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Aircraft Operations

In October 1996, Aircraft Laser Beach Mapping missions were conducted from Delaware to South Carolina using a NOAA DeHavilland Twin Otter aircraft. These mission overflights were conducted over a number of critical coastal sections, as shown in the beach mapping survey extent.

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Below are individual maps detailing the coastal regions covered during the October 1996 missions:

October 4th flight: Assateague Island, Virginia and Maryland

October 9th flight: Assateague Island to Cape Henlopen, Delaware

October 10th flight: Virginia Beach, Virginia to Oregon Inlet, North Carolina

October 11th flight: Wallops Island, Virginia

October 12th flight: Cape Henry, Virginia to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina

October 13th flight: New River Inlet, North Carolina to Cape Fear, North Carolina

October 15th flight: North Island, South Carolina to Little River Inlet, South Carolina

October 16th flight: Seabrook Island, South Carolina to Bull Island, South Carolina

In Fall 1997, Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM) overflights were conducted for the entire Atlantic coastal region covered during the October 1996 overflights, in addition to areas southward of Seabrook Island, South Carolina to Georgia. This provides a complete beach mapping survey from Cape Henlopen, Delaware to Savannah, Georgia. Also, ATM overflights were conducted for three segments of the Pacific coast establishing a pre-El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) baseline survey.

In summer or fall 1998, a post-ENSO ATM survey will be conducted for the Pacific coastal regions covered during the fall 1997 overflights allowing for survey comparisons and analysis of coastal change and cliff retreat during an El Nino event.

For specific east and west coast flight trajectory information and ground survey locations for all fall 1996 and 1997 ATM missions, visit our web page ( for up to date information.

With these ATM overflights concluded, there exists the potential to map the entire U.S. coastline in approximately 1800 km annual segments. Assuming 1800 kilometer (km) flight segments, this would result in the establishment of a national coastal topographic baseline survey allowing storm impact assessments and coastal processes analysis.

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