Aerial photography and chasing?

Just think of the video if you used a remote control helicopter with a small miniDV camcorder while filming a storm. Watch out for hail and high winds. RFD winds would take it to the next county.
 
I have been very interested in aerial photography of storms through the use of modified ballons on an attached line mechanism. This ballon would have particular aerodynamic features to help maintain the direction the camera is pointing in. Of course it couldn't be as accurate as an R/C plane. I would try this if I could find a lightweight small camera that could take pictures at intervals. Has anyone used natural elevations to take pictures of storms (mountains, skyscrapers,etc.) Looking on lower elevations.
 
There are some pictures like this — collated from webcams — here; the site is en français, so if you don't speak it you'll have to run it through Google, but some of the pictures are impressive.
 
I have never mixed my hobbies - ultralighting and storm chasing - but the possibilities are pretty cool.
I could easily pull my ultralight behind me in a trailer and could fly a low level sounding to get a feel for the boundary layer and lowest inversion level.
The photography possibilities would be incredible, but very hazardous.
I have flown a few weak tornado paths in southern WI, it's a fantastic tool for storm damage surveys.
I have a couple videos I put together 2 years ago with 2 different camera positions on my trike. Boring footage, but it gives you the idea what it's like to be in an ultralight and the possibilities of using it as a camera platform

http://www.f5hunter.com/wingtip.wmv
http://www.f5hunter.com/onmast.wmv

Chris.
 
Originally posted by Chris Gullikson
I have never mixed my hobbies - ultralighting and storm chasing - but the possibilities are pretty cool.
I could easily pull my ultralight behind me in a trailer and could fly a low level sounding to get a feel for the boundary layer and lowest inversion level.
The photography possibilities would be incredible, but very hazardous.
I have flown a few weak tornado paths in southern WI, it's a fantastic tool for storm damage surveys.
I have a couple videos I put together 2 years ago with 2 different camera positions on my trike. Boring footage, but it gives you the idea what it's like to be in an ultralight and the possibilities of using it as a camera platform

http://www.f5hunter.com/wingtip.wmv
http://www.f5hunter.com/onmast.wmv

Chris.

I was thinking about this very thing whilst reading the thread. I thought to myself that there must be some chaser who has attempted to get some storm footage whilst airborne, hazardous or not.

Tell me Chris are the ultralights solo or can you accomodate passengers? I would be very interested in exploring the possibility of capturing some still footage myself in this respect. Obviously safety is of paramount importance & the conditions must be right but would you be willing to offer such a flight. It would have to tie into my chase trip (from UK) & I'd be willing to pay.

PM me if you can help.

Mark
 
In the US, ultralights are not allowed to have more than one passenger, though tandem 2-person ultralights are used for training purposes. I think beyond that, it's considered to be an airplane and a pilot license is required. I'm about 90% sure this is the case, as my dad flew both for awhile.

Tim
 
Flying Conditions for a Utralight??

Chris,

First of all, I really enjoyed the ultralight videos that you provided. Almost makes me want to drop storm chasing just to go flying again!! Please enlighten all of us as to what are the proper flying conditions that you must have for a safe utralight flight??

Seems like you always got to have clear, calm conditions with winds less than 15 mph max to having good flying weather. I've usually have seen these ultralights either in the early morning or the late evening just before sunset.

This would make a great vehicle to tape tornado track and damage paths after a major tornado event. Thanks for sharing!! LJK.
 
Originally posted by mark humpage


Tell me Chris are the ultralights solo or can you accomodate passengers? I would be very interested in exploring the possibility of capturing some still footage myself in this respect. Obviously safety is of paramount importance & the conditions must be right but would you be willing to offer such a flight. It would have to tie into my chase trip (from UK) & I'd be willing to pay.
Mark

I do have a 2 place ultralight and I will get into the rules of ultralighting in my follow-up to Tim's post.
I would love to give you a flight if you are in the area next spring, but for obvious safety reasons this will need to be on an off day when the weather is nice.
There are many other ultralight instuctors around the country that will be able to give you an introductory flight (feel free to bring your camera) and I can help you find these instructors depending on where you would like to take a flight.

Chris.
 
Originally posted by Tim Vasquez
In the US, ultralights are not allowed to have more than one passenger, though tandem 2-person ultralights are used for training purposes. I think beyond that, it's considered to be an airplane and a pilot license is required. I'm about 90% sure this is the case, as my dad flew both for awhile.


The true definition of an ultralight is:
(a) is used or intended to be used for manned operation in the air by a single occupant;

(B) Is used or intended to be used for recreation or sport purposes only;

© Does not have any U.S. or foreign airworthiness certificate; and

(d) If unpowered, weighs less than 155 pounds; or

(e) If powered:

1. 1. Weighs less than 254 pounds empty weight, excluding floats and safety devices which are intended for deployment in a potentially catastrophic situation;
2. 2. Has a fuel capacity not exceeding 5 US. gallons;
3. 3. Is not capable of more than 55 knots calibrated airspeed at full power in level flight; and
4. 4. Has a power-off stall speed which does not exceed 24 knots calibrated airspeed.

The above definition is for a true Part 103 ultralight which anybody can go fly without getting any type of training. People were getting seriously hurt or killed trying to fly their new toy, so an exemption to the Part 103 rules was created allowing 2 place ultralights to be used for instruction purposes. The exemption allowed a weight increase to 496 pounds, 10 gallons of fuel, and a little more speed. A passenger is not allowed in a 2 place machine, the second occupant always has to be a student.
Today, most ultralights are actually 2 place trainers, although the pilots flying them are not nessecarily instructors. They are either breaking the rules or they are "pseudo-instructors", they have an instructor rating so they can fly their ultralight legally and take a "student" up with them. These students are usually their buddy, wife, or girlfriend.
I am an instructor and I do a little bit of instructing, however most of the time when I am flying dual, the occupant is usually just going for a ride with me.

Since the 2 place training exemption is abused so much, ultralighting is now undergoing a big change. September 1st introduced a new rule called Sport Pilot. All 2 place ultralights and the people flying them will have to move into Sport Pilot which will make this a regulated sport with N numbers and pilots license.
This will be cheaper and easier then getting your Private Pilots license, but it will be more expensive and more knowledge will be required then the way it has been done in the past.

The true 103 type of ultralights will still be able to fly like they always have without being regulated, however the training excemption is going away in a few years. I am looking forward to becoming a sport pilot, however there seems to be many ultralighters who are very against it.
 
Re: Flying Conditions for a Utralight??

Originally posted by Larry J. Kosch
Chris,

First of all, I really enjoyed the ultralight videos that you provided. Almost makes me want to drop storm chasing just to go flying again!! Please enlighten all of us as to what are the proper flying conditions that you must have for a safe utralight flight??

Seems like you always got to have clear, calm conditions with winds less than 15 mph max to having good flying weather. I've usually have seen these ultralights either in the early morning or the late evening just before sunset.

This would make a great vehicle to tape tornado track and damage paths after a major tornado event. Thanks for sharing!! LJK.

Glad you enjoyed the videos, I am getting motivated to make a flying DVD showing much more interesting scenery and more dramatic flying. I really want to get out west with my trike to fly in much more interesting areas. I would love to fly in Monument Valley.
Check out this website for some cool flying videos from a trike. Flying Freedom is my favorite.
http://www.trikepilot.com/

As far as flying condition, obviously it's better to fly in conditions where the winds are very light and the thermal activity is light or non-existent. New and low hour pilots should be flying in low wind conditions and gradually fly later in the morning or earlier in the afternoon to get a feel for thermic activity. It can be scary getting caught out in mid-day thermals in such a light craft, but over time as you build hours, it actually gets kinda fun getting tossed around a bit.
The type of ultralight you fly has an impact on the amount of weather you can safely cope with. Generally the faster the ultralight can fly, the more winds it can tolerate. Powered Parachutes are on the bottom of the wind totem pole and they can become quite a handful in winds above 10mph.
My personal comfort level with my trike is winds in the 15-20 mph range on the ground. This is actually a pretty strong wind, I prefer the winds to be 10mph or less.

I have flown a weak tornado path and took a bunch of video and photos.
http://www.f5hunter.com/5-30-03_aerial_photos.htm
It is a great tool for doing this type of work because of the slow speeds and excellent view from the craft. Because of the regulations, I am not allowed to fly over congested areas so would not be able to do a survey over a city or an obvious sub-division that is populated.

Chris.
 
Back to the original topic of this thread, I think trying to fly an ultralight near a storm would be very hazardous, and flying in an enviroment with strong low-level winds and shear would probably be suicidal.
An experienced pilot may be able to fly in a weakly sheared enviroment with strong inhibition and good CAPE. I don't have any experience flying in weather, but I would think you would want to stay in the inflow and away from any areas of outflow.
I have flown amongst fair weather CU's that were a thousand feet thick, and it's a spectacular sight. I couldn't imagine being at 5000 feet and within 5 miles or so of a towering supercell, that would be freakin incredible...

Chris.
 
:-b. . . Damn I need to fly more. What a photo op!

That reminds me of a set of stereo pictures that have appeared in Clouds Of The World and some other books; they were taken by an astronaut in a Mercury capsule ca. 1962 and show a towering cu near the Bahamas that has a waterspout emerging from it (although I can't see it myself :oops: ). Makes me wonder if there are more pictures like that from the time.
 
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