Aerial Photography Apparatus

United States utility patent no. 578,980

The drawings in this patent for an early aerial photography system are relatively simple, and even seem a bit silly with a camera suspended from a kite string. But looks can be deceiving. Turns out, Mr. Eddy was famous for his photographic and meteorological experiments with kites. In fact, on May 30, 1895, Eddy took the first kite-based photograph in the Americas (seven years after the first ever kite-based photographs, taken by Arthur Batut). Mr. Eddy professionally as an accountant and journalist, but it's clear his passion was in science and technology...and inventing. Ironically, it's difficult to find the early Eddy kite photographs online.

Issue Date
Filing Date
United States
William A. Eddy (Bayonne, New Jersey)
us, utility, mechanical

Resources related to William Abner Eddy and his kite photography:

William Abner Eddy on Wikipedia.

Abner Kite Photographs of Boston; New York Times, August 28, 1896 (does not include the photographs).

Mr. W.A. Eddy’s Big Kite Experiment; New York Times, August 26, 1895 (an earlier Eddy attempt to photograph Boston using kites)

Pictures from the Sky; New York Times, November 4, 1896 (detailing another kite photography session; introduces Eddy as “the Bayonne kite expert”). This article is particularly notable as it includes a quote by Mr. Eddy noting the date of his first kite-assisted photograph in the United States (May 30, 1895) and the others that had made such photographs in other countries before him).

William Abner Eddy - Diamonds in the Sky on Best Breezes kite blog.

Scientific Kite-Flying in The Century illustrated monthly magazine v.54 (n.s. v.32), p. 80, 1897 May-Oct.

Kite Aerial Photography, William Eddy, Acc. XXXX-0752, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution. (includes an Eddy kite photograph showing an oblique view of Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., from a point over the south side of the US Capitol Grounds).

International Center of Photography entry for Eddy (includes two kite photographs).