A Man and His Kite
Flying kites wasn't kid stuff for Ansel Toney, who enjoyed the sport in Farmland
Watching Ansel I. Toney of Farmland, Indiana at work and at play, you begin
to see something within him that soars like... well, like a kite.
Toney has become something of a hero to many of the children in this small
town of 1600 people. To them he's the man who will take time out to listen
to their problems or share a big hearty laugh with them.
Most anytime you could find Ansel out in his shop grinding away on his lathe, making spools or cutting out patterns for his unique kite string winders. He made the same type of string winders his father showed him how to make, now over 100 years ago.
Ansel also made some 100 kites over the past few years. He hasn't sold any yet but he has given them away to the towns children and to his 11 grandchildren and eight
great-grandchildren who live in East Coast and in Arizona.
Ansel's great love for kites began a few years ago when he took his wife to a doctor's office and had to wait about three hours in the waiting room. He casually picked up a magazine and thumbed through an article about kiting. He became engrossed in the subject. Later he found the name of a kite store in New York and he sent away for a catalogue. It was cluttered with nylon kite material, string, and wood blocks for making
the string winders.
Finding that the manufactured kites had several aerodynamic flaws, Ansel began to improve on the material and design of his product. From there, he built French military, parafoil and delta kites, preferring to stick to the latter because of the aerodynamic stability and simplicity of design. Watching Ansel fly a kite is like watching a master in love with his art.
The whole sky is a playground for Ansel, who fastens his kite to a garden tractor with a 200-pound test line run through the string winder on the back of the implement. Gently coaxing the 14-foot kite into the air he waits for a healthy current of air to pull the nylon triangle from the earth. A tug of wind grabs the kit, as the string begins to play out of the winder. You get her up about 25 feet in the air and you got it made, Ansel's keeping his sharp eyes on the kite while a faint smile plays across his face.
The orange triangle begins ascending in the air. "She's as pretty as a bird," he would say, while he was pulling on the kite line. Look at her hold-just as steady as a clock. The kite is really tugging into the air. Anything less than a 200 pound test and cord could possibly disintegrate and unravel, sending the kite miles into the distance.
One summer, Ansel's son bought a parasail kite, capable of lifting a 200-pound man more than 150 feet into the air The parasail, resembling a parachute, is attached to a 3,000 pound test line which is pulled by a jeep. Once the chute fills with air, a man can soar into the air at will. Ansel and his son have taken about 100 people, mostly residents of Farmland, up in the kite. Passing by on a quiet, balmy Sunday afternoon, its was not unusual to see Farmland's "free Spirits" soaring over the town.
With such action going on, you can bet Ansel will be there-he has gone up in the kite several times. Its quite an experience, its just about the most beautiful thing you can imagine-being up there free-just like a big beautiful bird. Ansel in the process had plans to send up an eight-foot tissue balloon. He always has some type of project going , according to his wife of approximately 70 years. Stella-Ansels wife was always surprised at what her husband was up to.
Ansel retired from farming several years ago but he says you can't sit down or you will learn fast how old you really are, then you might as well give it up. Now , I pull fudge with the kids and lot of times we make cookies and candy, he continues with a twinkle in his eye. We have the greatest of times around here.
Ansel has been missed since his passing at the age of 99. He left his mark on the town as well as the world, and his kites will be flying all over the world. He said A Kite line is a Highway to Heaven
In remembrance of Ansel you will see at the city limits of Farmland a sign that say's
The Kite Man
Photo's showing Ansel Toney at work.