Kite Surfer Completes Trans-Atlantic Crossing

manu_bertin.gifFrench kite sufer Manu Bertin recently became the first man to KITE-SURF 2,700 miles across the Atlantic Ocean! 

The trip took three weeks and included the use of three vessels powered by kite traction.  Bertin used  a regular kiter's surfboard, a "relaxation" kite-cat catamaran (designed by Peter Lynn of New Zealand) for when his muscles needed a rest, and a kite-towed dinghy for sleeping while keeping  one hand on a single kite control line.

Bertin set off from the island of Gomera in the Canary Islands on April 26, 2006.  Three weeks later, extremely tired but jubilant, he arrived at Pointe a Pitre in Guadaloupe.  He was accompanied by a support vessel, the Baies du Monde.

At age 42, Bertin is a very fit athlete with over ten years of kite-surfing experience. He has several kite surfing championships to his credit and has amassed loads of experience in all types of kite surfing events and challenges.  However, this feat was nothing short of amazing!

Congratulations to Manu Bertin for an amazing feat of personal endurance and application of modern kite traction technology.

 More details can be found at:


Posted on Friday, May 26, 2006 at 07:25AM by Registered CommenterHifliercanada in | CommentsPost a Comment

Scott Haefner and the Drachen Foundation Recreate Lawrence's Post Earthquake Aerial Photo Scenario

Last week, on the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, Best-Breezes brought you a blog entry on Goerge Lawrence and his amazing photos of the devastation of that quake by way of his kite aerial camera.  Also at that time, we noted that Scott Haefner, a noted Kite Aerial Photographer, was working with the Drachen Foundation of Seattle WA to recreate the historic photos with modern KAP equipment.

 Well, today the current photos by Haefner are available on the Drachen Foundation's website.  What a spectacular view and great project.  Typical of Scott Skinner, Ali Fujino and the Drachen Foundation this project is first class and adds greatly to the dissemination of knowledge about kites and their role in history.  The complete story and photos by Scott taken from his aerial rig are amazing.  Well done everyone!

For a complete press release and description of the event visit the PR Web (Press Release Newswire) site to see all the details as well as information on George Lawrence, Scott Haefner, and the Drachen Foundation.



Posted on Monday, April 24, 2006 at 06:18PM by Registered CommenterHifliercanada in , | CommentsPost a Comment

The Most Famous Kite Aerial Photographs of the Past 100 Years

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.


conyne-train-1.gifLawrence 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 FoundationYou 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.



  1. The first kite aerial photographs known were taken by Arthur Batut of France in 1889.
  2. 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.
Posted on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 at 07:54PM by Registered CommenterHifliercanada in , | CommentsPost a Comment

Breakaway Kites Can Pose Major Safety Hazard

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.


Posted on Saturday, April 8, 2006 at 07:09AM by Registered CommenterHifliercanada in | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

Canadian Kiter Makes Kiting News!

Some of our great Canadian kiters are making kite news and this is good for Canadian kiting!

Bill Wilson of the Halifax Kitefliers recently made the pages of the on-line E-zine MAKE for his kite aerial photography and for his terrific Steady Winds kite blog

bill_wilson.gifMAKE 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!



Posted on Monday, February 27, 2006 at 07:14AM by Registered CommenterHifliercanada in , | CommentsPost a Comment