Day 8 Kauai

Today started with a tour of the National Botanical Gardens led by Dr. Burney. The first stop was the main library on the facility where we met the gardens GIS director and talked about the methods that have been used to map Kauai’s rare plants in the past and the efforts they are making to map them in the future. We then went around the garden seeing many of the houses on the site and learning about the history of Kauai.  Dr.Burney is a fantastic and intriguing instructor and I am looking forward to learning more from him as the project progresses. We also had the opportunity to vist the vegetation grid by the shore and see the methods that Dr.Burney and Lida are using to restore natural vegetation on the island. This includes many new and innovative methods such as using Giant African tortoises to simulate the feeding habits of the extinct giant ducks that once occupied Kauai.  After this we met with the graduate students from the University of Hawaii to do some remote sensing via kite and fixed wing aircraft. Unfortunately the wind conditions were too unstable to conduct any imagery of the quarry. I had the opportunity to assist by reading the wind meter and relaying this information to the kite team. The wind was fluxuating between 9 and 34 knots. Well beyond the range to safely operate the kite. We then headed to the sugar mill to try the fixed wing platform. The ingenuity and creativity of the UOH graduate students in creating a cost effective cousin to the GateWing from a hobbyists remote control airplane was truly impressive. The things an engineer and a geographer can create together have no limits! Despite the high winds and difficult conditions the aircraft took off after only two tries and was soaring over head collecting data. This platform can stay airborne for up to an hour and in many weather conditions. There is on onboard camera sending a live action video feed to a screen on the ground so technicians can see what the plane is sensing. The plane and be manually controlled or have a set flight path like the GateWing. Over all it was an a great first day in the field.  Below are some pictures of me using the wind gauge and of the fixed wing.