This has to be the classic of the 8 years that my wife and I has attended this festival, weather and wind-wise my wife Gerri and I fly pairs using stacks of 9 Dyna kites we never missed a days flying the whole week we were there, and it was again a thrill and an honor to be once again Ray Bethell’s set up crew for his 2003 new record attempts at this year’s WSIKF in Long Beach WA.
A couple of years ago my wife Gerri and I started flying a stack of 9 Dyna kites we both enjoyed this so much that we competed in the Kite Train category, last year at the Mix 96 kite festival in Sacramento Ray watched us fly a demo after we landed he came over and said how about me as a third flier? We both laughed as we felt for sure he was joking, but after we returned home to Davis “Ray was staying with us for a couple of days” he said he was serious about flying as a Team he also mentioned that he has been toying with the Idea of flying 3 stacks of Dyna kites to establish a new record. We said you mean flying 3 stacks simultaneously? I mean Wow!! I said when and where, he said Long Beach in Aug. When we met Ray at the Berkeley festival last July we told him that we would sponsor him with Dyna kites if he was still interested and we would have them ready in time for Long Beach, Ray said Good Stuff!!
Ray arrived at Long Beach on Aug 19th at 10-45 am and at 11-10 am he was on the beach flying, the first thing he said after greeting us was did you bring the stacks? Yes we did, he said right then we will go for it on Thursday and we better notify the officials and organizer what we hope to achieve, I said you have not flown these kites before don’t you want to practice flying them? Ray said no worry Fred you know these kites and I am relying on you to set them up, then all I have to do is concentrate on flying them.
Thursday morning Ray as every day was on the beach at 7 am, Prism Kites had asked Ray if he could break the 2001 21 record flying 3 stacks of 8 of Adrenaline Kites total of 24 which Ray did with out any problem, but when it came to adding more kites he had trouble with the stacks wobbling a little, flying one stack of 10 from both hands was no problem, Ray praised the Adrenaline kites for there flying qualities as a stack and individually,
Mark Reed president of Prism Kites is going to work on the problem Ray was having when he added the 9th and 10th kite to the stacks, Ray will try them again in Aug 2004.
While Ray was working with Prism I was setting up 3 stacks of 9 Dyna kites with tails Total of 27 kites, Ray came over and said the wind is just right lets get these babies in the air, we attached them to his lines, he then gave me the thumbs up, I stood back fully expecting that he would have a few problems, as you have to realize this is the very first time he has flown 3 stacks of 9 Dyna kites simultaneously.
He launched the stack that was attached to his waist up it went straight as an arrow and hovered in the center of the wind window, he then launched the one in his right hand perfect lift off and came to a hover on the right of the center kite then up went the left hand stack, all three stacks are now hovering with the tails just moving gently it was a beautiful sight to behold, the people that had gathered were busy with there cameras and video. Then Ray started to fly, it is not enough just to hover the kites and call it a record, Ray set the president of rules many years ago at this very festival on his first multiple kite record, when he asked about the rules they told him there are not any as it had never been done before officially, it is up to you to set a president, which he has done, which includes loops and turns left and right also the center kite, dives, passes, hover in the center also right and left of the wind window and you must fly for at least 5 minutes, Ray completed all the required maneuvers plus a few others, I asked Ray later why he adds maneuvers that are not required because if it went wrong it could jeopardize the attempt, he said Fred this is what makes it exciting it also sorts the Men from the Boys? another part of a record is that you must land unaided.
As soon as he landed the Time Keeper Chuck Blevins recorded the time 18.3 minutes, he was not going for an endurance flight, as his 12 hour 12 minute record is still his. He just likes to prove a point by flying longer than the required time.
Ray asked me to add two more kites to each stack making 11 kites a total of 33 kites, once again perfect launching plus flying all the required maneuvers, he landed and the time keeper recorded the time 34.7 minutes every one was very excited as he had just broke his previous record by 6 more kites.
I don’t know where Ray gets all his energy from for as right after he said right Gerri and Fred lets fly Team, which we did for the rest of the day it was indeed a wonderful experience for us flying for the first time as a Team. (Ray is a first class coach having 5 years of Team flying experience)
The next morning “Friday” Ray asked me to add on 6 more kites to the 13 kite stacks making the total of 39 kites, I said they will have a hell of a lot of pull, he said lets give it a go we have nothing to lose but every thing to gain, it was announced, crowds of spectators gathered to watch, with the help of many eager hands from kite flyers we set up the stacks, we all gave Ray the thumbs up and before any one new it all three stacks were in the air there was ohhhs and ahhhhhs yelling, clapping and camera were clicking away it was an unforgettable magnificent sight when he had all three hovered dead center it looked like they were nailed to the sky. And again he performed all the required maneuvers plus a two stack rap not just content with that, when he came out of the rap he brought the center stack in a dive between them then turning up at the last moment to hover once again in-between the other two stacks, he then landed the time was recorded 17.8 minutes. He was surrounded with well wishes congratulating him, spectators asking him to sign there festival programs also there kites, plus having there picture taken with him, it was time for me to take all the added kites of the stacks ready to fly Team, but I said to hell with it for now as I just had to run over and give Ray a big hug, Gerri and I am very proud of the fact that we had this opportunity to have sponsored him, he did us and Long Beach proud.
I would like to thank the flyers Xavier, his wife Elisabeth, Brian, Bill, Chuck and his wife Carol for all there help, plus a great thank you to so many others who offered their help, Thank you again.