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Kiteboarding Looks Even Cooler Via Drone

May 20, 2016

Karlie Thoma keeps the wind in her sails
If you've never watched kiteboarding, this drone video is awesome. If you have watched kiteboarding, this drone video is still awesome.

Atomic City, a Salt Lake City, UT-based video production company, filmed kiteboarder Karlie Thoma catching some serious air at Paia Beach in Hawaii. Drone company Autel Robotics commissioned the project, and the video’s aerial views were shot using the Autel X-Star Premium.

Kites need wind to fly, but wind is a common nuisance for pilots of unmanned aerial vehicles.

“There was a few times when the wind was pushing the drone away from us no matter how much throttle we gave it,” says Taylor Lewis, editor and occasional drone pilot at Atomic City. “We learned real fast to fly it sideways to get to the shore rather than try and fly against the wind when it was too strong.”

But that tactic didn’t always work out for the team.

“We always tried to keep the safety of Karlie as our first priority when it came to getting low and close to her,” Lewis says. “There was one moment, however, where we got a little too close.”

Atomic City isn’t afraid of pushing the limits when it comes to drones. But at one point, Thoma changed direction and started hauling straight toward the drone. Lewis says they didn’t want to risk losing such a great shot, so they hunkered down, hoping the kite wouldn’t collide with the drone.
Here's what an Autel X-Star Premium looks like in case you go searching for the lost drone.
Drew Halverson
That didn’t work.

“One of the strings from her kite hit the drone, causing it to fall. It missed her by about a foot. She actually tried to grab it before it sank, but the wind was too strong and pulled her in the opposite direction,” he says.

Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the drone quickly plummeted into the depths of the Pacific Ocean.

After grabbing one of five other drones and wrapping up shooting, the team headed to Craigslist – like most people in need of strange services – and hired two scuba divers. Lewis says they offered to give the divers a drone if they could find the ocean-lingering Autel, but they turned up empty-handed.

But hey, if you find yourself diving at Paia Beach, keep your eyes out for a bright orange Autel X-Star Premium.

“Hopefully, someday, someone will find it and do something awesome with the footage,” says Lewis.

He says Atomic City is working on some big projects, so be on the lookout for more rad drone videos in the future.

Here’s another adrenaline-inducing drone video.