Aerial Photos 1998 - Passport in Time

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Aerial Photography Indexing Session I

Tongass National Forest, Chatham Area, Alaska, 1998
by Karen S. Iwamoto, Chatham Area Archaeologist

My first-session volunteers have gone home, and I want to submit my project summary before the new group arrives. (I am optimistic that some folks will be coming in April!). Session 1 of the 1929 U.S. Navy Aerial Photography project was very successful. My two volunteers, Bob Berg and Ed Salamacha, were able to complete the flight line for all of Admiralty Island (over 1,000 photographs) and straightened out the existing system for keeping track of photographs. Student volunteers had put some effort into working on this flight-line project over the past five years, but it was very much in disarray when Ed and Bob entered the picture.

The Chatham Area now has a very clear understanding of which flight lines from the 1929 project are complete in our atlas. About one-half to two-thirds of the Chatham Area now has been completed—thanks in large part to the efforts of Ed and Bob and their contributions through the PIT program. The use of these photos will be of tremendous future benefit, not only to the Heritage program but also to our Native Liaison program, timber, recreation, and undoubtedly the interpretive program as well! My next goal is to have these photographs and the flight lines put on CD-ROM and the originals sent up to the National Archives in Anchorage.

Bob and Ed may have been “overqualified” to work on this program. Being retired aviation engineers and ex-military pilots, they really scrutinized the photographs and were scrupulous in the placement of each one on the map. This was Ed’s fifth PIT project and Bob’s first. Having undergone a recent reorganization, our Recreation and Lands Department has been combined with Engineering. We meet weekly on Monday mornings, and Bob and Ed sat in on both meetings. Ed is really a champion for PIT. He gave the whole group a glowing report of all his projects during the presentation of their Passports and other paraphernalia. It was the best advertisement for PIT I have ever heard!

Thanks for the opportunity. I only hope my next project is so successful!

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