An Interview With Glenn Davison

This interview with Glenn Davison was conducted on the 17th Feb., 2010.

1. What event or individual kite really sparked your interest in Miniature Kites? What sub-area of Miniature kiting cemented your desire to actually document Miniature kiting for the rest of us?

I used to build indoor model airplanes. When I began building kites I continued to use many of the same lightweight materials and techniques. I was motivated by seeing people flying kites indoors and I knew I could build kites lighter so they would fly better. My first was a tissue paper delta and my second was an indoor Cody that was transparent. It was made from balsa wood and a thin transparent film that's much lighter than plastic wrap and therefore it few very well. I was encouraged to build smaller kites by Paul Berard.

I guess the book about miniature kites and the web site were a result of people asking questions about miniature kites. The Miniatures web site grew and I knew that people wanted more plans and building information so I put together two guides, "Twenty Miniature Kite Plans" and "How to Build Miniature Kites." See the link at the bottom of this page.

2. What was your most memorable moment when introducing some aspect of kiting to a non-kiter or a group of non-kiters?

There are too many memorable moments to mention. That's why I stick with kiting... because I can do one thing today and something completely different next week. I always like to try something new.

I fondly remember teaching a group of five people at First Beach in Rhode Island how to fly my Prism stunt kite. After teaching hundreds of people I still don't know why that day stands out. I've had great times with non-kiters in Taipei, Taiwan, Bogota, Colombia, Antigua and at sunset in Boracay! I fondly remember talking to people during Night Flies at Wildwood and Kites On Ice and giving lessons in Newport. I like to say these words, "want to try my kite?"

3. What is the earliest kiting experience you can remember, and how did it make you feel at the time?

When I was a boy I must have seen a fighter kite somewhere so I built one from newspaper. The kite looked cool and I put the symbol "phi" on the front. It looked great so I was pleased with it. Looking back on it, the spreader was too stiff and it was too heavy to fly. The funny thing is that my dad told the same story about building his first kite and it was also too heavy to fly.

4. What do you enjoy the most and why?

Oh there are so many things. I enjoy designing, building, flying quad-line kites and single-line kites, demonstrating and giving lectures and presentations about kites. I love flying quad.

Right now I'm the chair of the AKA's Education Committee. It's a big committee so it's fun, but lots of work too. I'd like to give students more awareness of kites. Science teachers always make paper airplanes with kids but they rarely make kites! Right now we are talking about National Kite Month.

5. You seem to be active in so many arenas of kiting. Do you have any favorite statistics you like to quote when interacting with onlookers?

I tell them about my 252 sq. foot kite, 100 foot tails, running 50 workshops for the AKA, spending 20 hours to build a kite, a kite that spent 7 hours aloft, flying indoors, flying at night and meeting my wife at a kite festival.

6. You have described yourself as a 'Kite Artist'. Could you expand on what that means to you?

To me it means designing and building beautiful kites that are different from production kites. I like to trying something new and getting it to fly. I often experiment with shapes and keep the graphics simple. Kites can be beautiful for their colors, shapes, designs, tails or all of them combined. I've done many kite exhibits and people are really amazed at the possibilities.

7. What individual kite that you have made has brought you the most satisfaction? Satisfaction with which aspect of making or flying the kite, exactly?

I get satisfaction from trying something new and finding out that it flies well. New designs give unexpected results. For example, I built a tiny butterfly that sometimes will flap it's wings in flight. One of my designs flew better upside down! I'm very pleased with an indoor rev that I built with orcon (reinforced plastic) and carbon.

8. Looking to the near future... What accomplishment in the world of kite making, flying or education are you looking forward to the most?

I feel like I've only gotten started. I have about a half-dozen events planned with kite workshops and lectures. I'd like to have more.

I have four large kites in various stages of completion and books filled with sketches. I need to replace a worn-out miniature kite with an improved version and I have many boxes that cry out to be filled with kites! I'd like to build larger versions of some of my miniaure kites and miniature versions of some of my large kites. I'd like to try an animated kite with more than four lines. I'd like to build at least one more Rokkaku and I'd really like to build a train of many kites. Maybe more than one train I have more experimenting to do with vented kites and layered and cellular kites are some of my many favorites.

Glenn Davison is an eco-artist and workshop leader who has been featured on HGTV as a New England Craftsman. He is the editor of the books, "Kites in the Classroom," "How to Fly a Kite," and the "Guide to Building Miniature Kites." Glenn Davison is a director of the club, “Kites Over New England” and Chairman of the Education Committee for the American Kitefliers Association.

Some more links:


Kites in the Classroom

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What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Carbon Diamond High Wind Experiment

    Sep 23, 14 01:22 AM

    This day's flying had been anticipated for at least a couple of weeks. A 'drag bucket' added to the tail end of the 2m (7ft) span Carbon and Tyvek Diamond was an attempt to raise the upper limit on the flyable wind speed for the kite. From earlier experiences it seems the unmodified Diamond becomes unstable at around 30 kph.

    The first flight was done with the drag bucket adjusted for fairly minimal effect. As half expected, the kite soon started to fly way over to the left and right. So, the wind speed up there must be at least 30kph! This was down at Brighton Beach, but all thoughts of doing KAP soon evaporated, due to the high wind speed. Not to mention the turbulence coming from some high buildings directly upwind.

    For a second attempt, the Velcro fastener was re-adjusted to considerably open up the intake of the bucket. The bucket being two Tyvek flaps which come together over the tail-most region of the sail. This had an immediate effect. More stability! Unfortunately, the extra drag also helped keep the kite at a lowish line angle in some of the fiercer gusts. Lots of line tension ensued, with a huge amount of distortion apparent in the sail.

    At this rate, something was going to break pretty soon, so I struggled to get the kite down to the sand. After shifting the towing point forward by about 3cm (1") the kite seemed a little more comfortable. When the sail of a Diamond distorts badly, it reduces the amount of effective area below the towing point. This is like shifting the towing point back - adding to the problems of too much wind!

    And then the inevitable happened. The already broken-and-repaired horizontal ferrule gave way and the kite promptly folded up and sank to the sand. But not before I had carefully observed every second of the kite's struggles, trying to learn more about Diamond kite behavior in high winds.

    Just an hour after arriving home, the weather station at the nearby airport was reporting gusts to 50kph! It was less further down the coast, but I suspect the Carbon Diamond felt the brunt of around 40kph for at least a few seconds at a time.

    "Simplest Dowel Kites": A free but very useful kite-making e-book. Make a super-simple Sled, Diamond and Delta - step-by-step with photos. Sign up for the e-book and get an emailed series of messages called "MBK Tips'n'Ideas". If you don't need the e-book, consider signing up anyway... You won't believe the value on offer in that message series!

    Read More

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