Jim Crabtree

Welcome to the spring 2012 edition of Aerial Mapping, the seventh year for this publication.

“Spring edition?” you may wonder. Yes, demand for Professional Surveyor Magazine’s Aerial Mapping special has exploded, and we will be introducing our now bi-annual edition this fall. We are currently soliciting articles for this fall issue and also welcome topics to cover in PSM’s very popular Aerial Perspectives column. 

Check out this edition’s informative, technical articles on topics ranging from image acquisition and internet distribution by Surdex, to Wilson & Company’s historic watershed mapping for the Albuquerque USACE, to Geo-Cue’s advanced data dissemination techniques employed by the NGS.  You will also find an account of the USDA Agriculture Research Service’s use of UAVs to obtain high-resolution sensing for range management.

I always enjoy catching up with my colleagues by reading the interesting case studies and company profiles here, which continually evolve to reflect the demands of the marketplace.
While 2011 was a flat continuation of The Great Recession, the outlook for 2012 in the aerial mapping world appears improved.

Many smaller firms are surviving on a fraction of their pre-recession volume. I touched base with my friend, Gerrie DeGross, PLS, proprietor of DeGross Aerial Mapping in Bothell, Washington.  Gerrie and his son Mark are working principals and now the sole remaining employees in their tiny photogrammetry shop that Gerrie founded in 1984.  He said that his volume of business dropped by half each year from 2008 through 2010 but leveled off in 2011.

On a more optimistic note, some bigger firms with broader service offerings and diverse client bases report that they are not only surviving but prospering.  Pat Olson, CP, PE, PLS, president of AeroMetric, a national firm with a staff of about 240, told me that his company “achieved a near-record volume in 2011, and we are confident that we will surpass that in 2012 by a substantial margin.”  He said he is seeing increasing opportunities in 2012 in the sectors of transportation, environmental remediation, and energy (including possible mapping for the controversial Keystone pipeline corridor). Pat added that “lidar is red-hot for transportation,” so his firm just acquired their third lidar sensor.

Whatever the size of your business, I know you will give 2012 your best effort, and I wish you all success.  Drop me a line to let me know how you are doing, even with some suggestions on ways we can grow as a profession.
~Jim Crabtree


About the Author

  • Jim Crabtree, PLS, CP
    Jim Crabtree, PLS, CP
    Jim is a Seattle-based contributing writer. He is retired, having worked most recently as Vice President of AeroMetric. Jim's career included 48 years in the surveying and mapping industry, obtaining ASPRS Certified Photogrammetrist and Professional Land Surveyor certifications.

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