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Ray's World Adventures 2003

Ray Does it Again!
Washington State International Kite Festival
Long Beach, WA - August 18 - 25, 2003

Article by Fred Adler


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This has to be the best of the 8 years that my wife Gerri, and I have attended this festival -- the weather and wind was perfect. My wife Gerri and I fly pairs using stacks of 9 Dyna kites and we never missed a days flying the whole week we were there. And it was again, a thrill and an honor to once again be Ray Bethell's set-up crew for his 2003 new record attempts.

A couple of years ago my wife Gerri and I started flying stacks of 9 Dyna kites. We both enjoyed this so much that we competed in the Kite Train category last year at the Mix 96 kite festival in Sacramento. Ray watched us fly a demo and after we landed he came over and said "how about me as a third flier?" We both laughed as we felt for sure he was joking, but after we returned home to Davis, Ray was staying with us for a couple of days and he said he was serious about flying as a Team. He also mentioned that he has been toying with the Idea of flying 3 stacks of Dyna kites to establish a new record. We said you mean flying 3 stacks simultaneously? I mean Wow!! I said when and where, he said Long Beach in August. When we met Ray at the Berkeley festival last July we told him that we would sponsor him with Dyna kites if he was still interested and we would have them ready in time for Long Beach, Ray gave us an enthusiastic "Good Stuff!!"

Ray arrived at Long Beach on Aug 19th at 10:45 AM and at 11:10 AM he was on the beach flying, the first thing he said after greeting us was "did you bring the stacks?" We said that we did and he said right then that we will go for it on Thursday and that we better notify the officials and organizer what we hope to achieve. I said "you have not flown these kites before, don't you want to practice flying them?" Ray said "no worry Fred, you know these kites and I am relying on you to set them up, then all I have to do is concentrate on flying them."

Thursday morning, Ray, as every day was on the beach at 7 am. Prism Kites had asked Ray if he could break the 2000 21 record by flying 3 stacks of 8 of Adrenaline Kites total of 24 which Ray did with out any problem, but when it came to adding more kites he had trouble with the stacks wobbling a little, flying one stack of 10 from both hands was no problem, Ray praised the Adrenaline kites for there flying qualities as a stack and individually. Mark Reed, president of Prism Kites, is going to work on the problem Ray was having when he added the 9th and 10th kite to the stacks, Ray will try them again in Aug 2004.

While Ray was working with Prism I was setting up 3 stacks of 9 Dyna kites with tails -- a total of 27 kites! Ray came over and said the wind is just right, "let's get these babies in the air", we attached them to his lines, he then gave me the thumbs up. I stood back fully expecting that he would have a few problems, as you have to realize this is the very first time he has flown 3 stacks of 9 Dyna kites simultaneously.

He launched the stack that was attached to his waist -- up it went, straight as an arrow and hovered in the center of the wind window. He then launched the one in his right hand -- perfect lift off and came to a hover on the right of the center kite then up went the left hand stack, all three stacks are now hovering with the tails just moving gently. It was a beautiful sight to behold. The people that had gathered were busy with their cameras and video. Then Ray started to fly, it is not enough just to hover the kites and call it a record, Ray set the precedent of rules many years ago at this very festival on his first multiple kite record. When he was asking the officials about the rules they told him there are not any as it had never been done before, officially, it is up to you to set a precedent, which he has done. It includes loops and turns left and right (also with the center kite), dives, passes, hover in the center also right and left of the wind window and you must fly for at least 5 minutes. Ray completed all the required maneuvers plus a few others. I asked Ray later why he adds maneuvers that are not required -- if it went wrong it could jeopardize the attempt, he said "Fred, this is what makes it exciting, it also sorts the Men from the Boys -- another part of a record is that you must land unaided."

As soon as he landed, timekeeper Chuck Blevins, recorded the time 18.3 minutes. Ray was not going for an endurance flight, as his 12 hour 12 minute record is still his. He just likes to prove a point by flying longer than the required time.

Ray asked me to add two more kites, making each stack 11 kites -- a total of 33 kites. Once again perfect launching and flying all the required maneuvers, he landed and the timekeeper recorded the time -- 34.7 minutes! Every one was very excited as he had just broken his previous record by 6 more kites!

I don't know where Ray gets all his energy from but right after setting the record, he said "Right, Gerri and Fred, lets fly do some team flying", which we did for the rest of the day. It was indeed a wonderful experience for us flying for the first time as a team (Ray is a first class coach having had 5 years of team flying experience).

On Friday morning Ray asked me to add on 6 more kites to the 13 kite stacks making the total of 39 kites. I said they will have a hell of a lot of pull, he said "let's give it a go, we have nothing to lose but every thing to gain". It was announced that Ray was attempting yet another record and crowds of spectators gathered to watch. With the help of many eager hands from kite flyers, we set up the stacks. We all gave Ray the thumbs up and before any one knew it, all three stacks were in the air. There was ooohs and aaahs, yelling, clapping and cameras were clicking away. It was an unforgettable magnificent sight when he had all three hovering overhead at dead center. It looked like they were nailed to the sky. And again he performed all the required maneuvers plus a two stack rap and not being content with that, he came out of the rap and brought the center stack in a dive between them then turning up at the last moment to hover once again in between the other two stacks. Wow! He then landed and the time was recorded at 17.8 minutes. He was surrounded with well wishes congratulating him, spectators asking him to sign there festival programs and their kites, and having their picture taken with him. It was time for me to take all the added kites of the stacks and get ready for my team flying session, but I said to hell with it -- I just had to run over and give Ray a big hug. Gerri and I am very proud of the fact that we had this opportunity to have sponsored him, he did us and WSIKF proud.

I would like to thank the flyers Xavier, his wife Elisabeth, Brian, Bill, Chuck and his wife Carol for all there help, plus a great thank you to so many others who offered their help, Thank you again.

Fred Adler




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