Ventana fly-over mission

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Re: Ventana fly-over mission

Post by mfay »

Hey Jim,

Are you going to put the flight line and photos up on google earth. I flew a helicopter mission before our Redwood Transect (, would like to talk to you about that and any other aerial stuff you might have.
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Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2008 6:07 pm

Re: Ventana fly-over mission

Post by 5998b »


I would like to request some pictures of 2 areas you flew over. Could you e mail me at . Thanks.

Re: Ventana fly-over mission

Post by wayne1 »

Thank you for the information. The fire may have actually cleared some of the underbrush and that will be helpful in reaching some areas. The second it is open again I am returning to Tin House. It is a fine little trail camp and I have never seen people there.
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Joined: Wed Jul 30, 2008 7:23 am

Ventana fly-over mission

Post by jmpreston »

Pilot Mark Conover flew David Knapp, Katya Preston, and myself all over the Ventana today for over an hour. Katya sat in the right front seat with our notebook computer running Google Earth and Adobe On Location. G/E was connected to my Garmin 60CSx and our position was tracked. On Location was connected by Firewire to my Sony camcorder so that Mark and Katya could position the plane based on the scene in the camcorder lens.

We made a flight path in G/E ahead of time so we could photograph and video as much of the campgrounds and trails as possible. Mark and Katya kept the plane on that path. The also seemed to be having a lot of fun up there.

I was on the right side with the video camera and David on the left with my DSLR. David shot 185 photos. I shot about 70 minutes of video. David and I, along with my professional Sony camcorder and the stabilization rig, were packed into the rear seats with no room to move. It was something like being us being in the back of an old VW bug.

So what did we see? Green. A lot of green. Many brushy hillsides and ridges and a few stands of trees were toast but most of the campsites and canyon forest looks just fine. A few trees will die over the next couple of years and some that look like they are dying will recover. Grassy fields are mostly burned but it is surprising how much grass remains.

Pico Blanco Camp and Ventana Camp are fine with all the trees intact. Most of the Pine Ridge Trail looks fine. The undergrowth seems to have burned but that's the point of the fire so no big deal. The Big Sur canyon looks fine. Parts of Pine Valley took a hit but 90% is fine. I can't recognize Sykes from the air but somewhere in our images is the answer. Everything will look better in the spring.

Hikers will of course encounter far more burned views than from the air as they will see the burned undergrowth and blackened tree trunks.

Some trails along the ridges near the fire perimeter are wide dozer paths with no sign of rehab. David can address those in more detail. We have decent videos of the North Coast Ridge and Skinner.

There is a lot of blackened terrain but those areas were mostly brush. For those who regret the all too temporary lose of brush then I'll try to feel your pain. For me more rock is exposed and I'm delighted.

What is really surprising is how much brush and grass didn't burn. The fire often stopped in remote brush where it is hard to imagine why it did. Sometimes it stopped even in grass. I'm sure there were no massive water drops in many of those remote places.

Our images show very good detail. We can clearly see the trails. Unfortunately there is a lot of smoke over central California now and that didn't help. There was no smoke originating in the Ventana and I have no idea why it isn't open to the public now.

I'll burn all this onto DVD's for David and Mark. We'll try to get a little online soon. We'll need to have a group to geo-map the photos and video and catalog everything so we can refer to it in the future. We have This is far more work than David and I can do. The field work is over and now we have to sort out the data. We have a GPS track which we think is time-sync'ed to the cameras and images but not sure how that works. The GPS track is amusing. Flight of the bumblebee. Not many straight lines :-)

We have a trove of aerial images that will be of service for a long time. We should thank Mark Conover from Santa Cruz for his wonderful and valuable contribution!

I'll post this message on the forum and the VWA list.

- Jim Preston
VWA Aerial Recon Specialist

Trip stats from the GPS:

Total miles: 172
Max speed: 159
Moving average: 114
Moving time: 1:30
Total ascent: 5,113 feet
Max elevation: 6,762
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