Public Lab Wiki documentation

Aerial photos with Passenger Pigeon

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Passenger Pigeon is a project/concept for collecting aerial imagery from passenger plane windows with handheld digital cameras. To make a map, just take photos out the window of your commercial flight. Then use the free and open source to align the images with a map as soon as you land.

( Above, NRG composite from out the window of airplane over Amsterdam, by @warren)


Tips for photographers

  • point the camera as straight downwards as possible
  • hold the camera as stably as you can - brace it against the window
  • try not to sit behind the wing, where the engine exhaust blurs the air
  • take note of where the photos are, if you anticipate difficulty in placing them on a map later
  • check flight-tracking websites ahead of time to plan when you'll be able to take good photos (possibly during landing or takeoff, if you're allowed to use your camera)
  • Record with your gps (in your smart phone) the gpx track. YOu can use it later to geotag the images. GPS should be near the window, otherwise it will not work.


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Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.



Some Public Lab folks have done multispectral imaging from a plane window -- see the near-infrared camera page for details on how to collect/produce infrared imagery with less than $150 of equipment.

Infrared vegetation analysis from a plane


Title Author Updated Likes Comments
River Restoration map of Orphan Well 131544 in Bayou John @eustatic over 4 years ago 0
Fort Jackson Passenger Pigeon @eustatic almost 10 years ago 1
Hawthorne Hawthorne, Nevada @gonzoearth over 10 years ago 0
SFO-ORD @cfastie over 10 years ago 1
ORD - SFO @cfastie over 10 years ago 3
Saugus landfill overflight photos -- with Infragram @warren about 11 years ago 1
Infrablue Haze @cfastie about 11 years ago 2
Infragram test photos from a plane window @warren about 11 years ago 2
a new burp in the Texas Brine Sinkhole @eustatic over 11 years ago 0
Bayou Safe Bay. Oil Spill? @gonzoearth over 11 years ago 0
Passenger Pigeon methods: getting your location, the hacky way @eustatic over 11 years ago 0
Passenger Pigeon shots of MSY to PHX @eustatic over 11 years ago 5 for Passenger Pigeon @mathew over 11 years ago 0
the Hills have Acne: passenger pigeon photos of drill sites out West @eustatic about 12 years ago 4
NDVI-NRG infrared tests from an airplane @warren over 13 years ago 0