Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Grandfather of Naval Aerial Photography

I’m following in his footsteps
by Jeff R.

My grandfather, Walter L. Richardson, was the first aerial photographer for the Navy. He started his Navy career in 1911, as a ship’s cook on the Mississippi, and was pursuing photography as a hobby. The base commander of the newly formed Naval Air Arm in Pensacola, Florida, soon asked him to take official photographs. My grandfather saw great potential in taking photographs from airplanes and was credited with inventing the first handheld oblique camera for aerial photography. He established photographic schools at various Naval Air Stations and became known as the "Grandfather of Naval Aerial Photography."

One hundred years later, as his youngest grandchild, I develop software to process aerial photographs into 3D models for mission rehearsal and training. The software, called TacForge GeoSketch, is a product of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. GeoSketch is used by Special Operations Forces Planning, Rehearsal and Execution Preparation (SOFPREP) to build mission rehearsal database for Special Operations Forces. GeoSketch was also used by the US Secret Service to build 3D databases of Tampa, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina, to support field agents at the 2012 political conventions.

My grandfather was a pioneer of aerial photography.