Fireworks are like almost everything else have records for the biggest, longest, and the most. Here are some of the “official” records from the Guiness World Book of Records, and some of the “unofficial” records that have yet to be recognized by Guiness.
Guiness World Book of Records
+ The largest firework ever produced was Universe I Part II, exploded for the Lake Toya Festival, Hokkaido, Japan on 15 Jul 1988. The 1,543 pound shell was 54.7 inches in diameter and burst to a diameter of 3,937 feet. (Note: This was not an aerial shell but a shell that was placed on a floating platform and ignited). [Source ]
+ A self-propelled horizontal firework wheel measuring 47 feet 4 inches diameter, built by Florida Pyrotechnic Arts Guild (FPAG), was displayed at the Pyrotechnics Guild International (PGI) Convention in Idaho Falls, Idaho USA on 14 Aug 1992. It functioned for 3 minutes 45 seconds. (Note: This wheel had smaller wheels, lance setpieces, mines, gerbs and Roman candles on it.) [Source ]
+ The longest firecracker display was produced by the Johor Tourism Department, the United Malaysian Youth Movement and Mr. Yap Seng Hock, and took place on 20 Feb 1988 at Pelangi Garden, Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia. The total length of the display was 18,777 feet and consisted of 3,338,777 firecrackers and 1,468 pound of gunpowder. It burned for 9 hours 27 minutes. [Source ]
+ Terry McDonald of Pyromac Ltd, in Jersey, United Kingdom sucessfully established a new world record on Friday 15th August at a little after 10pm, when 39,210 rockets were fired from the beach at St Aubins Bay, St Helier, Jersey, United Kingdom.
The event was officially adjudicated, the rockets having been counted by the Jersey States Treasurer, Mr George Baird, (whose signature appears on the Jersey banknotes), and the event was recorded by the BBC to be broadcast in November (21st ??) on their Record Breakers programme (and probably Children In Need as well). The launch was sponsored by The Royal Bank Of Scotland International, and so all money raised by the public sponsorship of rockets was able to go directly to charity.
40,000 rockets were supported in trays holding just over 1000 each consisting of two layers of chicken wire about 1ft apart (to support the sticks and hold them streight). The top layer was then laced with raw-match, onto which the visco fuses of the Falcon rockets were layed. The completed trays were then connected with quickmatch, and ignited electically at the centre point from one of our ‘Doom Buttons’ situated on the sea wall in front of the cameras about 200m away. The whole rig was put in position in the space of just one hour as the tide went out. This was performed with teams of tractors and trailers carrying the trays of rockets.
The noise at ignition was incredible, as all the rockets had a whistle for the motor, and a burst of red, green or crackling stars.
The whole shoot must have lasted about 15 secs.
The next morning saw a clean-up operation of vast proportions. Terry used teams of people as well as fishing boats and miles of net to try and pick up all the sticks, cases and pink plastic nose cones as they were deposited by the subsequent tides.
Terry / Pyromac is not (yet) on the web and so I’ll publish some pictures someplace one my site when the films are back from the developers. I’ll keep you posted when this is done.
Of the 40,000 rockets launched only 790 stayed in the trays (though most of these had actually burned up, but were discounted as they had not actually flown).
Terry is now opening up the challenge to anyone else in the world to beat this record, and says he will be glad to supply them with trays for the first 40,000 to get them started! He’s already planning bigger things…
It’s been a very busy and exciting couple of pyro-filled weeks. The rockets alone took a total of 240 man-hours to load into the trays! I’ve been very priveleged to be a part of this event, as well as to provide the control systems for the previous day’s 3/4 mile simultaneous launch of flutter-fetti from cannons suspended above the main (and only) dual carriage-way on the island (the biggest ever lauch of this product – what a mess!!) and also the firework display after the rocket shoot.
If you ever get a chanse to visit Terry’s operation in Jersey then do go – his empire and methods of operation and attention to detail are incredible. Wether they’ve been doing pyro for forty years or just starting, eveyone that’s visited has learned a great deal.
For example, where most other companies would send out teams simply kitted out with hard hats, ear defenders, goggles etc Terry’s crew all wear full motorcycle helmets, flash hoods, etc… etc…
39210….. that’s a lot of rockets!
Unofficial World Records
+ The largest fireworks display ever fired in the world was either the celebration in Moscow, Russia after the Great Patriotic War (World War II). The show was made up primarily of anti-aircraft cannons that fired barrages of pyrotechnic illumination devices into the sky. [Source ] Or it was the
+ The longest Niagara Falls effect was performed by Suwako Kojyomatsuri on August 15 1997 at the Suwa-city, Nagano, Japan. It was 3000 meters long). The second longest was done by Kamogawa Natsu-matsuri on August 14 1997 at Kamo-city, Nigata, Japan. It was 2000 meters long. [Source ]
Unofficial US Records
+ The largest aerial shells ever built in the United States were Fat Man I and Fat Man II built by Fireworks by Grucci (New York Pyrotechnics, Inc.), now of Brookhaven, New York, USA. They were each 40.50 inches in diameter, 36″ tall and weighed 720 pounds of which 100 pounds was the burst charge. A test shot of a log replica was fired in Cambridge, New York, USA in February 1976 using 4 pounds of 2F blackpowder from a 2 ton cold-rolled steel mortar that was 10 feet long and had walls 0.75 inch thick. It was estimated the log reached 995 feet in height. [Source ]
Fat Man I was fired in February 1976 in Cambridge, New York, USA but an additional 2 pounds of lift powder was added. It failed to fly out of the gun. For some reason the fuse to the lift charge failed to ignite, however the time fuse to the shell did ignite and the shell functioned in the mortar, destroying it. The resulting crater was about 10 feet deep and a large portion of the mortar landed about 1/4 mile away. [Source ]
Fat Man II was fired in October 22, 1977 in Titusville, Florida, USA. It managed to clear the mortar and rise less than a hundred feet and then burst in a huge fireball. The burst charge was apparently too much and the pattern was
+ he largest aerial shell to be successfully fired was a 36″ aerial shell of shells built by Devon Dickenson od Sacramento, California, USA. [Source ]
+ he largest Superstring of firecrackers ever to be successfully fired was [Source ]
Unofficial Japanese Records
The largest aerial shell successfully fired in Japan was a tama Boquest of Chrysanthemums aerial ball shell. It was just under 40 inches in diameter and weighed 564 pounds. It was fired from a 3 ton mortar that was 13 feet long on October 16, 1980 near Futtsu, Japan and was estimated to have a break of 2,000 feet in diameter [Source ]