Archives for June 2011

Flying cameras, Yikes!

Dennis O'Hara and his OktoKopter at the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge I went down behind the Aquarium last night (June 29, 2011) to take a picture of the salt water vessel Orsula coming into port. With tugs helping out and the sun just sliding over the hill behind me, it seemed like a good thing to do. Then I noticed a cute couple watching the ship too. Upon further investigation, they seemed too serious to be simply visitors out for an evening stroll.
Dennis O'Hara and his OktoKopter at the Duluth Aerial Lift BridgeWhen Dennis O’Hara turned and said, Hi Ken, I realized I was not alone, or rather I was alone. All I had was my little camera. Dennis had his wife Debby with him, a couple of interesting boxes and an even stranger, bug-like contraption sitting on the grass in front of him.
Dennis O'Hara and his OktoKopter
Upon further investigation, I realized it was a helicopter. Knowing Dennis, I looked underneath the helicopter and saw what looked to be a camera. A closer look at that box revealed the controls you usually see in the cockpit of an airplane. Despite being a licensed pilot, Dennis had spent a  good part of the winter learning how to fly his OktoKopter.  Octo from the Latin for 8, meaning 8 blades.
OktoKopter takes off to get a picture of the incoming ship Orsula
And the first step for that is to know precisely when to take off so you can get your picture and get back with a safe landing. A slow moving ship can cause a problem so they carefully judge the speed of the ship as it came under the Lift Bridge. I assigned myself the task of announcing that important moment in the countdown to lift off. You can see the bow of the ship just coming under the bridge, the tug ready to help and the OktoKopter just taking off. My work was done, successfully, I might add.
OktoKopter in the air
Having lost the battle to get exclusive pictures of the Orsula, I decided the only thing left was to get exclusive pictures of Dennis and Debby taking pictures of the Orsula with the OktoKopter.
Dennis O'Hara guides his OktoKopter so he can get a picture ofhe incoming Orsula
This is not your average model airplane. For one thing, it will be flying over water so stalling in midair, or worse, is not an option. Nor is your battery running low. Happily all this technology includes a voice that announces how many minutes the battery has left, from the 7 it had when it took off.
Dennis O'Hara hat and his OktoKopter
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I thought of one problem, but they had that covered too. How do you know what the camera is seeing. Debby took care of that with a totally separate system; she was watching a live feed from another camera on the OktoKopter showing her what the camera in the sky was seeing. That allowed Dennis to maneuver the OktoKopter into position. He had rigged it to take a picture every 2 seconds after he pressed the button. Can’t expect him to pilot the aircraft and take pictures at the same time.
Meanwhile, the voice was giving Dennis an update of the status of the battery. Click here to go to his web page at Northern Images to see the picture he, Debby and the OktoKopter took last night. His home page at Northern Images Photography is here.
The OktoKopter comes back to earth

Flagship Niagara returns to Duluth


Flagship Niagara was in Duluth July 16-18, 2011 for  the Duluth Music and Maritime Festival. Watch pictures from past visits above.

Big news–no fog-see boats

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The Frontenac (center) came under the Lift Bridge at 6:41 this morning (June 23, 2011) and went to the Murphy Fuel Dock to get fuel. The American Integrity (right) came under the Lift Bridge an hour and 6 minutes later. She was waiting for the Frontenac to complete before getting  fuel  herself and then going to the CN dock to load iron ore pellets. The Integrity slowed down, almost to the stop  just after moving around the turning buoy. The Mesabi Miner (left) was approaching the Lift Bridge, noticed the Integrity sitting there and called  up to determine where the two boats should be after the Miner arrived in the harbor. The Integrity gave her a choice, the Miner said, ok, how about you move over behind the Frontenac and I will pass on the left on my way to Midwest Energy Resources to load coal. And that is how the above picture came into be.

Grandma’s Marathon, 2011

Grandma's Marathon, 2011, Duluth Minnesota

State of Michigan arrives in state of Minnesota, Duluth to be exact

stateofmichigan20110615_3561 The State of Michigan, a training boat owned and operated by the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, arrived in port this morning at 7:57.  She will be at the dock behind the DECC until Thursday evening. The Academy trains men and women to serve as officers in the Merchant Marine. Located in Traverse City, MI, the school is one of seven maritime academies in the United States, and the only one where every deck officer earns both an unlimited tonnage ocean license and Great Lakes pilotage. Upon graduation, GLMA mariners are qualified to sail as Merchant Marine Officers on vessels serving on the Great Lakes or oceans and are awarded both a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and an Associate’s in Maritime Technology.