Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Background


I go through very predictable stages during the development of a new interest. First, I mull over the idea for awhile, do a little library work, and try to talk to someone who knows the topic well. Another classic early stage activity is the seeking out of periodicals and catalogs catering to the topic. I am continually astounded that the most arcane of topics is invariably served by these often informal publications. I do particularly enjoy catalogs. The best provide through the presentation of their wares a portrait of the topic: its processes, accouterments, and outcomes. For instance, I've recently been thinking about kite building and the materials section of the Into the Wind catalog, with its clear exposition of fabrics, spars, and components is great fuel for the imagination. This page cites those companies whose catalogs I've found quite helpful. Unless otherwise noted I've conducted business successfully with each. The list is not intended to be comprehensive but rather to point you toward the sources that have worked best for me.

On a personal note I should say that it makes great sense to support your local merchants and is decidedly proper to do so if they are providing advice and support. It is my policy to buy locally whenever possible if I am comfortable with the value/price relationship.


Highline Kites
Tom McAlister maintains a store at Cesar Chavez Park in the Berkeley Marina.
Call 510-235-5483 on weekdays from 9 AM to 5 PM U.S. Pacific Time

Into The Wind
1408 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO 80302 ........................1-800-541-0314 or 1-303-449-5356

Into the Wind produces a catalog that is easy on the eye and, more importantly, offers a comprehensive array of kite-related products. The catalog has decent sections on single line kites, kite lines, line winders, and kitemaking supplies. They also offer a simple camera mount and a choice of books - good imagination fuel.

Windborne Kites
585 Cannery Row, #105
Monterey, CA 93940 .......................1-800-234-1033

Windborne almost qualifies as a local supplier for me. They have a modestly-produced catalog offering a fairly broad line of merchandise.

The Kite Flier's Site maintains a list of Kite Suppliers that have web sites.


B&H Photo-Video
119 West 17th Street
New York, NY 10011........................1-800-947-8006

It often takes a bit of courage - gulp - to order expensive camera equipment from a mail order outfit. One knows intuitively that there are charlatans out there. For those occasions where local procurement didn't seem the best route, I've had very satisfactory results with B&H. I'm sure there are other mail order establishments that are equally reliable but I only have experience with this one firm. At B&H's low prices you cannot expect much advice or handholding.

13552 Research Blvd., #B
Austin, TX 78750..............................1-800-335-9777

I have no direct experience with SuperCircuits. They offer miniaturized video systems suitable for airborne use. It is my understanding that under most conditions there is too much movement in the camera rig to produce really useful video. The main kiting application would appear to be the development of an electronic viewfinder for your lofted still camera. The SuperCircuits catalog features truly tiny cameras appropriate for airborne use and companion transmitters for limited range broadcast.


Northeast Sailplane Products
16 Kirby Lane
Williston, VT 05495........................1-802-658-9482

Northeast Sailplanes is a small, specialized business catering to radio-controlled sailplane fliers. They have a wonderful catalog for this niche market and properly charge $7 for it. I happily use them because they are willing to take some time to discuss an RC application and the best way to go about it. Some companies just seem worthy of support and this is one of them.

Sheldon's Hobbies
2135 Oakland Road
San Jose, CA 95131 ........................1-800-822-1688

Sheldon's is another company that is relatively local to me. They have a concise and complete collection of products for radio-controlled airplanes and cars. I visit the San Jose store occasionally for direct purchases.

Stanton Hobby Shop, Inc.
4718 N. Milwaukee
Chicago, IL ........................1-773-283-6446

I called Stanton's after they were mentioned in the Sources section of the Aerial Eye (ask for Joe it said). They are a source for radio control equipment and are an AKA member merchant as well. I was looking for a KSB dethermalizing timer. They had several in stock and at a very agreeable price to boot.

Tower Hobbies
P. O. Box 9078
Champaign, IL 61826-9078.............1-800-637-4989

Tower is one of several large mail order companies in the radio control hobbies area. Call them up and they will deluge you with catalogs - annual, monthly, sales events, etc. The inventory is large (though items are often out of stock), prices are low, and (at least for us Californians) there is no sales tax. The catalog is well worth perusal.


Small Parts Inc.
13980 N. W. 58th Court
P. O. Box 4650
Miami Lakes, FL 33014-0650..........1-800-220-4242

Small Parts is cited in the rec.kites FAQ and indeed it offers a nicely-presented collection of small parts for scratch building items like a camera cradle. This is a source for gears, connectors, titanium threaded rod, etc. The prices are not particularly low but it is a one-stop source for most of the parts you would need for a project.

Micro-Mark: The Small Tool Specialists
340 Snyder Avenue
Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922-1595...1-800-225-1066

Micro-Mark is a source of tools for small-scale hobby activities. I became aware of it through the RC magazines and have greatly enjoyed its catalog. Need a magnet-based gluing jig? A micro-plane or 00-90 die? Micro-Mark is a fine source.

American Science & Surplus
3605 Howard Street
Skokie, IL 60076 ....................... 1-708-982-0870

American Science & Surplus provides an enormously entertaining website and newsprint catalog. Both pull together an odd collection of surplus stuff at prices that often seem very low. If you have an inventive bent its well worth a look.

812 13th Avenue
Sidney, Nebraska 69160 ............. 1-800-237-4444

Cabela's is a large outdoor supplier. I've found their Tackle Craft catalog useful for a number of kite-related supplies like ball bearing swivels and Teflon rod guides. Their main catalog is chock full of goodies ranging from handheld GPS units to rod cases. I've recently been using one of their soft-sided tackle bags to carry my basic KAP kit around and have been very happy with it.

Edmund Scientific Company
101 E. Gloucester Pike
Barrington, NJ 08007-1380 ............1-609-573-6295

I've been reading Edmund Scientific catalogs since I was a kid in the 1950s. My grandfather used to get them and we would order things therein for our "experiments". It remains today a useful source for science-related supplies and has an interesting optics section.


Wind & Weather
The Albion Street Water Tower
P. O. Box 2320
Mendocino, CA 95460.....................1-800-922-9463

W&W provides a delightful catalog of weather-related products. They have a small section on handheld anemometers as well as instruments for establishing a home weather station.

Light Impressions
439 Monroe Avenue
P. O. Box 940
Rochester, NY 14603-0940.....................1-800-828-6216 or 1-716-442-7318

Light Impressions provides supplies for the storage, display and framing of photographs. Their 100-page catalog is full of useful solutions for archiving your KAP photo collection. They offer a fair collection of photography books as well.

Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI)
1338 San Pablo Ave. (near Gilman)
Berkeley, CA 94702-1094 .....................(510) 527-4140

REI is my favorite store for outdoor recreation supplies, so much so that it is dangerous for my budget when I browse the store. They have a full complement of climbing hardware and I draw on this stock for devices to anchor my kites.

Forestry Suppliers, Inc.
205 W. Rankin Street
P. O. Box 8397
Jackson, MS 39284-8397 .....................1-800-647-5368

Another one of my favorite catalogs, Forestry Suppliers is a contemporary version of the wilderness outfitter only slanted toward academics and professionals. The catalogs are very well produced and are full of up to date and useful outdoor items (e.g.; GPS receivers, compasses, altimeters, wind meters).

If you know of printed resources uniquely appropriate for this page (e.g.; catalogs, periodicals) please drop me a note and I will check them out.

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