R Moore

kite altitude record attempt

15 posts in this topic

Hello good people,

I have put my record attempts on hold until around August next year.

I do have a life apart from trying to smash the world single line altitude record.

The upside of the break from my activities is I will have meticulous preparation and lots more help.

SBRkiteman announced intention to have a crack at the record at the Callaway kite festival in October?

Michael Martellotti is working toward an attempt at the absolute altitude record using a train of Kites. He is from Nevada region.

Bob Moore

Dubbo, Australia.

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August of next year? Ughhh! We know how life gets in the way. Keep us uspdated on preperations please. We look forward to your post.

BB

Penny

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13,609 ft above the launch point is claimed by Richard Synergy near Kincardine, Canada on August 12th 2000. Although this record has been accepted by Guinness BoR and most of the kiting community, I have concerns about the method used to record altitude.

The long held belief prior to Richard's record is that the Blue Hill weather station (USA) set the record of 12,477 ft with a box kite in 1896. This also has been discredited by researchers affiliated with the Drachen Foundation who think it was a multiple kite train flight. I support that view.

That leaves the Cires flight of over 10,000 ft with parafoils. This is also not a single line record as it was with 2 kites on one line. Bang, bang. Next.

The other record is for a kite train and is held by a German weather staion team in 1919. It is claimed, and there are credable records to support this, that a train of eight box kites reached 31,955 feet above the launch point. There are some in the kiting community who doubt this record as well. Peter Lynn is one.

There are are a number of unsupported claims, one of which is that a Gary Indiana High school team flew a train over 33,000 ft above the launch point in 1969. I think this appeared in Guinness BoR in the 70's but I'm not sure. Really, the single line record has not been properly established at any hieght. At least to my satisfaction. I would like anyone out there to prove me wrong! If anyone thinks they have the record, put it to the AKA record committee. As far as Guinness goes, they would know if there "a**e was on fire" in respect to kites and they don't even list any kite records in the 2006 book.

Bob Moore

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13,609 ft above the launch point is claimed by Richard Synergy near Kincardine, Canada on August 12th 2000. Although this record has been accepted by Guinness BoR and most of the kiting community, I have concerns about the method used to record altitude.

The long held belief prior to Richard's record is that the Blue Hill weather station (USA) set the record of 12,477 ft with a box kite in 1896. This also has been discredited by researchers affiliated with the Drachen Foundation who think it was a multiple kite train flight. I support that view.

That leaves the Cires flight of over 10,000 ft with parafoils. This is also not a single line record as it was with 2 kites on one line. Bang, bang. Next.

The other record is for a kite train and is held by a German weather staion team in 1919. It is claimed, and there are credable records to support this, that a train of eight box kites reached 31,955 feet above the launch point. There are some in the kiting community who doubt this record as well. Peter Lynn is one.

There are are a number of unsupported claims, one of which is that a Gary Indiana High school team flew a train over 33,000 ft above the launch point in 1969. I think this appeared in Guinness BoR in the 70's but I'm not sure. Really, the single line record has not been properly established at any hieght. At least to my satisfaction. I would like anyone out there to prove me wrong! If anyone thinks they have the record, put it to the AKA record committee. As far as Guinness goes, they would know if there "a**e was on fire" in respect to kites and they don't even list any kite records in the 2006 book.

Bob Moore

Hi Bob. This is Steve Lyman. I was part of the team of Gary, Indiana high school students that set the Guinness record for kite flying altitude in 1969. The record was set using a train of 19 Gayla kites of various wingspans (3-5 feet) on several weights of Shakespeare monofilament fishing line. Gayla Industries (Houston, TX) and Shakespeare Sporting Goods Company (Columbia, SC) provided the kites and line while we manufactured our own winch and brake system to handle the factory aluminum spools of fishing line (2,000-4,000 yards per spool depending on line test weight). The record, hardly unsubstantiated, was witnessed by the local TV reporter from NBC in Chicago and a newspaper reporter from the Gary Post-Tribune. Our observations and calculations were verified by a certified mathematics teacher and submitted to the Guinness Record people (I have a copy of the 1974 edition which credits our attempt). We had to use telescopic triangulation with walkie talkie communication and a US Navy sextant between the two observation sites along the catenary plane, backed up by elastic catenary calculation (half of an inverse hyperbolic cosine function) using the total length of line deployed (verified by recording the length of line of each spool fully deployed and recording the mass of the line on the remaining partially deployed spool using precision balance scales) to calculate the final position of our top kite since there was no GPS in those days. To achieve the altitude of 35,531 feet, 56,457 feet of line was deployed during the final record attempt which lasted over 7 hours. We calculated a combined line elasticity of 7%, a very conservative elongation value for monofilament fishing line. We used a range of fishing line weights from 20-50 lb test. We had to receive written permission from the FAA ATC center in Chicago to make the attempt. From early test flights, we determined a single kite of manageable size could not beat the record held since 1919 by German meteorologists (using large box kites). We finally went with Gayla as their delta wing kites demonstrated consistently the ability to fly at high angles of attack, making the most efficient use of the line deployed (and reducing line weight). We emulated the successful German record technique of joining kites in a train to support the line weight and provide greater total system lift. Over the years, the students on our team went on with their lives and we did not notice that Guinness had removed our record from print at some point. Perhaps we should look into this with Guinness. As a footnote, several of the kites from the record attempt were eventually returned to us from places over 100 miles from our launch location and put on display in our trophy case at Wirt High School.

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13,609 ft above the launch point is claimed by Richard Synergy near Kincardine, Canada on August 12th 2000. Although this record has been accepted by Guinness BoR and most of the kiting community, I have concerns about the method used to record altitude.

The long held belief prior to Richard's record is that the Blue Hill weather station (USA) set the record of 12,477 ft with a box kite in 1896. This also has been discredited by researchers affiliated with the Drachen Foundation who think it was a multiple kite train flight. I support that view.

That leaves the Cires flight of over 10,000 ft with parafoils. This is also not a single line record as it was with 2 kites on one line. Bang, bang. Next.

The other record is for a kite train and is held by a German weather staion team in 1919. It is claimed, and there are credable records to support this, that a train of eight box kites reached 31,955 feet above the launch point. There are some in the kiting community who doubt this record as well. Peter Lynn is one.

There are are a number of unsupported claims, one of which is that a Gary Indiana High school team flew a train over 33,000 ft above the launch point in 1969. I think this appeared in Guinness BoR in the 70's but I'm not sure. Really, the single line record has not been properly established at any hieght. At least to my satisfaction. I would like anyone out there to prove me wrong! If anyone thinks they have the record, put it to the AKA record committee. As far as Guinness goes, they would know if there "a**e was on fire" in respect to kites and they don't even list any kite records in the 2006 book.

Bob Moore

Hi Bob. This is Steve Lyman. I was part of the team of Gary, Indiana high school students that set the Guinness record for kite flying altitude in 1969. The record was set using a train of 19 Gayla kites of various wingspans (3-5 feet) on several weights of Shakespeare monofilament fishing line. Gayla Industries (Houston, TX) and Shakespeare Sporting Goods Company (Columbia, SC) provided the kites and line while we manufactured our own winch and brake system to handle the factory aluminum spools of fishing line (2,000-4,000 yards per spool depending on line test weight). The record, hardly unsubstantiated, was witnessed by the local TV reporter from NBC in Chicago and a newspaper reporter from the Gary Post-Tribune. Our observations and calculations were verified by a certified mathematics teacher and submitted to the Guinness Record people (I have a copy of the 1974 edition which credits our attempt). We had to use telescopic triangulation with walkie talkie communication and a US Navy sextant between the two observation sites along the catenary plane, backed up by elastic catenary calculation (half of an inverse hyperbolic cosine function) using the total length of line deployed (verified by recording the length of line of each spool fully deployed and recording the mass of the line on the remaining partially deployed spool using precision balance scales) to calculate the final position of our top kite since there was no GPS in those days. To achieve the altitude of 35,531 feet, 56,457 feet of line was deployed during the final record attempt which lasted over 7 hours. We calculated a combined line elasticity of 7%, a very conservative elongation value for monofilament fishing line. We used a range of fishing line weights from 20-50 lb test. We had to receive written permission from the FAA ATC center in Chicago to make the attempt. From early test flights, we determined a single kite of manageable size could not beat the record held since 1919 by German meteorologists (using large box kites). We finally went with Gayla as their delta wing kites demonstrated consistently the ability to fly at high angles of attack, making the most efficient use of the line deployed (and reducing line weight). We emulated the successful German record technique of joining kites in a train to support the line weight and provide greater total system lift. Over the years, the students on our team went on with their lives and we did not notice that Guinness had removed our record from print at some point. Perhaps we should look into this with Guinness. As a footnote, several of the kites from the record attempt were eventually returned to us from places over 100 miles from our launch location and put on display in our trophy case at Wirt High School.

Hello Steve,

I came across your post by accident as I don't visit kitelife much these days. The account of the kite train flights in 1969 was very interesting. Thank you for taking the time to write the detailed reply. I knew of the 1969 record from reading a 1972-3? edition of Guinness BoR my brother got for his birthday. I didn't see it in any subsequent editions of the book so I guess they have archived it. Interestingly, a few years ago, I made a big effort to find some (or any)of your school mates who was involved in the record attempt. In fact I didn't find him, he found me via my web site. I am trying to remember his name. I think it's Brian and an Eastern European surname (Kipkovic?). In a long email he wrote a detailed account of the flights. I lost the email with a hard drive crash. On my altitude record website I usually mention the Gary Indiana record but it is difficult to confirm the details when Guinness no longer acknowledges this record. They don't publish any kite records as it is not interesting enough in their opinion especially since the new format was introduced a few years ago. In respect to the catenary equation, it would need to be an unequal height attachment, catenary equation that also includes the aerodynamic line drag plus the kite lifts and drag. It's not really a catenary because it is not simply a chain hanging freely under gravity. The line drag is a much larger force than the line weight and varies with wind speed and inversely with air density. The stiffness and elasticity of the nylon line would also be affected by temperature. The temp at 35,000 ft is in the order of -10 deg F Another complication with calculating the line curvature is the dynamic state of the drag forces. These forces are effected by air density, air temperature, wind speed and the diameter of the line. The line used has multiple diameters and each diameter has different unit weights and different lengths. These variables are very difficult, if not impossible to integrate into the general formula for the catenary. I have written an excel routine that is very close to the results I have achieved in the field with my big single line kites. It has over 40 fixed input and variable values. These 1969 Gayla kites were relatively small I gather, that is between 5 & 10 sq ft each? So if an average of 7 sq ft then total area would be about 130 sq ft. That's a little more than my current kite I use for my record attempts. As far as me writing that the records are unsubstantiated, in effect they are because Guinness won't publish them nor will they give information on your record to me. I suspect they have discarded a lot of old records because they sent me verification of 2 records when I applied for altitude record application. One was Richard Synergy's single kite record and the other was the 1919 Lindenberg train record with no mention of the Gary Indiana record. Perhaps we need to find an early 70's copy of BoR. I want to believe this record was set as I think it is a very good story. Anyway good to hear from you. Are you still flying kites?

Regards,

Bob Moore

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In addition to the above points about altitude record flights, it is my view that the kite(s) should be recovered to the launch point otherwise it is not a successful flight. It is an abnormal flight. I don't think the German record of 1919 should have been claimed as the steel wire broke when reeling the kites in. They certainly depended on getting the kites and instruments back on a daily basis. They were lucky to recover the kites and instruments and without them the record altitude could not be verified.

An analogy would be claiming a world record marlin but it wasn't landed in the boat and using a line tension formula to gauge the marlin's weight. To most kite enthusiasts, losing a kite would be very disappointing and I wouldn't say it was a successful day's flying. The FIA model aircraft altitude record stipulates that the plane must land intact, at the take-off point if a record is to be claimed. A mountain climber, to conquer a peak, must return by climbing back to the base. By not having to retrieve the kites avoids a major part of the kite flying process and avoids the problem of winching the line and storage under low tension. It also avoids the increase in wind speed due to counter winding against the wind. If only letting line out steadily, a lighter, thinner line can be used as the kite is going with the wind and the virtual wind speed is lower. I am still puzzled by the ability of 50 lb mono-filament line tolerating the pull generated by 19 small to medium kites. The maximum pull of any of the kites would therefore be limited to 2.5 lbs. This doesn't include line drag which would be considerable for 56,000 ft of line. I am certain that a 5ft Gayla kite would generate more than 5 lbs pull and a 3 ft Gayla kite more than 3 lbs in a moderate breeze. A gentle breeze all the way to 35,000 ft would not support 56,000 ft of line weight or the drag. Calculating the direct distance to the kite via catenary, assuming the line is suspended from unequal height and is in a vacuum, is fundamentally flawed. It doesn't matter if the calculation was done by a certified maths teacher or even Albert Einstein. The accuracy of the calculation is not in question but the premise that the line between the kites is a pure gravitation catenary is clearly incorrect. The forces exerted by the kites at different altitudes is unknown. The lift and drag of each kite would vary with size and altitude. The air density reduces with altitude The sextant measurements may be accurate but should have done by a qualified person and the reference point would need to be at least 1 mile apart and accurately surveyed by a registered surveyor. I find it very difficult to understand how the optics of a sextant can pick up a relatively small kite over 50,000 ft away. I have difficulty tracking a 20 ft kite at 15,000 ft distance with theodolites. These have far better optics than a sextant. It is especially hard to locate this kite once a visual lock has been lost and it is 120 sq ft.

There is another scenario. After say 6 x 3 ft kites were launched and 20 lb line was between kite 1,2,3 and 4 and 50 lb line was used between the rest for instance, the train rises to 2,000 ft. The top kite is now very difficult to see with the naked eye. By 3,000 ft it's out of site. Kites are added every 1,000 ft of line and 700 ft of vertical height. The winds get stronger and stronger at the top kites as they rise. The line breaks between kites 3 and 4 then the 3 top kites drift off downwind but the ground crew are oblivious to the line break as there are now 4 kites on the line. After all the drop in line tension could be the result of a sudden drop in wind speed. Wind varies in strength, doesn't it? 10,000 ft of line has been released but only 7,000 ft of line remains in the air. This goes on for 7 hours with 19 kites being released but out of sight 3 or 4 break off every couple of hours. It is assumed that 56,000 ft of line is out and there is a full set of 19 kites on the line but there are perhaps only 9 or 10. Kites 5 - 10 are out of visual sight but a sextant measurement of the highest visible kite's angle is 42.5 degrees. There is no audit of the entire kite train to verify that 19 kites are still present. The catenary is calculated assuming 56,000 ft of line out and a straight line distance of 52,000 ft. 33,000 ft is computed by the maths teacher. The actual altitude reached is 11,500 ft. The kites aren't retrieved so it cannot be confirmed that the train remained intact. Only a few kites were recovered. The cross sectional area of the line was at least 80 sq ft. That creates enormous drag. The physics of the flight are just unbelievable.

It is puzzling why more kites were never found or if the train was still intact on the ground. I would also be concerned about deliberately releasing 56,000 ft of fishing line into the countryside with potential for injury to people, livestock and wildlife. When I first tried high altitude flying, I used 20 then 50 lb nylon fishing line on 3 - 5 ft deltas. A single 5 1/2 ft span, 8 sq ft, delta broke 20 lb line and a 7 ft,11 sq ft delta snapped 50 lb line when flying at 2,300 ft. I think I am justified in my skepticism. I think I have sound reasoning for my doubts backed up with expertise on high altitude flights. So far the evidence I have for this record claim is hearsay and lacks hard evidence. The claims seem to contradict flight physics. The presence of reporters does not bolster the physics of the flight. They could no more observe the kites more closely or confirm the altitude than any of the boys on the team. It doesn't matter if there were 100,000 people watching the flight. The kites were out of sight by 5,000 ft. The German flight in 1919 used a recording barometer(barograph). Now that's good evidence.

Bob Moore

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Thanks Bob - that was *very* interesting, these high level flights are way more than most would think. I supose hoping for the scientific community to see the use of this would be wishful thinking :mf_party:

Rob

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Bob,

You were probably referring to Brian Ivkovich from our team. I appreciate your skepticism, Mr. Moore. We used two 11" Celestron telescopes for our observations. They still work well for spotting 100m asteroids 200,000 miles from Earth so we had no issues following the train during the flight at medium magnifications. Wind speed,heading, and temperature aloft were monitored from NOAA and FAA data every 2 hours up to 30K feet.Wind speeds varied from 18-25 mph at 5K feet to 40-55 mph at 30K feet.During the flight we experienced small wind shears of 10-20 degrees at the various altitudes, generally on a heading of 090 degrees, which added to the challenge of tracking the train. The Gayla Giant Bat kite displayed at our high school was number 1 at the top of the train. The sail material experienced some wind damage along the edges, but the frame and sail panel bonding held up fine.Good luck on your attempt.

Bob,

I still fly kites recreationally. Great relaxation and a spiritual experience for me. I'm flying Kitty Hawk and Premier products mostly now, delta designs (still my favorite and some parafoil shapes as well).

Hope all is well.

Regards,

Steve Lyman

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I think this is this kite: 380superbat1981.jpg

It has even "Guiness Book of Records, World Altitude Record Holder, 7 Miles High" badge. The kite has just 50" (127cm) span, so is pretty small and does not require strong line

rgds

Sebastian

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It wasn't altitude, but my dad had over 3 miles of kite line out back in the 1950s. Using seine twine (a hard cotton cord for net-making) and dimestore kites, he let line out until it sagged to the water, added another kite on a 50' leader, and began letting out more line. Repeat until out of kites. The terns would come and sit on the line, making it slowly drop to the water. Then they would fly away, and the line would slowly rise again. Back they would come to the line. Down they would go again. Fun to watch for a 10 yr old.

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I'll just add some comments.

If the Celestron telescopes were able to measure angle of elevation with sub degree accuracy, the telescopes were placed at an accurately measured fixed distance apart, the telescopes were able to be leveled to <0.1 deg and the top kite constantly kept in view by both observers, then this is reasonably accurate method of altitude measurement. However the angle of elevation is not the only measurement required. The top kite's horizontal bearing must also be measured by each telecope using the position of the other telescope as a reference or another fixed reference point such as a tower or tall structure. (see the NASA Glen site for measurement of kite altitude). Gravitational catenary calculations applied to this record are clearly flawed because the role that wind drag on the line plays affects the curvature so much that the presumption of an unequal height attachment gravitational catenary is invalid. The line "absorbed" by the curvature or sag caused by wind drag on the line would be greater. Not only would the line sag toward the earth but the line would curve sideways as the wind direction varied with altitude. (wind shear described by Steve Lyman)

If you look up properties or strength of materials you will find the vertical length these materials will support, that is if you suspend a line of uniform thickness under gravity then these are the lengths in km at which the material will break.

Scifer steel wire 71.2

Nylon 7.04

Kevlar 256

Spectra fiber 369

You can see that nylon(fishing line will break under it's own weight at 7.04 km or 22,880 ft. The kite line is at an angle and assuming the top kite is at 45 deg then the vertical component of the line weight before the weight of the line will break itself is 22,880/0.707 or 32,362 ft. Remember this is the maximum length of uniform diameter fishing line that can be suspended at 45 deg (WITHOUT kite(s)).

If the pull of 19 kites is 19 lbs (I suggest the net pull would be more than double that) the maximum length of 50 lb fishing line (flying at 45 deg) before line break would be (50-19)/50 x 32,362 = 20,064 ft. The maximum kite altitude before line break would be 20,064 x 0.707 = 14,185 ft

These calculations do not include wind drag on the line which would add to the line tension and cause the line to break much earlier.

If the kites combined pull is double my estimate then the altitude before line break would have been less than 10,000 ft. Also the line's thickness varied, that is, heavier, thicker and stronger line was added so the weight that the thin topline had to support was proportionally greater. There are so many scientific reasons why the altitude record claims are very difficult to support.

1. No 2 scope direct observation (3d triangulation).

2. Flawed catenary calculations based on dubious assumptions.

3. Physical properties of Nylon that make it impossible to support the lengths of line and the number of kites claimed.

Only a few sections of the "train" were recovered suggesting that some kites may have broken away.

While it would be great if Gary Indiana High School students did break the record in 1969, I think my skepticism is justified.

After my single kite record attempts I will prove (or disprove) my claims by attempting to recreate the Gary Indiana "record" flights. Let's see.

The only thing I can't recreate are the exact weather conditions on that day in 1969.

Bob Moore

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I'd never even considered the dynamic of line breaking under it's own weight when strung out far enough... WOW. :kid_cussing:

I always love your updates Bob, thank you - keep 'em coming!

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There are 2 items I am adding to my high altitude kite flights between now and September 2011.

First I always wanted to know exactly what the line tension at the winch is in real time. With any piece of equipment I add to the winch and reel system, it must not increase the risk of line breakage. With this in mind I have done much research on techniques and devices to measure static and running line tension. The obvious first choice was a spring balance either measuring static line tension or moving line tension. This can be done a number of ways including direct pull opposite the direction of the line pull, at 90 degree angle to the line pull with a 30 degree deflection of the line. The last method requires 2 fixed pulleys which the line passes around and the hook of the balance pulling the line so that a 30 deg angle is formed around the hook. This 30 deg angle is chosen because it results in a quarter of the line tension transfering to the spring balance. Think about sin30 deg being 0.5 the line either side of the balance dividing the line tension by 2. The tension shown on the spring balance is then 0.25 of the actual line pull. The value shown on the scale is then multiplied by 4. This is only good for static measurement, that is, the winch would need to be stopped then the line hooked and attached to a fixed point to give the required 30 degree angle. This is a cheap but cumbersome method and there is some danger that a hook sliding over the line will produce friction and enough heat to melt the Dyneema.

Using a balance attached to an open sided bracket like a walkdown pulley that some of you "normal" ;):):sign_please: kite flyers use, would result in a system that can measure running line tension but the pulley needs to be ridgidly located but free to move up and down within the constrants of the spring tension. I don't want the pulley to be flopping around with the line jumping off track. Ok, that's cheap and do-able but still a little crude and difficult to read line tension quickly.

The next method under investigation is load cells and dedicated tensionmeters. The are a lot of commercial tensiometers but only a few in the tension range of 5 - 500lb. These mostly use a 3 pulley device with the centre pulley connected to a load cell. They are anywhere between $1,000 and $5,000. Some don't cater for really thin lines although they are in the load measurement range I need. Like many kite builders I am adaptable and often will scroung bits and pieces from the oddest places. In this case I found a bathroom scale with 4 load cells and a digital readout. The 1st one was $20 which I hacked but it didn't turn out very good. I have another now for $17 and basically I'm going to remove the glass platform and replace with 4 mm aluminium plate. On this plate I will bolt a kite pulldown pulley and mount the lot on a small platform/bracket above the winch guide pulleys so that the line angle formed around the measuring pulley is 30 degrees. The is a much more robust system than a spring balance. Another simpler way is to use a spring bathroom scale. I won't need to press the platform to turn the scale on from auto off.

The 3rd way is to use an electronic guitar tuner to measure the line vibration then convert the Hz value to lb tension with a spreedsheet imput with the line properties and distance between pulley sopports. I may not get to test this in the field before the record attempts but it is interesting. Why do I want to know line tension. So I can judge how close I'm coming to line breakage and whether I should reel line in slow or can do it faster. Also I may need to delay kite retrieval until the wind speed drops. It also tells me if line broke because of excess pull or due to a line flaw.

Bob

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