Solomons Island – Take Two

I was hoping to do the first test flight of a new kite I’ve been building (more on that later), but the wind was too strong. Actually, it seemed like it might be too strong for any of my kites, but I had a couple hours available, so I took the Mini Dopero over to Solomons Island again to give it a try. This would be my second attempt to KAP at this location, since the previous attempt was met by marginal winds and didn’t allow the kite to fly as high as I wanted.

This time, the wind was firmly above 15 mph and gusting up to 24 mph. If successful, this would be the strongest wind I’d KAPed in. I certainly wouldn’t have the problem of too little wind this time! In any case, I figured there was no harm in flying the kite on a short length of string just to see how it would respond. When setting up the kite, I put more bow in both spreaders than normal, attached a large drogue, and adjusted the tow point on the bridle as far up as it could go while maintaining stability. After a couple adjustments, the kite was flying smoothly, and, while it was pulling pretty hard most of the time, it was not more than I’ve experienced with it at other times. Looks like I’ve found the maximum wind speed for this kite! A nice large safety box at this location and a relatively smooth wind coming off the water helped inspire confidence too.

After several minutes of flying, it was time to attach the KAP rig. Unfortunately, I seem to have lost my handy dog stake, so to anchor the line I had to resort to my old method of wrapping the winder a few times around the strap of a backpack full of rocks (it’s unwieldy, but it works well!). The Sony RX0 autoKAP rig was soon attached to the kite line and powered on. Since there was plenty of wind and the kite was flying well, it was possible to attach the rig only 50 ft below the kite. I didn’t have my good camera to take pictures from the ground, but I did snap a couple pictures of the kite and rig in flight with my phone, which you can see in the gallery above.

The next 45 minutes were an exercise in letting out the line quickly, letting it fly for a couple minutes at the highest altitude, and then bringing it back down again. When the wind is pulling strong like this, I don’t like to let it fly for too long, since that just gives more opportunity for something to go wrong. Nonetheless, there was no point where the kite took a dive or otherwise seemed in danger of crashing. The rig is programmed to wait 5 minutes, and then start rotating and taking pictures for 33 minutes more, giving a total of 400 pictures during that time. (Only the best of these are kept in the end.) My timing worked out just right so that the sequence finished just a couple minutes before I was ready to anchor the line and take the rig off the line again.

The results were just what I was hoping for: high-altitude images showing Solomons Island and Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge in great colors and clarity. I also kept a couple of the lower altitude shots. This is a new camera for me, and it is definitely living up to my expectations. Enjoy the pictures below! You can also find the rest of my pictures from this location at the Solomons Island Aerial Photo Gallery. A couple of these also made it into my list of favorites.

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