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Ray's World Adventures 2000

A World Record! Ray Flies 21 Kites Simultaneously
WSIKF August 24, 2000 - By Fred Adler

Both my wife Gerri and I have known Ray for many years and shared many flying fields across Southern and Northern California, Washington State, Oregon, Hawaii and also in the last four AKA conventions. Gerri and I have had the pleasure of crewing for Ray many times.

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Ray is not your average flyer to crew for -- far from it, very fussy, every thing must be right on, meaning the right place in the arena to set up his kites, how far apart from each other, recheck each kite not once but a couple of times. Then, when I think that's it, Ray comes running over to check them himself -- this used to get under my skin a little at first, until I realized what Ray is up against in his Multiple kite Ballets. Just one little mistake and it's game over.

One thing I have learned is never to lose eye contact with Ray while setting up his kites. As you know, he usually fly's shirtless, this makes him very sensitive to the least change in the wind, and then he uses hand signals for us to reposition the kites. I am very proud to say that Gerri and I must have served well during our apprenticeships, as we are now his official Crew Team members when we are together.

On August the 24th at the famous Long Beach, Washington State International Kite Festival, Ray was going to attempt a new world record which up to this point had been a secret between Mark Reed, president of Prism and Ray.

Apparently they had been working together on this for the past few months, a lot of us had heard rumors that Ray was going to attempt something, but we didn't know what. While at dinner the evening before, Ray suddenly said "Fred, tomorrow morning with your help, I am going to give it a go". It was then that he filled me in about what he had in mind -- to fly 3 stacks of Prism's Fanatic kites. I asked "how many?" He said his last stack record was 3 stacks of 4, a total of 12 kites in 1997, and that he wanted to start this one with 15 kites -- 3 sets of 5, then go up from there. The next morning when I arrived at the beach, Ray was already flying three Prism Legacies. The wind was very light at around 2.5mph. In the meantime Mark and his crew were adding train lines to the Fanatics, setting the bridles, etc. When they were all set up Mark flew a stack to see how they would fly -- they were a little wobbly. Ray then landed the Legacies and came over and between them they flew and adjusted the kite stacks till Ray was satisfied.

He gave Mark the thumbs up and said, "Let's do it!" I asked Ray if he would like to use my new sets of 200lb, Blue line es/55 lines that I had just made up the previous day, Ray answered in his normal fashion way when he is pleased ("Good Stuff Fred"). By this time, a huge group of kite flyers and spectators had gathered. The Prism crew set 3 stacks of 5 kites on the beach -- the wind now was 5mph. Ray had three helpers as well as the Prism crew. Colby Gratzer, Craig Robbibaro and myself. With Andy Tauber as the official time keeper, the kites, the crews, and Ray were ready. Mark Reed sent a runner up to let the officials know that it was a go and it was announced over the PA system that Ray was going to attempt to break his last stack record. This brought more spectators and everyone was watching Ray. The 3 stacks of kites look great, poised and ready for take off. The graphics on the kites were very impressive, one stack blue and white, one red, white and blue, and the other red and white. Ray gave the thumbs up sign and up went the center stack followed by the left and right hand stacks. It was very impressive. A great hand of applause followed from the spectators and video camcorders and cameras were in full swing. Ray did all the compulsory maneuvers, passes, dives, raps, etc., then came in for a perfect 1-2-3 landing.

Ray had broken his 1997 record, but it is was not over yet! The Prism crew reset the stacks again where he wanted them, then Ray gives a hand signal to the Prism crew to add 3 more kites making it now 3 stacks of 6 kites - a total of 18! The wind had increased to 7mph. Again, an announcement was made over the PA system, and Ray gave a thumbs up. Up went the center stack. He flew it around for a few seconds controlled by his waist, then put the stack into a dive right between the right and left stacks at the same time as he reversed the dive into a climb he launched the left and right stacks. This was a great hit with the spectators who whistled shouted and applaud their approval. Once again, he did all the qualifying maneuvers plus many of his own, and landed with another perfect 1-2-3 landing.

People were waving and shouting and coming over to congratulate him, but before they can get to him, he signals the Prism crew to reset them again -- and signals them to add 3 more kites, that now make it 3 stacks of 7 a total of 21 kites!

You could literally feel the excitement. If he pulls this off, he will have broken 3 of his own records. Once again it was announced over the PA system and this time there was complete silence among the spectators. It was like they were holding their breath. The last 3 kites were attached, they gave Ray the thumbs up, I heard Ray remark to Mark Reed, "if I pull this off the Beer is on you tonight." Mark smiled gave him the thumbs up sign. Ray was now fully focused on the 3 stacks -- you could have cut his concentration with a knife, then all of a sudden, up went the center stack.

Ray was leaning way back as he turned the stack into a dive, turning up at the very last second and at the same time launching the left and right stacks. There was like a big sigh of relief from the spectators and then a huge burst of applause -- what a magnificent site it was to see these 3 stacks flying synchronized in complete harmony with each other. One of his maneuvers that always amazes me, is his hover mode. He stacks the kites above each other for a few seconds then each one breaks off to follow the lead maneuver. Such a clean and precise maneuver, it's hard to believe one person is performing this, and not a Team.

Ray once again did all the qualified maneuvers plus many of his own and after more than the qualifying air time, he brought them down to another perfect 1-2-3 landing.

The huge crowd of spectators showed there appreciation with hand shakes, hugs, applause, waving, you name it, he got it. Cameras and video camcorders were everywhere, spectators wanted their photo taken with him and Ray was asked by many to sign their festival programs.

This I am positive, is reward enough for Ray, he has achieved what he had set out to do plus the big bonus of the joy of receiving the generous appreciation of the spectators. Well done Ray, and thank you for letting us, Colby, Craig, Andy, myself and Barry Smith to be a part of this very special event.

The 21 kites were on display at the Prism demonstration area and later sold after Ray had signed them. Many people were disappointed in not getting one of these Fanatic kites as a souvenir of Ray's achievement in setting a new record. Ray also flew the kites individually the next day at the request of many that were lucky enough to have been able to obtain one or more of the kites that were used in the World record attempt. Both Gerri and I were very fortunate to get three of these kites which will be displayed along with this article and photographs at our place of business, to show to our staff, customers and friends yet another aspect in the world of kite flying.

Fred Adler

( Pairs Team Lasting Impressions)

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