2000+ acre ortho advice :-)

Hello Everyone,
Hoping to get some advice here. Maybe start a conversation with someone or a few on how to go about this.
Let me explain who i am first.
I am a retired peace officer, I own a large athletic training center where most of the special tactics teams of the local police agencies train for free. I have been a professional photographer for almost 20 years, and just received my 107. I own (2) Inspire 1’s and a phantom 3. X3 and x5 cameras.
I am doing a pro bono ortho soon for the county jail/sheriff dept, and i am thinking about doing a pro bono or highly reduced cost ortho of the Plattsburgh International Airport. “issue is” its an old B-52 air force base and has maybe one of the biggest runways in the country, and its about 2100 acres. :slight_smile:
Any advice on how to go about this? I know, kind of crazy, but it will really open the door to alot of work, especially being granted to map the airport, kind of sets me apart from anyone else.
Thank you in advance.
Keith Provost

Hi @Provostdronesolution,

Congrats on getting your Part 107! My advice to you is to break up the area into smaller pieces for mapping. Please bear in mind that there are photo limits for each pricing plan on DroneDeploy. I’ve seen users map areas in chunks and then create a giant ortho in the end by stitching the JPEGs (or other image format) in a different software, like Photoshop.

I know there are quite a few in this community who have mapped large areas too and hope they see this post and chime in!


I agree with @Christina. If possible I would use GCP’s and create an overlaping grid. With the right settings you should be able to accomplish it in about 22 flights. Can you provide a kmz polygon of the site? I’d love to assist… And congrats on graduating!

Hi Michael,
Here yo go :slight_smile:


forum wont allow upload of kmz files. link to it on my google drive.

Nice project!
Here is what I would suggest for a large area, but the final approach is up to you:

  1. On your Drone Deploy desktop start at one corner of the whole area you want to map. Like the upper left. Hit Plan to start planning. Drag the grid to the upper left corner. Choose your altitude and overlaps.
  2. Stretch the outlines of your plan to cover about a 15 -20 minute flight (you can go longer if you want, but you don’t want to have any incidents over people - so be conservative). Try and keep it roughly square. Name it with a column/row grid reference. e.g “Map 1-1” Row 1, column 1 (See first picture below)
  3. Get out of that map back to the Dashboard. Copy that map by clicking on the three buttons to the right of the map name. Open it and rename it Map 1-2. Now click on the center and drag it next to where Map 1-1 is leaving a little overlap. It leaves the original map image there as you drag so it is very easy to see the overlap. Adjust its shape as necessary. (See 2nd picture below)Map%201-2
  4. Do this process across the top of the area.
  5. Go back to Map 1-1, copy it and drag it down with overlap. Name it “Map 2-1” (Row 2, column 1). Do this until you’ve mapped the whole area with Grid flight maps.
  6. Make sure each of your maps is clear of tall obstacles in your flight path.

That’s the gist Gary. I am going to use the subdivision function in my Civil CAD to see how it splits it up. If that works I can create KMZ that can be imported into DroneDeploy. By using the subdivision function I can determine the size so you could setup your flights for one or two batteries at a time. Making a key map would be best with this irregular shape without having to overfly with “quads”. I’ll let you all know what happens. It might end up being a good service for an app…

Hi there
I had a large area to map couple years back. A river section area that was just over 25 km long, and about 1500 mt wide.
In order to try and capture with a similar light, we converted the gimbal from my Skyjib X8 with the Canon 5D to work under a fixed wing craft.
We were able to fly about 400 - 450 feet agl and took well over 8000 images in about 2 hours.
Stitched them together using chunks of around 400 images with a little overlap. Worked really well.

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First thing is if your going to be photographing an airport you should do some homework. While Plattsburg is in class G airspace it also has an RNAV and ILS approaches, which means ATC can release the airport to an aircraft under less than ideal conditions you might not anticipate. The last thing you want is to see a Cessna 210 or Cirrus busting through a 800’ MSL cloud deck (IFR minimum if I remember right at that airport) on an approach right when your drone is at 400’ AGL across the threshold. Bad day for you and bad day for the manned aircraft. You need to contact the airport operations manager and the controlling ATC entity (Boston Center I think). You also need to think about filing a drone NOTAM for pilots in the area (flight services can do this www.1800WXbrief.com), they will alert pilots to your presence well in advance of any conflict. Remember you are PIC see and avoid is your responsibility and if you hit a plane, your at fault and your responsible for damages, PERIOD.

So now that that is out of the way, I would recommend splitting it up as the above comments said. I’ve flown 2,000 acres in Texas with little to no issues, just had to break it up into multiple flights and ensure the flights have overlap on the seams. I’d also try to get it all under the same light conditions if you do not have software for color matching the images. Just my 2 cents…

Disclaimer: The above DOES NOT provide any legal advice or tender any ruling and any statements made should be used at your own risk. Users should consult with their own lawyer, the Federal Aviation Administration, or their local Flight Standards Office for legal advice or rulings for each situation.

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Thank you. Fully understand all of that. I live here :wink:. I am in discussions with airport manager about this. Burlington is the ATC.

I believe I have decided not to do it though.

They are under major expansion, and GC is using a drone. Don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Even though they have not produced a map for the airport yet. I’ll wait till they are done contract first.

Good stuff @E_Poole. Thank you.

Hi Gary, I like your approach.