Back in the Air!

It feels good to get back in the air after a mishap. I just finished building and testing a new rotating AutoKAP rig to carry the Sony RX0 camera. The wind forecast seemed promising for today, and I was excited to go take some aerial photos of the new spring foliage at Solomons Island.

I returned to a site that I had flown at during the winter, which is a big empty field right next to the Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge. Arriving at the field, the wind still seemed plenty strong for my Mini Dopero kite. However, at the other end of the field where I was going to fly, the wind was much less noticeable. Strange, I thought, but it must still be strong enough up high, so I set it up and proceeded to attempt to launch it. Several attempts, a few bridle adjustments, and about 30 minutes later, the best I could manage was to get the rig attached to the line one time before the kite fell back down to the ground yet again. Frustrating! The wind was apparently not as strong or steady as it had seemed before.

It was time to unleash the big guns, the 8 ft by 7 ft Barn Door kite! To be honest, I didn’t intend to fly this one again, as it was responsible for a crash in the water my last time out, but since its replacement isn’t ready yet and the Mini Dopero wasn’t doing the trick today, there wasn’t much other choice. The site I was flying at also has a nice large safety box in almost all directions, so there wasn’t much risk. And, as I had already found out, the wind was not that strong today, so I wasn’t too worried about it getting pulled down. It still took me a few tries and bridle adjustments, but eventually this kite was flying steadily enough on 200 feet of line to attach the rig. Finally!

Even once it was in the air, it was challenging to gain altitude. Strong pulls were few and far between, and I found myself constantly having to work the line to gain altitude little by little. The flight ended up being short, and, while I probably managed to get about 400 feet of line out, the rig was 200 feet below it on the line and therefore never got as high as I would have liked. After about 20 minutes of flying and 150 images instead of the 400 I had planned, the kite came back down again, and that would be the end of the flight.

Oh well, dealing with unfavorable winds is part of life when you’re doing KAP. I still managed to take some good pictures, the best of which are in the gallery above. I am very pleased with the new camera, and based on these results, I’m sure it will produce some really stunning photos in future flights. The AutoKAP rig worked flawlessly, too. Here is a timelapse of all 150 images from the flight, speed up 30x. Be careful if spinning videos make you dizzy!

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