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Remembering Alan Piper

 Alan Piper Alan Piper, known to his friends as "Pip" he was very new to kiting and the kiting world, but was very enthusiastic and as keen as a bunny, to use his own words he was "chuffed to monkeys" with all the aspects of kiting. Pip had written an article on our meeting at Vanier Park in Vancouver while he was vacationing with his wife in Canada. It was originally published in The Kite Flier Newsletter of The Kite Society of Great Britain, Titled My visit with Ray Bethell". It is also on my website.

It only happens a few times in a life time? that you meet some one and Bang, its like we had known each other all our lives We were in like flint? friends for life. I will not go into what happened that day as Pip has written about that in his article, his last words to me on leaving the Park was see Ya in Dieppe Ray? and hopefully on the net real soon.

I had the opportunity to be sponsored to Dieppe for the World Cup and the Dieppe International Kite Festival 98 to give multiple kite demonstrations, the real highlight of this festival was being baby sat by my friends the renowned French Sport Kite Team, Team Keops. We had worked together in Malaysia and Long Beach Washington; they did nothing but spoil me rotten? but that is another story. One day while I was setting up my kites I turned around and there as large as life with an ear to ear grin on his face was Pip and his wife Ronnie. Because of the frequent heavy rain storms I spent many happy times in Pips caravan having a few cold ones plus a very delightful glass or 3 of very special malt whiskey, for as Pip put it? "for medicinal purposes to ward off the cold".

When they had heard that I was going to be stranded for 18 hours at London Stansted airport due to Air Canada being on strike? "all other flights were booked solid." Pip and Ronnie said? "you are more than welcome to travel home with us and stay at our home, Ronnie will take you to the airport in time to catch your plane as it is on her way to work, no problem, and we will be chuffed to Monkeys to have your company"? This indeed was an offer I could not refuse. I mean how lucky can a guy get being sponsored to a World renowned International Kite Festival, plus the World Cup, as well as being looked after and pampered by Team Keops and now a bonus of spending time with Pip and his family. Instead of sitting at a lonely airport for 18 hours, I mean. Wow!

It was a great Ferry trip across the English Channel to Portsmouth which I had never done before. The sea was much calmer than what it had been for the past few days, and it was another first for me to see the Majestic and famous HMS Victory. It looked so impressive and beautiful as we passed it going to the Ferry terminal. I was very pleased to have had this opportunity to see with my eyes what I have only read about. Pip was very knowledgeable about the history of the HMS Victory and Portsmouth and pointed out many place of interest.

It was a very pleasant drive to their home, where I was met by their two Sons David and Jon. I had a great time and they were indeed perfect hosts. Pip, along with David took me to Clacton On Sea to visit with my fiends Steve Michael and Linda Howard who own Force 9 kite store. We have been friends for many years it was great to see them and their shop. Then Pip took me to meet his mother. She made us a nice lunch, then we went and flew kites. I was coaching Pip and David in pairs, which they had never attempted before. They now had a good Idea of what the score was and promised that the next time I visited them they would have it down pat. They were also interested in flying Team with Ronnie as the third flyer, a great way for a family to have fun together.

Well, all good things must come to an end we said our good byes. Ronnie and David took me to the airport and my plane was on time. It was 12 hour flight home to Vancouver, but I did not seem to notice it as my mind was still reliving the last 10 days filled with many very happy memories.

Pip did get on the net and our e-mails were passing each other across the big pond, then one day Pip had told me he some how had broken his toe and had to have his foot in plaster he could just about hop around. He was not keen on that at all, especially being Christmas and New year did not help either. On the 3rd of January he e-mailed me and said that he has always wondered what it would be like to stay home through out the festive season and get Plastered? but not this way. The very next day the 4th of January, I received e-mail from Pips wife Ronnie telling me that just a few hours ago Pip had collapsed and died. The autopsy showed he had died instantly from a blood clot caused from his broken toe. I feel very proud and honored to have known him and so very pleased to have spent the time with him and his family. I will always remember him as a dear friend who loved life and had a heart of gold; he will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

I have just returned from Kites On Ice in Madison Wisconsin. At the Laser Nite fly, I flew multiple kites in the pitch dark, and then watched the kites come alive as they danced across the night sky and then get caught in the different light system, to the live music by the Madison Symphony Orchestra. I said "this is for you Pip."

I know he would have said "Good Stuff Ray." Meaning he was chuffed to monkeys!

Thank you for listening.


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Copyright © 1999
Sam Eaton

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