The devastating earthquake of April 18, 1906 resulted in major loss of life and incredible structural and economic damage in the city of San Francisco, CA.
The earthquake was of a 7.9 magnitude on the Richter Scale. It lasted for over forty-five seconds and was followed by a series of strong after shocks. San Francisco was devastated. Over 3000 people lost their lives as a result of the earthquake. Fires broke out and fanned through the city consuming much of what was left standing.
Tens of thousands were left homeless. The United States Army established a tent city to house the destitute. The economy of the city and region was crushed. San Francisco immediately became the centre of attention of the world press.
It is said that this was one of the first national disasters to receive wide photographic coverage. Newspapers around the world printed some of the many photographs taken of the ruins and effects, all shot at ground level or from a few floors up in the few buildings left sound and standing.
The devastation drew the attention of all who saw the photos in newspapers around the globe.
However, a series of photographs taken seventeen days after the quake became famous for their pictorial effect in showing the wide spread and near complete ruin caused by the quake and the ensuring fires.
George Lawrence, a noted Chicago photographer who had pioneered aerial photography from captive hydrogen balloons in 1895, determined that he should travel to the west coast to record the catastrophe from the unique perspective of two thousand feet above the city.
Lawrence was always seeking ways to improve the raising of his large aerial cameras and he became acquainted with Chicago inventor Silas Conyne, who had developed and patented the Conyne Kite to lift advertising banners in 1902. By 1904 Lawrence had developed a method of training a group of Conyne kites to lift his large, heavy cameras and to steady them in position to take aerial photographs.
It was this "Kite Aerial Photography" system that Lawrence employed on May 5, 1906 to shoot his dramatic photos of the devastation of the San Francisco earthquake's primary damage zone.
Below is one of the several photographs that George Lawrence made to record the destruction of the San Francisco earthquake of April 18, 2006.
Arguably, these photos are the most famous kite aerial photographs produced in the past 100 years. Although there have been many advances in KAP (Kite Aerial Photography) no photos taken from the lofty platform provided by a kite have been more dramatic or of greater historical importance.
Lawrence's work is well documented. Originals of his photographic works are found in a number of museums, most notably the collections of the Chicago Historical Society, the Library of Congress and the National Archives of the United States of America.
Present Day Kite Aerial Photography of San Francisco and San Andreas Earthquake Zones:
Sometime during the next few weeks, Scott Haefner will attempt to reshoot the San Farncisco quake area using modern KAP techniques and equipment. Scott's project is being supported by The Drachen Foundation. You can follow this event on Scott Haefner's weblog.
The United States Geological Service has also used KAP as a tool to present aerial images of the San Andreas fault at the Carrizo Plain. Again, Scott Haefner, a noted KAPer, is involved in this intriguing project.
Baker, Dr. Simon. "George Lawrence: A Giant in Kite Aerial Photography." Kitelines, Fol. 11, No. 1, Fall 1994. Pp. 52-55. [Images in this Best-Breezes Blog entry are reproduced by permission of Valerie Govig, Publisher, Kitelines.]
NewHall, Beaumont. Airborne Camera: The World from the Air and Outer Space. New York, N.Y. Hastings House Publishers in collaboration with the George Eastman House, Rochester N,Y. 1969 ISBN: 8038-0335-4 Pp. 43-46.
- The first kite aerial photographs known were taken by Arthur Batut of France in 1889.
- William Abner Eddy of Bayonne, N.J. was the first in North America to take photographs from kites. Using trains of six to nine kites Eddy took photos of New York city and environs from heights of 1000 feet in 1895. This was at least four years before Lawrence began using any type of kite for aerial photography.
A recent event with a breakaway kite clearly illustrates the danger that can occur when kites get loose and drift out of the control of the kite flyer.
A large box kite being flown on a 'braided plastic rope' line somehow broke away from some youngsters who were flying the kite in very gusty conditions in Shreveport, LA.
Having seen kites break their line on a number of occasions, I am always amazed at the path they can take, the distance they can travel and the serious mischief they can sometimes get into when they are out of the control of the flyer.
In this instance, the kite soared towards the runway of the Shreveport airport where CFI Kevin Morris (flight instructor) was taking off with his student pilot in a Cessna 150.
A VWeb, an Internet aviation magazine and news service, reported:
As Kevin looked up after a brief gauges check at about 500 feet MSL he saw the box kite looming. "No problem," Kevin told AVweb. "A big box kite is easy enough to evade." If only that was all there was to it. As he took the controls from his student pilot to maneuver around the kite the prop caught the rope, wrapping it up like a winch. A significant drop in power and severe vibrations followed, but Kevin was able to nurse the plane around to Runway 23 and set it down safely.
Although there was damage to the cowling and windshield of the plane, Kevin Morris managed a safe landing.
All of this reminds us of the need to fly safely. We often view our kites as mere things of beauty, simple devices that are under our total control. We can be lulled into lapses of caution when we fly because we have had a wide range of experience with kites.
Make no mistake about it - a breakaway kite can be a dangerous thing. It is not often that a kite line fouls an airplane propeller and almost causes a crash, but it is easy to imagine a breakaway kite drifting down on a roadway creating a major distraction for drivers or luring a young child into harm's way. There are frequent power outages in Pakistan, India, and other nations where loose kites cut in aerial dog fights are a regular occurrence. Such shorts and outages can happen here in North America as well. The summer 2005 edition of AKA's Kiting magazine has a dramatic photo of the mess created by the carbon filament rod frame of a kite when it landed on electrical supply lines cutting out power to a neighbourhood in the ensuing blackout.
So, CAUTION and SAFETY are necessary at all times. Be certain to use line with sufficient strength for the size of the kite and the wind condtions. Check your flying lines for wear and fraying. Check bridle points and attachments as well. Hours of flight time in the sun and wind can create wear and deterioration to your line, bridle and attachment points. Crossed lines with other flyers will create abrasions and nicks that can lead to a break when the line is under stress. Safety is a must and as responsible kite flyers we must exercise care and caution at all times.
Another frequent problem that I see at many flying events is the lack of forethought by kiters to have some proper equipment in use and in place to assist them when the wind suddenly comes up and creates control problems. Necessary items include:
- proper gloves to handle the hard pulling kite. Cuts, burns and abrasions are not only painful but can lead you to letting go of the line and creating a flyaway, out of control kite.
- ground stakes or anchors to tie your kite off if it starts to pull too hard. Several of these should be in place ready to use at a moment's notice. Indeed, some kites should only be launched after first being tied to a secure ground stake.
So, fly safely and be responsible!
Thanks to Carl Bigras of Ottawa, ON for the tip on this story.
Source article: "Killer Kite Stalks Shreveport Pilots" by Liz Swaine.
Some of our great Canadian kiters are making kite news and this is good for Canadian kiting!
MAKE e-zine features how-to articles about nifty projects and encourages readers to try new things in creative ways. Some months ago MAKE published an article on how to build a KAP (Kite Aerial Photography) rig that attracted a lot of attention. Now, in a follow-up article, they are featuring the KAP work of Bill Wilson and his weblog. What a great tribute to Bill who is a very accomplished kite maker.
Bill always shares information and ideas as well as offering encouragement and support. He is a superb guy and one that I am glad I met through kiting.
Terrific work and good news for the Canadian kite scene!
Responding to several petitions to lift a ban on kite flight for the holiday period in Pakistan, the Supreme Court decided to temporarily permit kite flying for fifteen days. During this period, the activity will be monitored to determine if safety conditions have improved.
Pakistan has been troubled by many serious kite injuries and even deaths of kite fliers during the Spring holiday periods. Most of this is due to two factors: -injuries sustained by the kite flyer during the flight of the kite (falling off roof tops, wandering into automobile traffic, etc.) and -injuries sustained from the glass and chemically coated kite lines used in kite fighting during the holiday periods. In addition, serious power blackouts causing economic disadvantage have been frequently caused by the kites and lines creating shorts in the power grid. Some kiters have also been electrocuted trying to rescue kites in power lines.
While the lifting of the ban on flying is temporary, the regulation against using glass coated line, known as Manja, remains in effect.
At the end of the fifteen day period the issue will again be revued by the Court.
From: The Daily Times - Lahore, Pakistan, Feb. 11, 2006
LAHORE: A full bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary, has allowed kite manufacturing and kite flying for 15 days throughout the country from February 25 to March 10.
The bench observed that kite flying with any dangerous material, including ‘Manja’, was not permitted.
The bench stipulated that all district nazims and administrative officials would fix the date for the ‘Jashan-e-Baharan’ (spring festival).
Flying kites with prohibited strings was declared to be an offence under section 4-A of the kite flying ordinance. The prohibited materials include manja, metallic wire, nylon cords and tandi.
The court also rejected a Punjab government ordinance which asked for kite manufacturing to be legalised one month before the ‘basant’ festival to allow for the production of kites and string for the event, saying that the whole process should be completed within the allotted 15 days, adding that no additional time would be given.
The court also directed all four provincial inspectors general of police to submit their reports of these fifteen days, and in case any deaths or untoward incidents occurred during this period, the court would re-examine the concessions granted by it.
The Supreme Court also held that from March 10, there would be a complete ban on kite flying and manufacturing.
The court also maintained that the responsibility for effectively implementing the court’s orders rested solely with the provincial governments, district nazims and police.
Previous postings on this topic are found within this blog:
The Best-Breezes blog entry of January 7, 2006 about the Magenn MARS (Magenn Air Rotor System) was so well received by readers that it prompted me to investigate more deeply the relationship that this high tech electrical energy generator has with the simple rotor kite that inspired the concept.
Readers from both the kite community and general visitors seeking information on an innovative source of power generation asked how the concept to use a kite in such a novel manner originated.
I contacted Fred Ferguson of Magenn Power Inc. and asked for an interview to help my readers understand more about the MARS and its relationship to the horizontal rotor kite. Fred, the founder of Magenn, graciously accepted and below you will find his answers to questions posed by Best-Breezes.
Best-Breezes: "What inspired you to use the modified rotor kite concept for your aerial wind power generation system?"
Fred Fergusson of Magenn Power Inc:
"The rotor kite concept was somewhat of a natural evolution from our extensive work on rotating sphere airships in the 1980s. The Magnus Aerospace airship utilized the same aerodynamics as a rotor kite. In 2002 I read an article about using a traditional kite or glider system to generate electricity. This inspired me to look back at the magnus airship work whereby the sphere could free wheel in the wind with rotor kite like blades. This evolved to the design we have today. "
Best-Breezes: "What are the advantages of your Magenn Air Rotor System (MARS) over traditional, stationary wind turbines?"
"The Magenn rotor is an inflatable structure that, like a blimp, can be built in very large sizes at relatively low cost. The main advantage of the Magenn rotors is their Power output (power coefficient) vs capital cost when compared to equivalent output wind turbines. Other features such as mobility, no tower required, low operating speed, ability to get up into higher winds and better wind speed latitude are also competitive factors."
Best-Breezes: "Kite fliers would be interested to know how much research you did on "horizontal rotor kites" as a part of your concept development?"
"Most of our research relates to the magnus effect. In the 1980s we conducted over 160 wind tunnel tests to fully understand the properties of this unusual aerodynamic effect. My first rotor kite was purchased about 1984, it was similar to the traditional shape two end disk versions we see today. This helped proved certain aspect that we had discovered in the wind tunnel tests. Today we have a very large library and understanding of the magnus effect."
Best- Breezes: "Which sources of information on rotor kites were of most use to your team?"
"Today the best information comes from the internet. The most recent kite purchase was a UFO silver mylar rotor kite with the single center disk. In the past I have found sites such as Anthony's Kite workshop (email@example.com ) , or Philip Le Riche's Virtual Kite Zoo to be helpful sources."
Best-Breezes: "Did you acuire, build or fly any rotor kite models as part of the development of your Magenn Air Rotor System (MARS)? If so, what did you learn from these that helped you with your concept design?"
"The rotor kites are very useful to demonstrate the magnus effect. The kites provided the necessary proof when designing the Magenn rotor as a cylindrical type device. The rotor kites also demonstrate enhanced stability, drag vs lean, and of course lifting effect. All components of the magnus aerodynamic effect."
Best- Breezes: "What part does the 'rotor kite' design play in keeping your MARS stable and directed into the wind?"
"As mentioned above just about every feature of a rotor kite applies to the Magenn rotor, enhanced stability, side or center stabilizer design, yoke cable, single tether, axial spin, etc. The mangus effect lift is an active component it's just that this lift is diminished by slowing the rotor speed due to the generator power load."
"Have you developed any prototype models of a small size to date? If so, how do they seem to 'fly' in test conditions?"
Other than flying versions of rotor kites, and the past magnus airship program (which included flying prototypes) all of our current work has focused on test bed and wind tunnel modeling. We expect to see the first large flying prototype this coming summer (2006).
"Do you have any plans to develop mini versions of your MARS, without the electrical generation capacity, to sell to interested kite fliers? Knowing that many kiters are seeking novel kites for flight when they go to kite festivals, this could be a marvelous, low cost publicity option."
Fred Ferguson: "That is an excellent idea . . . "
Best- Breezes: "Thank you Fred for taking the time to answer questions that are of interest to kite flyers. Certainly your innovative and cutting edge work applying kite technology to generate renewable energy is innovative and interesting. I know that all kite fliers wish you well with your project and we will be following your story closely. Perhaps some day you will grace us at a kite festival with a demonstration model. I know that kite enthusiasts everywhere will be attracted by your marvelous device!"
Since our original posting about the Magenn Power Air Rotor, the company has entered into an agreement with the Krystal Planet Corporation of Kansas City to distribute the MARS airborne tethered wind generators in the summer of 2006. All of this is exciting news for the clean, renewable energy market. Congratulations to both Magenn Power Inc., of Kanata, Ontario, and the Krystal Planet Corporation of Lenexa, Kansas, U.S.A.
Sincere appreciation is extended to Fred Ferguson of Magenn Power Inc. for taking the time to correspond with Bes-Breezes on a number of occasions. His thoughtful answers to questions of interest to kite fliers will be appreciated by readers of this site and journal. It is our hope that we will be able to meet Fred at a kite festival very soon. We look forward to seeing a demonstration model of his innovative kite rotor which will be a source of renewable energy.
Images of the MARS are courtesy of the Magenn Power Inc. web site.