"I extended my stay in Israel so that I could do the aerial photography today. It was the first clear day that we've had since last Sunday.
WOW! I had an adrenaline rush for about 2 hours after the flight. Dan said my eyes were as big as dinner plates when I got off the ultralight, which was basically a go cart attached to a kite. In addition to the pictures for my project I got all sorts of great photos of the site and the general region, including one of my favorite Thai restaurant outside of Kiryat Shemona. Actually, I think it's the only Thai restaurant in Kiryat Shemona...
Was the flight archaeologically valuable? Well, the Xs in the middle of our control points are tough to make out. You can see the circle of rocks that we spray-painted around each X, so I'll have to aim at the middle of that when I'm rubber-sheeting onto my total station data. That data is sound, and will be usefull. Further, there were several features visible from the air that I don't think we've ever seen on the ground before, and it was great to see the overview of the route up to Banias and the contents of the minefield on Tel Azzaziyot.
In general, it was tough to be systematic about the photography while flying. At one point we were hit by some wind which made the Wizard roller-coaster at Great America feel like a tricycle ride. (Riding the Wizard when I was 6 years old is sort of my standard for excitement. I have no idea if I would find it scary at all today at the age of 34.)
I came off the ultralight with my face covered in dried tears and snot because it was really, really, cold. Heavy fog over the airfield made the pilot start to consider "alternate" landing places. We had to circle around for about 10 minutes until he felt he could see enough to make the landing. But when we were done with the 1 hour flight we still had about 3/4 of our fuel left, so we were doing okay.
If I had to do this again I would try to mount a video camera on the bottom of the plane and have him fly level transects across the site. Then I could pull out individual frames for my map, and be assured of both 100% coverage and significant overlap for the stereo effect. A balloon might also give me better control for framing the shots.
Dan and I will see what we can do with the photos that I took and then re-evaluate the process. The pilot also took some pictures (Hey Man! Keep your hand on the stick!) which are more scenic. My most useful pictures are the ones of grass and stones, not very exciting at all."
The temple at Omrit from the air:
The land between the wadis
Note the temple center right