October 10
22nd AKA National Convention
Muncie Indiana

Greetings from Muncie!

From the Monday Welcome Party (hosted by our Hoosier friends) to the last trophy on Saturday's Award Banquet, AKA's latest convention was a fine time!

For me, the highlights included:

  • My good friend Brooks Leffler being named Kiteflier of the Year.
  • Seeing Corey Jensen and Martin Lester wearing dresses for the buggy "drag" races.
  • Watching former sport kite champions like Ron Reich, Sue (Taft) Sedgewick, and Vern Balodis take the field to reprise their original routines.
  • Raising a record $30,000 at the Annual Auction. (The old record of $29,000 was set when Susie ran the 1994 auction.)
  • Receiving an astounding 30% (write-in) of the votes cast for AKA president when I wasn't even a candidate. (I might have to think about actually running again...)

Got Kites?

You'll be able to read all the convention details in Kiting and elsewhere on the web. So instead, I'll share a few favorite photos here, and then tell some stories you won't see anywhere else in print. Be sure and click on the pictures to see an enlarged view.

Bob & Charmayne Umbower Lindsey Johnson Midwest Kitemakers

The quality and variety of kites in the kitemaking competition was just amazing. Here are a few examples. Bob and Charmayne Umbower scored with the Celtic design on the left. Lindsey Johnson lost his "novice kitemaker" status with the whimsical design in the center. Seven kitemasters from the Mid West created a series of kites from the same colors and donated them al to the Auction. One example is shown on the right.

Under Constuction South China Sea Karen & Kite

Jon Burkhardt showed a spectacular kite called "South China Sea". He finished the appliqué work on the field just before competition and still took first place in the Flat and Bowed category of kitemaking competition. That's Jon's wife, Karen, on the right.

Story #1: So late one afternoon, Ron Gibian dives his van out to the far field to pick-up Ron Despojado. No one else is around.

Gibian says something to Despojado about hurrying up, and Despojado says something back, and the good-natured verbal exchange escalates. Finally at a loss-for-words, Despojado turns his best side to the van and drops his pants. Then he picks up his gear and comes over for his ride.

The door opens, and there behind the tinted windows are six Japanese guests who all smile and politely applaud.

Some people will do anything for a trip to Japan....

Phoenix Star Phoenix Star

People's Choice was won by Peter Schtel from Germany.

Susie and Tanna Kitemaking Judges

Here's a picture of Kitemaking Judges Susan Gomberg and Tanna Haynes (1997 and 1999 National Kitemaking Champion). And here's another picture of organizer Steve Ferrel and all the judges -- most of whom gave up a good shot at a trophy to help manage the event.

All of the judges and staff did a great job. The sport kite competition volunteers spent hours out in the rain to make sure everyone had their chance to fly. (Sorry I didn't get any photos.) Same goes for the Fighter officials and the guys that ran the rok battles in the rain.

Story #2: Pete Dolphin and Roger Chewning took one afternoon to go over to the Ball Sate University bookstore to pick up tee shirts. We were scheduled to be on stage for the Auction that night and Roger thought it would be fun if we all wore "Ball U" shirts.

So the bookstore is empty except for Roger, Pete and six young sales clerks -- all of whom huddled in one corner, whispering and looking at Pete and Rog. Finally, one of them comes over and shyly asks for an autograph.

It turns out that the Beach Boys were in town for a concert that night, and Pete, with his beard, and Roger with his clean-cut surfer style were mistaken for Mike Love and Dennis Wilson. (No one told the students that Wilson died more then ten years ago.)

I hear the boys were humming Barbara Ann on the way out the door...

 Rainbow Beach Balls Rainbow Beach Balls

Kevin Shannon displayed the prototypes of our new Rainbow Beach Balls. They will be available for both wholesale and retail purchase at the end of the month at the same prices as our standard Beach Balls

Octopus Rev Stacks Sky Foil

Lee Sedgewick and Sam Ritter dominated the sky one afternoon with their big Rev stacks. They darted in and out of my big kites with amazing grace and agility.

Huge Fields Sky of Big Kites

The fields were huge and filled with big kites.

Story #3: The hotels were plagued with plumbing problems.

Toilets ran al night, faucets dripped, and shower controls twisted lose on the wall. However, the biggest problem was in John Davenport's room.

Seems John was sitting on his commode, and reach over for a piece of toilet tissue. As he shifted his weight, the commode broke loose from the floor and slid out from under him -- spilling John and the contents across the small room. You get the picture...

After that, no one complained about dripping faucets.

Flag Streamers

Here's our new Streamer Flags hanging under a Sutton 252. The flags are 75 feet long and can be custom made in a variety of colors.

Wet Ascention Sport Kite Fun

The week ended wet and windy. But our spirits weren't dampened a bit. The Soft Kite Mass Ascension went on as scheduled with pins awarded to kites displayed in the lunch tent, and extra points to those who actually flew. Judging progressed on the sport kite field with contestants struggling to complete their routines. The real winners were the officials who worked for many wet hours.

Jeff Howard Traction Charlie Dunton Workshop Modegi San

Usualy, we go to events to see the kites. But at AKA, people are the real attraction.

  • Jeff Howard spent most of his time on the huge buggy field.
  • Charlie Dunton was one of two-dozen workshop presenters.
  • Masaaki Modegi led a group of six guests from the Japan Kite Association.

Join us next year in Treasure Island (near Clearwater) Florida for the 23rd Annual Convention. Be a part of next year's stories!

From here, Susie and I are off to Lunen, Germany. Stop by next week for another update.

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