Same Day Aerial Photo in Google Earth

[NOTE: Google incorporated this photo in the base imagery of Google Earth on December 17th. So, now the link below just flies you to the location. This is now a compilation of a couple of photos including one which is higher resolution on the west side. It also loads a lot faster.]
Same day aerial photo - Las Cruces - in Google EarthWith some help from Google, we have created the first example (that I’m aware of) of a fully rectified (aligned) aerial photograph taken and put into Google Earth on the same day. The photo was taken by myself in a Cessna 182 from the side window (yes, we had to make a very steep turn to get this straight-down view). Check it out for yourself by downloading this and zoom in on the Las Cruces airport. The entire image may take a while to load since it is about 30 MBytes, but it loads like a normal Google Earth image (with tiles thanks to the Regionator). The photo is of the Las Cruces Airport just after the end of the first day, October 20, of the Wirefly X PRIZE Cup. You can see the planes, rockets, and exhibitor tents.
Google showed an earlier aerial photo we took in the morning during the day in their booth. People were amazed, and some even tried to find themselves in the photo. Thanks to Robin – who helped fly the plane while I stuck my head out the window to photograph. And, thanks to one of the Google folks – Roger – who processed the photos and orthorectified them for Google Earth. Let us know what you think!
By the way, take a look at the 3D models we created of the same show in Google Earth.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Very nice.. and so clear!

  2. Hey Frank,
    Pretty neat !
    What camera did you use to make that pic ? And what was the time ? Seems pretty late because of shadows.

  3. Hi izo, I used a Canon Digital Rebel XT (8 Megapixel). The photo was taken at about 3:05 PM. The airspace over the airport did not open until 3 PM when the show was officially over. For some reason, they didn’t want planes flying over while the rockets were launching. 🙂

  4. Very nice. Good job on getting it to align seamlessly with the underlying image.
    How did you get the picture to be (seemingly) perfectly perpendicular to the ground? Did you just eyeball it or fix it in post-processing or something?

  5. Hmm, that has got to be the most people that LCiA has ever seen. And I have been there during the Air Shows.
    Since you are there… can you get me some Roberto tortias and Nachos?

  6. what altitude were u @ when u shot the picture? would be good to know if someone wants to do the same;-)

  7. Very cool. I just purchased a boat and am bringing it down from CT. I’ve been playing with the raster charts and Electronic Charts. I am trying to work out a systematic way to convert the BSB format to GEOTiff and overlay. Marine maps use large unweildy formats instead of tiling cleverly. I heard your metion of regionator, but this probably does not solve the issue regarding geosyncing the maps once converted to GeoTiff. Do you have any suggestions for helping me mass convert the raster charts to Geo TIFF and handling tiling appropriately? I’d make the data public or even maybe get a Google Map Server for public use if I could unlock the key.

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