First, let me thank you all for sharing your stories. I am particularly grateful for the "Dumb Mistakes" thread and this question probably belongs there. While not a newcomer to the world of kite flying, the art and the act of putting a camera in the air still feels thrillingly new to me. I have come to this madness through my work as a landscape photographer after a residency in the Alaskan arctic in which we worked on several archeological sites that were so old and so subtle visually that in many ways they were best understood from an aerial perspective. I've been practicing a lot over the last two years with a simple rig and a Go Pro so that I might work through my novice mistakes without costing myself too much money in the process and was just working myself up to a more complicated set up with a much more expensive camera when I had the following experience.
A few weeks ago I was working near St. John, New Brunswick and one particularly beautiful afternoon I launched my Levitation Delta above the salt marshes by the Bay of Fundy. The light was perfect. The wind was perfect--though a little unstable close to the surface--there was surface turbulence. That was the first sign I suppose that I should have planned for trouble. I put my trusty little waterproof and shockproof Fuji on the picavet and sent it out over the marshes and then farther on over the bay itself. The light was so great and the wind direction so perfect I had put a class ten 64 gig card in the camera and set the time lapse to every three seconds. I was no more than 200 to 300 feet up when suddenly the wind picked up rather significantly and it did not relent. It began gusting so ferociously that I decided too late to bring the kite down. As I was attempting to walk the kite down--I thought I had enough of a safety zone to do so--the 150 # line I had on my winder broke and the kite went galloping away across the Bay of Fundy. The line was 150 pound twisted kevlar and not the 200 pound braided Dacron that I usually use as I have been flying a lot lately in the arctic where the winds are strong. I had not tested the line that had come with a new winder because I had intended to switch out the line with my Dacron but I just didn't get around to it and suddenly there I was with my Delta in the car and the perfect conditions for flying. Preparation is all. I knew that before but I know it even better now. I am sorely missing that kite and camera and rig, and I am dreaming of what pictures it might have made on its journey across the bay.
So my question is this: how far might an untethered kite fly? I looked for an answer to this in other threads and it doesn't seem that there's any sure way to know but on the off chance there is some precedent for an untethered kite traveling a significant distance I thought I would ask. We followed my loose kite with binoculars as it soared across the water until we could see it no longer, and it seemed to be flying beautifully with the weight of the camera serving as ballast. The wind remained very strong through nightfall and on through the night. When I pulled out a map and charted the trajectory of my kite and the wind direction it appeared to be traveling straight across the bay along the path the passenger ferry takes from St. John to Digby, Nova Scotia--which is 80 kilometers. I feel a little silly asking this, but is there any chance at all that it would have make it all the way across? I know an untethered kite will drop the second the wind drops--or perhaps becomes too strong--but it was flying so beautifully without me when I last saw it I was just hoping against hope that it might have made it to land somewhere, that perhaps some kid might find it and have fun with it after enjoying all those wonderful pictures. I hate to think I have added to the problem of plastics in the world's oceans, but I fear that I may well have done so. Any information or advice in response to this question will be most appreciated.