by David King
Martinez’s famed kite pilot, Tony Jetland, (aka Kiteman of Martinez) is heading to Doha, Qatar March 16-18 for the inaugural Qatar Kite Festival. “I’ve been to many international kite festivals, but it’s how the invitation came to me, that is the real story,” Jetland says.
This year, for Qatar’s 3rd annual Hot Air Balloon Festival, a 10-day event held in January, organizers decided that if it gets too windy on days for hot air balloons to fly safely, that they should also have kites available as a backup.
The event organizer, Hassan Al-Mousawi, searched on Google for LED show kites. There he found several articles for the “Kiteman of Martinez.”
In December, Al-Mousawi sent a Facebook message to Jetland, “Are you the ‘Kiteman of Martinez?” Jetland responded that he was. Al-Mousawi then proceeded to invite Jetland to participate in the Hot Air Balloon Festival with his kites. Kiteman was unable to attend but referred six other professional kite pilots who did go. The show kites addition to the festival was such a hit that Qatar decided to host its first annual 3-day Kite Festival on March 16-18.
Al-Mousawi reached out to Kiteman again. This time with a written invitation to participate in the Kite Festival which includes all expenses paid for a 5-day stay. The extra days — a day early on March 15 to recover from the flight, and March 19, the day after the event to explore and enjoy Doha. He would return on March 20.
Coincidentally, Jetland will also be celebrating his 62nd birthday there as it falls on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.
Jetland is a member of a 24-member International Kite-flying team. These specialty pilots come from all over the world, including China, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, England, Switzerland, etc. All of them are world class kite pilots. Jetland plans to bring plenty of Martinez, CA apparel for his international friends to wear for photos. He is determined to put Martinez, CA on the map in Qatar.
He expects to bring about a dozen of his kites, including the big green dragon kite he is most known to fly. The entire event will be posted live on his Facebook page and on Martinez Rants and Raves’ Facebook Group.
Jetland holds Diablo Gazette responsible for this turn of events. Six years ago, in the March 2017 edition, Diablo Gazette featured Jetland’s spectacular and beloved kites often seen flying at the Martinez Marina. In that article, we gave him the name “Kiteman of Martinez.” The name stuck as other local news agencies from around the country now refer to Jetland as Kiteman of Martinez. Mayor Rob Schroder even proclaimed a Kiteman of Martinez Day. Kiteman is making Martinez proud.
Who knew such a small publication could have such an international impact?
Happy Birthday Kiteman.