Flying in a Cloud

We had just gotten our second significant snowfall of the year. I was eager to do some KAP, since we don’t get that much snow here in Southern Maryland, and I’d never flown a kite or taken aerial photos in snow before. I missed the ideal time, which would have been during the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 12, but the forecast looked good for wind on Sunday morning.

I packed up my gear and headed over to Chancellor’s Run Park, which is nearby my house and is known to have nice views of Lexington Park and California, MD when looking to the north. The cover photo on the home page of this website is one such example. I thought it would be nice to see what that landscape looks like when covered in snow. Since I’ve done KAP from this park several times before, I decided to switch it up a little bit and fly from a soccer field on the northwest side of the park, rather than the central baseball fields that I normally choose.

By this time, the temperature was well above freezing, and the ice and snow were melting. The ground was quite wet and soggy, and water was dripping from the stadium lights overhead. There was snow remaining on the ground, though, so there was still hope of capturing some nice frozen landscapes. The wind at ground level was light, so I set up the big Barn Door kite and did a running launch. It took a couple attempts and bridle adjustments, but eventually I got it flying and trimmed out well.

Here are a couple low-altitude shots near the launch site. It is pretty obvious from the second photo just 100 or 200 feet up that the visibility was going to be poor. From the ground, I could tell that there were low clouds, but I didn’t know how low. I would soon find out. 🙂

To add some more variety, I took a walk with the kite along the parking lot towards the building with a flag in front of it that can be seen in the second photo above. I let out more line as I went and carefully maneuvered the kite line over the stadium lights and trees. Once the kite reached approximately 400 feet above the ground, it started disappearing in the clouds! This was a new experience for me, and kind of fun! It is weird to have a kite line in my hand going up into the sky with nothing visible attached to the end of it, as if I were doing some sort of sky fishing.

Normally, flying a kite in the clouds is probably not a great idea, but considering how low they were and the really poor visibility, there was no chance of an aircraft flying by and hitting it. There was also no one else in the entire park — not surprisingly, given the weather — so if something happened to the kite while in the cloud and it ended up crashing, there wouldn’t be any injuries or property damage. Here are a couple images of the kite disappearing and reappearing in the clouds. I would have liked to get one just showing the line and KAP rig below the clouds, but it was pretty much impossible to get the camera to pick that up and focus on it.

Obviously, with the lack of visibility, I wasn’t able to capture the snowy landscape how I wanted, but this was still fun and a bit different. The best pictures from the session were probably the lower altitude ones, like the one showing the baseball field below. The cover photo for this post is also reproduced as the second picture in the gallery below. I like this one because it is relatively clear but still gives an idea of how cloudy the conditions were that day. The third one shows the camera’s perspective when it was almost fully engulfed in the cloud. The kite, attached 200 feet beyond the camera, was certainly invisible at this point!

As I write this post, it is now March, and things are starting to warm up again, so it’s unlikely I’ll get a chance to capture the snowy landscape I was hoping for. Maybe next year!

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