The last tractor ploughing at the Prickwillow Ploughing Festival 2015…this is GPS guided work, perfect parallel.
When freshly ploughed the sandy clays of the ancient river beds shine through the black fen:I almost gave up on this, the forecast was for ‘light variable’ and I anxiously watched the treetops at home in dismay- nothing moved all day.
As the sun warmed the air things began to move a little, weak pulses ruffled the topmost leaves for a few minutes at at time. I watched and waited, today was the last day of the Festival and I was keen to get some aerial views of the action. I headed out across the fen with little chance of flying a kite and even less of flying a camera.
My best lifter in Bft 2 is Mike Jone’s 8′ Rokkaku….it’s super light, has a big surface and it’s tough (and it needs to be- light wind means the poor thing gets knocked about trying to get it off the ground) light wind always means trouble: metres of spilled line, precious kites dragged across unforgiving ground, running backwards into unseen obstructions, falling over and generally feeling like a fool. A ‘light variable’ forecast brings panic and fear as rigs can drop like stones from the sky. Times like this make a drone seem like a very good idea.
I had prepared 2 lightweight rigs:
a 330g 2 axis (left) 320g ‘L’ panoramic rig (right). The cameras are controlled automatically, with such unstable lift I could not use a directed camera, working from a video link would mean taking my eye off the sky. I flew them one at a time, heaviest first.
I headed as far upwind as possible and began the sad dance of running backwards hauling in the line against a sinking kite.
Time and again I tried as the last of the tractors left the field…and then I gained enough height to float the big sail for more than a few seconds, it held for long enough to hitch a rig and pay out line, lots of line- I wanted insurance against the next lull- more line should buy me time to react when the lift cut…and cut it did.
An awful cycle of rising and falling kept me on my toes as I spooled in line by the metre and paid it out by the centimetre, slowly the kite bit into the sluggish air and I was able to capture some of the view below.