"The American Kitefliers Association"

It says on the AKA website, www.kite.org, that, "Founded in 1964 by the late Robert M. Ingraham of New Mexico, the American Kitefliers Association (AKA) has thousands of members in 25 countries, making it the largest association of kite fliers and kite clubs in the world. Our purpose is to educate the public in the art, history, technology, and practice of building and flying kites - to advance the joys and values of kiting in all nations.

"We strive to promote public awareness of the pleasures and educational opportunities that kites provide. They can remind us about how we interact with our environment and each other. Kites can be a source of community building, breaking down barriers that typically prevent us from interacting. No words are needed to fly a kite!"

The AKA holds its annual convention somewhere in the U.S. in October.  The location rotates from the Eastern, middle, and Western part of the continent. Last year (2017), the convention was in Ocean City, MD.  It was the 40th year the convention had been held.  The first convention was also held in Ocean City.  This year, it will be October 15 - 21 in Shreveport, LA.

So what happens at a kite convention?  It happens to be where the Grand National Championships take place.  Competitions are help in the areas of kite making, kite fighting, dual-line individual, pairs and team precision flying and choreography as well as quad-line flying.  Plus competitions are held with indoor kite flying!  

There are also workshops that take place each morning before lunch; after which mass ascensions take place before competitions commence.  The workshops are led by various members the AKA and can range from kite-making workshops to sport kite rules meetings to history of the AKA workshops to presentation from kite manufacturers. Like for example, next year I may present a workshop making small kite called a Genki using mylar film, bamboo, and grass stalks.  

The mass ascensions happen at 1:00 after lunch.  Each day, a particular kite is spotlighted.  Like say on Tuesday, anyone with a delta kite goes to the flying field.  Then at 1:00 sharp, the announcer tells everyone to launch their delta kite.  It's really neat when hundreds of delta kites go up at the same time.  Then on Wednesday, another kite is spotlighted - cellular kites such as box kites.  Then on Thursday, maybe flat kites will be launched; and on Friday, kites like parafoils and inflatable kites.  Etc.  Plus each day, pins are given out for that particular day and by the end of the week, if you've been to all mass ascensions, then you will have all the pins and they will form a pattern, usually a kite.

On Friday evening, there is an auction and banquet, and on Saturday evening, there is the awards banquet.  But, the best part of the convention is the people.  I've been going to the convention off and on since 1982.  In that time period, I have come to know many people, really neat people.  There aren't many I do not like.  Kite fliers are some of the coolest, most laid back people in the world.

Next week, I'll try to explain more about the competitions and the games we play.