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Author Topic: SHOCKING Experience ~ Atmospheric Static Electricity  (Read 3205 times)
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Jynx
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« on: June 06, 2010, 07:36 PM »

I've been flying Revs for two years, and thought I had flown in most every semi-normal weather condition, until today.

I, along with another Rev flyer, were flying at Veterans Park in Milwaukee WI, located at our lakefront. The winds were crazy shifty, coming out of the S/W, then an hour later shifting 180 degrees, coming out of the NE, ranging from approx. 5 mph, with quick gusts of over 20 mph. The skies were also changing from sunny to overcast (and back), temperatures from low 70s, to low 60s, all within a 2 hour span, the conditions switching minute by minute. We even commented on how strange the comditions were.

We changed from full-vent, to mid-vent, to standard 1.5, back and forth, and were flying on 120' lines.

The skies began to darken in the west and it appeared that a storm was approaching in the distance. Having time before it got close, we continued to fly. I was flying my standard "B" series Rev.

All of a sudden my handles began to spark. Small sparks but never-the-less, sparks. I received a number of what felt like strong static shocks in both thumbs, along with sparking, and the snapping sound of an electrical charge popping on the metal handle tubing between the tips and the grips of the handles. I couldn't believe what was happening and lowered my kite to the ground, which stopped the static charges.

Being a blonde, I thought I'd again attempt to fly as there was no rain, no lightning, just overcast skies, and I found it hard to believe that I had actually received static shocks. I again flew my kite, again got zapped several times, and decided to call it a day. (The other flyer was not flying while I experienced this). I told him what had happened and he was understandably surprised, if not short of believing me. We then wrapped up and headed to the kite shop on the grounds just as the rain began to fall.

While at the kite shop, I watched one of the kite shop staff go to lower their windsock, which is atop an aluminum flag pole. He really got zapped, jumping back from the pole, and stood there for a minute just staring at it. He apparently grounded-out the pole, touched it again to test it, then lowered the windsock. I asked him, and the other 3 personnel, if they had ever experienced that before, none had and they were as freaked-out about it as I was. (Thank goodness the other flyer witnessed the flag pole incident too). It's still hard to believe it actually happened!

Has anyone else experienced this?  Lips sealed
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"Excuse me while I kiss the sky."
Jimi Hendrix
rxburner
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« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2010, 08:03 PM »

welcome to the living

St. Elmo's Fire
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Elmo's_fire

Has anyone else experienced this?  Lips sealed


Just you and Ben Franklin

Rx
« Last Edit: June 06, 2010, 08:15 PM by rxburner » Logged
Lee S
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« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2010, 09:03 PM »

The big brother of Atmospheric Static Electricity is called Lightning  Shocked   Please discontinue all flying if this happens again in the future. We don't want to lose you.

Lee
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socalman320
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« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2010, 09:35 PM »

welcome to the living

St. Elmo's Fire
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Elmo's_fire

Has anyone else experienced this?  Lips sealed


Just you and Ben Franklin

Rx


Good catch!! Beat me to it! Wink Grin Cheesy
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RonG
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« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2010, 06:26 AM »

Same thing happened to me with Rev handles many years ago.  I took it as a sign that it was time to put the kite away.
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indigo_wolf
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« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2010, 07:34 AM »

Elsewhere:   (snipped from PKF)

hot moist air has arrived along with nature's fertilizer truck.

out on CH15/ATB/surf, just to start out on the atb to loosen up, big thunderheads over the main land about 3-4 miles away.

CAUTIOUSLY, watching this thing move away for about 30min.

all seemed clear(in chad's world). launch and quickly jet down the beach on the ATB. as i am looking at the grey / black clouds over the tree canopy , a spider web of lightening arcs across the sky. immediately trans . back to launch spot to drop.

as i air hop off the ground in a trans. my thumbs at the bar center arc/spark with audible CRACK over my ipod music. felt like a 110v bite. very alarming and instantly drop the rig at that spot on the flag line.

the other 3 times where all similar conditions, on venoms, carbon bar and bare foot, with bites and cracks on the toes and feet. kite was dry , i was wet.

this incident CH, Al bar, shoes AND on the ATB. and wet kite as well.


Safety Note:  Most people have sense enough to get out of the rain, so people who are struck by lightning are not out standing in the rain as you might think.  People who are struck by lightning are usually miles out in front of the rain.  If you hear a thunder storm in the distance, take cover inside.  Static electricity builds up in the atmosphere miles ahead of the storm and this is where most fatalities from lightning occur.  Golfers are the most likely group of people to die from lightning strike.  They are not golfing in the rain.  They are trying to finish the game before the storm arrives. 

Alas, golf courses still chew up too much real estate that could be better used (say for flying kites)  Roll Eyes, despite Mother Nature's best efforts.  Wink

ATB,
Sam
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quincy
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« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2010, 09:27 AM »

To add to what Indigo_Wolf said, the static buildup can precede the actual storm by hundreds of miles. Golfers and baseball players have been hit by lightning in bright sunshine before it clouded over.

Kites and line make great lightning rods. You, the kite and line are now the easiest electrical path short of an uninsulated/non-isolated metal pole. The tingling sensation is a late warning sign that a lightning storm is coming. Put the kites away and get out of the open.
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Doug
Bouncing over the white clouds, killing the blues. - Roly Salley
Jynx
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« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2010, 10:25 AM »

Thanks to all of you for the information and good advise...

The "St. Elmo's Fire" link was just what I was looking for...the answer!

Trust me, I won't have to be told twice to pack-up and get outta there if those conditions ever re-exist!
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"Excuse me while I kiss the sky."
Jimi Hendrix
Jim Foster
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« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2010, 07:12 PM »

Did it charge your cell phone?  Sad

Have you checked to see if your contacts are still there?  Wink

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Fly Together! Share the Joy, Share the Fun
Turkey9186
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« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2010, 06:43 AM »

Leaving Nellis several years ago and climbing thru around 10,000 feet we hit St Elmo's Fire.  Started at the corners of the flight deck windows and spread over the entire flight deck. We could move it around with our fingers like the old "arc" globe statice electricity.  At the time, the actual thunder storm cells were over 30 miles away according to our weather radar.

I have also recieved some nasty "bites" in the "sand box" after landing and stepping from the crew ladder to the ground while still touching the ladder.

Jerry
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Boogie
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WWW
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2010, 06:58 AM »

This thread got me to reading about this phenomenon and ran across a pretty scary video of it.  If you can sit through the entire 9 minutes, it's worth watching. 
Flying through Iraq thunderstorm
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Related to moral relativism, it states that ethics become subjective only when approaching the speed of light. That is, it's ok to be self-serving, steal and murder as long as you're going really, really fast. (Note: This is why rap sounds better on the highway at 90mph)
Jynx
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« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2010, 09:27 AM »


Boogie ~

Wholy Jamolies!

I N c r e d i b l e !

Not to mention mighty SCARY!  Cry

Thanks for the post!
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"Excuse me while I kiss the sky."
Jimi Hendrix
normofthenorth
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« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2010, 10:52 AM »

I once saw and heard St Elmo's Fire while sailing my former 26' "Thunderbird" sailboat while a storm was building.

More recently, a Friday-night dinghy race was cancelled after a thunderstorm blew in, after a bunch of boats (15' Albacores) from our club had started sailing to the race. (My crew and I had decided the weather was too threatening, and de-rigged our boat instead.)

When one of our boats sailed into our beach, I gave it a hand by grabbing its forestay (the wire that connects the front to the mast) and pulling it farther up on the beach. At that moment, there was a nearby lightning strike, and I got a good solid jolt through my whole body! I decided the boat was up the beach far enough!
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Norm in Toronto
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