Issue 9: Doin’ It Indoors

Finally the month of May has arrived. With it comes longer, warmer days. There is wind aplenty and fliers take out their bag full of kites and head for wide open spaces.

Change is all around us.

May also signals an end to the indoor kite flying season. Unless of course you live in the southern hemisphere.

May means the beginning of kite festivals and competitions. The folks who have been practicing all winter are anxious to hit the competition circuit to display their winter’s work of developing an indoor routine. Here in the northeastern USA, we always seem to add an indoor competition to the line up.

Now whether you are a believer in competitions or not is up to you, but humans by nature, love to compete. Everyone who does it admits it’s fun. Those that finish near the top really think it’s fun. And if you don’t think competing is fun, then you have to admit, watching competitions can be enjoyable as well.

It used to be that the grand daddy of all indoor competitions, at least on the east coast, was Wildwood. This year we will all be able to share in one final event for indoor competition for the season. This is the first year that an indoor competition will be held at the AKA Nationals being held this year in Muncie, Indiana.

The rules will be the same as they were in the beginning when the AKA first recognized indoor kite flying. Unlimited class, bare bone rules. I’m not convinced that, at the time these rules were written, the Sport Kite Committee didn’t think indoor flying was anything more then a fad. I can understand their reluctance to put time and energy into a sport that is still in its infant stages. However, if any one group of people should be aware of what it takes to get their sport recognized and organized, it should be the AKA. If these people can’t get excited over the sport, why would the rest of the kite flying population, let alone the general public?

Now I haven’t been around organized kiting for but a few years now, so it’s hard for me to understand why it is taking so long for the AKA SKC to come around and see that the rules for indoor competition needs to be overhauled.

Though not having been to many other parts of the country, I do know however, that here in the northeast, indoor flying is progressing rapidly. Like I mentioned, there is almost always an indoor competition listed for local and regional events. I also maintain a directory of people and places where people fly indoors. I feel that list is just the tip of the iceberg. There are monthly and even some weekly indoor fun flies throughout the country. Indoor flying will continue to grow. It is not a fad.

That being said, it is time for the AKA Sport Kite Committee to seriously consider updating the rules. I know that we in the northeast USA are not alone in the world when it comes to indoor flying. Here we have outgrown the AKA rules and want to move forward. I’m certain it must be the same in other places as well.

There were two competitions held this winter in the northeast with modified rules. These modifications allowed for different disciplines. These were dual line, quad line and of course the AKA recognized unlimited class. Despite this attempt at change, the AKA would still only recognize points from the unlimited class. Even so, many people still prepared for and competed in the other two disciplines. Perhaps it is just for fun after all.

So far, I’ve only spread the word through this column. The chief advocate in this venture is John Ruggiero, a member of Kites Over New England. He has done a great deal for this sport and most everyone in the northeast owes him a debt of gratitude for his work in promoting indoor kiting. He has made it possible for many of us to participate in monthly fun flies as well as initiating the general public to this sport.

John is very active in trying to get the rules changed. In particular, he and many others would like to see the rules changed to include different disciplines, instead of one unlimited class. He pitched these ideas to the AKA SKC and was rejected. From what I understand, the newest issue of “Kiting” reports on this ruling.

I, myself would like to see the changes go further to include different skill levels. You would not expect to see a novice competing in master class outdoors. Why is this acceptable for indoors? What is the incentive for someone just starting out to go up against a group of experienced fliers knowing full well there is no chance of winning? Sure competing is fun, but there has to be something said for winning. If you don’t have a shot to begin with, what’s the point of even trying?

The same argument goes for disciplines. You wouldn’t expect dual liners to compete against quads outdoors. Why is it okay for indoors?

So enough already with this ‘it’s just not that popular’ line. There are people in this who are more than ready to move forward. They should not be made to progress at the pace of the slowest thinking.

Okay, what can we do? At the event in Muncie, there will be a cap of 30 participants for this unlimited class event. If the number of registrants far exceeds that, then the AKA SKC would have to take notice. A need for change would have to be recognized. They would be forced to see that the present rules are not fair to that many persons in one category. I wasn’t there, but I would imagine this is what happened when the world of outdoor competition was evolving.

If you plan to attend the AKA National Convention and you are any kind of indoor flier, sign up for the competition. If enough people do this, the point will be proven. This is not a fad. The people who fly indoors are just as passionate and dedicated to their sport as anyone else in kiting and are entitled to fair and equitable treatment. Attend, sign up and compete. Be counted! Be a part of making the change!

Right now the hope is that the first AKA Indoor Nationals Competition will be an open event featuring Unlimited, Dual and Quad-line disciplines. You need not have competed or accumulated points to enter earlier in the season.

Okay, enough already. I hope you had a great season of indoor flying. I wish you well should you decide to compete, whether locally or nationally. And it is my hope, that in some way these articles aided you during this past year.

Oh, one more thing. You can forget the sunscreen for indoor kite flying. Trust me on this.