How a pizza maker changed the stunt-kite-flying world Kites of all shapes, sizes and colours are flying over a Christchurch beach. (Bernard Spragg. NZ/Flickr)
How a pizza maker changed the stunt-kite-flying world
Lexile

Did you know that there is something called the American Kitefliers Association? It is in the United States. There’s also something called competitive stunt kiting.

The people who compete in stunt kiting competitions are interesting folks. There’s a profile of Richard Dermer. It was at Collectors Weekly. He is a pizza shop owner. He is also a kite-collector. The walls of Dermer’s pizza joint are covered in kites. They are from all over the world. That is impressive enough. But it’s not his only accomplishment. 

Dermer worked at Hideaways. It is one of the first pizza places in Oklahoma. It opened in the late 1950s. This was when pizza was an exotic food. He bought the joint in 1960. He delivered pizzas. He delivered them in these weird Volkswagen Beetles. They were painted like Herbie. And they were painted like lady bugs. In 1970, his game-partner and manager at the Hideaway was the first to market the Japanese version of the game Go in the United States.

It was this game company that lead Dermer to kites. And from there he took off. Eventually he become president of the American Kitefliers Association.

Dermer now has a huge kite collection. He told Collectors Weekly:

“I was very much a novice. But I started learning. And the more we got into going to kite festivals and collecting kites, the more I discovered and the deeper the subject became. My kite-book library now runs over a hundred volumes. I learn stuff new every time I go to an event. And I think the kites out in the garage are multiplying when the lights are out.”

What does Dermer’s collection and hobby bring to the United States? It brings an international perspective. And it brings a history on kite flying. Take India, for example. Kite flying is fierce. It is sometimes a violent sport. Now take Thailand. Kite battles reflect the war of the sexes. It is between men and women. Kites were used in World War II. They were used to distract German planes. And they were used for target practice.

Dermer started stunt-kiting. He did so when it was pretty new. All the kits were triangular. They all looked about the same. But soon that changed. That’s what Dermer told Collectors Weekly. 

“In the ’80s and ’90s, kites went through quite a developmental phase where they were getting better and better as new lighter, stronger materials were being developed. Tubular fiberglass became obsolete when tubular graphite came along.” 

Dermer is ever the innovator. He set up new rules. They were for judging these stunt kite competitions. They take into account how much control the flier has. The difficulty of the moves. And the choreography. It’s a lot like ice skating or gymnastics, Dermer says.

Dermer’s next arena? Taking these stunt kites inside. He makes kites at schools. He makes them for kids and adults alike. He’s even made kites at weddings. He makes them out of napkins. Really, Dermer sounds like the life of any party.

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