Mr. (and Mrs.) Kite
Steve Hall and Christine Miller
Whether you’re looking for a diamond-shaped SpongeBob SquarePants kite or an ultra-impressive (and ultra-expensive) competition dual-line kite that glides as smoothly as a bird, you’ll find your passion soaring at Gone With the Wind Kites in Chico. Steve Hall and Christine Miller ditched their jobs at Toys R Us nearly a decade ago for the far less corporate venture of selling kites. While nearly all their business is done online, distributing kites around the globe, they also have a retail shop, the Chico International Kite Museum, and have even hosted a kite-making workshop by a master crafter. To get there, follow the flying kites down Thorntree Drive, off Cohasset Road on the way to the airport. On April 9 and 10, kite lovers are invited to get together for a “fun fly” at Brook’s Field in Wildwood Park. Miller gave us a tour of the shop, and then we posed a few questions to Hall.
What makes someone become a kite enthusiast?
Many things. It’s something that’s done outdoors. When I fly, my mind’s only on the flying. Dual-line kites [take concentration]. I started this as stress relief. And the wind is a fascinating thing. You just create art in the air.
It hear it can get pretty expensive.
[Years ago] I went to Craig’s Kites, which used to be in the Chico Mall. I thought, “Are we really going to pay $56 for a kite?” We went back the next day and bought another one. Top-end, competition kites can run $275 and up. It becomes quite addictive.
How’s a kite competition run?
It’s similar to ice skating competitions. There are compulsories, where you have to fly certain figures. Then they have ballet, and they fly in time and in sync with music. And then there’s freestyle.
Not anymore. It’s part of the learning process. But the kites [made of] rip-stop nylon are repairable. And I’ve never lost a kite.
You must have good string.
Line. It’s too expensive to be called string. For two-line kites, there’s a braided line that is low-stretch and slippery. You should replace it once a year, because it gets snagged [over time] and could break under pressure.
What’s a kite-flyer’s nightmare?
No wind. Or rain. That would pretty much be the worst thing competitively. No wind is the worst. You actually can fly in the rain. They’ll put on full rain gear. This is absolutely kite-flying season, but we fly year-round.