Three-hundred of the nation’s top kite builders and kite fliers are demonstrating their soaring skills this week in central Iowa. David Gomberg, president of the American Kitefliers Association, says this convention in Des Moines is one of the world’s largest gatherings of kite fliers and the public is welcome to come see their creations take flight.
Gomberg, who lives in Oregon, says there are national level competitions both for kite artistry, kites made by those who are flying them, and for kite performance, people who fly maneuverable kites to music. They’ll do aerial ballet individually, in pairs and in teams, what he calls “kind of like the Blue Angels on strings.”
The kite fliers are holding daily mass ascensions which can include dozens, even hundreds of colorful, intricate kites. The two-line kites can fly at speeds up to 70 miles an hour and two people will stand, shoulder-to-shoulder, flying the colorful precision kites in such tight formation, he says “It’s really something remarkable to see.”
Gomberg says some people spend hundreds of hours building their kites for the artistry category, while those flying performance kites may only spend 40 or 50-dollars at a hobby store. He does have one very special, very expensive kite however which he says literally cost more than his first house. He calls it the Mega-Flag, a ten-thousand square foot kite that’s the world’s largest kite.
It’s a giant 3-D American flag measuring 130-feet by 80-feet that will be flown Thursday and Saturday. The competitions and demonstrations are underway each day from noon to five through Saturday at Water Works Park in Des Moines. Daily mass ascensions are at 12:30 P.M. There’s no charge to watch. For more information, surf to “aka.kite.org”.