There were a number of options when it came to looking at the history of The Kiteflier. We could go over the founding history, the way that the ‘old’ regime was cast off and a new one put in place. Another option was to take something from each issue and reproduce it here—but that has been done before for other anniversaries.
In the end we decided that it would be interesting to take a snapshot at the 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 year marks and see how the shape of kite flying in the UK has changed. These snapshots are simply taken from the content of that years Kiteflier magazines (or K.O.N. in the early days), this is more in the way of ease of access, all of the Kiteflier issues are stored in the office whereas the other archives (with magazines from various clubs worldwide, shop catalogues, newspaper articles and so on) are in boxes in the attic. [One dream is to sort them all out one day].
5th Anniversary 1984. The April edition saw, for the first time, inclusion of the Midlands Kite Fliers News within the pages of the magazine. The MKF was also founded in 1979 although it is 5 months older than the Kite Society! The number of local groups listed in the April issue were 10 (of which 4 no longer exist). Shops and traders providing discount to members; nine (two of which were overseas, 4 of which no longer exist. Number of festivals listed—15. 1984 also saw the subscription rate increase from £3.00 to £4.00.
10th anniversary 1989. The January issue reproduced a safety code from the Drachen Club Deutschland. It goes on to say “To make sure our sport does not get a bad name and is not perhaps subject to certain restrictions each one of us should observe a few basic rules. Subscription rate was £6.00. The second STACK news was published in the pages of The Kiteflier. Number of festivals listed 10.
15th Anniversary 1994. The group directory listed 47 regional group and one national group. Of these 28 no longer exist. The trade list showed 93 shops/traders of which 57 no longer exist. Number of festivals listed 20 UK, 6 overseas. Of the UK festivals just 10 are still running in one form or another. Subscription rate £8.00.
Notable in the January 1994 issue was a full page from the Ian Meredith titles “Be a Safer Buggier”. This gave 11 simple rules for safer buggying at festivals. Nothing has really changed, safety is just as important today as it was then. Just to finalise the buggy theme (which shows how big it all was in 1994) Peter Lynn contributed a set of rules to cover buggy racing with the aim to get international agreement of the rules. The July issue announced the formal creation of the British Buggy Club, this announcement goes on to say “There is a need for a national independent organisation to help promote buggying and buggy skills throughout the UK and at all times keep the FUN aspect alive and kicking”.
Pin collecting was also a major happening around this time with most groups producing a pin of some sort. This extended to the traders as well, although it could be argued that it was a good way of making a bit of profit. The mania at the time was such that a new pin being spotted on the field led to a frenzy of people wanting to (preferably) swap pins but as a last resort buy one!
In July 1994 Andrew Tate wrote an article about Kites in Cyberspace and promotes the availability of Usenet and rec.kites. This talks about internet connectivity just becoming available via such suppliers as the BBC, CompuServe and CIX.
20th Anniversary 1999. Membership increases to £10.00 (first change since 1996). It is probably around this time that the popularity and availability of large inflatable kites becomes the norm. It is interesting to look at the events list in the January issue. There are some 15 main events listed an the majority of these are still running in 2004. It does appear that events have polarised around these main ones and there are very few new events on the calendar. It was in this year that a road was named after Vivian Comma the creator of the Kisskeedee kite.
25th Anniversay 2004. Membership still cost £10.00 The 2004 Handbook listed 118 traders and 36 regional and national groups. There were 39 events listed in the April addition. This was the the year of the Worlds Largest Kite's visit to the UK - flying in public for the first time at Portsmouth Kite Festival.
30th Anniversary 2009. A small rise in the membership cost to £11.00 during the last five years. Since July 2005 the magazine has been printed in-house with full colour covers and photo pages.
35th Anniversay 2014. Membership is now £12 and in 2010 an electronic subscription was introduced costing just £5. The number of main events has yet again decreased although there is a marked increase in kitefliers 'retreats' where collective kite making is undertaken.