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Bell Kite Project BlogI am building a huge kite inspired by Alexander Graham Bell's historical models.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
On Friday I took the kite the University of Waterloo to give it a fly. Render (the Waterloo Art Gallery) sponsored the Bell Kite project and I wanted to get a chance to fly it there.
The weather report warned of thunderstorms, but happily we avoided repeating Franklin's experiments with lightning. However the wind was very strong.
The gusts made it difficult to assemble the kite without it blowing away. Andrew Hunter (Render director) brought a number of students to help, and we needed all hands to keep the kite under control.
An experienced local kite flier showed up, and helped us figure out the always difficult bridling process.
We realized that we were in trouble when the wind bent the kite around the people trying to hold before takeoff. We made some unsuccessful attempts to fly it in the high winds and then decided to change the bridling. Sadly the improved bridle lines didn't help. We dragged the kite around in the wind and finally packed it up after it had too much damage.
The wreckage of the kite is now in my basement waiting for an ambitious spring day when I'll try to repair it and fly it again in more gentle winds.
Upcoming Kite Fly, Also Videos
Saturday, October 13, 2007
I'm going to be flying the kite at University of Waterloo on Friday October 19th. Render is putting on a science fair as part of the Neutrinos art show.
Also, thanks to Gary Mark, here are some videos of TV news coverage of the kite fly in Baddeck.
Bell Cygnet Kite Centennial Global Maritimes Nova Scotia
Bell Cygnet Kite Centennial CBC Halifax News 6pm
Bell Cygnet Kite Centennial CTV News Baddeck Nova Scotia
Sunday, August 26, 2007
I'm now back in Toronto and have time to fill in some of the details of the kite fly.
Eileen and I drove the kite out to Baddeck, NS last week. The kite folds up like an accordion, so we were able to make it fit in the back of a rental car.
On Monday we meet the other kite fliers who were attending the Cygnet Centennial. We toured the Bell Museum in Baddeck together and a couple people including Bell's grandson gave historical talks about Bell's kites, especially the amazing Cygnet kite that achieved manned flight a hundred years ago. I noticed that no one pointed out that Bell's kite designs, though beautiful and unique, in fact weren't very successful and that the Aerial Experimentation Association that he formed moved to flying airplanes of much more conventional design.
That evening there was a dinner at the Museum and we socialized with the kite fliers. There were lots of world-famous kite personalities there, so I felt pretty out of place. It's fun to meet people from another subculture, though I felt a little like an impostor. It also felt a little strange that I had been getting all the phone calls from the CBC to do interviews when I knew the least about kites of anyone there.
On Tuesday morning we drove out to the Bell estate to fly the kite. The estate is a picturesque peninsula peppered with the houses of Bell descendants. They range from modest homes, to castles, to remodelled historical workshops. We were instructed to set up the kite in a field that looked lovely but turned out to be a black fly breeding swamp. Our feet were soaked and the blood was flowing from bug bites that morning as we laboured to assemble the kite in time for the short window in which we were scheduled to fly the kite.
After a while the rest of the kite fliers showed up and immediate launched their collection of beautiful kites. I was impressed at how efficient they all were, and how they could fly their kites so close to each other without tangling lines.
Once the telephone kite was finally assembled we were faced with the task of trying to bridal it. Bridling is the tricky process of attaching the kite line to the kite via a collection on intermediary lines. A kite's ability to fly depends in great measure on the soundness of its bridling. I had some vague ideas of how it might be bridled and so we attempted to get it off the ground using my makeshift bridal. The kite flew for a few seconds and I slipped in the muck and fell down while running with it.
Eileen was able to convince some of the expert kite fliers to help us improve the bridle. I should add that this was a mighty imposition, since it meant having to give up a unique chance to fly their own kites on this historic spot. To my surprise, there was considerable controversy and not a little acrimony in the matter of how to bridal my kite. However in the end, Bas Vreeswijk got it working.
Now we were able to achieve a few flights of around 30 seconds to a minute by dint of running and letting out line. Unfortunately there remained the problem of a giant knot in my kite line. The patient Michaela Koch led us through the process of untangling the problem.
We had now fixed most of the serious technical problems with the kite, however most of the other folks had packed up. The wind picked up and we flew the kite a final time with great success. One workers from the Bell Estate who had been helping us manned the line and managed to get the kite well up in the air and keep it there for a couple minutes.
There was an abbreviated trip to the Bell mansion and then we returned to the soggy field to dismantle the kite and pack it back into the rental car.
I should also add that during the entire hectic event there were several TV crews and a number of press photographers shadowing us and impatiently waiting for the kite to take flight. I gave a few interviews, though I'm not exactly sure who I was being interviewed by. By chance, that evening we heard an interview on the CBC radio while driving back. Normally I cringe when hearing myself on the radio, but I was surprised at how decent it sounded and how they were able to convey the humour of the event without ridiculing it.
After a couple days journey I'm back in Toronto. I'm not sure where the kite will go next. There's a possibility of displaying it in a children's museum, as well as flying it at the University of Waterloo. Right now it's resting in my basement.
Amos on TV!
CTV story on YouTube
Cheers! Gary Mark
I know this is a little after the fact, but have you seen the giant floating banana? it is kind of like a big kite...http://www.geostationarybananaovertexas.com/en.html
What a great outcome to a fascinating experiment - not only that, but it's shaped like a f-ing PHONE floating in the sky!? That's a little daring because I would think you're losing a lot of potential lift with those empty cells. I've tried to fly this exact same pyramid shape (with only 4 cells) and could never get it to fly - I think it's all about the bridle.Post a Comment
Well Done! Pop the cork A-man, here's to Alex B.....
Kite Flown at Beinn Bhreagh
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Last night we arrived in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, and this morning we participated in a kite fly at Alexander Graham Bell's estate, Beinn Bhreagh as part of the Cygnet Centennial event.
It took a while to set up the kite, but with the help of some of the kite experts there we were able to get it in the air. The first couple flights lasted only a few seconds, but with an improvement in the wind, some more kite bridling and flying advice, and the help of some of the people who worked at the Bell estate, the kite flew for several minutes.
It was quite exhilarating to finally see the kite fly in the same fields where Alexander Graham Bell's pioneering kites flew a hundred years ago. The flight provided a welcome culmination after so much work and uncertainty about whether the monster would ever fly.
There were several TV crews on the scene to record the event. I also did two radio interviews.
There are many more important details that I'm omitting now, but will try to fill in soon.
Hi, It was a GLORIOUS day, and AGB would be doing his Mohawk war dance with glee! I will post some photos later today at http://mariansbb.blogspot.com cheers!Post a Comment
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Today the kite finally got off the ground. Thanks to the help of Eileen, Catia, Gabe, and Sachiko, I managed to get the kite in the air for a few seconds. The beast that I've been working on so much actually took to the air.
Of course it soon crashed. First I ran it into a basketball backboard, and later when we moved to a soccer field it harmlessly crashed on the grass. A couple bamboo spars broke and covers ripped, but the kite survived mostly intact.
Even though it wasn't able to fly very well I was still quite happy. For one thing, I was able to stand far enough back from the kite to confirm that it looks like a telephone. Also I think with more wind, larger spreaders, and better bridling it might fly reasonably well.
Now the kite's packed up in the back of the rental car awaiting our departure tomorrow morning.
WOW!!!Post a Comment
IT certainly looks like a phone and like a dream too!!!!
Feeling so stupid to ahve missed it!
Why packing? Going where???
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Today I bridled the kite and put on a touch tone keypad. I hope that this makes it look more like a telephone. I'll post more pictures in a few days when I move the kite to a location where it's easier to take pictures.
I plan to perform a test flight on Thursday, then pack it up and leave on Friday.
Comments: Post a Comment
Monday, August 13, 2007
The covers are now on the kite. My student, Catia, kindly helped me with the tedious task of taping them on.
It actually kind of looks like a telephone now. However, it's wedged in an narrow space between two houses so I can't back up more than four feet from the kite to take a look at it.
The kite is basically done now. I need to bridal it and try to fly it in the next couple days before packing it up and departing for Nova Scotia.
Since I'm a complete kite novice, I have no idea if the kite will fly, be torn apart, site on the ground, or lift several people into the air. We have much to discover.