With our summer season approaching comes the prospect of afternoon thunderstorms popping up during your session.
Take it from me you don’t want to take any chances with kiting in an electrical storm. Lets reflect on Benjamin Franklins little experiment for a moment.
On a June afternoon in 1752, the sky began to darken over the city of Philadelphia. As rain began to fall and lightning threatened, most of the city’s citizens surely hurried inside. But not Benjamin Franklin. He decided it was the perfect time to go fly a kite.
Franklin had been waiting for an opportunity like this. He wanted to demonstrate the electrical nature of lightning, and to do so, he needed a thunderstorm.
He had his materials at the ready: a simple kite made with a large silk handkerchief, a hemp string, and a silk string. He also had a house key, a Leyden jar (a device that could store an electrical charge for later use), and a sharp length of wire. His son William assisted him.
Franklin had originally planned to conduct the experiment atop a Philadelphia church spire, according to his contemporary, British scientist Joseph Priestley (who, incidentally, is credited with discovering oxygen), but he changed his plans when he realized he could achieve the same goal by using a kite.
So Franklin and his son “took the opportunity of the first approaching thunder storm to take a walk into a field,” Priestley wrote in his account. “To demonstrate, in the completest manner possible, the sameness of the electric fluid with the matter of lightning, Dr. Franklin, astonishing as it must have appeared, contrived actually to bring lightning from the heavens, by means of an electrical kite, which he raised when a storm of thunder was perceived to be coming on.”
Despite a common misconception, Benjamin Franklin did not discover electricity during this experiment—or at all, for that matter. Electrical forces had been recognized for more than a thousand years, and scientists had worked extensively with static electricity. Franklin’s experiment demonstrated the connection between lightning and electricity.
(excerpt taken from The Franklin Institute website)
We already have proof there is electricity “in the heavens” so lets not recreate Benny Boy’s experiment with kite surfing.
So there I was enjoying my session and an inland thunderstorm was developing on the horizon at our kite spot in the sound. I checked the radar and the storm seemed to be tracking far enough inland. I knew from experience that the storms in our area typically follow a certain path. This storm was appearing to follow that same path, so I felt comfortable staying out. Also, please note. I was kiting with my boyfriend only. I would never endanger any students for the in our school.
By the way surely you know you can measure how far the lightening strikes are from you by counting the seconds from the flash (lightening) to the sound (thunder) and divide it by five. This will tell you how many miles the lightening strike is away from you.
But know this, regardless of whether the lightening strikes close to you, when you are on the edge of an electrical storm static electricity is in the air.
So I felt fine and was enjoying kiting. The air started to feel cooler and the wind was getting gusty. I was thinking it was time to go ahead and pack it up since the conditions were falling out, when I did a hand drag along the water and “KA-POW!” a teeny little explosion shot out of my hand and stung a little bit.
At that point I was freaked out. I had heard about friends having their hair stand on end when kiting near electrical storms but I have never experienced any thing like that. I didn’t have any lasting pain, except that I was emotionally injured. I quickly signaled for Michael to land my kite. We packed it up and took the pontoon home.
The odd thing is that the next day I had an excruciating pain in my jaw. I tried some different things to try get relief but eventually ended up going to see an ENT specialist. He couldn’t determine what the problem might be and laughed when I told him my story of the “lightening strike”. We discussed the possibility of getting my wisdom teeth out since the pain was directly at the wisdom tooth.. Sure enough, after getting my wisdom teeth out the pain was gone.