Early interest in the aerial view took the form of idealized sketches depicting how cities would look if viewed from above. In the 19th century, towns all across the U.S. commissioned these "bird's-eye view" drawings.
In 1895, Lt. Hugh
D. Wise of the 9th Infantry Division experimented with photo kites at
Madison Barracks, New York. He built an 18-foot high kite and attached
a box camera to the string. Triggered by a timing device, the camera took
photos from an altitude of 180 meters (600 feet).