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Aerial Mapping

After World War I, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey asked for the U.S. Army Air Service's help in using aerial photographs for mapping, and tests conducted during the summer of 1919 proved the concept. In 1920 Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell stated that the Army Air Service -- if properly organized -- could make an aerial survey of the entire country in three years. He advocated a single organization to coordinate those efforts, which matched his efforts to create a single air arm for the United States. Mitchell's hopes for a single organization were never fulfilled, but the Army Air Service did photographic work for many U.S. government agencies. In addition to taking aerial photographs for mapping, Army aircrews photographed a solar eclipse in January 1925.

The government never provided sufficient funding to complete the aerial mapping of the United States, and after 1926, the Army Air Service performed aerial photography mainly in support of the War Department. Nevertheless, these mapping projects furthered the development of aerial reconnaissance, a critically important capability during World War II.

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Brig. Gen. William "Billy" Mitchell