Kite Cam (Apr, 1946)

He Takes Arial Photos from His Back Yard

THE old stunt of using a kite to fly a camera aloft has been developed to a fine art by Frank S. Crowell, of St. Albans, N. Y. His homemade aluminum cameras, fitted with fuse-operated shutters, have flown to a height of 2,000′, and Crowell explains that only the hazard of collision with planes has kept him from going higher on days when conditions were favorable for flying kites.

His 13-oz. cameras take 4″ by 5″ or 2-1/4″ by 3 -1/4 ” cut film, and the exposure is usually 1/300 or 1/400 sec. at f/16. A camera may be mounted either on the kite or on two aluminum struts 200′ below, an arrangement that allows the camera to be reset without landing the kite.

An ingenious signaling system tell Crowell what is happening aloft. A fuse, made by soaking plumber’s cord in saltpeter and water, is cut to burn for a fixed length of time, and the camera sent up. One minute before the fuse trips the shutter, a green crepe-paper streamer is released to trail behind the camera, warning Crowell to hold the kite string for maximum steadiness. The moment the shutter has clicked, a red streamer tells Crowell that he may reel in.

1 comment
  1. Wind Watcher (Jim Powers) says: April 23, 20116:55 am

    Wonderful story. Like the large kites, the winch for the kite line and the height (over 12,000 feet of kite line)! Love to see a few high res shots from the 4″ * 5″ film shots. The detail would be interesting even at the relatively slow shutter speeds.

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