Issue 1: AKA Corner

Greetings! Kitelife has graciously offered me this space to give regular reports on the activities of the American Kitefliers Association, or AKA. This column will also appear on the AKA web site–many thanks to Kitelife for providing the link to our site and supporting the AKA.

Let me tell you a little about our group. The AKA is a 30-year old, non-profit organization devoted to “educating the public in the art, history, technology, and practice of building and flying kites, and to advance kiting, its joys and values, in all nations.” We currently have 4000+ members with a wide diversity of kiting interests. We have large numbers of competitive sport kite fliers, kite builders, and just pure recreational fliers. Smaller “sub-groups” include buggiers, kite artists, kite aerial photographers, fighter kite enthusiasts, miniature kite fans, etc. We welcome new members–as the only national organization for kiters, and the largest club in the world, we are doing our best to improve awareness and increase participation in our wonderful hobby/sport/pastime. Join us!

The AKA contracts the services of only three part-time employees: Executive Director Mel Hickman, Kiting Editor Roger Chewning, and Convention Manager Jim Miller. Mel processes all memberships, answers the phone, handles the mail, and a lot more. Roger puts out Kiting for the membership every other month. This 28-32 page magazine has been improving steadily under Roger’s stewardship. And Jim is hard at work making plans for our next annual convention, to be held in Ocean Shores, Washington from Oct. 13-17. The bulk of the work of the AKA is done by volunteers, headed by an elected Board of Directors–13 Regional Directors and 7 Directors-at-large. This board meets every other month by conference call, and once a year in person, to set AKA goals, determine policy, and conduct business. (We may be a non-profit, but our annual budget exceeds $100,000.)

Current Activities of the AKA include:

*Promoting and assisting with kite festivals across the country. Regional Directors are working with dozens of upcoming events. Festival organizers can obtain insurance for their events through AKA “Sanctioning”–members’ liability insurance is also increased at such sanctioned events.

*Promoting and assisting kite clubs across the country. Club Liaison chairman Robyne Gardner is hard at work contacting all known clubs to see how she can assist them. AKA affiliated clubs enjoy several benefits, including sanctioning of club flies and regular listings in Kiting.

*Collection and examination of applications for the positions of Executive Director and Convention Manager. The Board will be determining in the near future whether to extend current contracts or perhaps enter into new ones.

*Improvement of our AKA website. High on the list of priorities is a new calendar section, which will be updated as soon we become aware of kite events across the country. ( This will require a LOT of help. As soon as you know of an upcoming kite event, e-mail information to calendar (at) ) Another recent project of the electronic opportunities committee, headed by Chuck Sigal, has been the construction of a “virtual clubhouse” section where AKA members can post questions or comments for the AKA board. We are also planning to post minutes of AKA board meetings.

*Updating of AKA publications. The Sport Kite Committee, headed by Dave and Sherrie Arnold, has been working all winter with STACK, (the European sport kiting organization), and AJSKA, (the Japanese group), to produce a new international rule book for sport kite competitors. It’s anticipated this will be available by late summer.The Fighter Kite and Rokkaku Manual is being revised, with some “tweaking” of the rules for competitions of this type. And the AKA Events Manual, for festival organizers, is getting new sections added on holding sport kite competitions and the duties of safety officers. These revised publications should be available this summer–we’re currently out of the old versions.

*A couple of committee publications are being regularly sent to subscribers: The Aerial Eye for kite photographers, and Airborne Art News for kite artists. Non-AKA members may subscribe to these, but members receive a discount.

*One new publication is in the works–a Team Flying Manual by Troy Gunn and Jerry Hershey. Emphasis is on getting started team flying; the manual will have a lot of team manuever diagrams and instructions.

*Other possible new publications which have been proposed are a manual for giving kite classes and workshops, a compilation of kite building plans printed in past Kitings, and all previous editions of the Aerial Eye in book form. (These are just ideas right now.)

*Planning for this year’s and future conventions. With this year’s convention set for next fall, we are actively recruiting volunteers–particularly for a wide variety of kite related workshops and seminars. The l999 convention will be in Muncie, Indiana, and the AKA board is studying possible sites for the year 2000 convention and beyond.

*Studying ways to increase publicity, membership, and improve membership retention. Membership growth is vital to the AKA. If we could increase membership 50%, we could make Kiting even better, provide more membership benefits, and really advance our cause.[/left][left]If you are not a member, we would love to have you! If you already are a member, how about signing up a new member or giving a gift membership to a friend? We’re all in this together, with the primary purpose of having FUN!

Good winds,

Richard Dermer
l998 AKA President