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Streetsboro kite maker thrives with numerous styles of creations

Hobbyist builds, flies variety of kites made for MANY DIFFERENT purposes

by Mike Lesko | reporter Published: June 19, 2013 12:00 AM
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Streetsboro -- When Nile Carver first started building kites, it was just a way for him to be outside.

"It seemed like a cheap hobby," he said.

Carver's first kite was made out of lawn leaf bags, willow limbs and packing tape. His first attempt to fly it proved memorable.

"The wind pulled out so fast that it burned through my leather gloves," said Carver, a Streetsboro resident, who was not hurt. "From then on, I was hooked. I was amazed there was so much power."

Soon, he realized all the different things he could do with his kites. The ideas seem endless.

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Carver can mount a camera on a kite in order to take photos from high in the sky. He can attach a video camera, too. The camera kite is hinged with two pulleys to adjust it.

"It was originally for dropping little bags of candy or small Teddy bears with parachutes," he said. "Now, it will take any kind of photos or videos I want."

Or he can tie a kite to one of his two 9-foot-long kayaks so the wind will pull the kayak. One such trek extended for 18 miles. Instead of kayaking, Carver calls it "kite-yaking."

"I just hook 'em up and go," he said of his kayak kite, which is 6 feet by 9 feet.

Carver said he found many of his designs for the different kites online. Another style is a heart-shaped design that looks like a giant cookie cutter.

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"It gets a lot of attention," he said.

He said the heart kite makes a visual statement, showing the feeling of love in the air.

"It was a challenging design because it has no center," he said. "Technically, it shouldn't fly, but the way I positioned the string, it does. It's the same thing with the wedding ring kite. That one has no center, either."

Still another type is "a huge eyeball kite" that is 8 feet in diameter.

"It looks like a gigantic eyeball," he said. "But it was too aggressive. It broke a 500-pound string. It sounded like a shotgun going off. It got stuck in a barbed wire fence and was ruined about three years ago. It looked like Frankenstein, so I put it to rest."

His biggest is a dragon kite with a 250-foot-long tail. He's had that one the longest -- 12 years.

"I fly that fairly often," he said. "You've got to have a large open field to launch it."

Carver, 52, has built 18 kites. He has been constructing them for 20 years, and flies them often at Sunny Lake Park in Aurora.

He uses a nylon fabric with a reinforcement of heavier nylon in a grid pattern.

"That way, if there's a small tear, it won't continue," he said. "It catches the air and inflates."

Most of the items used to make the kites come from hardware stores, including thin fiberglass rods. Pennies are added as a counterweight "to keep it upright so it doesn't fly sidewalks or upside down."

"Every time I fly my kites, people come running," he said. "Kids love them," adding recently a school bus full of young children stopped to watch his kite fly.

Which kite is his favorite?

"They all have their own purpose," he said, adding one of his favorites is a dual-line kite with handles on each side that can be steered from side to side.

Carver created one of his biggest -- a box kite that is 9 feet tall and 14 feet wide -- three years ago after he shattered his right leg from the knee down and had to build up his muscles.

By using a sewing machine, it allowed him to get constant exercise for his leg.

"I said to myself, 'I'm going to build a very large kite that I have to do a lot of sewing on,' and that did the trick. It's huge. It catches a lot of air."

Carver previously lived near the city of Chama, N.M., which is just south of the Colorado border. Every summer, he conducted a kite festival.

Two years ago, he moved to northern Ohio to be closer to his only daughter -- Laura Summers -- who lives outside of Akron, and his two grandchildren -- Dominic, 8, and Madison, 5.

Carver works as an operator at a drinking water plant in the city of Cleveland. Besides kites, he creates 6-foot-tall rockets with homemade engines.

"In New Mexico, I flew the rockets a lot, but there are too many houses and airplanes here," he said.

He also makes stained glass windows, glass-etched artwork, oil paintings and wood-working projects.

"I like anything where there is a challenge to make it," he said.

On his wood-working projects, he draws his logo, which he describes as "an agile flying predator bird."

Still, the kites are his favorite. Amazingly, all his kites fold up and can be displayed on his couch inside his home or on his driveway in front of his garage.

"They're a lot of fun," he said. "Most are easy to fly. It's an excuse to get outside. More people should fly kites. It's outdoors, it's good for the whole family and it's a good excuse for a picnic. I love them."

And onlookers do, too.

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187

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