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Historical Airphoto Index Map Viewer


To launch the viewer, click "Launch Application" to download the Historical Airphoto Index Map KML file and open the file using Google Earth.

Quick Start Instructions

Use this tool to view historical air photo index maps of British Columbia.

  1. Use the Google Earth controls to zoom in to your area of interest.
  2. Click a map icon whose label includes the range of years in which you are interested. Click on the 'Show Map in Google Earth' link to display that map as an overlay in Google Earth, or click the 'Download PDF' link to view the map in a separate browser window, or in any PDF viewer.
  3. Hint: use the Google Earth transparency slider to make the terrain features in the Google Earth imagery visible through the index maps - try a setting between 30 and 50%.
  4. To determine the actual year of photography for flightlines displayed on the index maps, click the 'Year/roll correlation listing' link to load the listing into a browser window.
  5. You can get more information on ordering historical air photos by clicking on the Ordering historical airphotos link.
  6. To order air photos, click on the Base Map Online Store link and enter the roll and frame designation into the free-form window.

** Note: For best results with PDF maps, year/roll listings, ordering instructions and use of the Base Map Online Store, configure Google Earth to open web pages in an "external browser". Tools > Options > General > select Show web results in external browser.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I view the index maps?

A. The individual map icons will be labelled with the range of years for those flightlines\filmrolls represented on that map. Click the map icon for the range of years in which you are interested to view information about that map. To view the map as an overlay directly in Google Earth, click the 'Show Map In Google Earth' link. To view the map in a separate window, click the 'Download PDF' link. Hint: to better see the underlying terrain when viewing the maps as overlays in Google Earth, set the transparency slider for each layer to between 35 and 50%. You will be able to see the map annotations and the basic terrain features from the Google Earth imagery simultaneously.

The overlay layers aren't displaying correctly in Google Earth - I'm only seeing the lower left quarter of the map.

A. Your graphics card doesn't have enough on-board memory to support correct viewing of the overlay maps. Use the 'Download PDF' link to view the map in a separate browser window.

How do I figure out which air photo I want?

A. The index maps show flight lines, which are labelled with the filmroll name. Typically, the photo centre of the first and last photo in a filmroll and every tenth interevening photo are shown as circles labelled inside with the frame number for that photo. Individual air photos are uniquely designated by the filmroll and the frame number. The locations of air photos that are not specifically shown as circles will have to be estimated along the flightline. You can find out more about using index maps here.

I've found the location of an air photo I'm interested in on one of the index maps, and I've figured out its roll and frame designation - I know its vintage will be within the range of years specified in the map label, but how do I know exactly which year it's from?

A. Click on the 'Year/Filmroll Correlation Listing' link and find the filmroll, or look it up here.

I've checked out 'Search Air photos' and the index maps - are there still more air photos?

A. Yes. There are an additional quarter million air photos taken between 1950 and 1989 designated as 'site-specific' operations that are only recorded on the original paper maps. A future update will include tools for locating air photos from these operations. If you think there may be a site specific operation for your area of interest you can contact GeoBC - someone will help you to determine if such an operation exists.