Real Time Aerial Views

The past, present, and future of remote sensing 


From Icarus to Yertle the Turtle, the desire for a view from above transcends history and culture. Beginning thousands of years ago with kites and gliders, to Da Vinci's “ornithopter”, to hot air and helium filled balloons, to modern day avionics, humanity has invented countless contraptions to get airborne.  The technology has improved dramatically in just the last 100 years since the Wright brothers took flight at Kitty Hawk, NC in 1903. 

At the same time, the capture of permanent images through photography made major headway as well.  The idea of the pinhole camera can be dated back to ancient Greece and China, but the means to create a photograph with light-sensitive chemicals wasn’t discovered until the early 1800’s in France. Of course, back then, photography was black and white not colour, captured by plates and films instead of digital, and exposure times could be minutes, hours or even days!  Without these important innovations in photography, there would be no Flickr, no Instagram, and Anthony Wiener would be best known for his political career.

Just like a chocolate peanut butter cup, photography and aviation is a great combination. (We’ve built our company around this, if you hadn’t noticed.)  The two technologies first got together in the 1850’s with hot air balloonists taking oblique images.  The first world war saw a rapid increase in air photography for reconnaissance and aerial survey purposes, making maps of the battlefronts much easier and quicker to update.  Military investment, as it often does, accelerated the pace of development in both aviation and photographic technologies.  Cameras are getting smaller and more sophisticated, planes can be mounted with stabilizing equipment to produce better photo.  Even just in the last 10 years we’ve come a long way.  Compare a photo we took in 2000 to the same area in 2014:


Even still, today’s technology relies on static images, snapshots in time.  Logically, the next step should be streaming live images, with eyes in the sky at all times.  So, back to the original question, how do you get aerial views in real time?  It’s easy.  Next time you’re in an airplane, just look out the window! 

April Fools!

For those of us who don’t enjoy the luxury of owning a private jet, another good option is to download the ortho-imagery from the MapWarehouse website or subscribe to VuMAP.   Of course, don’t hesitate to request a quote for custom aerial photo acquisition.  First Base has four aircraft based at Buttonville Airport in Markham, ON. Our staff and equipment can be mobilized to capture custom imagery on demand across North America.


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