By day, Tony Jetland runs a general contracting company and by night, he flies his one-of-a-kind kites for fun. He moved to the city of Martinez in the late 90's and rediscovered his love of kites during a trip to San Francisco.
"Like a lot of people growing up, you fly kites as kids," said Tony Jetand, known as Kite Man of Martinez. "I grew up in Northern Minnesota with my little sister flying kites. I took a thirty year hiatus until I moved to California."
22 years later, Jetland has collected around 400 kites from all over the world. Flying kites is Jetland's healthy way of overcoming everyday stress.
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"Kite fliers, we have a thing called Kite therapy," said Jetland. "If I am having a bad day, I get one of my kites that pulls me across the field. If I am flying at night, I will pull out one of my LED kites. It just depends on my mood."
It’s a bird! 🕊 It’s a plane! ✈️ It’s the ‘Kite Man of #Martinez!’ 👱🏼♂️🪁— ABC7 Melissa Pixcar (@MelissaABC7) January 13, 2021
Tony Jetland is making a comeback and is taking to the skies. After recovering from an injury, he is flying his one-of-a-kind kites for his community. 🪁 pic.twitter.com/NQxcd2VxJs
Over the years, Jetland has built relationships with International kite manufacturers and has helped create color patterns and designs for new kites. His inspiration comes from another passion of his - scuba diving.
"I have been a scuba diver for 35 years and dove all over the world," said Jetland. "A lot of the things I fly, like the giant manta rays, octopi, sharks, dolphins, sharks. I have swam with in the ocean. When I put my kites up, I try to create an aquarium in the sky with my theme of kites."
The 'Kite Man of Martinez' has been invited to fly his kites on a world stage and has flown to many countries to display his kites at numerous kite festivals and a commercial.
Last August, Jetland's hobby came to a halt when he was injured at his contracting job while building a deck for a client. "I gave myself a double hernia. I hurt my back to the point where I was pinching off two different nerves," said Jetland. "I lost movement in my right leg. It took almost four months of lying on my back staring at the ceiling and I was out of work."
His absence didn't go unnoticed by the locals. Many community members stepped up to bring their 'Kite Man of Martinez' back to health.
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"People I've never met would ask, where do you live? Do you need food, do you need groceries?' said Jetland. "It humbles you to see a community come out because you're the 'Kite Man'. All this outpouring love. It wasn't in the first couple of weeks, it was up until the day until I said I am back. Now, I fly for the community that loves me and I love it."
The 'Kite Man of Martinez' does not have a set kite flying schedule, but the best times to catch him is mid-April through mid-October at the Martinez Marina.
"When I get people to come out and look to the sky, it's creating moments for moms, dads, and kids," said Jetland. "You can't help but feel pride that the sport that I enjoy is enjoyed by so many people. This is why I do it."