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Old 07-27-2005, 04:23 AM
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RickI RickI is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Florida
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Default ELECTRIC KITE EXPERIENCE

You are flying along and suddenly you feel something painful jolt up your arm. The shock may be intermittent or continuous, annoying or downright painful, you may just hear a discharge whenever you jump and so on. One of the most common causes apparently is IMMINENT lightning, very close to where you are waving around a potential 100 ft. lightning rod on a flat surface. Doesn’t sound real good does it?!

During the recent Velocity Games in Texas, Mother Nature catered a nearby storm that lit up one of the heats. Shannon Best described it as a painful sensation as he flew his kite but he was not going to be the first off the water. It was getting pretty intense however. Once another guy bailed Shannon landed pronto. A nice squall cloud moved through shortly thereafter.

The causes of these static electric discharges could include many factors such as the naturally occurring voltage gradient from the ground up to the sky to something called the Electret Effect that involves semiconductor properties of kite line. Worrying about insulative value of bindings, bars, gloves, booties is generally a waste of time and may have minimal useful effect. Immanent lightning can do wonders for the voltage gradient and give you that special sense of urgency IF you react well and early enough.

Avoiding lightning – Checkout the forecasts, always be aware of the weather around you and moving in, KNOW weather patterns for your riding area. Lightening can strike more than 10 miles from a storm cloud and can develop temperatures of 50,000 F (much hotter than the surface of the sun!), 100,000,000 volts and 30,000 amps. IF you see lightning and hear thunder within 30 seconds you need to land and secure your kite pronto and move to safe shelter. Wait 30 minutes after all lightning, thunder activity has stopped (the 30/30 Rule). The 30/30 Rule triggers when the lightning is within 6 miles. Strikes out to 10 miles have been documented so don’t screw around. Pain in the butt? Maybe but almost 70 people are struck each year in the USA. Why join up?! A large part about kiteboarding safety is developing hazard awareness and avoidance. Here's a heads up, the rest is up to you.

More about static electricity, lightning and kiteboarding at:
http://fksa.org/viewforum.php?f=94
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