Several weeks ago while in the OBX I discovered a new found love for kiting. I now own a few kites, but when I'm not trying to be fancy with a stunt kite, I'm generally flying a single-string 7' delta.
I really enjoy flying it. When we were on the beach, I'd take the blanket, a stake, and the kite, set it up, stake it in the ground and lay back and just relax, watching it gently fly in the air. While laying there, it occurred to me - how cool would it be if I could get a camera attached to the kite? I couldn't let go of the idea, and had to find some way to do it. I did some searching, and didn't have much luck finding any sources online on how to do this, but judging by how well the kite flew, I had a feeling that if the camera was small enough, it wouldn't have any trouble flying even with the camera mounted to it.
I couldn't let the idea go, and inevitably caved and bought a GoPro. I figure they're hard to break, waterproof, light, and have all those fancy shake reduction features that would probably make it work really well in this specific use-case. I didn't have a chance to actually try it out for several more weeks, until we were near Acadia National Park in Maine, where the conditions were just windy enough for me to experiment.
The first thing I tried to do was mount the kite where you would normally mount a tail. The thinking was hey, if a tail stabilizes a kite, maybe a camera will, too!.
Newsflash, it did not. In-fact, it had the opposite effect - where the weight of the camera caused the kite to become more wobbly. much too wobbly. The kite inevitably nose-dived without ever getting more than 20 feet off the ground.
My next attempt involved attaching a 25' tail to the kite. I've found that a tube tail can make a huge difference in how stable the kite will fly. I have a 75' one as well, but it needs a fair bit of wind to be used, and since I was already pushing my luck with the weight of the camera, I determined the best I could do today was the 25 footer.
This time, the kite stayed in the air for several seconds, and got to about 20' in the air, but was still swaying entirely too much. Just like last time, the kite flipped over, and crash-landed on the edge of the water. The entire time it was only staying up because I was controlling the kite in a way to force it to stabilize, and eventually it just got too much momentum in it's swinging motions and I couldn't stop it from crashing.
The conclusion? The kite definitely flew better with a tail, but the weight of the camera was causing the kite to swivel back and forth, and that swiveling motion was keeping the kite from ever achieving stable flight.
With that, I took a closer look at other places where I could potentially attach the kite to my camera. It seemed clear that the solution was to mount the camera as close to the spot where the kite connects to the string, since that was the location in-which the kite was pivoting. The closer to that spot I could get, the less the weight of the camera would impact the flight behavior.
With that in-mind, I decided to literally attach the camera in the same spot the string attaches to the kite. I tied it in, hit record, and...whoosh! The kite flew almost exactly like it would if the camera wasn't on it!
We got the kite 50 or so feet in the air, flying stable, and got some really cool footage for our troubles. By the time we had this figured out, the wind had already died down enough that I couldn't keep it in the air, and the kite slowly glided down until it landed in my hands.
I think if I have 20mph+ wind speeds, a clear sky, I wouldn't have trouble getting the kite up a full 500 feet. Especially if I can attach my 75' tail to the kite. I can hardly wait for the next windy day to see the footage I can capture!