Richard Gareau
The Canadian Patang Wala

Written by Richard Gareau.
Edited by Gina Hsiung.

I started flying kites in 1987. Stunt kites caught my eye at a kite day organized by a friend. Although I thought kites were a little silly for grownups, I went to the kite day with my cameras, a ton of lens and filters, and thought to my self "I'll take pics" of these kites on this beautiful blue sky!!! Well when I showed up I was so impressed by the kites and very impressed by the stunt-kites. So I had to try it... and I did... and my god I liked it... yep I was hooked. The very next day I bought $300.00 of kites (stunters) and oh yeah I never took a single picture that day...

3 months later I was so into kites that I quit my job (a good job) to start selling kites. I read everything I could get my hands on and quickly discovered fighters. I was very intrigued about these little kites and wanted to learn to fly them. But I like to do things the right way if possible, so I wanted to learn from a master. I had to wait until October 1988, at the Chicago AKA Convention, were I meet Joe Vaughan, (Corey Jensen had told me he was pretty good) ... Joe patiently showed me how to fly... and wow this was even more fun then stunters... I invited Joe to Montreal for the next week where I had organized the One Sky One World kite day. He really surprised me by showing up and it was great, I was invited to promote OSOW at a hobby show in a huge convention hall, Joe came along and flew his Grandmasters kite indoors... WOW! I was flabbergasted... He then taught me how to do it. This was so intense for me that I suffered a slight temporary memory loss, that's how concentrated I was on the kite. We spent the rest of the day finding big public buildings to fly in and get kicked out of...

I started to experiment with building fighters the following week, my goal was to make a good indoor kite. Since I was the only one in Montreal stupid enough to go to big public buildings at 3:00 AM to fly my fighters, I started to change my paper indoor kites for sturdier ripstop kites that I could fly outdoors and teach others to fly with. The development process for the Patang had begun...

The goal was now to make a sturdy ripstop fighter that would track straight, spin fast and be predictable. I thought if I could do that, then I can make kites for my friends and have fun, I really never thought that I would one day make a living making these.

So you see the result of these years of having fun with fighters, I'm quite proud of the Patang because it does what I really wanted it to do. It tracks very straight, spins quite fast, is extremely predictable (it always turns up when going from side to side) and it is very durable. Although it prefers a good breeze, it will fly nice in 3-4 mph of wind and I have flown it (after adjusting the bridle) in winds of 25+ mph. The pattern I now use on it is a very traditional design from India, when I went to India I saw kites with the two concentric circles all over the place. I think they call it the moon kite because the biggest circle ends up looking like a crescent moon. So I decided to make that pattern as a tribute to the original India fighter and because it actually makes the kite perform better (a one piece main sail has faster forward speed then a assembled sail). Last thing, they come in two models for now, the Patang and the Patang Extreme, the later one being equipped with a stiffer bow, and I am currently working on a ultra light version.

NOTE: BFK is now carrying Richard's kites, so visit their site!

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