MAZ | SUNDAY. SEPTEMBER 22/23, 2012
By Carola Hein
The kite tamer
Michael Steltzer organizes the kite festival in Volkspark for the twelfth time.
Whether on one or several lines – this weekend there is a lot of air traffic over Potsdam and also Obama floats in.
Obama is also coming. Flown, of course. But this time not in “Airforce One”. Michael Steltzer has the U.S. president on a long leash, so to speak – a kite. “Obama 2012 is on it,” says the chief organizer of the International Kite Festival in Volkspark. Steltzer is an American and a declared fan of the incumbent. And so this fall, the trained architect is campaigning everywhere for Barack’s re-election in his home country, more than 6,700 kilometers away.
Steltzer lives in Berlin, where in 1983 he and a partner founded the capital’s first kite store with the romantic name “Gone with the Wind.” A year later, the duo launched the Berlin Kite Festival, traveled the world to uncover the secrets of sky gliders, eventually building their own and competing in championships. And for more than a decade, Steltzer has been taking care of the Potsdam Kite Festival, which is taking place for the twelfth time this year. 60 active kite pilots are taking part. The starting field is more international than ever before. For the first time, guests from the Far East are also taking part – from India and Indonesia (MAZ reported). The whole repertoire of kite art will be presented: synchronous stunt kite flights, stable single-line large kites, filigree box kites, spectacular tricks, daredevil flight maneuvers and fighting kite duels. Team Vulandra from Bella Italia lets instruments soar to a “flying orchestra”, and world champion René Meier is obviously deeply in love: the Swiss conjures up white-red, three-dimensional hearts in the autumn sky.
“We have a height clearance of 300 meters,” Steltzer is pleased to say; usually only 100 meters are allowed. How to control that? “A red and white ribbon is visible on the line every 100 meters,” explains Steltzer, who with his team “Flying Colors” shows choreographed stunt kite demonstrations, has prepared a candy shower for the little ones and a competition in catching raw eggs for the adults.
Local hero Andreas Grimm has been building kites of all kinds since 1988. They all have one thing in common: they have to be light! His latest kite is in the shape of a feather. For the decor, Grimm was inspired by the art of the Haida Indians in Canada, whose oval patterns he immortalizes on his kites. “There were 400 in the mid-1990s, and that’s when I stopped counting,” he says. Grimm has written books on stunt kites and is interested in fighting kites. “They’re hard to steer. You have to totally adjust. It’s like you’re learning to ride a unicycle as an adult,” Grimm explains.
In addition to a lot of fun, there are also serious activities in the industry, such as a flying peace demonstration: Under the motto “One Sky – One World,” Grimm supports the initiative of his colleague Jane Parker-Ambrose from Colorado with a hexagonal flying object (Rokkaku), which takes off colorful kites as a symbol of multicultural understanding all over the world every year in the fall. In the Volkspark, too, the motto is: Give Peace a Chance!