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Our Airplane

USA Aloft flies a Cessna 172 for its aerial photography work.  With the camera mounts attached, the airplane typically flies at about 115mph.  This "slow" speed, coupled with its stable flight characteristics and high wing configuration , make the 172 an ideal platform for photography.  To avoid making major structural changes to the airframe, the camera mounts were designed to hang from the wing struts.  In flight, the struts are under tension; the wings pull up on the struts and hence on the body.  The effect of the mounts is negligible, except to make the airplane a bit slower, which is desirable when you are trying to take sequences of overlapping pictures.

These pictures show the airplane with the mounts attached. In the first two pictures, the mounts are covered with semi-transparent plastic for protection.

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Airplane with Mounts Attached

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Left Mount

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Right Mount without Plastic

A Stereo Sign

Flying with two huge camera boxes attached to the airplane struts, we were getting numerous questions.  To answer these inquiries and have a sample stereo image for people to view, we created a sign for the airplane.  Here is how it was done.

First, using a 12 foot ladder, we took pictures every three feet or so in a fifty foot circle around the front of the parked airplane.  Pictures were taken from  high and low vantage points on the ladder.  From that collection, we selected these two pictures as the basis for our sign.  Read about how to view stereo images.

 Left Airplane    Right Airplane

Next, using image editing tools, we removed the background.  Then the prop was removed and a new cowling painted into the picture.  The prop image was rotated and copied repeatedly until a 360 degree image was obtained.  That image was skewed slightly to make the prop appear to be spinning in the proper plane. Its transparency was adjusted and the result pasted back to provide the illusion of a spinning propeller.  Finally a blue sky background was added.  What two problems exist with this image pair?  Answers below.   

Left Airplane in Sky    Right Airplane in Sky

Finally, the resulting image pair was aligned and used to produce this sign for the airplane. 

USA Aloft Sign

What's wrong?

1) The right main wheel was just barely visible in the left eye parked version and is missing in the flying version. (Oops!)

2) There is NOBODY flying this airplane!!!! (The pilot was 50 feet away and 12 feet above the airplane taking pictures.)