Thursday, July 29, 2010

High-voltage static jumping off a kite line

In all my years flying kites, I have only encountered this 3 times. Phillip Chase was sitting on this bench flying a different kite and thought he heard the line singing on this one which was tied off. As he moved closer to check it out, it shocked him. I grabbed my camera to capture this real-life physics experiment. A few factors to note:

The bench was made of a plastic composite material, as was the line and the kite itself. The static would jump into mid air and make the same sound as jumping to our fingers if it was allowed to build up enough. The two other identical kites flying in the same conditions were not doing the same thing. They were flying on different line material, and tied off to different things, a person and a wooden fence. There was visible lightning and electrical activity in a storm that was about 1-3 miles to the West of us.

The other two times I have experienced this were both while riding in my kite buggy, and I started to get a shock through my leg to the metal frame of the buggy.

Listen through headphones or on good speakers for the full effect of this video.

Kites by Jordan Air Kites, Video by Tim Elverston and Phillip Chase. Shot at Anastasia State Park in FL on June 27th 2010 at 4pm.

I think the aspect of this instance which it truly worth noting is that we had two other kites 'showing' zero charging effect. They were at the same altitude, and only a few feet from this one. It's my guess that the charge was occurring on those as well, but had this one not been insulated, we would have never known that we were already the 'path of least resistance' on the other two kites that day. We would've gone home thinking that nothing abnormal had happened at all.

As in, you cant charge your body and get a spark to the door knob, while holding the door knob. You first have to build up the potential, and then discharge it. The other two kites were under constant discharge, but that doesn't mean that the electrons weren't dancing. It just means that this might be happening much more often than anyone is aware of.