So……after the resounding success of our first flight with the PKAP Airship 1 (a helikite with a camera attached), we decided to fly it again today.Since our first attempt with it went so well, we immediately decided that since we were now expert aviators, we could be……..less careful….or perhaps more daring with our attempt. We spent the morning at the museum finishing up our pottery analysis and were unable to get to the site until around 4. In the afternoon, the winds always pick up due to thermal inversion and today was no different. We immediately noticed that helikite was much more difficult to control and exerted a lot of pull on the lines. It was hard enough to control the line that Bill made use of the gloves I brought to use with the helikite (as usual while I was much mocked for this, they turned out to be very useful). We then walked to helikite down the coastal plain and out into the infilled harbor taking photos at an oblique angle. During this period we noticed that the camera (a Nikon Coolpix P6000) was……moving around much more than on our previous attempt (it was actually gyrating wildly at times). We ended up taking about 600 photos, many of which were unusable – pictures of the helikite, the horizon, the sun, etc. Some turned out quite well and are very interesting.
Once we reached the harbor we turned around and headed back (cue Jaws music). We immediately noticed that since we were walking into the wind, the pull was much stronger on the line and the helikite was much more erratic. We had almost reached our starting point when the helikite suddenly started darting around, much like a fish on a fishing line. When we stopped walking, it turned and suddenly swooped toward the ground, but pulled up before it crashed. Thoughts of a certain tragic historic event crossed my mind.
The helikite regained its height and so we proceeded. From this point on, everything moved in slow motion. The kite turned and dove at the ground and literally bounced off the ground and back into the air. I asked Bill if he though the camera was still working and he said he doubted it since “…the helikite had spiked the camera into the ground.” The helikite immediately bounced off the ground again and this time as it bounced up, the camera was catapulted off the mount and out into space where it spun like a top all the way down until it crashed to the ground. All I could think about was a scene from my favorite Christmas movie – A Christmas Story (For one brief moment I saw all the bolts silhouetted against the lights of the traffic. And then they were gone. Oh, fudge! Only l didn’t say ”fudge.’). Anyway, the camera is totally shot and I am wondering if I should return it to Nikon claiming it was clearly defective since it failed to survive a fall from a mere 50 feet.
Preparing for ejection.
The final moment of PKAP’s Nikon coolpix P6000. A moment of silence please. So, how many Ph.Ds does it take to safely fly a helikite? Evidently more than 2.