Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Sky Spy and Sky Raider

Next to the Bat Kite (or Baby Bat), Sky Raiders and Sky Spies were the most frequently seen kites back in the day. The Sky Spy, with it's big bloodshot eyes, would peer menacingly down on the schoolyards. The Sky Raider, with it's pointy nose and broad wings, would sail gloriously over our neighborhoods.
Sky Raiders and Sky Spies from l-r - 1964 SR, 65-'69 SR, 70-'71 SR, 72-'73 SR, 75-77'SR, post 81 to '91 SR,
post 81 to '91 SS, '75 SS, 3 x 73-'74 SS, 2 x '72 SS
1974 Sky Spy
1972 Sky Spy

Sky Spies

The Sky Spy was the very first kite I owned as a child. It was a little unpredictable in the sky, which made for interesting flying. I own 2 of these from 1972. One has the yellow keel and the other a blue.  I believe these were the only 2 keel colors offered during this time period. These are rhombus or diamond shaped with a 3' wingspan. They are made of the rubbery vinyl like material and have the hard plastic keel grommet. These are the rarest and, I think, the coolest of the Sky Spies. After 1973, Gayla changed the shape and material properties of these kites. They made them Delta shaped with a 45" wing span. The keel grommet and vinyl like material was replaced with the paper reinforced line attachment on the keel and a much thinner/lighter plastic. They offered them with white, yellow, and blue keels at this time.  They also changed the printing of the hang card to four color process. In 1975, Gayla made a long term change to the Hang Card.
Back of 1972 Sky Spy

This is the same card used through the early nineties.
Back of a 1975 Sky Spy
They also made a black Sky Spy around this time. I know this because I owned one. I remember seeing one in the sky and thinking "that is an odd shaped bat kite". When I realized what it was,  I immediately tracked down the pilot and asked him where he got it. He directed me to a now defunct retailer, Gemco. I raced down there and grabbed one before they were gone.  The part of the eyes that is black on the white Spies was printed silver and it had a red keel. I have yet to see one of those come up 
post '81 SS
anywhere on the internet. One last and final change was made to the kite some time after 1981. They reduced the wing span to 42". That is essentially the same Sky Spy that is produced today by Gayla. 

Sky Raiders 

I always felt that this was the most stable and easy to fly of the Gayla deltas.  From what I recall, these were the kites I purchased most often in my early days of kite flying. I can remember using a purple one to empty a spool of 12lb 900 yd mono-filament. I remember my dad telling me that I had let it out over a half a mile! It took me 8 hours of reeling to get it back down! I recall that those kites would go out of sight when they were somewhere between 1400' and 1500'.  I have
This catalog is still in the
bag of this 1964 SR
no idea how many color combos were used for these kites in the 60's. I own 4 and they are all different.  I believe the 71-'74 era kites were limited to 4 colors.  I recall owning a yellow, purple and red Raider and possibly 
Back of a 1964 Sky Raider
seeing a blue one. In '75, they changed the hang card again and kept essentially the same template through the beginning of the nineties. Just like what was done to all of the other entry level Gayla deltas, the wing span on this kite was reduced to 42" at some point after 1981. They also added a "fringe" on the bottom (see the hang card on kite that is sixth from the left in the picture at the top of the screen).  I have seen pictures in a catalog from 1984, and this fringe was on the SR at this time. Around 1992-94, the outline of the kite was changed to match the Sky Spy and printed with a skull and cross bones.

Up coming blogs will cover the Sting-a-Ree, Gazebo, Gordo and Flutterburt Butterwink !!!


  1. Great collection . Thank for putting it on line. Growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, i spent virtually every penny of my allowance on these kites.

  2. Does anyone recall a black with green hands and face it was Dracula or Frankenstein. It was exceptionally built made with a thicker plastic than the gala kites. I'm trying to locate one. It was around 1979.

  3. Very cool. Great memories of those kites. I'd love to get my hands on a 60s Sky Raider some day.