Niagara Windriders Newsletter

The Official Newsletter of the Niagara Windriders Kitefliers Association, Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Vol3.04: Final NWKA Kite Fly of 2004 - Sunday, Oct. 31st

Final Club Kite Fly of 2004:
Our final monthly fly of this season will be held at H.H. Knoll, Lakeview Park in Port Colborne on Sunday, Oct. 31st from 12 noon to 4:30 p.m.

This will be our last chance to gather as a club for the season. The weather promises to be decent, but since it is October everyone should be prepared to bundle up a bit so that you can remain toasty and comfortable.

We will have some special kites in the air on Sunday. Vaino Raun will bring some new kites that he acquired while at the 27th Annual AKA Convention in Seaside, Oregon.

Bob White will have the 16 cell tetrahedral kite that was specially built for the Alexander Graham Bell documentary which is part of "The Greatest Canadian" television series on CBC-TV. If the winds are favourable, it will take to the air.

We hope to see everyone at the fly! It is so much fun when we all get together on the flying field! You can check the weather forecast for the field by visiting the Weather Network link for Port Colborne.

AKA Convention in Seaside Oregon:

Vaino Raun was our ambassador to the 27th annual convention. This gathering of kite flyers is large and spectacular. It combines kite competitions in skills and in kite making as well as workshops, seminars, daily mass ascensions, a banquet, an auction and a 'FlyMart' for buying kites and related equipment. Typically over 400 flyers are in attendance and the array of kites in the sky is amazing. It is here that some of the newest creations are put on display for the very first time.
Peter Lynn kites

Results from AKA competitions:
The results from all the AKA competitions at Seaside, OR are found on the American Kitefliers Association site. Click on the link to The Forums and you will find that the standings are listed at the top of the discussion page. The results listed for the various categories of kite making show photos of the top three kites in each category. There are some amazing kites to view!

Some of the flyers that we in our club know well competed and gained excellent results in the standings.
Lam Hoac of TKF - 1st place in Sport Kite Design/Construction.
Lam Hoac also placed 3rd in Masters Division Quad Ballet and 2nd in Masters Division Indoor competition.
Merv Cooper of TKF - 2nd place in Individual Rokkaku fighting competition.
Merv Cooper and Vaino Raun - 3rd place in Team Rokkaku fighting competition.
Vaino Raun - 2nd place in Novice Fighter Kite - Line Touch competition.

Well done everyone! It was great to see some fine results for Canadian participants. For some great photos of the event you can visit Vaino Raun's on-line photo galleries of the AKA Convention at

Alexander Graham Bell and Kites - "The Greatest Canadian?"

Most Canadians are well aware of the story of Alexander Graham Bell's work to develop the telephone. His experiments and application of his knowledge of science and the process of vocal speeech developed during his years as a teacher of the deaf are well documented.


The development of the telephone alone is enough to rank him among the giants in modern communication. Certainly it was enough to make him a wealthy person. However, Bell was not content to rest on his laurels after his development of the telephone and the establishment of the Bell Telephone corporation. He went on to pursue other interests and challenges.

From his childhood, Bell had been fascinated with the flight of birds and the pursuit of the dream of powered flight by inventors around the world. He was a distinguished witness at the flights of Samuel Pierpoint Langley's steam powered model aerodrome in 1896. This fueled his desire to put his enquiring mind to the task of learning about the intricacies of flight.

Although the Wright Brothers were the first to achieve the dream of powered flight, several other individuals and teams worked to solve the myriad of problems around building successful aircraft. This work went on for several years until the accumulated knowledge of many laid the ground work for modern aviation.

Bell gathered a group of highly skilled people to work with him on the development of aerodromes, as he like to call them. Working in a group known as "The Aerial Experiment Association" with J.D. McCurdy, Casey Baldwin, Glenn Curtiss and Lt. Thomas Selfridge, Bell immersed himself in the pursuit of solutions to flight challenges. Alexander's wife Mabel provided considerable funding to support the work of the Association.

Bell was intrigued with kites in particular. He felt that the right combination of power and some sort of structure derived from uniquely designed kites might lead to safe flight. His concern was safety of the pilot and craft in the event of engine failure.


Bell worked with mathematics and the principles of science to employ the tetrahedron to build cellular kites known as tetrahedral kites. His work was innovative and promoted an understanding and acceptance of the tetrahedral form as a strong but light framework that is widely used in structural frames.


Some of Bell's tetrahedral kites were enormous. His Frost King had over 1300 cells connected to provide a huge framework and generate considerable lift. In a test flight on land it lifted a man holding on to the kite line a distance of 30 feet into the air.

Although Bell built several huge tetrahedral kites, some capable of lifting a man and significant weight, he was unable to employ the tetrahedral structure as part of an airplane that achieved significant flight. The closest Bell came was with his "Oionus" aerodrome which lifted off the ice on Baddeck Bay in Nova Scotia for only a brief moment late in 1910.

However, several other of the planes of the Aerial Experiment Association went on to successful flight. The White Wing, Red Wing and June Bug, the first three planes of the Association, all flew successfully with Curtiss engines at Hammondsport, NY. The fourth plane, the Silver Dart, was test flown in Hammondsport as well.

However, the Silver Dart's great fame came in the air trials over the frozen ice in Baddeck Bay on February 23, 1909. It was an historic flight. The Silver Dart rose into the air after a 100 foot taxi to gain speed. Piloted by Casey Baldwin, the Silver Dart flew over one-half mile at an altitude of approximately 30 feet and landed smoothly on the ice. The air speed was measured at an astounding, for the time, 40 miles per hour. This flight was the first flight in Canada and the first flight of a British subject in a heavier than air machine in the British Empire.

Dart in Flight

But, these are not the only achievements of Alexander Graham Bell. His work with flight and the movement of airplane wings through the air led him to experiment with the use of "wings" or foils in water to lift the hull of a boat free from the surface drag presented by water. This highly innovative work led to the development of the world's first practical operating hydrofoil. Bell's staff perfected the device to the point that his beloved wife Mabel rode in the craft and briefly took the controls on one test. On Sept. 9, 1919 Casey Baldwin's hydrofoil craft AEA HD-4, with Baldwin at the helm and Bell aboard, set a world water-speed record of 122 kph (70.86 mph).

HD-4 under speed

Other highly important scientific contributions by Bell include:
  • pioneering work on the "photofone" using an early application that transmitted sound by beams of light (used today in some forms of fibre optic technology);
  • development of early medical probes to assist in determining foreign objects in the body;
  • development of an early "iron lung";
  • development of the recordable wax cylinder (the patent was later sold to Edison);
  • work on breeding technology with sheep;
  • serving as the first President of the National Geographic Society and developing the important "National Geographic" journal that exists to this day.

The list could go on, but in this space it is enough to note that Bell's contributions to science and technology rank him among the most important people of the late 19th and entire 20th centuries.

To kite flyers and builders, Bell will always have a special place. His creative use of the tetrahedron to construct clever geometric kite structures makes him one of the most innovative and celebrated kite people of all time.

At present, CBC TV is running a series entitled "The Greatest Canadian" which invites all citizens of Canada to participate in selecting the one person viewed as 'greatest' in our history. The Bell documentary promoting his candidacy for this title will air on CBC-TV on November 15th on regular CBC stations and November 16th on CBC Newsworld. Voting for this honour concludes on November 28th with the selection of the one person to hold the title "The Greatest Canadian".

Knowing that kiters have a special kinship to anyone who builds and flies kites, I encourage you to visit the CBC Greatest Canadian web site and in particular to review the site for information on Alexander Graham Bell. Then, consider voting for your choice as The Greatest Canadian. Surely Bell, with his legacy in so many areas and a kite line in his hand, deserves your consideration for a vote.

. . . . .Bob

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Vol.2-04: Kiting News: AKA Convention Highlights!

The 27th annual American Kitefliers Association Convention is being held in Seaside Oregon this week (Oct. 11-16, 2004). This is the third time the convention has been held on the beautiful beaches of Oregon.

KiteLife E-zine is providing daily coverage of the events in picture and text essays. To view these stories and keep up with the news from kiting's largest gathering of dedicated kite flyers, just go to the KiteLife web site and click on the picture link to the daily stories. It makes fascinating reading.

Ontario flyers in attendance include Dr. Merv Cooper and Lam Hoac of Toronto Kitefliers and Vaino Raun of our club, the Niagara Windriders. Likely Vaino will post some of his own pictures on return and we will keep you advised of that.

Brief reminder: The final Club Fly of the 2004 season will be held at H.H. Knoll - Lakeview Park in Port Colborne on Sunday, October 31st. A newsletter with details and other kiting information will be emailed around October 23rd.

. . . Bob