My kite and I managed to hold up Royalty, honest!

by Ken Lyon
(London, England)

Back in my student days, which seems so long ago... I was down in London, England that is. I'm told there are a few others!

The college I was going to at the time was in Kensington Gore. More famous for the Albert Hall of Prom Concerts phenomenon. It runs along the side of Hyde Park / Kensington Gardens. Any way.

Flying At Hyde Park

For my sins, I used to fly my kites just over the road in Hyde Park, at the round pond. Google it, it's got a long history of kite flying associated with it. Lovely set of old timers, all dedicated to their own creations, mostly Bird kites of one sort or another.

This was back in the late 70's I'm talking here. My skills didn't stretch at the time to anything as fancy as a bird kite. But I had mastered the use of a sewing machine (god bless my old mum) and was working my way through the plans in The Penguin Book of Kites by David Pelham, a real classic! High tech. stuff for me. Rip stop / alloy spars, that sort of thing.

Kiting's good for you for all sorts of reasons, as you all well know. Gets you out in the fresh air, good for raising your spirits. Even exercise when one gets away from you!

Well this particular day I was struggling a bit with my work at college. Things were getting me down. I know, I thought, go fly a Kite! Never fails to bring me out of myself. Also very good for inspiration. I seem to get a lot of good ideas while hanging on to the end of a piece of string that's pointing skyward.

This was a particularly cold day in Feb. Freezing in fact, but sunny. So I wrapped up warm. Grabbed my latest creation. A lovely bright red Roller, in rip stop and alloy, beautiful! Still have it some where. Lovely gentle breeze, perfect for my Roller I thought. It's got a sprung bridle which means it'll fly in most conditions bar a hurricane. It went skyward like a rocket. Very exciting. So much so, I over enthused and let her go up way too high. If you took your eye off her you'd lose her, despite being bright red against a pure, bright almost white sky. I mean seriously high!

I mentioned hurricanes there, not in Hyde Park London. But mid Feb. in England, we do get some pretty good snow storms. The sky suddenly was just a complete white out. What to do? Well for my sins, and the mood I was in I thought, sod it...

Tucked my reel under my arm, under my coat, and headed over to one of the little roofed shelters they have in the park, to wait it out for a while. Seemed like a good idea at the time. What else was I going to do with my day. Was kind of fun being in the park in a snow storm. There wasn't another soul to be seen in the park just me and a length string (obviously not just string, give me some credit).

The Police Arrive

Then I saw some local bobbies, sorry police men, wandering about looking for something. Eventually one headed over to me. Remember at this point I'm under a shelter and the reel's hidden under my coat. I'm thinking, someone's been mugged and he's going to ask have I seen anybody around.

'Excuse me sir'. They're always very polite even when they're about to arrest you! Not that that's ever happened to me. Are you flying a kite? Gulp! 'Yes officer'. Please can you bring it down, we have a helicopter trying to land at Kensington Palace. And your kite is preventing it!

Now I reckon a few minutes to make radio contact and connect with the local police station. A good few minutes more to get some bodies out into the park and I watched the poor guys scanning the horizons in the park for at least another 10. So all in all I must have held up the chopper for over a half an hour.

A Royal Helicopter?!

I'm pretty sure it's only Royalty that would be using that sort of transport to get in to Kensington Palace. I'm also, pretty sure The Duke of York and Fergie were in residence there at the time. So he may well have been at the controls. I know he used to do that, him being a helicopter pilot at the time.

No prosecution, I'm glad to say. Though I'm sure they could have. I must have been well above the legal flying heights permitted. The police man just watched while I wound in the kite, you can imagine how long that took! And the embarrassment. When I'd done, he just walked away. He was probably laughing like a drain inside. Took me a while before I saw the funny side, I can tell you.

Well that's my story, absolutely true I promise! You can contact Kensington Palace, or the Duke of York. I'll bet he remembers.

A quick P.S.

Just in case you have any members in Japan. While at college there, I had a friend in the same department by the name of Kiechi Kawahara, I think that's how you spell it. We used to fly kites together around the pond. We've lost touch since those days. He returned home after college, I heard, and is some thing big in the design world now. But you never know he may be a returning flyer, now we're both of a retiring age. He was born in Nagasaki, so had a long tradition of kite flying. His wife came over once and brought me a Nagasaki Hata. Beautiful hand made fighting kite. White with a large slashing bright red cross angled across it's face. Long since lost it, unfortunately. It would be lovely to get in touch again. Any body out there know of him?

But I'm back to it now. And have a really good flying site very close, at Blyth Hill, here in South London. Not too well frequented except for a couple of Jamaican guys who fly their own home made traditional kites with lovely home made winders as well. Really good to see and really friendly, aren't all us flyers though?

Have a hankering to make a really big bird kite. I've got it all worked out in my head. All I've got to do is make it!

Ken Lyon. If any one wants to get in touch, I have a Hotmail account, name is 'kenthemodel'.

Comments for My kite and I managed to hold up Royalty, honest!

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Great post
by: Tim Parish

Thanks Ken - your lengthy rambling post is a breath of fresh air in an age when very brief FB comments are more common!

My own brush with Royalty was when Prince Charles asked me 'So you like Fanta do you?' as he walked past during a visit to Alice Springs in the 70s. Nothing to do with kites (I happened to have a can of Fanta in hand), but it just came to mind...

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to YOUR Kite Making Stories!.

What's New!

  1. Diamond Kite Plans

    Feb 14, 18 06:00 AM

    This previously published page displays detailed plans for the Dowel Diamond, the 2-Skewer Diamond and the 1-Skewer Diamond kites. The Dowel and 2-Skewer versions are amazing in light wind! ...

    Read More



Kite-making e-book: Simplest Dowel Kites

This one's FREE
Download it now!

More E-books...


"Love the easy to understand step by step instructions, made from next to nothing materials and above all so much fun to fly... cheers Tim for sharing your well thought out pdf kite designs with the whole world.

Very satisfying making your own and watching them get air-born for the first time."


"I decided to run kite making as an elective again on this camp in the past week - so I bought all your e-books, a bunch of materials, and then took a group of 10 high school students through making the kites over 4 days. We built a diamond, a Barn Door, a Delta, and two skew delta kites. Again - every single kite flew."


"I've just bought your super e-book and spent most of last night pouring through all the great stuff in it!

Very detailed and USEFUL information - thanks for such a great book."


"30+ years ago, I tried making a kite using the 'instructions' in a free kite-safety booklet. What a disappointment for a young boy.

 Your instructions and methods are wonderful. You help the builder to focus on accuracy, without making it hard. Also, you use materials that are durable, yet cheap!"


"omg i made a kite from this site and i fly it ....... booom i didnt expect this bc in the other sites instuction are trash

thank you"

Kite-making e-book: Simplest Dowel Kites

This one's FREE
Download it now!

More E-books...

Wind Speeds

Light air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2    

Gentle breeze
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3    

Moderate breeze
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4    

Fresh breeze
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5    

Strong breeze
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7