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There has been much discussion amongst those that have attended the three meetings that have been held to consider the possible formation of the BKFA, on the ‘rec.kites’ newsgroup on the Internet, and between flyers meeting on fields over the last few years.
Many feel that there is simply no need for an organisation: BBC represents the interests of the traction community, PKSF is looking at all aspects of power kiting, STACK represents the precision flyers at UK and international level, and KSGB exists for all flyers, although I suspect with an unintended bias toward single line flyers. And that’s before we think about all the local clubs, formal and otherwise.
And therein lies I believe the first real need for a national body, an elected body that could really claim to represent all the diverse aspects of kiteflying. It can provide a common forum for discussion of matters of joint interest. It can draw a balance between what may become increasingly opposing views, the power v. ‘the rest’ debate and is one getting the other a bad name.
For example, a number of flyers expressed concern at the recent Bedford event as to whether having Team Adrenalize display in public was giving the right message. I know that Team Adrenalize felt that they had been denied reasonable access to the arena and as a result lost the wind. BKFA cannot solve that dilemma (nor should it try), but it can provide a forum where there can be informed debate that will then help organisers make better-informed decisions about how they run their events.
Second, there is strength and credibility in numbers. BKFA can lobby at both a national level and can support clubs lobbying at local level. Whether it is getting a ban on buggy’s lifted (or sensible controls agreed) or lifting a total ban on kiteflying on a beach (yes, it has happened on at least one UK beach), an organisation that has been elected by a cross section of UK kitefliers has an improved chance of being accepted as a definitive body – and that is not to deny the sterling work that has been done by KSGB, BBC, PKSF and some local clubs in influencing local opinion – but that there can be more impact from a national body representing a cross-section of UK flyers.
That cross-section and clear lack of vested interest also strengthens credibility when it comes to health and safety concerns. The BKFA can produce codes of practice, guidance for clubs and event organisers and safety promotion material drawing on the entire national experience across all codes. It can make all of these freely available to all clubs and promote safe flying at events, through schools and through local authorities. Clubs who then subscribe to these national codes may find insurance is easier to obtain and that local authorities are more prepared to listen to their views when safety issues arise.
If an accident does occur, the club can rightfully point out that they are following guidelines agreed nationally. And those guidelines can be rapidly reviewed on a national basis in the light of reported incidents. BKFA can monitor accident statistics on a national basis, taking proactive action where a trend becomes apparent.
BKFA can draw upon sponsorship and grant-aid at a national level to promote the enjoyment of kiteflying and safe flying through a variety of media. It can promote education on history and current practice, it can provide material for design study and it can provide a forum for those thinking about public and private displays of kites and kite related materials.
It can introduce people to their local clubs, or a club most suited to their specific interests. It can arrange for interested flyers to attend events at home and abroad. It can respond to media enquiries directing local media to an appropriate club.
It could work with event organisers to assist in the co-ordinated scheduling of events. It could arrange for international guests to be shared between events.
It can respond at a national level to changing circumstances. If (when) there is a change to the Air Navigation Order, it can produce a response co-ordinated across all clubs. By showing that degree of consultation it will carry far more credibility than any club acting in isolation. It can lobby the HSE and other government agencies to ensure, so far as is possible, that new regulations are made fully informed by the views of kitefliers.
It can do whatever clubs want it to do. Its constitution will ensure it is controlled by clubs, for their benefit and for the benefit of all kitefliers in the UK.