Simon Harbord

edited July 2019 in General
It is with huge sadness that I write this post. Many of you will have had the privilege to have met Simon and anyone frequenting this group will have heard about him. Simon passed away on July 4th 2019 after a short illness. He leaves a wife Lyn, daughter and grandson.

Simon lived in Scotland for most of his life but he was a Englishman from the "north", the oil brought him here and he stayed. Simon and I were hugely different characters. I told him this to his face. but despite our differences (He was an artist trying to be an engineer and I was an engineer trying to be an artist) we were brought together by KAP, and I for one was enriched by his friendship.

He flew a kite like a pro and I have never seen a smoother operator. Kite launched, shot taken, and kite retrieved, ALL WHILST FENDING OFF THE PROPERTY OWNER/CUSTODIAN who was trying to STOP THE SHOOT. An absolute joy to see his masterclass in operation.

How many Altiods tins does one person really need?
(Answer one more than the Pentax Optios you own)

What music do you play on the KAPiSCO Bus?

I last met Simon 2 months ago, I assisted him in a Wet Plate collodian demonstration/workshop in Dunblane, Scotland, we shared a meal, talked like old men do and parted all to quickly for the last time. But I'll always remember October 2018 when I spent a day with him in his home at St.Cyrus, Aberdeenshire, we flew kites, took pictures and talked. We also did 2 portraits. I shot him in his 19th century studio with my 21century camera, and he shot me with my 21st century camera with his 19th century tin-type technology.


Bottom left, and clockwise: Flying the flag for KAP - a memorable last flight in Aberdeenshire. Passionate as ever whether KAP or Collodian, Tinplate picture of James the young pretender. See the old pretender here
All images October 2018 and May 2019.

TIght lines you old git.



  • How very sad. Wonderful guy, with a droll wit and vivid imagination. He leaves a big hole in the sky.

    Fly well, Simon.
  • edited July 2019
    Sad indeed, James.

    I never had the privilege of meeting Simon in person, though I do feel he shared a lot with me, and with us,
    on these pages.
    I always had the feeling that Simon could straighten you up, turn you in the right direction, ruffle your
    feathers a little, and make you feel good about it ! You would have learned something. I've wondered a bit
    about him lately; he has not been here recently.

    Another bright light shows up here today ! I take that as very good news !
    Brooks, though sad news brings you, it is wonderful to see you back. I miss your wisdom and input.

    May you all be well, and Simon, thank you for the concept of " slack line flying ". I've hardly done any;
    I wish you endless flights, in endless skies, with a slack line, and a bit of a smirk on your face !

    If anyone is in touch with his family, please give them best regards. From me, and from the rest of Simon's admirers !

  • Oh dear - what a loss. I have happy memories of Simon at KAPiFrance 2013 and of his Skype call to us gathered in Broox's house at KAPiCa 2016.
  • Paul,
    I have gven Lyn this url so the family can share the KAP cummunities thoughts and memories at this sad time.
  • Good move, Messenger James !
    Thank you,
  • Very sorry to hear this news.

    Like Dave, I only met Simon at KAPiFrance. I'm very glad I did because online Simon and in-person Simon were different beasts!

    It's great that a lot of Simon's thoughts, experience and knowledge will remain cemented here on Cris' forum.
  • I was thinking of Simon on the Fourth of July. The winds here that day were just enough to gently lift the camera to where it needed to be. Those were the conditions Simon liked. I always think of Simon when KAPing in those conditions, and I always will.
  • edited July 2019
    Oh Dear... very sad news indeed..
    I first met Simon at KAPiCA in 2006 and we then had the pleasure to visit him and Lynn in 2007, he was a fantastic host and talented guide who showed us some hidden targets in Aberdeenshire and thanks to him we discovered the art of flying "slack line" and the simplicity and beauty of AutoKAP !
    A great Kite flyer, KAPer, with a wonderful sense of humor !

    Slack Line ...

  • edited July 2019
    Oh my. I remember meeting Simon for the first time after reading so much of his web postings on the wayback web on KAP and also his mental process. He was demonstrating the risk assessment of line tension with a hot dog sausage at KAPiNed 2010....I'd spent hours on listing impacts but only Simon could think of such a practical demonstration!

    Generous to a fault I miss him.

  • Pierre's photo reminded me that back in 2005 I was one of the first customers to order Simon's AutoKAP kit that he's demonstrating there, complete with potty (silly) putty. I think I've still got the small bag it came in!

    And I owe my carp poles to Simon too - I bought one soon after reading about the one he took to KAPica 2006. A true innovator!
  • edited May 2020
    Simon always made me smile. Even when separated by oceans and years I would think of Simon, with his youthful enthusiasm, sharp wit, and inventive outside-the-box, lateral thinking mind, and smile.

    While Simon was one of the hardy pre-Internet kite aerial photographers (Skyshots c. 1986), I first met him in the mid-1990s as WWW sites started to connect far flung KAPpers. Simon came to visit San Francisco several times, most recently in 2006 when he introduced me to the wonders of a carp pole.


    Simon in 2006.

    Simon was key figure in my kite aerial photography tutelage. I remember packages arriving with contraptions he had invented - the delightful Silly Putty autoKAP rig and one with multi-leg mechanical switches and a barbeque rotissery motor.

    Somehow, a WWW page I posted on Simon in 1996 is still online. I just enjoyed re-reading Simon's page of KAPisms.

    It is time to pull out the delta and try some slack line KAPing. When the kite and cradle come into pefect equilibrium I will smile yet again and think of my friend Simon.
  • In my opinion Simon was one off today's greatest KAPers. He followed the KISS-principle and in doing so he invented AutoKAP. While many KAPers were still trying to count till 37, modifying bulky electronics to make them do things that they weren't designed for and running up and down to the 1hr photoshop, Simon realized what benefits digital cameras could bring to KAP. KISS; some aluminum strip, rubber bands, a lampshade fitting and Silly Putty. And the number of keepers from each KAP-session was at least doubled.
    But Simon did so much more for the KAP-community. He told us about KAP and Risk Management, he was one of the first to have blog on a webpage to share his toughts, adventures, mishaps and photos in a time when you had to code everything in HTML to get it on the internet at all.And PAP and 3D images and ....
    But first of all Simon was a nice person, a very nice one indeed, and I'm really happy to have met him on several occasions.
    Simon, thank you. Rest in peace.
  • a few more images of Simon

    A demonstration of Pole Aerial Photography at KapiCA 2006

    Heidy, Lyn and Simon
  • A so sad news.
    I first met Simon in KAPiFrance 2005. I was a baby kaper and he offered me one of his Aurokap rig, just made under my eyes.

    Simon was one of some people more than important in the KAP history. His inventivity and his kind manner to talk with other were remarkables.

    Last time we met, it was in Labruguière during KAPiFrance125, we talk about Collodion and old photographic processes. He became a master here too.

    And I have thoughts for Lyn and everryone who loved him.

    Good bye fellow Simon.

    PS : Pierre had opened a subject on the French Kap forum (
  • edited July 2019
    I have been asked by Lyn to provide a slideshow of Simon and KAP for the Funeral on Wednesday 17th. Please post any links to your favourite flickr or other images here, or email me, in the next 24hours, THANKS James
  • Hy James,
    I upload a zip with pictures ok both KAPiFrance 2005 and 2013 via Wetransfer.
    You'll be noticed at
    Not necessary great pictures but great souvenirs.

  • Sad news indeed....

    A hole in the sky....

    But many fond memories and KAP photos to hold on to.

  • Sad to hear the passing of Simon, although I have never met him…. he gave me a lot of inspiration in my early days when visiting his KAP web site …. And also, the comments he made on my KAP images.
  • Incredibly sad to find this news. I feel very lucky to have spent time with Simon on a few different occasions. He was warm, lively, generous, and wonderfully creative. Two of Simon's ideas, pole photography and autoKAP, have had a very profound impact on my practice of photography. He was kind enough to have sent me one of his early silly putty autoKAP rigs with a lovely soft case with autoKAP stenciled on it, and he refused to accept any payment other than my feedback.

    I believe that Simon occupies a place in the pantheon of KAP practitioners, which, for me, can be counted on one hand.

    - Michael

  • (Lyn Fletcher asked that I post this to the discussion page on her behalf)

    Dear All (Cris Benton & the KAP Community),

    As a non-member of KAP ( & never likely to be!), I just wanted to express
    my gratitude to you all for the many positive & heartfelt tributes made in
    Simons memory. He was such an active participant in your group & would have
    spent many evenings in discussions with yourselves. Thanks especially to
    fellow Scot James Gentles who has been a good friend & source of information
    & support during this difficult time.

    Simon was taken far too soon & still had so much to give. He loved a
    challenge & finding ways to meet it by way of his unique approach! I think
    you were kind of kindred spirits.

    It was actually through KAP that I met Simon back in 2003 when I chanced to
    read his blog during an investigation into the history of a local ruined
    castle. This led to email contact before meeting him in person. (An early
    internet date?! ) Surprisingly, it also turned out that we lived very near to
    each other in the same village but had different careers & might never have
    met otherwise.

    Anyway, that seems long ago but still fresh in my mind. Those who knew him
    will have their own special memories too. Thanks to KAP I have spent the
    last 16 years with a very special man & I will so miss him. His daughter,
    Carly & grandson Finley also took part in many kite adventures along the way
    & Finley will inherit a few kites too.

    With grateful thanks

    Lyn Fletcher
  • edited July 2019
    Thank you first , James to write a word about Simon Harbord life .
    Secondly , every international kaper met one time Simon and it was really a pleasure to see his exhibitions and he is now belonging to the history of kite aerial pioneers with his silly putty rig .....
    Thirdly, a new star is blinking every night ...
  • Oh, this is truly sad news. I followed Simon's progress from his articles in KAPWA journals and then met him at FLIBB 2000, again at KAPiCA 02 and 06. He was a terrific person and a great innovative kite and KAP advocate.
  • This is sad news, indeed. I had the good fortune of meeting Simon in person at KAPiCA '06. We we already friends, though, through this forum and Flickr. He had a gift for reducing KAP problems to their simplest solutions. I learned so much from him. It's his voice in my head that gently admonishes me for overcomplicating things.

    Another memory of Simon: he loved to advocate Dan Leigh's delta kites. At KAPiCA 2016, I finally saw one in person when Pierre Lesage let my camera ride on his. Afterward I started sewing one of my own but set it aside before it was finished. Perhaps one of these days I'll get it flying. I know Simon would tell me I should.
  • Very sad news. Simon was a long time contributor to this forum and sounds like he was very active on the KAP scene at large. He posted in a few of my threads which was really nice - offering advice.
  • edited August 2019
    Such sad news. I was thinking of Simon last week, talking to a friend about his Lego RC KAP rig. A wonderful inventor. First met him at Kapica02, Kapisco04 and Kapifrance13.
    Always a smile and laidback kind of guy.
    We will miss you.

    Simon, RIP my friend.
  • I clicked on this topic with disbelief for more reasons than one.
    A very great talent, taken far too soon. I never met Simon but had followed his early KAP web site with great interest, likewise his vintage photography. He gave me sound advice when compiling the first KAP Weekend Book, never short of an opinion!! His pole camera adventures got me into that too. It had been my intention to try and hook up with James and Simon last year but events didn't allow as I've friends who live near Aberchirder not all that far away from Simon's place.
    What has upset me the most is that I was there from the 14th and had I known..................... sorry Simon. What is even more ironic is that on my return south I have for the first time ever, taken the coast road via Aberdeen/A90 Brechin, near to Simon, normally I use the Perth/Glenshee route. On passing Brechin I mentioned to Roger (my passenger) that I knew from the KAP group an interesting character who lived near here and was also into vintage photography! Let's go and see Roger said, no I said its not fair to drop in on someone at such short notice, anyway we need to get back today for Laura (Roger's other half).

    OK Simon I should read the Discussion Group more often, point taken. As Sue would say, fly high!

  • Ah, the road not taken ... and we can't go back !
    Nice thoughts.
  • Saddened by Simon's passing, met him at KAPiNed in 2010 & KAPiFrance 2013, also had a little KAP meet up in May 2011 (World Wide KAP Week) with Simon, James Gentles and Robert Insall at the picturesque delights of Pittenweem, St Monans and Elie in Fife, Scotland.

    Great day's aerial photography... at St Monhans, Fife, Scotland. May 2011.
    by Robert Insall (dictybloke)Great day's aerial photography...

    Simon on the TV, KAP at Hallforest Castle, Aberdeenshire. 2000

    Some of Simons old webpages are still accessible via

  • Very sorry to hear this news. Simon was an endless source of good ideas, many of which I still make use of in my photography. It seems appropriate to go out now and fly one of my Dan Leigh deltas.
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