Kite-flying team ready to soar

By Linda East Brady, Standard-Examiner staff

Thu, 08/26/2010 – 5:30pm

The sports-flying team iQuad brings kites big and small to the Antelope Island Stampede this weekend to wow the crowd with its airborne acrobatics.

Although you may have never seen such a sight with your own eyes, precision team kite-flying competitions take place the world over.

John Barresi, one of iQuad’s founders, has competed for 17 years, flown in 14 countries, and has 25 national championships.

“Between several different kinds of kites, and formats they are presented in, there is a global singular culture where everyone meets,” said Barresi, calling from his home in Portland, Ore.

“Sports kites are flown with more than a single maneuverable string,” he said. “We specifically fly a type called quad-line kites, allowing us to fly them forward or backward, spin them, and hover them in place.”

Barresi notes that the kite fliers are called pilots.

“With this level of control, we do formation team flying,” he said. “An analogy might be the Blue Angels or Thunderbirds, except on strings.”

Hooked on flying

Barresi first got the kite bug about 20 years ago as a teen, when he approached a man flying a kite in San Francisco. The man handed Barresi the strings.

“The next thing I know I am being dragged along the ground,” he said, laughing. “I smiled so wide when I got up! And then I went straight to my pops and said, ‘Can I get a kite?’ ”

A few years later Barresi and his friend and fellow flier, David Hathaway, went to the World Sport Kite Championships in Berck sur Mer, France.

“During that, we had the opportunity to do mega-flying in a very, very large group — 18 kites precision flying. And we loved it so much that when we came home, right away we recruited two more people, and started iQuad.”

Besides Hathaway and Barresi, iQuad also includes Steve de Rooy, Takato Barresi, JD Fabich, Bazzer Poulter and Joji Davis.

“When we started, there were no quad-line teams in North America. Now I think we are up to seven full-time teams, and over 100 individuals doing this kind of thing.”


Barresi and iQuad fly both huge and tiny kites, indoors and out. For school demonstrations, they fly delicate kites inside assembly halls.

“A kite is powered by air moving,” he said. “Outside, you use wind. Inside, you have air, of course, but instead of wind, we as people move, creating the same effect. These indoor kites are so light, that a simple stroll around the room allows them to fly.”

Want to give it a try? Just show up at one of the competitions with the will and a quad-line kite, and you will be welcome, assures Barresi.

“Because of our philosophy about kite flying, every event we went to, we fold in every single quad flier we can find. … If you show up with one of these kites, you’re in. If you don’t have quite the skills, you are folded in, and everyone shares their information freely and readily until you are able to do it, too.”

In late August, iQuad was part of a new world record precision fly at a festival in Long Beach, Wash.

“We had 64 quad-line kites flown by pilots in formation at the same time. It was incredible. We talked about it being a pastime, or a sport, but it is more than that — a fast and immediate bond between the people that show up, user-to-user inclusivity and bonding.”

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