September 28, 2008
Gettysburg: AKA Goes to the Dogs

North and South

We’re just back from Gettysburg in Pennsylvania and the 31st Annual Convention of the American Kitefliers Association.

Susan and I enjoyed a tour of the battlefields before things got going Monday. And by Tuesday morning, kites were in the air in the huge fields near the hotel.

The Keystone Kiters had organized a series of “North and South” roks and re-fought the battle each morning, rokkaku style.

Now, the first thing a kiter would notice looking for registration or workshops in the convention hotel were the dogs. Rhodesian Ridgebacks to be specific. They were everywhere. The hotel webpage announced “no pets”. But apparently the national group holding a show in our hotel didn’t know that. Rumor had it there were 300 kiters and 500 dogs…

Dogs Dogs Dogs

The other thing you noticed right off was that service in the Eisenhower Conference Center was, well, lousy. Sunday night, I ordered and paid for a sandwich in the bar. An hour later, I went to the counter to ask where it was. The staff there said they thought they had given it to someone else. “Do I still have to pay for it??” I asked. They promised another sandwich right way. Twenty minutes later, I checked again. “Take this one.” they said, offering me someone else’s meal. I protested and they promised to take the charge off my room tab. “Great!” I replied. “Who am I??”

We heard about thefts from two rooms, delays on planned service, and of course, lots of barking dog complaints. Fortunately, AKA Convention Management was there to smooth over most of the organizational issues.

Kites Kites Kites

The AKA Convention is a great gathering of kiters. It is a series of competitions, workshops, and displays. But to be candid, with a crowded agenda and fliers spread over five arenas, most modest kite events put up a bigger show. AKA isn’t about the show – it is about the people.

The flying each day kicks off with a mass ascension. A particular style of kite is flown each day, and each participant earns a collectable pin. So for 15 minutes, there is a great show in the air.

Angel Fly

On Tuesday, we also held the annual Angel Fly honoring friends that had passed on in the previous year.

On Wednesday, I presented a big kite workshop to about 25 fliers. We then adjourned to the fields and did a hands-on program launching and retrieving several oversized inflatables. I also taught the group how to stuff the kites back in bags…

Dogs Dogs Dogs

Wednesday night, Association Business was the focus and the group assembled for their Annual Membership Meeting. It was one to remember!

It is probably no secret that there has been some discord on the Board this year. During the meeting, we learned that the Assocaition is presently $15,000 in the red, and expects to lose $4000 on the convention. Gary Engvall was re-elected as president but was not prepared with a list of nominees for other Board positions. When he announced recommendations for officers, the members in the room voted the slate down overwhelmingly. Click here for a meeting summary.

Saturday at the closing banquet, Gary offered what I took as a sincere apology to the Board and the members. Let’s hope the group has a better and more productive year.

Competitions continued throughout the week. Detailed results can be found on the AKA site. The Grand Champion Kitemaker was Mike Mosman and the People’s Choice Kite was by Glen Haynes.

Mosman Grand Champion Awards Haynes People's Choice

The Ingraham Award for service to the AKA was won by Marla Miller. The Edeiken Kiteflier of the Year Award went to John Barresi.

Miller - Ingraham Award Baressi - Edeiken Award

Many thanks for David Hathaway for most of the kite photos used here. Check out his daily reports from AKA at KiteLife .

It is Sunday now and we’re flying back to Portland. We have a week’s work to do in the two days we are home before returning East for the Niagara Kite Festival.

Dogs Dogs Dogs Dogs

This was not the best AKA convention. Winds were reasonable and the fields large. But drizzle hampered the best flying days. Workshops were good but the hotel was problematic. The challenges faced by the Association cast a shadow over much of the gathering. And then there were all those dogs.

But at the end of the day, AKA is about people as much as it is about kites. And the people there were good ones. All of them.

Classy Rev

AKA Kites AKA Kites AKA Kites AKA Kites


Post-Convention Tran Tail Special: We've got a bunch of the Miami 24 foot Transition Tails were marking down because they are in "old packaging".

Normally $10 each -- now three for 20. Quantities limited.

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