It looked like a fairly straight forward exercise….I wanted to make the best of the last of the bright light before we are beset with cloudy skies again. I chose to fly the HQ Flowform 2.0 as its does pretty well in rough stuff and doesn’t pull too hard in gust .
I’m bound to get a fair few duds but, with a bit of luck, the 12mph gust recorded at ground level shouldn’t give me too much trouble so having got the camera at about the height I want to get a good view of the church I carefully walked the kite in, down wind, towards my target. I reckon I’m flying the kite clear of the tree tops by a good 20m- the wind picks up and the trees begin to hiss, the kite climbs and I prepare to make use of the new height. This is the view from the rig just before I walked the kite out over the road:
The first thing to do is to get the thing well clear of the road and then, hopefully, gain enough slack line to pay out and regain control. I drag the spinning mess upwind on the run…it spins faster and drops below the tree tops: this is going to be a bugger to recover…the rig swings madly with every rotation: I’m running out of height but I have got the kite a good 30m clear of the road so I un-hitch the line from my harness, grab the line and run towards the kite; mercifully it slows its spin and rises..and then snags the line on a tree…as the rig drops ever downward. Ouch!
At this point I have decided to abandon the kite to its tree ensnared fate- it’s clear of the road and the safety of the camera is now depends on what happens to the line suspended between me at one end and the tree at the other. I keep just enough tension on the line to let the rig land gently, on grass too.
With the rig free of the line the kite slides gently out of its tree as I release the line, whew!
So once again I have made myself a victim of the rotor, this time from the trees I was flying over, I was very lucky not to loose the kite to the tree top and even luckier to be able to slow things down in time to save the rig from a grim contact with the ground. The only damage done was to my pride as I had to explain all to bemused villagers who asked what I was doing festooning their houses with string, as ever, no-one had looked up and witnessed the drama above their heads!
I think I made 2 mistakes: the first was to underestimate (well ignore really!) the rising wind and the second was to have far too short a lead on the rig, I’d assumed I wouldn’t need to let out too much line ahead of the camera as the wind was pulling the kite nicely at my launch site: the conditions were very different over my target!
I have put some time into practicing recovery from a spin but I don’t think I’ll ever be happy with a falling kite and all I have learned may not be enough next time, the best procedure would be to dump as much height into the kite as possible before committing the rig in all cases but as I am limited to 60m I always feel under pressure to use as much height for the camera as I can.
The source of the winds ferocity of (and its tree spawned rotors) became clear once I’d got home: this is the edge of the low pressure wave ahead of hurricane Ophelia which, although diminished from its hurricane status, is plenty powerful enough to make KAP a risky exercise!
So in the heroic spirit of Simon Harbord I offer you this tale of near disaster and how it was averted in the hope it may spare someone a ‘KAP to crap’ in 15 seconds experience: The manoeuvre is to get out of the rotor as fast as you can by pulling the kite upwind and then releasing line to stabilise it: good luck!