The Third Annual Kite Tournament of the Los Angeles City School District was held April 3, 1909. It was a glorious day but the wind was quite uncertain, changing from a northerly direction in the morning to a southerly direction in the afternoon. The tournament began at about 2 o'clock; some of the boys brought their lunch and were on the grounds by eight in the morning. There was not sufficient breeze at the beginning to support the large kites and it looked quite discouraging, these kites only pulling about 2 lbs., but by three o'clock some of the kites began to break away and our fears were removed.
It was a magnificent sight when all the various creations of color, shape and energy were exhibited. The interest is ever increasing with both the children and the parents and a great assembly was present to witness the contest. Larger kites and more complex construction were attempted than heretofore. A good start was made on trussed construction and interest did not cease with the tournament. Many are planning to secure a prize next year. One kite had a windmill inside its frame which gave motor power to work a lever which caused a head to wag above the kite. One example of the sort is enough to start a whole new field of possibilities. Electricity will probably be used for a similar purpose next year. Simple diplomas stating the feat in which the contestant excelled were given to the victors. The diplomas were 5 1/2 in. x 8 1/2 in., printed with brown ink on a light tan paper.
Second Prize, Artistic Kite - Tournament Of 1909, Los Angeles, California.
A number of girls entered this year but do not like to compete with the boys except in artistic make-up and decorative features, so a number of feats exclusively for girls will be added next time. The small boy too is hard pressed and so a place will be given for fifth grade and under.
The spirit of the whole occasion was excellent - no bitter strife of one school with another - each child enthusiastic about the whole affair, and all the thousands of children, while excited, were genteel and happy.
Many a boy works on his kite for a month or more. At first, some of the members of the family will be very indifferent, but by the time the kite is finished, father, as well as the rest, is making suggestions, and they turn out in full force to see Bobbie win the prize. Sometimes the simpler kites with inexpensive materials are superior to the opposite. In nearly every case there is a very willing submission to the decision of the judges. In a race, one wins and the others must lose, so the children are learning valuable lessons for life in their own contests.
The larger boys try for the difficult feats of skill and strong pulling. Two kites seemed almost alike, but when the scales were applied one pulled 34 pounds while the other registered but 28 pounds. This comparison brought out further study in which it was found that one had a curve that the lighter puller did not have.
Only two yachts were in condition at the time for the race, then one of the kites kept breaking away so the one left made its ascent of 400 feet where the sail was tripped and the yacht spun down to its proud owner, making the round trip in about 2 1/2 minutes.
Perhaps the most exciting feat was the quarter mile dash. Out of ten entries but seven started; the string was all measured and handed to the boys at the time for starting. Each boy was to start his kite, play out 1320 feet of string, and when it was all out he could attach it to a reel and wind it in as fast as possible. Each boy was entitled to one helper and they were timed by one of the judges. Policemen kept the crowd back from the lines. Very soon three kites were far in the lead, some getting mixed up, one failing to carry all the string, etc. See! one is at the end of his string and is winding in; now another is winding in; the third, soon after starting to wind in, catches his kite way out in yonder tree, and snap goes the string! The other two are working to their limit, one winding in a little over a yard at each turn; up the kites mount in the sky; now to this side, now to that; they are being pulled unmercifully. Now one is nearly overhead! Noisy? No; the excitement is too great to even yell. Here comes the first one right down with a bang on the heads of the spectators. It is not allowed to remain there, however, but is dragged right into the reel. The second follows hard after, and so the race is over. There was a prolonged yell about this time, Nat Stockwell of the Union Avenue School had won first place, and Elgin McNarry of McKinley Avenue second. The crowd about the boys shut off all breeze and to say that the boys perspired freely is putting it very mildly.
A real glider was brought on by one of the boys; it was very interesting at the time, and also instructive for next year's construction. An attempt was made to glide for a short distance but a gust of wind caught the aeroplane and forced one corner to the ground, snapping off a post.
One event looked very serious for a time but had no serious consequences. A lad had entered the wireless competition and had laid good plans; he had aluminum wire for a conductor from his kite and had the ground wire attached to a water hydrant. A gust of wind, however, snapped his kite loose and let the wire drop across the trolley wire.
An Old Bicycle Brought Into Service In The Los Angeles Tournament.
When the kite broke loose he became confused and got tangled in his wire. The current was sufficient to stun him and he fell. As soon as he was removed he revived and was taken home immediately. The boy claims he did not have any bad effects from the schock. This is reported that others may be cautious how they handle wire kite lines near trolley systems. The program of the tournament was as follows:
Group I. - a. Bird kite; b. Insect kite; c. Artistic kite; d. Best decorated kite; e. Animal kite; f. Man kite; g. Suspended Figures; h. Star kite.
Group II. - a. Strong puller (over 3 1/2 feet); b. Strong puller (under 3 1/2 feet) ; c. Yacht race; d. Quarter mile dash; e. Parachutes; f. Kite antics; g. High flyer.
Group III. - a. Balloon ascension (endurance); b. Balloon ascension (beauty); c. Wireless operations; d. Photograph from kite; e. Dragon kites; f. Aeroplane as kite; g. Real glider.
Group IV. - a. Smallest plain kite; b. Smallest box kite; c. Quick construction of kite; d. Kites with moving parts; e. Best invention; f. Reels; g. Windmill kites.
A few of the winners are shown by the photographs, but the colors are missing, a very important feature in the kite's appearance.