Our aerial photography collection is arranged by flight. A flight is a discrete collection of images, typically gathered by a single aircraft in one day. Each flight that is available for research has a database record describing the geographic extent of the flight, the parameters of how the images were created (altitude of aircraft, scale of the resulting images), the formats that we have in the collection (film vs. print; color vs. black & white), and other metadata for the flight. On most of our finding aids, clicking on a flight ID will show you a detailed description of that flight, along with a link to a coverage map (a graphical index) when one is available. Flight IDs typically start with a producer code.
When locating aerial photography, it is helpful to have a map outlining your area of interest (AOI). You will also want to determine the scale and dates of imagery you need. For help determining the most useful scale, visit our scale explanatory page. If you are looking for specific imagery characteristics, such as oblique or color infrared photos, be sure to read the flight record carefully. This information is found under “physical details.” If stereo pairs are required, look for an overlap of 60%.
If you are researching an area in urbanized California, we have developed lists of the most useful flights for both Northern California (the greater San Francisco Bay / Sacramento area) and Southern California (the Los Angeles and San Diego metro areas plus the tri-counties of Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo). Your first step for this research should be to look at these frequently requested flights pages.
If your AOI is outside of the these areas, or you want more in depth coverage, complete listings of flights are available:
- California Aerial Photography by County (list and map views)
- All California Aerial Photography (one list sortable by date, flight code, and scale)
Researching non-California areas
We have a smaller collection of air photos from outside of California. This includes flights of other US states as well as flights of foreign countries.
Complete lists of our holdings sortable by date, flight code, and scale:
Need more help finding air photos? You can receive assistance using our aerial photography tools in the Map & Imagery Laboratory. Contact us at (805) 893-2779 or milrefdesk [at] library [dot] ucsb [dot] com to set up an appointment. We are happy to do research for you. Community users, please visit Aerial Imagery Research Service to submit research requests.