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OSAC Flight Planning Software

The Airborne Scientific Flight Planner uses the powerful, open source, and free QGIS software package (Quantum Geographic Information System) as a complete GIS and mapping package. The flight planner exists as a plugin for QGIS, thereby leveraging all of the power of a complete GIS. Below are shown a sequence of screenshots showing a complete aerial mapping flight planning sequence.



Make sure that Qgis is properly installed on your system. The flight planner plugin is not available for direct download into qgis as are other mainstream qgis plugins. The flight planner plugin must be unzipped and placed in the following qgis directory (Windows example shown):

Flight Planner plugin directory installation


Once the Flight Planner directory is unzipped and copied to the correct qgis folder, enable the plugin from the 'Manage and Install Plugins':

Manage and Install Plugins


And then checking the box next to the "Aerial Mapping Flight Planner.":

QGIS Plugin Manager, openlayers and flight planner

It is also recommended to install the "OpenLayers Plugin" to provide basemaps, above the OpenLayers Plugin has not yet been checked for installation, check the box next to this Plugin as well as the Flight Planner plugin.


Flight Planning

Once the Flight Planner Plugin and the OpenLayers Plugin have been properly installed, you are ready to begin planning aerial survey flights:

Load an openlayers basemap from the openlayers plugin



 Qgis is Open Source free software ideal for creating maps and handling aerial flight planning. Load one of many basemap layers from the openlayers plugin or your own map coverages.

 Create a New Polygon Coverage for Digitizing the boundary  

 Create a new shapefile polygon which delineates your area of coverage, or use an existing shapefile to load, or convert kml or other spatial formats and load into Qgis.

 Polygon Shapefile  

 Specify Polygon Layer if digitizing your own coverage

Here is a video tutorial showing how to digitize a new shapefile polygon:


 Quantum GIS polygon Coverage Boundary  
 Digitize the polygon with Qgis's easy to use tools, adjust transparency, color, symbols, etc.  
 Save the Coverage or you will get an error  
 Make sure to Save the new Polygon project outline layer  
 Flight Parameters tab and Coverage Polygon  
 Open Airborne Scientific's Aerial Mapping flight planner, and configure your camera parameters, and project area details, results update immediately in the parameters tab at bottom  
 Enter Camera and Project properties  
 Multiple Camera's and focal lengths can be set up and saved for quick usage and comparison  
 Set the line anges and how the route will be flown  

 Move the the Grid Points tab, make sure your saved polygon coverage layers is selected, and the photo spacing taken from the previous tab is correct, then enter a line orientation, and the prefered manner of flying, either back and forth snake pattern, or racetrack zigzag pattern all in one direction.

 Use Grid Points Tab to configure route direction  
 Create Grid Waypoints and review on map  
 The Photocenter waypoints can be edited manually as well  
Enter a name for the route, and the filename for the route, then create the GPS route. The Grid waypoints can also be manually edited with all the Qgis tools to customize the coverage. Review the resulting GPX route file  
 View the photocenter waypoints and route details  
 Snake route pattern shown zoomed into the map, with route line and photo center waypoint points shown  
 Check to see that your GPS supports # of waypoints  
 Upload to your GPS. Make sure that you GPS supports the # of waypoints that your flight plan includes