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When Do We Get Flying Wind Turbines?

Still from footage of Makani Power's flying turbine test flight.

Still from footage of Makani Power’s flying turbine test flight.

Makani Power, recently acquired by Google as part of their billion-dollar renewable energy initiative, want to make wind power, which is already pretty efficient in the world of renewables, even more efficient and appropriate for a wider range of locations, by using 90% less materials than standard turbines and taking advantage of high-altitude winds, with tethered flying turbines that have minimal impact near the ground. (Wind at the turbine’s flying altitude, reported to be between 250 and 600 meters, is stronger and steadier than wind currents nearer the ground.)

While their goal is an industrial-sized offshore wind facility, one of these would be pretty darned awesome flying over the ol’ homestead some day – the limited ground impact and visibility is a huge benefit in residential areas, where people struggle with the impact of a retrofit, and there’s not much cooler than a flying kite-like propeller-driven flying turbine.  (Admittedly, this may be wishful thinking for some time to come, as residential zones may simply be too dense for it to land for maintenance.  But given all the small towns installing wind turbines for municipal power, this could be an interesting twist, especially for towns with concerns about historic districts and turbine visibility.)

See below for footage of a recent testing flight:

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Weekend Longform Video: Song of Ceylon (1934)

Still from Basil Wright's Song of Ceylon.

Still from Basil Wright’s Song of Ceylon.

While we’re on a bit of an expressive montage editing kick, here’s one of the documentaries Karel Reisz alluded to, Basil Wright’s Song of Ceylon, made in 1934 for Ceylon Tea Propaganda Bureau.  Which is, firstly, an amazing name for an organization, and, secondly, should signal that we’re going to be seeing images of the kinder, gentler side of British colonialism here.  (Wright doesn’t seem unaware of the problem; in an interview reported by Senses of Cinema, Wright says, “[In the Caribbean] I wished I could have managed to say more about the diabolical capitalist or British Colonial policy which was always so nice and fat. I got a bit of it into Song of Ceylon the next year, but, you see, if you’re working for the Empire Marketing Board in the British Colonies, you can’t do it.”)  However, it’s also widely acclaimed as a cinematic masterpiece and one of the great documentaries, and Sri Lankan filmmaker Lester James Peries calls it the greatest documentary about Sri Lanka ever made in Sri Lanka. Continue reading