My First KAP Session

The day had finally arrived. I finished building my Mini Dopero kite a little over a month before, and now I’d finished building my first picavet rig to lift an old Android phone up into the air. I’d flown the kite several times by that time and was feeling pretty confident with it. The phone was all set up with the Open Camera app, which seemed to work fine on the ground. And today there was a nice south breeze of about 10 mph, which would lift the kite right above the baseball and soccer fields at Lancaster Park in Lexington Park, Maryland.

My first time out doing KAP, I was a little hesitant to try to attach the rig while the kite was already flying. For one thing, I didn’t have a good way to hold the line down while I worked on the rig. For another thing, it just seemed like too much to manage at once for a beginner like me. So instead, I set up the kite and laid out about 100 feet of line for a running, long-line launch. I attached the camera and rig while everything was still on the ground. In retrospect, it was kind of amazing that this worked. (It’s definitely better to get the kite flying up in smooth air first, then attach the rig. There’s less that can go wrong. To hold the line down, now I just use a backpack filled with a bunch of rocks. A primitive but effective solution!)

The Mini Dopero lifting a rig during my first-ever KAP session

Prior to attaching the rig, I had flown the Mini Dopero for a few minutes to make sure it was all trimmed out. Then, with it laying on the ground, I attached the picavet to the line only about 10-15 feet below the bridle. I put on my gardening gloves to protect my hands, walked back to the winder, and started simultaneously pulling, running into the wind, and letting out line. The kite took to the sky, smartphone in tow. The wind was a bit light and variable at ground level, so I wasn’t totally confident that this would continue to work once I stopped running. As luck would have it, right about the time I had run the whole length of the soccer field and was coming up to a row of trees, the kite contacted some stronger, steadier air above treetop level and was now rising by itself.

One thing I found out quickly doing this approach was that, with the camera attached so close to the kite, the kite’s trim was considerably different. The weight pulls down on the line above it, increasing the line angle that the kite experiences, which lowers the angle of attack. That in turn reduces the lifting force and makes it a bit less stable, especially near the ground where there may not be a sufficient steady breeze to keep it flying. That resulted in an “interesting” landing with a couple cartwheels involved! (No damage though, thankfully!) That’s yet another reason that the rig should be attached once the kite is already flying, on at least 50 feet of line.

All told, I ended up with at least a few nice pictures from the flight, some from a few hundred feet up in the air. I was quite pleased with the results for a first attempt. Here are the ones I liked the best. My next goals are to get better at attaching the rig and flying the kite, and also to get a better camera.

The dog park and fields adjacent to the flying site
A view of Lancaster Park and Great Mills, Maryland from a few hundred feet up
The kite swung east, giving a view of the softball field, Lexington Park, Maryland, and Gov. Thomas Johnson Bridge to the north

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