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Eric Brackenbury - Local Kite Flier

"If you can combine fear and logic, you will survive" is Eric's personal credo. One of Ottawa's earliest kiters, Eric has kite-skied and kite-snowboarded, kite-buggied, kite-surfed and kite-catamaraned. He established the Ottawa Valley Kite Club in the mid 1980's and was President until the year 2000.

A 67 year old senior, he has been clocked going 83.5 kilometres an hour tethered to a kite, being literally blown across the frozen Lake Dore, near Eganville. Eric explains, " I first tried it (kiting) on ice with a 10 foot wide, early two-line traction kite. From then on I was hooked. After cutting my kite lines the first time by accidentally skating over them, I decided to switch over to skis and haven't looked back."

Eric, 60+ years old, kiteskis at Britannia

That was almost 30 years ago. "For me it all started with a three-wheeled stainless steel buggy, which I would sail on the local soccer fields, and at the beach, and at Sandbanks Provincial Park, " he recalls.

Eric has designed, built and installed kites for the National Gallery, the National Arts Centre, the children's section at the Carp Branch of the Ottawa Public Library,The Canadian Language School in Hull, a 45.6 meter long kite for a new school in Barrhaven that gives the illusion it is moving across the library and through a glass wall, leaping effortlessly to the ceiling of a two storey atrium.

"The smallest kite I ever built was only a couple of inches and the biggest 252 square feet". A few have been his traveling companions at events around the world. While there are pockets of kite-flying enthusiasts scattered throughout Canada, it is a sport with much greater profile in Japan, India and Europe.

"Quebec has it's own federation and they get provincial funding. I love going to the small communities in Quebec where they create the most amazing kite festivals." It all started in Erie, Pennsylvania on Lake Erie ( that's where the Kite-skating began). Kiting trips that Eric remembers fondly include Papineauville, St.Placide, Verdun, Isle de Madeleine, Quebec......the Mojave Desert, California.....Lake Simcoe, Ontario, Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, New Zealand and Australia.

Eric's kite demonstrations during the C.B.C.'s annual "Touch The Sky" kite festival helped bolster interest in kiting locally. Throughout the years , Eric has given kiting demonstrations at countless schools, at the Aviation Museum and the Museum of Civilization. In 1994, he taught a weekend workshop at the Science Centre in Toronto.

"In the millenium year," he laughs, "I was hired to see if it was possible to fly kites on boats right in the quarry behind the casino."

In the fall of 2004, Eric brought the first Peter Lynn "Kite Cat" to Canada for kite-sailing. It is commonly used with an arc-style traction kite. It boasts better sheeting and gust response, and better upwind performance. The rider is attached to the kite with a conventional bar and harness, two lines at the front and two lines at the back, but not attached to the catamaran.

This is just a brief synopsis of a kiter in your community.

The majority of this content was taken from an article by Karen Secord, titled "Soaring Through Life" and published in "Fifty Five Plus Magazine", July/Aug. 2008.