Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Teenage inventor designs a way to ‘surf’ the air waves

Woodlawn Beach middle schooler Caleb Kirby found a way to ride the waves out his car window and is now marketing it.

Woodlawn Beach middle schooler Caleb Kirby found a way to ride the waves out his car window and is now marketing it.

Even before his 13th birthday, which is coming up soon, Caleb Kirby is experiencing life as a creative businessman.

His product, the Airwave Surfboard, is designed to afford car passengers the fun of skimming the air waves instead of the water waves.

Caleb, who is a seventh-grader at Woodlawn Beach Middle School, moved to this area from North Carolina with his parents, Billy and Nicole Kirby, about two weeks before classes started last summer.

While he had vacationed at the beach before, the family’s move gave him ample opportunity to explore an environment different from the one he was familiar with in the central part of North Carolina.

Right away, Caleb discovered the fun of a skim board.

‘It’s pretty fun here. There’s lots to do,” he says of his new home.

One of those things to do includes putting his own stamp on a leisure-time product, from design through construction and marketing, with some help from his dad and support from both his parents.

The Airwave Surfboard skimmed through his youthful mind while he was doing some surfing online one day.

There he discovered an ovalshaped item made of wood that was designed to float through the air out a car window, powered by the wind.

It seemed like a fun ride, so Caleb and his dad went looking for one. They were unable to find anything like it in local surf shops, and the model online was selling for $60. Besides that, the online ratings for the item were not all that positive. It apparently didn’t hold up to the elements very well.

Caleb was looking for a better deal.

And he found one, right in his own home “workshop,” even though it took about 20 or 30 attempts. With his dad as a handson encouraging force, Caleb first designed a long, rail-thin item made of a biodegradable plastic that had to be special ordered. It wasn’t exactly what he wanted, so the son-father team kept on working on the idea, always thinking in terms of an oblong shape. Caleb’s newfound love of beach life and the skim board made a miniature model of such a design a natural progression.

The shape of the item was not the only factor in their design ideas, however. They realized that to skim the air waves from the window of a vehicle – especially a slow moving one such as might be encountered in summer beach traffic – they would have to get the density of the product just right.

Then there were safety issues. To maintain control of the Airwave, the user can loop a “leash” made of nanoparacord around the wrist. When the board comes off the fingers of the user, that cord – which can handle up to 32 pounds of pressure, although it doesn’t need to for Caleb’s product – is the means of reeling in the toy if it threatens to go astray and of helping to maneuver it through the airstream safely.

A safety feature related to the environment is the product’s biodegradable nature.

A video available at airwaveboards. surf shows different ways to have fun with the toy while riding along in a car.

Caleb and his dad used the services of an engineer to help with the design of the miniature board that comes in light pink, light blue, white and brown. The latter choice has some wood shavings inserted in the plastic swirl so that it more closely resembles an actual surfboard.

To date, the Airwave Surfboard has a “blank” surface, but Caleb says he is looking into the possibility of adding lettering or images in the future, depending on the branding he settles on for his design.

He and his dad have licensed the product and are constructing it at their home.

Caleb sells it for $8.99 through Maverick Surf Shop on Hwy. 98 in Gulf Breeze and on Pensacola Beach.

The toy is also available at airwaveboards.surf or airwaveboards.com.

Airwave Surfboard

Available at Maverick Surf Shop or online at airwaveboards.surf and airwaveboards.com

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