It was through the discovery of a Californian aerial photography site Pascal Le Fichant knew how he was going to occupy the best part of his leisure time from February to August 2003. There was nothing in his background to prepare him for this type of enterprise. He took up flying as a hobby later than most, taking his first flying lessons at the age of 35. His interest in photography was even more recent, being born whilst flying over the Côte de Granit Rose in Northern Brittany.
The initial idea was to photograph the Western French coastline, from Mont Saint Michel to Nantes. However, it soon became obvious that he had to think about a much more ambitious, more "professional" and far more definitive project.
The idea was simple : flyover over the French coastline at a constant altitude, photographing it metre by metre, and making the photos available to everyone. The project does not lay claim to having any artistic, aesthetic, scientific or cartographic purpose. The only ambition francevuesurmer.com has is to be exhaustive.
It was however necessary to comply with the Civil Aviation Authorities flight path regulations and receive "clearances" from the Military.Certain restricted airspace zones are not shown on the site :
- the Cherbourg area (Navy) and the Hague zone (nuclear site)
- the Harbour of Brest
- the Harbour of Toulon (arsenals) and the Iles du Levant.
Incidentally, it was not possibly to enter into the Harbour of Marseilles, Harbour of Hyères, the Gulf of La Napoule, the Gulf of Juan and the Baie des Anges due to the density of air traffic and the large number of coastal airports located on the French Riviera (Nice, Hyères).
However, for everywhere else, the slideshow is exhaustive : in addition to the continental coastline, it includes all the larger islands, and even Guernsey.Some figures :
- - 16,215 photos were taken at a rate of 1 approximately every 4 seconds
- - 14,500 photos are shown on the site
- - 125 Gb photo files in total
- - 1.06 metre : is the width of the original photos in screen format. The site photos are highly compressed
- - 4 PCs (2 laptops) were necessary for processing the photos
- - 4 160 Gb hard disks were used for storage and backups
- - 112 hours for photo processing (batch)
- - 50 hours were needed to index the photos
- - the compressed photo file on the server is around 1 Gb
- - 54 hours total flying time, covering approximately 12,500 kilometres
- - with 23 hours over sea
- - of which 18 were taking photos at 300 metres above the waves
- - 125 kt (230 km/h) average speed
- - 1,950 litres of fuel used
- - 26 takeoffs...and the same number of landings