It is our great pleasure to send you this letter nominating Val Deale of Kensington, Maryland for AKA’s 2019 Steve Edeiken Award. Val has been involved in kites longer and in more different ways than most of us. In all his efforts, he has exemplified the key characteristics of Steve Edeiken, showing friendly, loving, fair, and even-handed concern for:
- People in general, but kitefliers in particular,
- Kiteflying in general, but for craftsmanship and technical developments in particular, and
- Communication in general, but for leading and participating in kite events in particular.
Could you find a nicer, kinder, more helpful person than Val? Probably not. We have known Val for years and years, and he has always been a key source of friendship, volunteerism, knowledge, history, and inspiration. He is a tireless promoter of kiting, kite festivals, kite clubs, kite builders, and kitefliers. With total novices and long-experienced kitefliers, he always offers a “How can I help?” approach with a big smile.
Val has dedicated his life to kiting. Starting with kitebuilding lessons from Dr. Paul Garber, he has promoted kiting and festivals at the local, national, and international levels. He has presented kite-making workshops for kids, schools, scout groups, and community organizations. For decades he has been the leader of the small local Kensington Kite Festival. His volunteer work for the Smithsonian and Blossom Kite Festivals, the largest kite events in the Washington, DC area, have focused on his contributions as Kite Advisory Committee member and on-field Kite Doctor and leader of the Team Kitebuilding competition, all tasks that demonstrate his love for increasing the joy that others find in kites.
Val started working for Kitty Hawk Kites in 1982. Now he is General Manager for Premier Kites & Designs, a position that he has occupied since 1985. Established in 1983, Premier offers hundreds of kites and accessories ranging from entry-level single-line kites for children and families to highly sophisticated flying wonders for experienced kite enthusiasts. The Premier Collections line feature kites award-winning designs from world-renowned American and European designers that are unavailable anywhere else. Val works with these designers to ensure that the best technical materials and designs go into manufacturing kites that are light, durable, able to fly in a wide wind range, and look great in the air. These kites are thoroughly tested in different winds to the highest flight standards. The company has recently entered into vector kiting, Radio Controlled (RC) propulsion and control. Premier has won awards for Manufacturer of the Year, Best Product and Best Catalog Design from the Kite Trade Association International and has received the Parents’ Guide to Media Award for their Parafoil-2 kite.
As General Manager, Val has led Premier’s support of local kite clubs, AKA, KTAI, and the kite industry itself. Through Val’s efforts, Premier has been a consistent and generous donor to many local kite clubs and to AKA, especially with gifts of high-quality kites and kitemaking materials for auctions and other activities.
In a 2003 article about Val in the Washington Post (an article that seemed to say “this guy’s got a really strange but really cool job), Val talked about his connection between loving his job and loving what he does: “I love this. I really like the people I work with. It’s a great activity that involves art, color, flight. Your feet are on the ground, but your mind is in the air.” “Lucky man,” said the article’s author.
For many, many years, Val has been one of the really “good guys” of kiting. The kite world needs more people like Val Deale. He is a truly deserving recipient of AKA’s 2019 Steve Edeiken Award.
Sincerely, Jon Burkhardt, Karen Burkhardt, Ron Gibian, Adam Grow, Glen Haynes, Tanna Haynes