Sponsors of the Farningham Lifeboat Crew

Report on the attempt on the man-lifting-kite record.

As regular readers of this spot will know, we at the EFDSS (sponsors of the FLC) have been preparing for our attempt on the height achieved by a string of man lifting kites.

Initially we decided that Cody style box kites of a type used in WWI would suit us best and asked our membership to volunteer in the construction of such. Utilising the joint experiences of members of EFDSS we commissioned the Witch Operator to construct a chain of kites, designed by the Cox and the Mechanic, in his workshop. Over several months half a dozen of these behemoths were successfully built, along with a large wench to operate the cabling.

Posters had been printed and spread around the neighbourhood, (the Committee will of course be defending in court the charge of littering on the grounds that the refusal of posters to stay where stuck is the responsibility of the paste manufacturer and not of the Society). Holidays had been booked, the last minute hiccup of the Pilot being called back to ensure that all the windows in the office were properly closed was circumvented by the employment of a professional window closer a.k.a. the office cleaner. The launch pad at the top of Farningham Hill had been prepared, although I thought it was rather high-handed of the green-keeper at Pedham Place to move us from the fairway to the rough, he might have had the nous to understand we needed a smooth area for our attempt after all we had already accepted that the greens were 'out of bounds' (like a lot of the regular players if reports from the nineteenth hole are anything to go by!)

The day before the flight arrived bright and breezy (a good omen we all agreed) and the moment came to move the equipment from the workshop ("Not before time" as the Witch Operator would have it after complaining about the lack of space in his shed) the operating squad took hold of the first kite and ... discovered that it was too large to fit through the door, still, the materials will come in handy to feed the boiler.

It was decided that we would change tack and use a different model. The Cox was commissioned to purchase a significant number of brightly coloured kites of varied design which were strapped together, the Mechanic converted his car into a wench by removing a tyre from a wheel and coiling rope round it and the Witch Operator trained in the use of the said car's operation.

The day dawned, or at least it would have done if it wasn't for the grey skies lowering over Farningham Woods delivering a steady drizzle, not only that, there wasn't a breath of wind! I have to say that the Pilot's reaction sounded more like a sigh of relief than one of disappointment but he vigorously denies this. The press, although invited, for some reason yet to be discovered, hadn't turned up. The Committee refuse to accept the muttered suggestion that it was based on past experience. But maybe it was for the best.

The Mechanic suggested that we might try a powered launch, using the wench to pull the construction into the air. The Pilot, muttering a prayer to Icarus, was strapped into the harness which was connected to the bundle of kites, the tow rope was attached and the Witch Operator took his place in the driving seat and revved up the engine. Nothing happened ... it appears that the tow rope was wrapped round the rear wheel of a front wheel drive car! At this point the revving of the engine caused the car to fall from the blocks holding it off the ground and to set off across the fairway, the tyreless wheel gouging ruts as it went and the tyred wheels creating slicks of muddy slime. Heaven only knows what was going through the Witch Operator's mind but he resolutely followed the fairway towards the green, dragging the whole kit and caboodle, including the Pilot, behind it and scattering the rest of the launch squad in its wake. Fortunately progress was halted by the bunkers so fortuitously placed at the entrance to the green.

The committee, on a majority vote, decided that, all things considered, it would be best to abandon the project. We wanted to convene a full meeting in the Clubhouse but for some reason they weren't able to accomodate us (they were probably booked for another function, in fact they must be very busy as all further approaches regarding meetings have been met with refusal) so we repaired to The Chequers to drown our sorrows.

After a couple of pints our spirits revived and it was decided that what was wrong with the attempt was our reliance on the elements so a motion was passed unanimously, bar the Pilot, that The Eynesford and Farningham Dangerous Sports Society (sponsors of the Farningham Lifeboat Crew) would make an attempt on the record for the maximum height achieved by a crewed balloon.

The Cox

Society Notices

Does anyone have access to a vehicle suitable for pulling large objects out of holes? Being able to operate in desert conditions (i.e. sand) essential. Please apply to the Committee.

Does anyone have any knowledge of how to treat rope burns? Please apply to the Pilot.

For Sale: A large quantity of kites in varying states of disrepair. Please apply to the Cox.

Does anyone have any knowledge of land levelling and grass cultivation? Please apply to the Committee.

Wanted: A vehicle suitable for carrying machinery of all sorts, front-wheel drive preferred. Please apply to the Mechanic.

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