A few months ago I heard word that there was going to be a new world record attempt at the Washington State International Kite Festival. The goal was simple; get the most number of stack fliers flying at one time.
But, for the uninitiated... what exactly is a stack? How is it different than say a 'train' or an 'arch', or any other kind of multiple kite flying? Well, it was generally agreed that the term stack refers to a series of maneuverable kites tethered in succession. In years past this has also at times been referred to as a train (Look for old footage or photos of a sport kite discipline called 'team train ballet'). But it appears that the terms have shifted so that a 'train' refers to a succession of single line kites. If you were to attach the other end of the train to the ground you have an arch! These terms are still loosely interchanged at times, but we are making it clear for the purpose of the World Record.
This photo is an example of a train of kites. The kites are all tethered together, with one being attached to the other, and all piloted from one single 'drive line'. The key difference tho that makes this a train versus a stack for the point of the World Record is that these kites are not maneuverable stunt kites. Perhaps we can make it a little bit better by saying a stack also requires continuous input and attention in order to stay airborne. A train can be staked out and fly on its own.
What about flying multiples? Perhaps one of the best known multiple kite fliers is the formidable Ray Bethell. While this photo could make you think he is flying a stack, he is not. He is performing a maneuver called 'refueling' or 'docking' where the leading edges of the kites are pressing against the flying lines of the kite in front of it. Each kite is flown independently on its own set of drive lines. The kites can fly in opposite directions and be performing actions or patterns independent of one another. This is not possible with a stack. What you do to the front kite, will happen to all of the other kites, you can not fly them independent of one another.
Alright, so lets get into the nitty gritty of this record and the what makes it important.
This whole project was created and run by Dylan Nguyen and Alden Miller, and was coordinated mainly on Facebook. It involved fliers from all over the world joining together to either fly or lend their extra stacks for willing fliers. It was decided that for this attempt it would be only with quad line kites, and that the minimum number of kites needed to be considered a stack was three. No maximum number of kites was set. In order to make the record easy to understand, and perhaps set the bar for how to break it next year, it was decided that fliers needed to fly for at least 5 minutes and perform some sort of maneuvers. (Flying maneuvers would show that the pilot is in constant control of the stack)
The official clock, run by Bob Wendt at the the organizers tent ran for approximately 6 minutes before one of the stacks was grounded. The overhead video footage began roughly 35 seconds after the clock started. Likewise two of the fliers are only briefly seen in the wide angle shot. Due to environmental conditions, and proximity, one flier moved out of frame of the video and is not seen in the overhead shot. However, all of the fliers and their continuous flight is captured from several of the ground shot videos.
The final count: there were 20 pilots/stacks, 117 quads
8 Dylan Nguyen - Rainbow Shook Weave 8 Alden Miller - Jimi Hendrix 6 Mike Mosman - Vintage Neos Omega Rev 8 Brett Morris - Ghost & Phantom Black & White 8 Spence Watson - Hexagon 6 Richard Ishida - Polansky’s Blue/Green Rev 1 3 Mario Di Lucca - Bayless 6 Walt Ellis - Flame 6 Marc Conklin - White/Grape Shook Weave 7 James Fletcher - Purple/Black 7 Steve Polansky - Painted Rainbow Bird Wings 8 Paul Dugard - White/Blue 3 John Mason - Rev Spider 3 Cardin Nguyen - Ben Dantonio 6 Khanh Nguyen - Blue Angel 4 Scott Abbott - Unity 3 Mari Daniels - Bill Brosius’ stack 8 Jim Cosca - Phoenixes 3 Barry Matties - Djinn 6 Scott Weider- Red/Black Shook Weave (Craig Young)
After the Record Attempt, there was a 'Slacker Party' where even more pilots came out and played. Some flying in formation with others, and generally just playing around. This increased the overall total of fliers and stacks in attendance to: 23 pilots, 23 stacks, 127 quads
5 Yao Qingshan 5 Chuck Wiley Cal Yuen (flying Khanh’s 6-pack Blue Angel)
This record attempt will be submitted to Guinness World Records, the World Kite Museum, and other archives. Stay tuned to the Playground here on Fortuna Found for more information about this project from Dylan and Alden. More videos and the full evidence supporting this record will be posted shortly to the Fortuna Youtube channel and posted here on the site.