Flight Planning Considerations

Flight planning depends on the nature of the study site and its surrounding terrain as well as the type of photographs that are required for the project. A basic distinction can be made between (a) general scene coverage and (b) mapping or cartographic applications. The former may involve a combination of oblique and vertical shots; whereas, the latter would necessitate vertical or even overlapping, stereo imagery. For oblique SFAP, sun position and shadows relative to the camera location are key factors for achieving desirable lighting (see below). The remainder of this section focuses on vertical SFAP for cartographic purposes.

Collection of vertical imagery over a study site ideally includes complete coverage by individual photographs that overlap each other in a predetermined pattern. For some platforms, such as autopiloted model airplanes, pre-designed mission plans can be followed fairly accurately. But for many SFAP platforms, the practical implementation of a survey may be rather far off a preconceived mission plan. Kites do not often obediently comply with the flying-height wishes of their handlers; blimps prefer to turn their nose to the wind rather than following a pattern of straight flightlines. Even so, and regardless of the platform and its maneuverability, air survey calculations should be an integral part of any mission planning in order to ensure the best possible imagery for the intended application.

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