2003 – Don Tabor

Nomination letter:

2003 Edeiken Winner - Don Tabor Stunt kiting did not spring, fully formed, as the sport, art, or science that we currently take for granted. It evolved from experimentation and play. It improved through trial and practice. It became a driving force in our kiting world, in large part because of the vision and efforts of a quite, unassuming man often found sitting the back of our convention hall with his wife, Pat.

We are pleased to nominate for the Steve Edeiken Award, Don Tabor.

Don and his company, Top of the Line, brought their innovative big-wing stunt kites to the market in 1984. Stores refused to buy the huge $100 contraptions and some actually laughed at the outrageous price tag. So Tabor began a campaign. He began traveling to festivals, he formed a demonstration team, he put kites in the hands of fliers. And soon, demand at the small San Diego company was exceeding production supply.

Top of the Line didn’t simply dominate the sport; they defined it. Tabor’s kites and fliers created a process, and then the rules and competitions adapted to accommodate them. Everyone who flew sport kites, flew a Hawaiian or a Spin-off.

Top of the Line continued to innovate.

  • Tabor was the one of the first to organize a precision and ballet performance team.
  • Tabor was one of the first to demonstrate the potential of ballet with his still-remarkable Peter and the Wolf routine.
  • Tabor was one of the first to travel the country with an informal “learn to fly” marketing program.
  • Tabor was one of the first to fine-tune (some say “perfect”) three and then four person competitive flying.

And as a result, Top of the Line took more first place trophies than any other team in the annals of our sport. In 1990, TOTL made history as the winner of the first World Cup in Seaside Oregon. Their score was 93.67.

Certainly some credit goes to team mates Ron Reich, Eric Streed, and Pam Kirk. And credit also goes to groundbreaking events like the Hawaii Challenge, Marina Green, and Wildwood. But throughout it all, Don Tabor was a constant, patiently explaining that “It’s the pointy end that goes into the wind…”.

Don Tabor is still a constant in the kiting world. He attends our convention when most of the fliers that competed with and emulated from him, have moved on. Many of our best contemporary performers learned from the people who learned from the people, that Don Tabor inspired. In that way, Tabor taught us all…

For his vision, his ground-breaking example, and the fun he shared with us all, we find Don Tabor well deserving of AKA’s highest honor.

Respectfully Submitted by Susan Gomberg
Seconded by Kite Trade Association, Pete Dolphin, Mike Gillard