Mathew Lippincott’s blog on design and DIY aerospace
May 13th, 2011

scientific, photographic, and person-lifting kites, 1900-1940

Baden F.S. Baden-Powell’s Manlifting Levitor. 1895.  No photos or film I can find.  Was it flat or bowed?

Charles Lamson’s Aerocurve, 1901


Samuel Franklin Cody’s Bat 1901 The best film is actually for a french aerial photography unit in 1917. The Cody kite is still used occasionally for high-wind aerial photography. Turn off the music.

Rudolph Grund’s Self Steering” Meteorological Kites, 1905-1940. They apparently adjusted their bridles to wind speed. There is certainly some rigging trick to learn from this series.


May 9th, 2011

Kite Fishing in Indonesia & Melanesia

Traditional Kite fishing in Indonesia, using the motion of a kite to give bait a constant motion. A little more history here. I think this is the one of the first applications of flight outside of games and signals.


and in Melanesia, with a cringe-worthy soundtrack

May 9th, 2011

Topographic maps from fled kites

I just started building fled kites, but my fellow Grassroots Mapper Nathan Craig is already doing 3D topographic scans with them. He’s using AgiSoft’s PhotoScan, which is unfortunately not open source, and costs $179.  But as he points out, you just feed it images and it makes a damned good 3D model.

April 7th, 2011

Mapping Colonialism, Talk on 4/9

This saturday I’ll be dipping in briefly to the Counter-Counter Insurgency Convergence, at Reed College.  Given my current work with community mapping, I’m very interested to see what Geoffrey Boyce has to say in this seminar:

Geoffrey Boyce, School of Geography and Development at the University of Arizona
2:35-5:05 PM
Eliot 103
In 2005 a group of geographers from the University of Kansas began a “collaborative mapping” project with indigenous peoples in the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca, Mexico. Dubbed “Mexica Indigena”, this project was pitched to the participating communities as a means of empowering them to defend traditional land claims and practices through the generation of geo-spatial data. Yet, unbeknownst at the time to these communities, Mexica Indigena was in fact a program sponsored by the Foreign Military Studies Office at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas – the pilot for a research program overseen by the American Geographical Society meant to augment U.S. intelligence and counter-insurgency efforts, now operating in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Lesser Antilles and Colombia. This paper explores the implications of Mexica Indigena for a number of issues of contemporary concern, including military / academic collaboration, politics, ethics, and the colonial legacy of disciplines such as geography and anthropology. Specifically, the controversial aftermath of Mexica Indigena exposes the deficiency of institutional protections against predatory research practices when the latter operate under the umbrella of U.S. “national security” interests – challenging common assumptions within the academy concerning the nature and beneficence of geo-spatial or ethnographic research, the position of Institutional Review Boards, and the value of academic research in general, in light of the colonial present.

April 2nd, 2011

Amateur Radio Throwdown: Planetary Circumnavigation by Balloon

Mark the date, March 24, 2011- Robert Rochte throws in his hat for circumnavigation of the globe by an autonomous balloon on the Balloon_Sked mailing list.  I’ve covered Rochte’s superpressure balloons here before. In this message, he’s referring to the White Star Balloon’s ongoing attempt at crossing the atlantic, a feat which Rochte has been pursuing as well.

Well, I was going to sneak-launch a competing superpressure balloon

this morning, but alas, the universe had other plans for me today.

If WSB make it across – which I expect they will – then our next great

challenge should be circumnavigation of the planet. I’m officially

throwing my hat in for that one right now!

Best of luck with the flight, guys!




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