Using large power kites to assist their trek across Greenland, a team of three adventurers completed a 4,262 km journey yesterday when they arrived at their finish point at the head of MacCormick Fiord near Qaanaq, Greenland, late Saturday night, July 25, 2009.
Devon McDiarmid and Derek Crowe of Whitehorse in the Yukon, as well as British team leader Adrian Hayes were sponsored by Emirates NBD, the largest financial institution in Dubai. Adrian Hayes works in Dubai and arranged the sponsorship for the amazing expeditions.
The adventurers have a detailed web site outlining the expedition's route, goals, equipment, route and purpose. A blog details some of their adventure as well as the tough work it took to make the trek.
Using the power of the wind to kite ski and haul 150kg sleds for 2 months over what turned out to be a 4,200+ km route that had never been done before. It is possible that the Emirates NBD Greenland Quest is the longest unassisted Arctic Polar journey in history to date.
The group made numerous scientific observations and were concerned with assessing the sustainability of the Arctic ecosystem on Greenland.
The adventureres made a statement on their site that outlines their elation at the conclusion of the trek:
"We've made it! After 67 days and 4262 kms, at 1030 pm Greenland time 25/7, 0030 GMT and, 0430 UAE (26?/7) we arrived at the head of MacCormick Fjord, near to Qaanaq.. Mission accomplished! We're delighted - and can't quite believe its over....
It took 13 hours to cover the final 10-12 kms- the slowest 10km race any of us have ever taken but then the others weren't hauling two sleds over down and around a mountain! If it wasn't so hard it would have been laughable. The sleds - designed to glide on ice - didn't enjoy crashing over rocks quite so much and were totally trashed by the end. No choice unfortunately, its the only way off the ice cap.
But whilst the sleds arrived a little worse for wear, we've arrived safe and well. And healthy..... "
The journey and the use of kites makes for interesting reading on their web site and in the following news articles:
- Emirates NBD Greenland Quest official web site.
- CBC: Yukon adventurers complete trek across Greenland.
- Gulfnews.com: Dubai-based explorer Hayes and team complete Greenland quest.
The city of Lahore, Pakistan is one of the places where the festival of Basant is observed to welcome spring.
Kites have a long and proud tradition in Pakistan. The following videos explore both the role of kites in the festival of Basant and some of the features of the city of Lahore.
Viewing the following videos, published by Media Concept International, will provide you with insight into the kites and kite flying traditions of Pakistan.
Basant Kite Flying - Part I:
Basant Kite Flying - Part II:
The skill of the kite makers and kite flyers of Pakistan is wonderful to behold. The kite traditions that have endured over several hundred years demonstrate the beauty of the unique kites of Pakistan.
China is considered to be one of the locations of the origin of the kite.
As such, it has a long and varied history of kite craftsmanship that endures into modern times. Even though some news stories out of China have lately lamented the use of modern materials (ripstop nylon sail material and carbon fibre framing) instead of the traditional materials (fine silk or good quality paper sail materials and split bamboo framing), it is clear that the intrinsic value of a finely crafted Chinese kite is still highly desired by kite collectors and those who appreciate kite art.
The Toronto Star notes in its Tuesday, May 19, 2009 edition that there is still a demand for such kites, even though they have now become quite pricey (from $50 to $200 US dollars) when they are constructed by a true kite craftsman.
Correspondent Bill Schiller states:
"Wang is a leading exemplar of a craft that is growing ever more rare in the big city: the authentic, whole-made, handmade kite. You can buy assembly-line kites in China by the thousands. But there's no assembly line here: Wang's home and studio is a workshop of one. He builds all his kites from start to finish.
With a closet full of bamboo from Sichuan and a supply of silk from Huzhou in Zhejiang province, Wang is at his work table every morning.
It takes seven days to build a hunting hawk-style kite from start to finish – 21 days or more to craft more complex kites.
He hand-paints each one: birds and beetles, butterflies and fish.
Each kite is a unique object of beauty – and Wang hates to part with them. He will only sell about 10 per year.
"They're so beautiful," he says, sipping tea. "Why would I want to sell them?"
His admiring grey-haired mother sits nearby, drawing thoughtfully on a cigarette. One gets the impression she wouldn't mind.
He recently turned down about $200 for one of his creations."
The Toronto Star article includes a photo of Wang Naixin holding the body of a three dimensional bird kite. It is well worth reading and provides excellent insight into the type of craftsmanship required in traditional Chinese kite making.
- Jue, David F. Chinese Kites - How to Make and Fly Them. Charles E. Tuttle Company. Rutland, VT. 1967.
- Kuiming, Ha and Yiqi, Ha. (Trans. Kiggell, Ralph). Chinese Artistic Kites. Commercial Press Ltd. Hong Kong, 1990 (North American edition). ISBN: 0-8351-2279-4
- Chungen, Liu. Chinese Kites. Foreign Language Press, Beijing. 2001. ISBN: 7-119-02669-0
- ________. Origami Tako and Kite. (In Chinese). ISBN: 4-87051-124-X
I have been fascinated with the topic of kite powered electrical generation for quite a while.
The first device that I saw that seemed plausible was the Magenn Power Air Rotator System. The Magenn system is proceeding into the development phase now and has some real promise. The Magenn kite, employing the Magnus effect for lift, has come a long way from the first prototype demonstrated to kiters at the Canal Days Kite Festival in Port Colborne, ON in 2006.
However, for high output power production by a kite, the Makani Power Inc.’s concept looks like it will be a real winner. The Makani kite is currently working in prototype form and is attracting a lot of attention from investors and electrical engineers alike. Flying in an automatically controlled elliptical pattern, much like those performed by dual line sport kites, the Makani power generating kite can seemingly stay aloft for very long periods of time where there are constant prevailing or regularly defined winds, such as along coast lines.
The Makani web site does not provide visual details of the power generating kite system or the kite itself. It has only been revealed in special technology news reports that provide some tantalizing details about the work of Saul Griffiths and his team.
Recently Exchange Magazine, a noted magazine for business, economic and development entrepreneurs did a major piece on the Makani kite-powered generation system.
Saul Griffith, the leader of the Makani corporation and the Makani kite concept, is one of today's most innovative thinkers. He believes in open source ideas, the power of collaboration and rolling up your sleeves to attempt to create solutions to issues that will benefit society. His ideas have led to lower costs in production of a number of everday items (e.g. prescription eye glasses). He is the founder of the web site Instructables.com which shows how to make an incredible array of interesting and innovative products. Saul is also a regular columnist at Make Magazine.
Saul's Makani kite power generation project was featured at the recent TED conference.TED: Technology/Entertainment/Design is a high profile organization that showcases promising new ideas and the innovators that are guiding their development.
Saul’s presentation to the conference is of particular interest to kiters since he touches on the history of kites (person lifting, traction, development of powered flight) as he leads up to the demonstration footage of the Makani kite in the sky actually flying and generating power. This is very worthwhile viewing for kiters. The link to the video (about 5 minutes of Saul on kites and the Makani system) and a brief backgrounder on Mr. Griffiths is found in two places:
- Exchange Magazine's report and video on the Makani Kite System;
- TED conference report and video on the Makani Kite System.
This is a good high tech kite story and a must-see video for kiters!
On Sunday, February 22, 2009 a Silver Dart replica airplane flew successfully at Baddeck, Nova Scotia to mark the end of the first century of aviation history in Canada.
Flying off the ice on Baddeck Bay, an arm of the Bras d'Or Lakes, the Silver Dart amazed the thousands of onlookers and news media gathered to celebrate the historic occasion.
The Silver Dart replica was built by a dedicated group of historic aviation enthusiasts from the Niagara Region in Ontario, known as the AEA 2005 Inc. President Doug Jermyn and a group of approximately twenty-five volunteers worked for over four years to craft the replica in preparation for the centennial celebrations in Baddeck. Among the volunteers who worked on the historic airplane was Douglas Haddon, the grandson of J.A.Douglas McCurdy, the pilot of the original Silver Dart on February 23, 1909.
The Silver Dart replica was piloted by Canadian Astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason, an aeronautical engineering professor from the University of Western Ontario, who also flew the aircraft on its trial flights in Hamilton, Ontario on Feb. 6, 2009.
The photographs below tell the story of the flight at Baddeck better than words can describe. The photos have been provided to Best-Breezes by Marian Bell Whitcomb of Baddeck, NS. Marian is the great-great granddaughter of Alexander Graham Bell. Marian's grandmother was Marian "Daisy" Bell Fairchild. No additional distribution or publication of these photographs is authorized.
Silver Dart replica is rolled onto the ice, Baddeck Bay, NS - Feb. 22, 2009.
Silver Dart airborne over Baddeck Bay, NS - Feb. 22, 2009.
(Photo: M.B. Whitcomb)
Pilot Bjarni Tryggvason, Canadian Astronaut, skilfully flies the Silver Dart replica.
Feb. 22, 2009 (Photo: M.B. Whitcomb)
Silver Dart soars over the ice of Baddeck Bay recreating the historic February 23, 1909 flight by J.A. Douglas McCurdy of the Aerial Experiment Association. That flight was the first powered aircraft flight in Canada and the British Empire. Feb. 22, 2009 (Photo: M.B. Whitcomb)
Looking like a scene from a century ago, the Silver Dart replica amazes spectators gathered on the frozen surface of Baddeck Bay. This flight was covered by news media from across Canada as the first century of aviation is closed out with this historic flight. Feb. 22, 2009 (Photo: M.B. Whitcomb)
Silver Dart flying before entusiastic spectators that lined the ice and the roadway along Baddeck Bay. Feb. 22, 2009 (Photo: M.B. Whitcomb)
Additional reports of the flight of the Silver Dart replica are listed below:
- The Vancouver Sun: The Silver Dart Sputtered Into History
- CBC NewsWorld: Silver Dart Centenary (video)
- Halifax Chronicle-Herald: Origins of Flight
- Canadian Press: Silver Dart Replica Makes Five Flights Over Frozen Lake in Baddeck, NS
- Cape Breton Post: Silver Dart Takes Flight Again!
- Aviation.ca: Sabre and Silver Dart Make History - Again!
- Canadian Press: Flight of replica Silver Dart cancelled amid bad weather in Cape Breton
- Cape Breton Post: Pilot says Silver Dart flight rivals space shuttle trip
- CBC.ca: Stormy weather forces cancellation of Silver Dart flight - refers to bad weather on Feb. 23, 2009.
- Halifax Chronicle-Herald: No anniversary flight - Storm grounds Silver Dart replica on historic day
- Canada Post: Canada Post issues new stamp to honour First Flight in Canada
- Elmira NY-Star Gazette: Curtiss and crew gave Canada its first airplane flight. This detailed three page article concludes a series on Glenn Curtiss of the AEA. Written by historian Kirk W. House former director/curator of the Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, the piece contains good details on the AEA, Curtiss, the Silver Dart and Douglas McCurdy.
- St. Catharines Standard: Silver lining for grounded Silver Dart.
- Cape Breton Post: Legacy Expansion Project Takes Flight
- Halifax Chronicle-Herald: Education system needs more kite flyers.
The video service, YouTube also has some video entries for the Silver Dart replica at Baddeck, NS:
- Silver Dart rolls out of hangar on to ice in Baddeck - this video shows a terrific closeup of the Silver Dart replica and many of the crew of dedicated builders of the aircraft.
- Silver Dart Centennial Flight - Baddeck 2009 - an amazing video of the Silver Dart replica in flight. (Video by: joadhenry)
- Silver Dart replica flies in Baddeck - this video captures the flight and the excitement of spectators as history is made.
Additional original photographs and the story of the flights from the perspective of the builders of the Silver Dart replica is found on their web site.
For detailed historical information on the Aerial Experiment Association and its members as well as the aerodromes of the AEA, use the navigation list on the right of the web site to explore the background of the members and their contributions to aviation.
Photographs by Marian Bell Whitcomb - no further distirbution or publication is authorized.
Story by Bob White (Member Historical Research Writers Association)