Frank Taylor is sailing around the world, using a kite to take aerial photographs of the places he visits. In many cases, his photos are better than the ones in Google Earth. So Google's replacing their old ones with Frank's.
Frank's in the midst of a five-year trip around the globe on the Tahina Expedition, an adventure he's taking with his wife and of which Google is a partner (Frank runs the unofficial Google Earth Blog). In May, the expedition stopped on Manihi Atoll in French Polynesia, where Frank used his kite camera to capture shots of a village near the lagoon where they landed. Google recently added those images to Google Earth and Google Maps.
And while Frank's undoubtedly thrilled that his work is improving Google Earth piece by piece, he says the most memorable part of the shoot is meeting the people who lived in the village he photographed:
The best part of this photo shoot was the opportunity it gave us to meet people in the village. We started by parking our dinghy near Fernando's house. Fernando is the guy who helps sailors visiting the island have a really unique experience in Manihi. He is also the leader of the Mormon church at the island, and runs his own pearl farm. Fernando is a great guy and genuinely wants all sailors to have a great visit to Manihi. He let us set up our gear on a table outside his house and even made us some snacks and drinks as we described our plan.
As soon as we set up the kite, people - especially the kids - started walking up to ask what we were doing. Even though we didn't speak their language very well, they soon grasped the concept. The kids all wanted their photo taken, and were particularly excited when I asked them to help pull the string when we were retrieving the kite after our flights.