Kite Aerial Photography Kites & Gear
The modern kite arial photographer has a wide selection of single line kites from which to choose. Wind speed, llocation, rig weight and convenience all play a roll in the selection of what kite will lift the camera rig for a particular shoot.
Rolled up and packed into a bag the size of a loaf of bread, the sparless Stratoscoop2 from United Kingdom kite manufacturer Greens Kites is easy to keep around for the impromptu KAP opportunity.
In a steady 15 mile per hour wind with a drogue tail, the 'Scoop is a stable flier. With no assembly required, it can be ready in the time it takes to unroll it and attach the line to the bridle. It can be lauched "from hand" allowing for KAP sessions in limited space. The closed cell parafoil is also a capable lifter; easily able to lift a rig and the weight of hundreds of feet of 200 pound line.
In marginal ground winds, the Stratoscoop can be a challenge to launch by one's self. Cross winds can cause the outer cells to collapse sending the kite into a dive...a scary situation at lower altitudes with the rig attached.
Beautiful and stable in flight, the Cody Ultralight2 from Greens Kites can trace its roots back to a time when the military used larger versions to lift men to observe the enemy. It is easy to launch and has a simple four line bridle.
Of all my kites, the Cody draws the most attention. It is not nearly as powerful a lifter as the Stratoscoop and "some assembly is required" in the field. It seems to do it's best with a high launch. As a result it is more suited for more open areas.
When built as a smaller model, the Rokkaku is a traditional fighter kite. In a larger size, it makes for a wonderful KAP lifter. When properly tuned it is very stable.
My limited experience with the Rok has been mostly positive. The main drawback is the very long 4 string bridle that is a challenge, for me at least, to keep tuned and untangled.
Quickly becoming my all around favorite, the Sutton Flow Form 30 was a replacement for my torn Stratosccop until I can get it repaired. Since getting the Flowform, I feel no immediate rush to get the 'Scoop back in the air.
The Flow Form is easier to launch and certinly more stable than the Stratoscoop, with no tail necessary. Based on work in parachutes in the 1970s, Steve Sutton developed a series of kites of different sizes. Flow Forms can be identified in the sky by their deep cells, square shape, vents in the top and bottom surfaces and large open area in the trailing edge.
In addition to the kite (or kites) and camera rig there are a few more items that are brought to the KAP session.
In addition to basic consumable supplies such as film and camera batteries, it is nice to have tools available to make field repairs and adjustments to the KAP gear. Leather gloves are a must to avoid painfull line burns and cuts. A monocular or set of binoculars help to spot the direction that the camera is aimed in flight. A notepad and pen is available to take notes about the session as well as to jot down the address and names of people you want to send pictures. When KAPing in areas where people gather, the photo album gives on-lookers a chance to see a sample of the results that are obtained with this unusual method of aerial photography.