Kite Rodeos

Concho Valley Council

One of the favorite events held in March of each year in the Concho Valley was the annual kite contest.  The first such event, sponsored by the council was held on March 27, 1927.  Neal Sanders, local Scoutmaster and cabinet maker, was in charge of the event which was held at the flying field of the San Angelo Airways, Inc.

Six Divisions

The contest was divided into six divisions to give everyone an opportunity to win.  Over 200 kites took to the air that day and thousands of people came out to watch the exciting event
Division I - For Kites under 3 feet in height.
 Class A - For kite flown highest with 200 yards of string.
 Class B - For kites taking most airing in 30 minutes.
Division II - For kites of 3 feet in height.
 Class A - For kite flown highest with 200 yards of rope, wire or string.
 Class B - For kite taking most string in 20 minutes.
Division III - Tailless Kites
 Class A - For kite flown highest with 200 yards of string
 Class B - For kite taking most string in 30 minutes.
Division IV - Kites made and flown by boys under 12 years of age.   Class A & B were the same as Division III above.
Division V - Most original kite of any size or shape.
Division VI - Kite fight - All kites entered will be equipped on the corners with knives, glass or razor blades and attempt to cut the string of the other kites in the air.

One kite entered in the kite fight had thirty-six Gillette blades on its tail.  Another kite had a propeller that turned while the kite was in flight and each blade of the propeller was edged with razor blades.

The contest was won by Lee Allison who had equipped the tail of his kite with a spinning contrivance that outdid all comers.  Lee cut down five kites and won a large Orcho harp containing four keyboards.

Signal Kites

Neal Sanders, in an interview with this author at his cabinet shop in the Fall of 1988, showed me his "signal kite" that he had made and used in the contests.  The kite was a red and white eight-foot high box kite with wings on two sides.  This type of kite was used during World War I as a signal antenna.  They would fly the kite with a wire attached to it with a string which served as the antenna of the radio.  The kite shown me still had the original canvas attached to the wooden frame.

The second kite contest was held on March 5, 1928, and over 3,000 people witnessed the event.  Seven major events were staged that day and the tournament was held on the aviation field of the San Angelo airways combine.  Troop 2 of the First Christian Church won the main event for having put the most kites in the air.  Signal flags, given by the council, and a gas lantern donated by Findlater Hardware Company, were awarded the troop.
 X. B. Cox won the number one event by having his kite gain the greatest altitude in thirty seconds on one hundred yards of cord.  His prize was a pocket knife given by the council and a shirt awarded by Robertson's Department store.  Gordon Buttery won the second event, for the kite using the most string over a fifteen-minute period.  He also received a knife from the council and a belt from Cox-Rushing-Greer.

The smallest kite to fly, event number three, was a midget three and a half inch affair, sent aloft by John Crotty.  He was awarded a fishing line and a pair of golf hose by E. & Q. Clothiers.

Donald Hardy won the fourth event by having the largest kite flying.  He had a huge five-footer and was awarded a flashlight and Holland Jewelry Company gave him a pair of cuff links.  Maurice Kleinman received a pocket knife for winning the fifth event for boys under twelve years of age.

The third year's contest was held on a Sunday afternoon, March 10, 1929, at the San Angelo Airport.  Over two hundred kites were flown that day and over 10,000 people came to see the event.  A free airplane ride went to the winner of the day.

William Tell Contest

One of the events of this year's contest was the "William Tell" event.  Archers attempted to shoot arrows through the kites with their homemade bows and arrows which were moored at the end of a 30 yard string.  Neal Sanders was in charge of this event as he had helped the Scouts make their bows and arrows as members of the Boy Scout Archery Club which met at his shop.

J. T. Henderson won the final event, a kite fight.  Kites were equipped with razor blades, broken glass and whatnot for the purpose of cutting the strings and tearing up other kites while aloft.  J. T. Henderson told of the time when he accidentally cut another kid's arm while he was gesturing with his string of razor blades while talking with another Scout about his feat.  Neal Sanders awarded Henderson, for winning the kite fight, a pair of arrows and Hoyt Brothers gave him a necktie.

Free Airplane Ride

Roger Ashford, a tenderfoot Scout in Troop 3, by virtue of scoring the greatest number of points for his troop, won the free airplane ride.   He won second place in the general judging of the kites for design, neatness, and flying ability, second place in the altitude contest, and participated in several patrol events thus helping his troop to gain 163 points, to be followed by Troop 4 with 133 points, Troop 2 with 82 points and Troop 1 with 80 points.

The Fourth Annual Kite Contest was held on March 23, 1930 at the southeastern edge of the city where at least 500 people gathered to watch the boys compete for the grand prize of an airplane ride over the city.  Jesse Coleman of Santorium, a member of Troop 3, won the airplane ride.

The smallest kite in the contest was entered by Myron Thornton of Troop 4 and was no larger than a penny match box.  The largest kite, a tail-less kite seven feet tall, was entered by C. C. McGill of Troop 4.

Some half a hundred Scouts competed, entering seventy-five kites.  Troop 2 led in the total number of points, scoring 83, with Troop 4 second with 50 points and Troop 3 third with 40 points.  Troop 2 entered 40 kites, Troop 3 had 18, Troop 4 had 8 and Troop 7 had 6 kites.

Winners were :

Fast Altitude Kite : Jim Garza of Troop 2
Long Distance Kite : Reo Paul of Troop 4
Most Unique Kite: Jesse Coleman of Troop 4
Smallest Kite: Myron Thronton of Troop 4
Largest Kite: C. C. McGill of Troop 4
Kite Fight: Jesse Coleman of Troop 4

The Fifth Annual Kite Contest was held March 22, 1931.  The tournament was held on the field northeast of Glenmore Place on the Christoval road.  Several boys attempted an all-night endurance flight with their kites, but due to lack of wind, they failed in their attempt.  During the contest parachutes were dropped from large kites with tickets on them that entitled the finder to a prize.

A merchant's balloon race was the final event of the afternoon.  Eight-foot gas balloons were turned loose with tags of the merchants who sponsored the balloons.  The person who found one of the balloons and returned the tag to the merchant was awarded a prize.

Material for this story was taken from "Panjandrum A History of Scouting in the Concho Valley Council 1911-2001," by Frank T. Hilton, 2001

Last Updated:  January 8, 2003
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