Issue 59: Owls and Dragons

On Tuesday 25th March 2008, eighty freshman students at Temple University’s Engineering College took over the Temple Owls soccer fields and baseball diamonds to form 20 teams of 4 kite designers each. Four members of the South Jersey Kite Flyers were on hand to judge the endurance portion of all 20 team kites. This kite design competition was funded by the 2008 Drachen (German for dragon, or kite) Foundation to Temple University. The grant reads from the Drachen Foundation’s website:

$2250 Kite Wind Power Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This grant funds research of kite power generation in a project to develop a tethered kite model that will extract energy from the wind. Kites will be designed, built, and tested at a high altitude where the wind blows continually and reliably. In addition, grantees will sponsor a kite design competition during Temple University’s Engineers Week (February 19-23, 2008) for high school and college participants.

The initial date for the kite design competition was delayed for two reasons. Monday February 18th 2008 was President’s Day and no local public or private secondary school system was willing to do anything for its students on a national holiday or even a regular school day because of the price of gas. It also poured rain. Blessings in Disguise!

The delay allowed Professor Jim Chen to enlist the support of freshman engineering Professor Miller to get one of his entire classes of 80 freshman to join in the competition. SJKF’s Andy Selzer in addition to judging provided major ground support with quick lessons in bridling kites.

The Temple Kite Competition was not a mass ascension. Each kite team flew their kites individually. Then the next team. And magically, on the second go-round, Andy Selzer’s bridling lessons completely changed the endurance ability of the kites to remain in the air. Teach some beginning engineering students about bridling and you end up unbridling their enthusiasm. All the kites that had previous trouble remaining aloft were now flying. The kite teams were restricted to air time only by the length of the soccer fields.
The Real Nine-Eleven

As the Old Testament Ecclessiastes 9:11 reads: “Time and chance happeneth to all men.”

As chance would have it, SJKF member Brad Weiner, fresh off the wide beaches at Wildwood NJ for the first ever East Coast Rev Clinic, at the last minute brought along John Barresi and Steve DeRooy from Team iQuad en route to their return flight home. Temple Professor Jim Chen foreshortened the endurance competition to allow the 80 curious freshman to quiz John and Steve about quadline bridling.

Timing is everything and there was considerable press interest. The local NBC news station sent a cameraman. The Philadelphia Daily News sent its top photographer, Dave Maialetti. And then came Don Polec. Don Polec is a popular TV news reporter with ABC in Philadelphia (WPVI Channel 6) and Don has turned “Green” with his most recent “Don Polec’s World” reports on all things solar.

The delayed Temple Drachen kite competition coincided with March 2008 front page headlines in the Philadelphia Inquirer of three proposals to the State of New Jersey to build wind farms off the Jersey shore.

Enter the Dragon

The Drachen Foundation’s 2008 Grant for high altitude kite power generation which does away with current heavy windmills which would have to be grounded at least 100 feet underwater. From the US Patent Office files on one of SJKF’s members:

Wind driven apparatus for an aerial power generation system include driven elements and controls. The driven elements are configured and shaped to provide maximum force from both lift and drag during the downwind phase of operation and minimum force during the upwind phase. The driven elements have a sail portion with a leading edge and a trailing edge. The controls change the driven elements between high force configurations for downwind operation and low force configurations for upwind operation, adjust the pitch and azimuth angles of the driven elements, and control the camber.
Patent number: 7275719
Filing date: Feb 9, 2007
Issue date: Oct 2, 2007
Inventor: Gaylord G. Olson

Don Polec asked me if I happened to be carrying a copy of Gaylord Olson’s patent on me. I was. Ditto the Drachen Foundation’s 2008 Grant to Temple. ABC TV Channel 6 coverage of the kite competition on Tuesday 25th March 2008 consisted of a short clip of the Temple kite design teams. No talking heads. But a segment of “Don Polec’s World” doesn’t appear overnight. The most recent emails from WPVI have included requests to send them anything I might write up, and that now includes this article.

In addition to judging the competition, Andy Selzer wowed the crowd with his fighter kites. Gaylord Olson launched a Symphony Dual Line parafoil. I was able to fly a Kevin Shannon designed 30 square foot parafoil, with Kevin’s wonderful self-adjusting single line bridle. The Temple students showed incredible initiative and asked lots of pointed questions and were very patient. It was a joy to see.

Mission Impossible Made Possible by the Drachen Foundation

If the Drachen Foundation’s stated mission is to help educate and encourage kite flying, then in this time of impossible couch potatoes and lounge lizards, there are now 80 avid kite flyers at Temple University.

It may be appropriate in an article for KiteLife.comto mention that these are 80 kite flyers for life.

Thanks again,

Sam Foertmeyer

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Author:Sam Foertmeyer

Sam Foertmeyer is a project manager who's also been a kite flyer for many years with the South Jersey Kite Fliers. He once went to the dogs until someone told him to go fly a kite and he's been at it ever since.

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