Last Friday Foster and I hiked the 80 miles down to Popham beach from home base in Waterville to capture aerial photos. We hoped to document the changes in flow of the tidal Morse inlet which has been drastically eroding the beaches protective sand dunes. We programmed the autopilot to fly above the tidal inlet while taking a vertical picture every few seconds. The plane flew just around 2 kilometers in automated flight mode at an average speed of 68 km/h. The two minute flight felt an order of magnitude longer as we passed over control to the autopilot and anxiously awaited the planes safe return. The plane flew great and we got some interesting data. With our new 5 amp battery our plane will be able to complete hour long mapping missions covering at least 30 times the area of this photo mission.
Here's a low quality version of the 33 image Popham mapping compilation. We will georeference this compilation on the digital globe using ArcGIS software and compare to older aerial and satellite photos.
Here's a zoomed in snapshot of the facility in the east end of the parking lot from our high quality version. This is an example of the image quality we can feasibly capture during mapping missions.
To many Popham Beach enthusiast's delight the tidal inlet over the past week and a half dramatically switched it's course to a more direct route to sea. For the long term this means that the beach will be much larger and erosion will not threaten the dunes by the parking lot. We captured data before and after the channel shift and will be analyzing the associated sedimentological changes. The new tidal channel can be seen in the southwestern portion of our map.