Gray County Wind Farm
Montezuma, Kansas

J.S. and S.W. Aber

Gray County Wind Farm is located near the city of Montezuma in southwestern Kansas and began operation in 2001. 170 Vestas wind turbines can generate up to 110 megawatts of power, enough for ~35,000 households. The Danish turbines stand 65 m (213 feet) tall at hub height and 90 m (295 feet) high to the tip of the upright blades. They are individually controlled to turn on when wind speed reaches a minimum of about 10 mph, which is just enough to fly our camera rigs on a large rokkaku kite. When wind speed exceeds 56 mph, the turbines turn off to avoid mechanical damage.

During our visit in late April 2006, wind was light, generally 5-15 mph with occasional gusts, so turbines repeatedly turned on and off. Also wind direction was variable from the southwest, west and northwest. After experiencing some strange turbulence close to a large turbine, when it turned on, we decided to move some distance away from the turbines. Thus all our shots are distant views. We utilized two cameras, the Canon S70 and Canon SD600 (digital elph), which had its maiden flight here. We did not risk putting up our heavier SLR digital camera because of irregular wind conditions.

The wind turbines are arrayed in lines between crop fields. In this semiarid region, dryland farming follows a summer fallow method; crops are grown in every other field in alternate years to conserve soil moisture. In this case, dark green winter wheat contrasts strongly with fallow, brown soil. The following images were taken in late April in the early afternoon. These pictures depict the flat land surface and gently curved horizon of the High Plains.

Panoramic views
View toward the northeast with multiple lines of wind turbines visible in the background. Clouds are moving across the distant sky, but the scene is brightly illuminated in the foreground.
View toward the southeast in the downwind direction. Notice shadows cast by the wind turbines.
View to the southwest looking toward the early afternoon sun--note shadows.

Standard views
View toward the southwest with the authors in the lower right corner. The dirt track across the lower portion of scene is a public section road. Needless to say, there is not much traffic on such roads.
Closeup view of the authors and their KAP vehicle on a section road at the edge of a wheat field.
Near view of three turbines. This was as close as we dared to position the kite and camera rig to the spinning turbines, which are directly downwind from the camera in this vantage.

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Text and images © J.S. and S.W. Aber

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Last update: Sept. 2011.