flight report Aerobee Rig panoramas and pratfalls

Last week I got a chance to test out an old favorite of mine– flying off wind with asymmetrical tails, and added a recent acquisition– the KAPtery Aerobee Rig.

I got several decent panoramas out of the flight and learned some good ways to handle the Jerkpan and make it turn reliably. Then the flight ended with a heart-in-the-throat moment as the Aerobee rig plummeted to the ground. It landed in a bush and the camera survived.

I’ll cover the details of the flight, my technique with the Jerkpan, and some ideas about why the rig detached from the line, and some safety modifications/ideas.


Kite Stuff:

  • Levitation Light by Into The Wind
  • Triple tail from In The Breeze 7.5sq ft parafoil (i.e. mini kite kit)
  • tail from G-Kites Dazzle Delta
  • G-Kites Fuzzy Tail
  • 1000’ reel of 110# string (Public lab store)
  • Leather batting gloves (Wilson) love the sensitive touch of these, great grip

Kite Configuration: Fuzzy tail in the middle, triple tail and Dazzle Delta tail on the right:


I test-flew this configuration the previous day, and you can see the difference in angle between the waves coming into shore in the direction of the wind, and the kite line. I believe the angle shifted from 35-45 degrees off of the wind, going farther off wind as the wind picked up:


The kite still flew at a very high flying angle– 70-80 degrees, higher than i would expect from the Dazzle Delta with so many tails. But I’ve had some trouble with this Dazzle delta flying at too high of an angle. The fuzzy tail corrects that, however.

Camera and Rig

  • Aerobee Rig in vertical mounting mode
  • additional hardware for vertical mount: two 1/4” lock washers, two #10 nylon washers
  • Mobius Camera with 6mm lens

With the lightweight Mobius camera, the Aerobee balances best when pushed all the way in on the 3 sliding channels.

With the horizontal tilting platform removed, the 1/4-20 thumb screw is too long. I used two lock washers against the aluminum, and two #10 nylon washers, one against the thumb screw and the other against the camera. The #10 nylon washers are useful because they can screw down on the 1/4-20 thumb screw and prevent it from coming out of its mount hole:


JerkPan technique

I tried shaking the line, but this lead to unpredictable turns. I then tried plucking the line, but this sometimes jumped the camera, and sometimes not, also a somewhat unpredictable turn. I then settled on a technique of doing a rapid one-handed clockwise turn starting and ending at 6 o’clock and with a whipping down motion. This worked predictably to increment the camera one small hop around. It may have also unwound the rig from the line (see problems and fixes below)

Panorama Software:

  • Microsoft Image Composite Editor
  • Hugin (couldn’t get a good panorama out)

Even with the addition of a lot of manually added control points, I couldn’t get a good panorama out of Hugin. I may try again later. Microsoft ICE was a breeze, if slightly imperfect. Here are panoramas from three altitudes:




Problems and fixes

As mentioned before, my rig fell suddenly during the highest panorama. luckily it landed in the bushes and everything survived to fly again. I’m not interested in repeating this experience.

Why did it fall?

The line wrap attachment of the Jerkpan seemed very secure to me. I was careful to keep the line wrapping in a single direction, like this:


Somehow, however, it got loose. I think a combination of the high flying angle of the kite and my clockwise turns of the line for the JerkPan were able to unwind the line. I almost always attach the rig by wrapping counter-clockwise, for some reason related to my handedness and kite holding preference. I think my clockwise jerks of the line unwrapped the string.

I’d like a little more safety. At minimum, I’d want the rig to run down the line to me, rather than drop straight to the ground. When I got back, I mentioned the problem to @Ranon and suggested finding a way to attach a carabiner. We settled on this simple configuration:


Archived 4th of March 2018 from Publiclab.org.