Vera, Our Lady of the Skies

This kite aerial photo isn’t much. It’s not spectacular, it doesn’t show something fascinating (ok, it does, but we’ve shot this part of Ljubljana Marshes nature park so many times, that another photo of it barely coutnts). The camera is not even high above the Marshes … Really, nothing special.

Except for one thing: it shouldn’t have been taken at all.

We’ve done more than our share of pulling the kite up into the stream that was flowing – or, more often, was supposed to flow – a couple tens of meters above the ground where the air was still and not even a blade of grass moved.

It probably worked once. If that.

A big enough kite, or a specially designed one, like those zero wind gliders, can lift off in (practically) no wind conditions. But for us kite aerial photographers just putting the kite up is not enough – it must lift a camera too.

Master KAPers make their own picavets and other types of KAP rigs, aiming for that elusive balance for the rig being as lightweight as possible, yet still heavy enough to efficiently damp the inevitable swaying in the wind.

That extra weight of the rig and the camera on the kite line pushes the minimum required wind speed for flying up. A 2 m rokkaku needs 4 km/h to climb into the sky and stay there, but to lift a camera the minimum wind speed is over 6-7 km/h – and it’s a struggle to fly in such soft winds.

Snake’s head fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris, queen of the Marshes

So when we arrived that day to our regular spot on Ljubljana Marshes to celebrate – Janez had a birthday! – not a single blade of grass was moving. 0 km/h.

There was no point in even taking the rokkakus and the deltas and the parasleds out. We are all too old to run and pull a kite across the wet meadows of the Marshes. It was sunny and there was cold beer, a nice Spring afternoon even without kite flying.

But Janez had something else in the bag.

When we started with kite aerial photography and got to know the masters, we noticed that most of them flew either rokkakus or deltas, or flowforms and similar soft, inflatable kites. But one of them was using a strange bird, huge and complicated, with spars and strings and bows and whatnot.

István flew his camera in a lot of truly insane spots with a dopero.

Dopero – a “DOuble PEarson Roller” – is derived from a series of kite designs starting with a German toymaker Stieff and its Roloplan kite, with the key development done by Alick Pearson. It’s a very stable kite with a lot of pull, capable of flying in very low wind.

But it’s complicated – complicated to make, complicated to assemble – so when Janez made his first kite for aerial photography, he chose a simpler rokkaku.

But still, we didn’t really understand why István uses a dopero for KAP. A rokkaku has pretty much the same abilities, and it’s way easier to make it, to assemble it and to fly it. What does he know that we don’t?

So Janez made a maxi dopero – 350 by 200 cm – to check it out, and named it Vera. But we never really flew it, never had the patience.

Until that day on the marshes where ot a single blade of grass was moving, and on the trees the dried leaves of yesteryear were adamant not to make a sound.

“Let’s put it together and see.”

No wind.


You could light a cigarette with one hand. The smoke, that most reliable wind direction measuring apparatus, went straight up.

“Let’s try it anyway!”

Vera is a mighty beast. It reacts slowly, its huge area displacing a lot of air, weighting heavily on the hand. She rose up magnificently, but every kite does that when pulled.

The trick is staying up there.

And suddenly she was embraced by a flow of air – we can’t use the word “wind” for that minute air movement – and the line became tauter.

“Let’s put the picavet on!”

From a kite flying test doomed to fail to a KAP session in zero wind. That’s what maxi dopero is for!

Now we understood István: a dopero can be pulled easily over the turbulent layer of air that’s messing with a kite when flying in strange places, like a park full of trees, or in the middle of a city, or behind a hill, or in a deep valley, or on a top of a mountain.


We couldn’t really believe it, though – there was no wind, yet the Lady of the skies was flying, carrying a camera up.

It was still a struggle, of course, and the rig approached the hard ground dangerously a couple of times – but overall it was a nice KAP session.

Especially because it shouldn’t have happened at all.

Vera was neglected for a couple of years.

She won’t be anymore!

Kite aerial photos shot with Insta360 on Vera maxi dopero, made by Janez Vizjak of Dr.Agon kites.

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