primary writer.
Ben helped to define the Foundation’s mission, and his legacy is the volume of original material contained in the Journal section of the Foundation’s website. He leaves us to begin another frontier, immortalized in a film documentary as the guru of boomerangs and will be a consultant for the film.
Ben Ruhe has been an indispensable part of the Drachen Foundation and has helped us to strive to always work harder. Our final issue is dedicated as a tribute to his work.
I cannot thank you enough, Ben.
New Drachen Foundation Publications
The Drachen Foundation issues and offers a variety of publications, from scholarly studies of kite topics to overviews of kite cultures, pamphlets documenting special projects and special art “coffee table” books. Drachen has recently added two very special publications to its online store.
India: Kite’s Eye View (sorry, no longer available in the Drachen store)
By Nico Chorier
Offering majestic views of India captured through kite aerial photography, Nico Chorier’s new photography book India: Kite’s Eye View offers captivating documentation of India. Chorier’s unique images allow the viewer to appreciate the distinctiveness of Indian geography, archeology and humanity of this vast country.
A full time professional kite aerial photographer, Chorier has wandered the world, capturing wonderful close-up views of the Taj Majal in, photographing whales in India, agricultural projects in Brazil and archeological sites in France.
Paper in Flight 
By Drachen Foundation
What happens when you gather some of the best kite artists and turn them loose in the traditional paper making regions of Japan? Paper takes flight. This new publication from the Drachen Foundation gives a personal view of these artists as they are mentored in the appreciation of Japanese paper making and in joining these materials and their talent with the culture of Japan as their muse. Detailing a collaboration of kite artists István Bodóczky, Anna Rubin, Scott Skinner, Robert Trepanier, Nobuhiko Yoshizumi and their workshop guests Anthony Bodóczky, Eveline Bischof, Alessia Marrocu and Daniela Zitzmann, the process and results are documented in this colorful book.