The American Kitefliers Association (AKA) started in 1964 as one man in front of his typewriter, reflecting on the people and ideas of his beloved hobby – kites. Now a household name for American kiting, Bob Ingraham and a few other closet-kitefliers had been corresponding since the early 1960s, exchanging hand-drawn plans, kite tips, and generally taking part in each others’ lives with kites as the hub. The initial AKA was hatched as a movement, a strictly adult club, mostly men, who could finally feel free to be open about their love of kites and talk to each other about things like bridles and spars – things most non-kitefliers would relate to other sports entirely or call “kid’s stuff.” Now the largest kiting organization in the world, the AKA has come a long way, yet it still holds many of the same founding tenets of Ingraham’s vision.
We have produced, at great considerable effort, 25 copies of this first quarterly,” wrote Ingraham in the Oct-Dec 1964 issue of his National Kitefliers Quarterly Review.
It was with sheer excitement I discovered the stack of Ingraham’s rare original publications tucked into the back of one of the filing cabinets filling a small room at WKM. I immediately read the first issue cover to cover, and through Ingraham’s words, literally re-lived the birth of the AKA. Throughout the entire issue, “The Editor,” as Ingraham calls himself, uses his dry humor to poke fun at the few fliers that have joined him in declaring the sport worthy of adult time and hard-earned money. For Ingraham, it had been a long time coming, and it was exposing a part of himself he had felt ashamed and alone with for some time. In every word he types, you can sense his excitement that finally he has found kinship, and the fledgling association he has privately nurtured is ready to take flight.