AKA Convention

Scott Skinner
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I have to admit, over 30 years after my first American Kitefliers Association (AKA) Convention in 1983, I still get excited to attend this annual event. My schedule conspired to give me only three days at this year’s edition, held in Enid, Oklahoma. In fact, one of those three days was Monday, when the convention hadn’t actually officially started. At any rate, even with a relatively lightly attended convention (I was #119 and I registered in Enid), I still found this to be an opportunity to see people I haven’t seen in years, to see kites unveiled for the very first time, and to share kite lore old and new.

I was fortunate to watch much of the comprehensive kitemaking field competition, and it was a day that did no favors for the competitors. Very light and sporadic winds made every flight a test of skill and light-wind/light-weight construction. Competition categories had minimal numbers of competitors and some categories were cancelled because of a lack of entries, but, as usual, the great kites maintained the high standards of past winners. The comprehensive kitemaking competition is always a snapshot of kites at a given time and place – wind conditions and numbers of competitors are simply two variables along the road to Grand National Champion.

Also on the field that day was the beginning of the fighter kite competition. This has become one of my favorite pieces of the convention. Great camaraderie, old and new fighter kite designs, and skill to fly in any wind condition are just a few of the reasons that this group can do its thing any time, any place. I brought a little piece of fighter kite history to the convention auction in the form of a Vic’s Fighter Kite, still in the original tube and with original instructions. I had no idea until I opened it up that it was an early model with steel cross-spars. The tube included three cross-spars: one for light winds, one thicker for heavier winds, and a third to add for fine adjustments in intermediate winds. I remember being told that Vic’s changed their fighter sails from aluminized mylar to clear mylar because of incidents with power lines. I wondered if I had the story wrong and it was these steel spars that were the problem? Shoot an email to the Drachen Foundation if you remember details of the Vic’s Fighter Kite.

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