STREET BEAT: Sky is the limit
EASTER IS traditionally kite flying season but some people go bigger than others.
For men like Nielo Mascoll and Keith Codrington, it is a case of go big or go home as building a 20- or 30-foot kite and flying it is par for their course.
Mascoll is part of a crew of like-minded kite builders who have turned Parris Hill, St Joseph, near Andrews factory, into an annual extravaganza with jumping tents, food, music, large crowds and of course the attempt to fly
a mammoth kite.
This year their 35-foot attempt failed to get off the ground for long but Mascoll proudly said their back-up kite, a 32-foot beast, flew all night long.
But why does he love kites so much and how did he get involved with building giant ones?
“I first flew from teenage days with practically the same group as now. We just decide to make and fly kites. The thing is, we just did it then for the fun of it – we never thought it would turn into something like this,” he said.
Mascoll said the first kites the group built ranged from 12 to 15 feet wide back in the 1980s. This was followed by a lull as the young men had other commitments. But the lure of building something that people would not believe could ever fly drew them back together.
“We got back together and started to build bigger ones but some failed so we modded them and in the last six to seven years we went into monster kites. It’s just a challenge to see how big you can get it and still get it to fly. Somebody would tell you ‘dah too big to fly’ but we would reply ‘dat ain’ true’,” he said.
Mascoll said while they built kites for the fun of it, it was serious business to build very large kites, requiring a team of people and technical know-how and everyone had their role to play.
“It is a lot of hard work, not a one-man feat. You have to be dedicated to build something of that size and look at things
like strength, scale and balance. Sometimes we do designs on the computer or by hand. We make our scales and go from there,” he said.
Some may say such a hobby is too childish for grown men to be concerning themselves with and is a waste of time and money serving no practical purpose. To that, Mascoll said what they did was no different from other people’s hobbies.
“Some people build cars, others race horses and we build big kites. We are enthusiasts like any other. You have to have a passion in life plus we don’t want to disappoint people. It is the li’l child in us coming out but there are big people looking forward to the event every year. We have grown to the point where other people have a passion for these kites,” he said.
As for Codrington, the self-styled “kite boss” is taking large kite building in a new direction using conduit for the bones. He said conduit allowed for more flexibility and when he was done, his kites could be folded up and packed away. He said his love of kites was something he was born with.
“Kites were always a boyhood thing but I get tired of seeing the simple kites with the same designs. I love three things: design, build and fly and that is why I use conduit. It is more flexible and anything is possible,” he said.
Codrington, who regularly flies 20-foot kites and once boasted of a 40-foot monster, said there was nothing childish about what he was doing as it took hard work, dedication and real smarts far beyond what a child would normally be capable of. He said his designs were created using the architectural, engineering, and construction software Autocad on his computer.
“Kites are for everybody. There’s so much engineering work involved and the hardest kite to build is one with a round edge. This causes you to think, so if you can’t conceptualise, you won’t get through but what I do is beyond child’s play,” he said.
“I start designing on the computer using Autocad and I do 3D modelling. It’s all about the joy of seeing it fly. It is 100 per cent passion.”
Codrington said it could get expensive but he was not stopping anytime soon. He said he had already built four kites in the space of a few days using materials from construction sites and already had plans for next year’s designs.