Monday, November 16, 2009


South Nags Head

I recently witnessed the worst weather on Outer Banks since my return two summers ago - a true Nor'easter.

Hwy 12 in Kitty Hawk

So much rain fell over the span of three days that unless you had high ground, you had a pool of water under your feet.

Between the highways in Kitty Hawk

Many ocean front homes have been under duress for years. Coastal erosion is a serious problem for these property owners. Once their septic system is compromised the Health Department condemns the house. There is no municipal waste treatment on this sandbar.

Indian chief statue stares North East

Nags Head Comfort Inn

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

HQ Kites Relocates USA Headquarters

Kite distributor expands business toward North Carolina’s Outer Banks

HQ Kites & Designs, Inc., a German-based kite & toy distribution company has announced plans to locate their North American headquarters in Powells Point, an Outer Banks community located in lower Currituck County. The new location will double their current footprint and provide office and warehouse space for products to be distributed to retail stores throughout North and South America. HQ Kites & Designs, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Invento, a privately-held corporation based in Rastede, Germany and founded in 1993. The company plans to begin operating at the new site by Novermber 30, 2009.

In both Europe and North America, the HQ brand is known for their wide range of high quality kites, ranging from easy-to-fly kites for children to power kites that are used for kiteboarding and snow kiting. HQ also produces a variety of lawn & garden d├ęcor and air toys.

The company chose to locate in Currituck County because of lower business costs, proximity to kite & kiteboarding retailers, and enhanced exposure for HQ’s product line and customer base. “HQ is excited to be operating from the Outer Banks, home of the Wright Brothers first flight, and now the ‘Mecca of Windsports’ for kite flying, kite surfing, and windsurfing. Being on the Outer Banks will open up marketing opportunities for our business. Because so many people come here to enjoy the natural resources, it offers great exposure for our products,” stated Chris Shultz, Vice President of Sales. “The quality of life for our employees will be enhanced by living the lifestyle inspired by our products.”

About HQ Kites

HQ Kites & Designs USA is a national sales and distribution company located in Chesapeake, Virginia. As a 100% subsidiary of Invento GmbH from Germany, HQ Kites has an international background using a worldwide network of designers and engineers to ensure the highest level of innovation and quality. Our entire line of HQ Kites™, Windspiration™ lawn and garden spinners, HQ Powerkites and other outdoor toys are created for fun and engineered to last.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hood River

HQ Kites recently introduced the NEO II to the kiteboarding industry during the AWSI trade show in Hood River, Oregon.

The event featured over 30 exhibitors set up outdoors along the scenic Columbia River Gorge, which is famous for wind.

New team rider Willie Stacey of Idaho joined HQ USA staffers Craig Young and myself for the demonstrations and product presentations. Retailers from across Canada, USA, and South America were on hand to test new products in ideal conditions.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Downwinder to New Inlet

Craig Young and I avoided the crowds at Real's Triple-S on Sunday. They had sceduled a "Planet of the Apes" run. Instead, we crusied downwind from KHK in Waves to the New Inlet. Winds were pretty smooth averaging around 20 mph. I flew my 8m NEO and at first thought I might be a little underpowered. But as we took off I realized it was perfect. It allowed me some freedom to really try different things and work on my transitions. Did my first backroll. Rode toe side for the first time on the water (been doing on land with my ATB). And really figured out how to jump...just need to work on those landings! It really felt like my skill reached another level. One step closer to some wave riding on the ocean.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

HQ Powerkites World Tour stop - OBX

Beautiful weather welcomed the HQ Powerkites World Tour to the Outer Banks (OBX).

Our destination on Saturday was the cashmere sands of Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head, North Carolina.

Jockey’s Ridge is like a dream. Atop the 100 foot (30 m) dunes are spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and Albemarle Sound waters with clean winds from any direction. Best of all there is plenty of soft and forgiving sand for jumping, scudding, kite flying and hang gliding. Between the dunes are small, hard-packed areas that can be ridden with a buggy. However, Craig Young demonstrated how a buggy with standard wheels and a large kite could roll right over dunes. Warm temperatures, sunny skies and winds of 15 mph+ made for a fun filled day. The entire HQ Powerkite range was available for trial and the HQ Team USA staff (Tim Baxmeyer, Melanie Pargmann & myself) was on hand to offer free lessons and guidance. New friends were made and that evening we retreated to a local tavern for a BBQ deck party and views of the sunset over the water.On Sunday, the tour headed 30 miles (50 km) south to Waves, North Carolina on Hatteras Island. Chris Moore and his fine staff hosted the day’s events at the new Kitty Hawk Kites flagship store and kiteboarding resort, which featured lots of action with the NEO and Hydra water relaunchable kites. Many kite boarders gave the NEO a trial. Some beginners used the 8m NEO for their first body drags. A line of novices gathered in the water to use Hydra trainers for their introduction to the sport. There is nothing like getting pulled head first into the water for the very first time! Again, Mother Nature smiled and provided us with southwest winds of 15-20 mph, sunny skies and warm 61 F (16 C) water temperatures.

It is a good feeling when you wake on Monday with sore muscles. The Outer Banks is kiting Nirvana and we long to return for another session.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

NABX - North American Buggy Expo

Once known as the Spring Break Buggy Blast, this has been an annual event on the Ivannaph dry lake for years. Located on the state line of Nevada - California, it offers not only great venue for land sailing, but cheap lodging at the Terrible's Resorts nearby in Primm, NV.

Nearly 200 wind enthusists gathered on the lake bed. This year offered a lot of wind...with two days providing 35+ mph winds and gust up to 50+.

Matched my personal best speed of 55 mph in a buggy. A teamrider from Holland hit 77?!?!?!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Smithsonian Kite Festival

A soggy forecast did not damper the fun and enthusiasm at this popular annual DC event in its 43rd year. The crowds were lighter than usual because of the cloudy skies and muddy grounds. But it was exciting to see the cherry blossom buds popping and to be flying kites again on the National Mall.

Having not been to the event in over seven years I thoroughly enjoyed seeing old friends from the region. One old friend was Patrick Callahan and after catching up we agreed to compete together as a team in the popular Rokkaku Battle to occur at the end of the day. If you’re unfamiliar with a Rok battle, it is a western take on a kite fight (aka The Kite Runner). The object is to down or cut the other kites out of the sky. Last one flying is the winner.

A number of small exhibit tents lined the edge of one field with booths from the Swedish and Czech Republic embassies, Smithsonian kite history, green energy promoters and so on. I was recruited to assist with kite building at the American West Indies booth where they gave away the kites for free. These Dracon Foundation “sugar glider” kites were made from paper and bamboo sticks and got their name from their resemblance to flying squirrels.

One of the hallmarks of the Smithsonian Festival is the kite competition where only homebuilt kites are allowed to enter.

As with many things in life, a good story and fancy dress can put you ahead.

Xtreme Green Team

Dressing for the job they want, not the job they have.

As the Rokkaku Battle approached, Patrick was nowhere to be found. My friend Jim Cosca had been recruited to battle with the ladies from the graphics department of his former employer - Premier Kites. The ladies brought yellow battle shirts with the team name ironed on the front: Screamin' Jim and the Ripstop Girls.

I made my way onto the field thinking Patrick would eventual show. When it was announced that each team required a minimum of two members, they singled me out as the only team short. I wanted to battle! So I needed to act quickly. I turned to the on looking crowd standing at the edge of the roped off field and loudly pronounced “Anyone here want to run around this field with me and fly a kite?” A moment passed with no takers. Suddenly, a lady shouted, “I will!” and she stepped on the field to join the fray.

With only a minute remaining, I gave her (Amy) some basic information – “I need you to help launch the kite, then run back to me and hold the line winder.” The battle fielded fourteen teams and we came in fourth during the first heat. Along the way we engaged another kite and cut them from the sky! Our kite only came down because we ran out of wind. I needed to make a bridle adjustment before the second heat.

Along the way, I was feeding Amy information about how to fight in the battle and basic kiting tips. Despite my adjustments, our Mona Lisa adorned kite was not quite right after launching the second time and we were quickly downed. It was a kite from my old collection of Premier Kites (yeah, I once worked there, too). It had a defect – the top tie lines for the spreader / keel connection was sewn three inches too far to the left. As a result it snaked the spine badly, making it unstable in flight. Without the tie off, the spreaders would slip and flatten the kite too much. This is what occurred during the 2nd flight. So for the third and final heat I was able to rip off the cord and connect the spine to spreader directly with a knot. It held for battle. However, we were outmaneuvered by the eventual winners (The Midnight Squadron from Laurel, Maryland) and we probability came down in the middle of the pact. Not too bad for taking a volunteer from the audience.

Monday, March 16, 2009

HQ Powerkites World Tour stop > OBX

The World-Tour comes to the Outer Banks of North Carolina – famous for wind and the birthplace of flight.

On April 18th we stop at Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head, North Carolina – the largest natural sand dunes on the East Coast. Located just across the street from the Kitty Hawk Kites flagship store. Here you can test fly all the new power kites on the soft, forgiving sands. Access to the shallow waters of the Albemarle Sound is available behind the park.

That evening we’ll meet for a refreshments and BBQ at the Blue Crab Tavern, courtesy of HQ Kites.

On April 19th the tour continues south to Hatteras Island and the village of Waves, one of the best kite boarding destinations in the country. The best surf on the East Coast can also be found on the Atlantic Ocean side. Kitty Hawk Kites will host us at their new store and kite boarding resort, where miles of shallow waters and constant winds create an amazing flat water riding paradise. An ideal environment to try the HQ NEO and Hydra. Join us for a test ride and deck party.

For travel information to the Outer Banks, visit

Thursday, February 19, 2009


After a busy New York Toy Fair event, Tim and myself packed the HQ minivan and drove to Vermont to participate in Kitestorm. There was not much snow on the frozen lake Champlain. So everyone discovered how easy it is to edge on ice with skis powered by kites.
HQ ran the busiest and best stocked demo area by far. Tim and I worked hard for the entire two days helping riders check out the Apex, Montana and the new water-relaunchable Neo.

My only regret was twisting my ankle while walking across the ice. Yeah. Walking. Three weeks later it still bothers me.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lost at sea


Be on the lookout for an 11m NEO blowing south from the Galveston ship channel on a course to Mexico.

A case of lost kite at sea. This is what happens when you fly in offshore winds without a kite leash. A valiant attempt to rescue was made. Phil ran to his truck, donned his wetsuit and paddled out on a surf no avail.

Flashback to 1994, when I lost Katy's gift 12 foot Sun Oak delta to sea when I flew it on too light a line. We helplessly watched it blow untethered, not touching the water until it was out of sight.

Photos from East Beach

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Get a REAL job

My beginnings in the kite industry started with Kitty Hawk Kites, the World's Largest Hang Gliding School and Kite Store in Nags Head, North Carolina when I was fresh out of high school. My Greek mother would sometimes ask when I was going to get a real job. Kites. pppppffffff. At the time I had graduated from university and was no longer flying kites every summer day on Jockey's Ridge State Park for the local retailer. No more outdoor fun on the dole. Now it was retail management. And starting to see some real money. Little did I know that twenty years later I would still be in the industry. Shout out to my high school friend, Marc Conklin, hooking me up with that first KHK job as kite flier.

Now, I'm a member of KPEC (Kite Producers Economic Council) and along with other members from companies such as Premier, Skydog, Into The Wind, and HQ Kites, conducted meetings at the 21st annual KTAI Kite Trade Show and Convention this past week in Destin, Florida. Let me tell you...expectations are high for kites in 2009.

Good friends of mine who started a new venture, Skydog Kites, debuted their company and won Best Booth. HQ Kites & Designs took home some acrylic for the Best New Kite of the Year with our Giant Magic Star.

The original design by Ralf Dietrich easily won first place at the 3rd World Kite Championships in Weifang, China with the Han Bao Sing (red star). The star's key data: 25 sqm spinnaker, 15m of 8mm carbon rods, 600m edging, 1400m thread and 892 individual parts. A large kite at 3.3m by 3.3m.

Around 18 companies exhibited at the show with 35 or so retail stores represented. A very small show compared to the size ten years ago. What remains is a hard core group of retailers and manufacturers that generally treat it like a class reunion. How many places in the world can you go to find a barroom filled with people that have over 20 years of experience selling kites?

Look no further than the 22nd annual show, scheduled for the end of January 2010 in Primm, Nevada.

Pictures of the HQ Kites booth...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Secret Kite Festival

A kite festival is a very public event intended to promote the art and sport of kite flying. The "Secret Kite Festival" was just the opposite - an invitation only, week long party centered around a group of friends celebrating the New Year.

Katy and I flew in the morning of New Year's Eve, arriving in Gainesville in plenty of time for the Aoxomoxoa party at Dean Jordan's that evening. It was a DOTA reunion. And it was beautiful.

The party lasted until Friday when we drove to St. Augustine to continue the festivities along the shore. We booked rooms at the St. Aug Beach Resort that sits on the south side of the lovely Anastasia State Park. We picnicked, flew kites and entertained the passersby and beach goers.

pictures here

What a great way to bring in the New Year.

Wishing you a great 2009!