Welcome to another year at KTAI… The other side of the kite world, where retailers and manufacturers meet up to share ideas, make deals and release new products for the first time.
I flew into Albuquerque by way of Denver, arriving around noon on Wednesday via United… Coming down the escalator to pick up my luggage, I ran into Lolly Hadzicki-Ryno of Revolution Kites, who I would be working with during the coming week.
After picking up the rental car, we headed over to the Hilton where the event is being hosted… After getting checked in, I scoped out the facilities, flew my Indoor Rev a little in the hotel courtyard and wound down the evening with good friends in the bar before retired back to the room.
Waking up near 6am, I wandered down to the restaurant for a cup of coffee to go and promptly ran into KTAI’s current president Don Dixon, with whom I had a fine conversation and generally caught up on recent events with… One of the things I always enjoy about this event is being able to connect with friends I only see once or twice a year.
A little later on, Lolly and I had some breakfast and proceeded to check in at the event registration desk with Maggie Vohs (event coordinator) and Billy Jones, with whom I always enjoy a good chat since we shared a quite a few of the “good old days” in kiting, when the sport was booming.
After getting my registration packet and name badges, yes, three badges (Revolution, Kitelife and “media”), I grabbed my camera and wandered around the show floor to snap a few shots of companies setting up their booths… At one point, I stopped to chat with the folks from Flying Wings (Ed, Albert and Bell), another group who I genuinely enjoy catching up with.
After the rest of the Rev crew arrived (Joe Hadzicki and Ben D’Antonio), we rapidly made our way out to the ballon festival fields where we’d be having our demo time, only to find the winds were quite fickle in the range of 0-2mph, and rotating directions no less!
Wind aside, most of the manufacturers were present… Dodd Gross from New Tech with his new UL French Connection, Jim Cosca and Premier with a variety of kites, as well as David from Gomberg Kites, Ben Coleman from Go Fly a Kite, Erv Crosby and Ron Phipps from Four Winds Kites with their Nebula, plus a few others.
Myself and the folks from Rev set up a few 1.5 models, including a couple of customs and the new Barresi Series… The B-Series is my personal favorite, but you have to allow me a little bias here, of course.
So, from around 1pm to 4pm, manufacturers tried to fly in the extremely light winds and a few retailers made their way out to take a gander… However, it was a short session (a full demo day is scheduled on Sunday), and nearly everyone split right at 4pm.
As my cohorts from Rev were leaving, the folks from Flying Wings caught my eye way down on the far end of the field and I had to stop to say hello, electing to catch a ride back to the hotel with them… We flew for another hour or so, and packed it in.
Yes, I know… You’re drooling for more details on the new kites, but I’m going to tease you and save it for tomorrow when I have a chance to walk the floor and get more contact with each company to learn about the new stuff.
Also, I’d hoped to have some good “sneak peek” product video tonight, but didn’t get anything real worthwhile due to the extremely low winds, so it looks like I’ll have to finish it up and post Sunday night after the all day demo fly.
Boy, it’s been awhile since I did one of these without the assistance of my trusty assistant Geezer… Have faith, I’ll pick up steam as the week goes on.
Cheers my friends, I’ll bring it home tomorrow…