Big big big kites
In 1994, there were proposals emanating from the US prospecting for funds (a term for other people’s money) to build a new world’s largest kite. The Guinness record holder at that time was the Dutch big kite, 550sq.m’s (photo attached) built and campaigned by the Holland Kite Team, leader Gerard van der Loo. Prior to this kite there had been a tragic attempt on the record at Long Beach USA (the Washington State one) also with a large parafoil style kite. During the attempt, Steve Edeiken became tangled in a bridle line, and fell to his death. This kite (about 800sq.m’s) did fly but was never formally observed or measured by the Guinness criteria- but, I believe, is morally at least, still actually the largest kite that has flown.
Back to 1994:-Here in NZ we were bemused by all the talkfests and touting for a new attempt and said to ourselves one day, something like; ‘bloody hell why don’t we just build one- that’ll shut them all up’- which, after a polite discussion with Gerard, we did. It took about 8 weeks from planning to flying as far as I can recall.
This was the Megabite, 635sq.m by our reckoning which eventually claimed the Guinness record in 1997 and has now flown 100’s of times. Because of demand, (and restlessness), we then built a second large kite, the MegaRay. This is exactly the same size as the Megabite (if one or other is bigger, I don’t know which it is) so that events could rightly announce “worlds largest kite” to the media (usually leaving out, “joint”, probably on the grounds that it’s unPC).
The principle behind these kites, was to make them easily transportable and able to fly in as wide a range of wind conditions and sites as possible. After we had built the MegaRay, the Megabite was taken over by Vlieger Op (Gerard’s vd Loo’s kite business in Holland) and we have cooperated with them in servicing events worldwide from then on.
We occasionally hear of plans for new record attempts from others and generally try to make it known to them that if they do proceed we will immediately trump them. This bullying has worked- until a couple of months ago.
The Guiness record is now held by the Qingzhou Cigarette Factory, China
- with a kite claiming around 900sq.m’s.
And this is where it’s about to get interesting.
It would seem that the new record kite is a large serpent (photo, attached) and that the entire tail has been counted as area.
I’m outraged and insulted (actually that’s bullshit, I’m challenged and excited- life’s about to become un-boring for a while).
No seriously, if the rules have been changed so that tail is now to be counted then this measurement definition should be applied consistently to all applicants- and if the Megabite’s tail had been included, it would have come in well above the Qingzhou kite. And wait, there’s more- various other kites that have flown, Herman van der Broek’s large serpent for example, would probably also exceed the current record holder’s if measured the same way.
Guinness won’t respond to enquiry as to how area is to be calculated- they won’t actually acknowledge any communication at all within any reasonable time frame unless we front up with an English Pound 250 “fee”. I wonder how they’ll respond to a writ?
If tail is to be included, then this is a game I’d like to play- ability to lift tail being all about how big your head is- and there are some big heads around here!
Forsaking sly allusions for a moment, the Mega ray could lift a tail of at least 200metres long by an average of 5m’s wide- which would settle the issue for a while I imagine.
But, I don’t think this would serve kite events well- because it will push “largest kite” flying into a corner where flying will only be possible in wide open unpopulated areas in perfect wind- that is, kite events will no longer have the publicity drawcard of being able to advertise “world’s largest kite”.
I think it’s time for the kite world to re-claim ownership of definitions and measurement for kites- but this is not for me to be involved in. I’m biased, being in the throes of planning, with friends, a new bigger biggy as it happens. I’d like to know what the rules are going to be though.
Ashburton NZ, 1 Dec ’03.
Well, it was the announcement in the second to last line above- you probably missed it. Not committed to it yet though, there now being a few issues to sort out.