Issue 33: Hanging by a Thread

Craig Wilson, Madison photographer and kite flier will open a new show of his work, called HANGING BY A THREAD; a kite’s view. Craig uses large kites to lift radio controlled cameras for very unique views of the world.

This presentation will open November 7, 2003 and run through April 16, 2004 at the EAA AirVenture Museum, Hwy 41&44 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

It was quite natural one day when I realized that my newly completed kite flying proudly and being held down with my left hand was more than powerful enough to lift the weight of the camera being held up to my eye with my right. I remember that day back in 1987. With my big Delta kite flying high in the rays of the setting sun and me standing in a meadow already deep in shadow, I remember thinking wow, what if? Can you imagine what the world looks like from where the kite is? All these beautiful places that I take my kite. All those incredible views that it is privileged to see. If only it had eyes and if only it could share that view.


After a few weeks of thinking and tinkering I had figured out how I thought it may be possible. I would need a timer. I planned to epoxy it to the back of a camera that I decided I could live without, a camera that I figured surely I would ruin.  I waited for the hobby shop to call to say the miniature timer I ordered was in and then a few days later I emerged from the garage successful. The shutter tripped each time the timer expired. Oh I was proud of myself. So proud of what I had built that now I wasn’t sure I wanted to attach this thing to a kite and risk dashing it to bits.


Eventually good judgment gave in to temptation and I gave it a whirl. The next day, back from the photo lab I received a roll of out of focus, blurred shots of what looked like me, or at least part of me, standing in my back yard. That view from 150 feet up, captured on that first roll of film ignited a passion in me to figure this thing out. All I needed was a better, faster camera, a better way to control the camera, a more stable way to attach the camera to the kite, a more interesting subject, practice, and lots of film.

All of these photographs were made by lifting my camera equipment with a large kite. My philosophy of using a kite to lift my camera is that it allows me to get my camera to very unusual places for unique views of the world. The kite allows me to eavesdrop on the world, floating the camera over a scene without disturbing the activities below with noise from an engine or downdrafts from propellers.  I prefer to stay low enough with my camera to have the patterns, geometric shapes, shadows, colors, and textures of the ground be very strong elements in my photographs. My goal is to make aerial close-ups that look different from the type of view that you get from an airplane, I want the view that only birds and bugs have of the world.


We all want to see our world in new ways. That is why we request the window seat on airplanes, why tall buildings have observation decks, and why even children love a Ferris wheel. Attaching my camera to my kite is for me, as natural as standing on my tiptoes, to see just a little further.

Craig Wilson

You can find schedule information about HANGING BY A THREAD
on the EAA AirVenture Museum web site.