Comprehensive Kitemakers’ Competition 2001

Paterno won number 324 today (October 27, 2001) and he did it with a team that was down 27-9 in the third. Against reports that he and his team were washed up, and predictions for the worst season in PSU history, the players fought hard in the shadow of Mount Nittany and proudly soaked their coach in the end with five gallons of Gatoraid. With strong determination, positive attitude, and inextinguishable spirit, the Lions defeated Ohio State 29-27 and made Joe Paterno the most winningest coach ever. During the press conference after the game, Joe was almost at a loss for words but I bet inside he felt this was one of the best games of his career. 

Doesn’t it feel good when the underdog wins?

You are probably now asking yourself what in the word is Steve smoking to be writing about football in a Kiting magazine.  Well, if you listened to the comments made by many AKA members and read the newsgroup postings on rec.kites, you heard it forecasted that this year’s 24th annual convention in Montana would be the worst in AKA history – just like the predictions by the critical Penn State “fans.”   For the 215+ of you who made the journey, climbed the mountains, and searched for the lion’s roar in Yellowstone Park, you can all show your pictures to the doubters and brag about attending one of the best conventions in AKA history! Billings was host to beautiful weather, gorgeous landscapes, and outstanding flying fields. And no, there was not a single snowflake to freeze us from flying outside.

I was in charge of the Comprehensive Kitemaking Competition this year and it was competed by members with spirit exceeding the levels at Penn State.  Sixty-four kites were entered – of which twenty-six were made by novices. Like the Lions winning with a freshman quarterback, this year’s competition was a success to all novices.  Every one of them took home an award.  We ran each of our thirteen categories and were successful in handing out trophies for all of them. Sam Huston took home the biggest award as this year’s Grand National Champion as well as other trophies for placing in several categories.  Special Recognition is an award that is given at the discretion of the judges and is awarded to a kitemaker exhibiting exemplary qualities. This year the recipient was John Pollock.  John showed the judges energized spirit, inspiration, and excellence – and on top of that he was in charge of field operations for the entire convention.  Mary Gabby entered and won several categories AND took home the award for the Highest Flight score with her bowed kite – “Pacific Sunset.”  The top score for Visual Appeal went to novice, Deb Lenzen and her beautiful train: “Native Tribute” and Lam Hoac took home many awards, two of the most honorary: Highest Score in Craftsmanship and Highest Score in Structural Design.  There were many more winners and I encourage you to review the scores in this edition of Kiting as well as AKA’s web site.  I also have results and pictures posted at  If you see any of the competitors on your local flying fields, applaud them with the appreciation they deserve.

Joe found it difficult to point out individual players; he attributed his success to the team as a whole.  I also find if difficult to point out and congratulate individual AKA members.Those of you who contributed your time by volunteering either as part  of the judging staff or by participating in the competition deserve all my gratitude. Without you the convention would not be possible.
(staff listing here >>>)

The AKA has a good team of players and it has an even greater team of fans.  Thank you to all the volunteers for making it such a wonderful organization to be part of.  Yes, I am a Penn State fan, but I am a bigger AKA fan. Lets hear the AKA roar with positive predictions for next year as we journey east. 

Steve Ferrel, Head Judge 2001