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 in the United States called the American Kitefliers Association? And there’s something called competitive stunt kiting.

As you might expect, the people who compete in stunt kiting competitions are interesting folks. At Collectors Weekly, they’ve got a profile of Richard Dermer. He is a pizza shop owner and kite-collector. The walls of Dermer’s pizza joint are covered in kites from all over the world. That is impressive enough. But it’s not his only accomplishment. 

Dermer worked at Hideaways, one of the first pizza places in Oklahoma. It opened in the late 1950s, when pizza was an exotic food. He bought the joint in 1960. He delivered pizzas in these weird Volkswagen Beetles. They were painted like Herbie and lady bugs. Then, 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. He eventually became 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 history on kite flying. In India, for example, kite flying is a fierce. It is a sometimes violent sport. In Thailand, kite battles reflect the war of the sexes between men and women. Kites were used in World War II. They were used to distract German planes and for target practice.

When Dermer started stunt-kiting, it was pretty new. All the kits were triangular, they all looked about the same. But soon, Dermer told Collectors Weekly, that changed. 

“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, ever the innovator, set up the new rules. They were for judging these stunt kite competitions. They take into account how much control the flier has and the difficulty of the moves. It also takes into account 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, for kids and adults alike. He’s even made kites at weddings out of napkins. Really, Dermer sounds like the life of any party.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What makes kite-flying a popular pastime?
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COMMENTS (39)
  • jordanw-orv
    4/16/2018 - 12:34 p.m.

    In the picture it shows kites that look like animals and other stuff, but what I wonder is how are those kits legal in a kite race or whatever? Also I think its cool that this guy that you thought was a pizza owner was also a kite flyer, and the owner of this huge association.

  • 24crmcke
    4/17/2018 - 10:57 a.m.

    It makes a popular past time because they used kites in WWII. They did this to use the kites for target practice. If you ask me this is really cool because they used kites to fool them for German planes.

  • sophiac-buh
    4/19/2018 - 10:12 a.m.

    In America, there is something called an American Kitefliers Association. Kiteflying is competitive as well. It is called competitive stunt kiting. One of the people that do stunt flying owns a pizza place the pizza place's wall is covered with kites. Richard (the person that owns the pizza place) is also a kite collecter. He opened his first pizza place in the 1950's when pizza was seen as an exotic food. Later Richard became the president of the American Kitefliers Association.

    My opinion: I think its weird that pizza was an exotic food and that stunt kiting is actually a sport!

  • 24ajdunc
    4/24/2018 - 10:28 a.m.

    Because when it was world war 2 that what they did to trick the other people for distractions.Because if they where distracted they could seek in.

  • destinys-orv
    5/02/2018 - 02:02 p.m.

    it makes a popular past time because they kites in wwII

  • ArathC-wil
    5/04/2018 - 09:56 a.m.

    These kits are a better and more durable material than they were before.

  • RaulA-wil
    5/04/2018 - 09:58 a.m.

    That the cool part was when they used kites in WW2 and now that they dont use kites anymore.

    • ArathC-wil
      5/04/2018 - 10:06 a.m.

      They used the kites in WWII for target practice and to distract German planes and bomber planes to stop the attack.

      • HectorR-wil1
        5/04/2018 - 10:10 a.m.

        only german aircrafts

  • MarcP-wil
    5/04/2018 - 10:00 a.m.

    it never said anything about india

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