A First Timer's observation of the AKA Nationals
by Stephen Ensign

Corbin and I attended our first AKA Nationals this year at Ocean City MD. We were there for the entire event, though in no way did we attend everything offered. That would not have been possible. Monday morning I hit the beach with Marty Cash and got to fly stunt kites right next to Ron Graziano and Shawn Tinkham. That might have been a mistake. The wind was 20+ and we were barely in control, and they were doing tricks together! I finally gave up and went and flew single line kites. By the end of the day I learned two things; that practicing all summer with light wind in Richmond left me totally unprepared for 20+ winds, and second that when you fly a Flowform 252 in that much wind, it takes help to get it back on the ground. Thank you Marty!

Monday night we attended the opening reception and enjoyed the festivities with a bunch of new faces, as well as some I already knew. Corbin parked next to the oyster shucker and made a new friend. We won a Parrot Kite in the raffle and went back to the Hotel in good spirits.


photo by Laura Stonestreet
Tuesday the real activities began. There were kites everywhere, and finding enough space to fly a stunt kite was a challenge. Controlling it in 20+ winds in the crowd was more challenging, but the skies full of kites was still awesome to see.

Every day at about noon, there was a Mass Ascension of some type of kite on Field 2. If you got on the field, and flew the kite of the day, you got a pin. If you flew in all of the Mass Ascensions, and collected all of the different pins, then the pins formed a jigsaw puzzle that made a yellow kite. I have mine all assembled somewhere. (now where is it?)

Almost every day after the Mass Ascension, Corbin and I sat on the Boardwalk and watched some competition. There were Fighter Kite Battles, Rokkaku Battles, Sport Kite, Ballet and Precision competitions, and who knows what else. I could watch for a while, but then I just had to get a kite in my hand, so back out to the beach to fly I went.

I can’t remember what day it was, (just another day on the beach flying kites) but I was playing with a stunt kite just off the boardwalk when I realized that another man was flirting with my wife who was sitting over on the boardwalk. He was flying his Round quad kite all around her and they both appeared to be having fun. I didn’t know who it was then, but later at the Fly Market we saw one of the UFO's he was playing with, so Corbin bought one. The next day we saw him again on the beach and told him we had bought one. It turns out it was Lee Sedgwick, the inventor of the UFO, and he gave Corbin lessons on flying it as a quad right there from one of the boardwalks. She was all smiles!

photo by Corbin Ensign

Friday night was the big Banquet. We sat at our fearless AKA Region 3 Leader’s table. Doug and Maribel Charleville, and Doug’s parents sat with us. Corbin and I decided that Doug’s parents were the oldest “KIDS” at the Convention. It was fun to see and hear their enthusiasm about kites, and the Convention as a whole.

After dinner was over, the Great Auction began. David Gomberg did a great job MC’ing it. I had been warned that things can go for high prices at the Nationals, but I was still surprised by a few things. Barbara buying the Rev for $980 for Paul was awesome! Corbin did her part driving up the prices, but I was mad at her when she dropped out of the bidding for Harold Ames tie dyed Shield Kite. I wanted that kite! She did get the Delta kite that Adrienne and Mearl Balmer contributed which I proudly flew the next day at the Mass Ascension. It looked beautiful in the sky!

Saturday night we attended the Awards Banquet and sat at Richard and Jackie Mervine’s table right up front. It was a great place to be when Richard walked up to get First in Novice Individual Ballet. Way to go Richard! Other RAF members received awards too. Congratulations! Doug Charleville got 4th in Experienced Individual Ballet and 2nd in Precision. Will and Laura’s Wing Nuts got 3rd place in Pairs Ballet.

photo by Stoney


photo by Laura Stonestreet

Mike Mosman walked once for 2nd in Experienced Individual Quad Ballet. Paul LaMasters got 3rd place in Open Individual Freestyle just edging out RAF Grand Poo Ba Stoney, last year’s National Freestyle Champion who came in 4th. I thought Harold Ames got a place in the Rokkaku Battle, but maybe he was just up on stage collecting other peoples awards so many times I got confused.

Almost at the end of the evening I got People’s Choice Award for Kite Accessories with my carved golf ball heads. Bringing home wood from my first Convention was special. And then to top it all off, Lee Sedgwick came over and handed Corbin his personal quad line handles and lines to use on the UFO she bought! What a night!



Sunday we reluctantly had to pack up and leave. I got up early and flew on the beach one last time. The winds were lighter and the beach less crowded than it had been all week. All in all it was a great experience and I have to admit that I am already thinking about how to get to the Midwest for next year’s event!
photo by Laura Stonestreet