Center City Philadelphia from the east.

Center City Philadelphia from the east.

It’s a cold, dark night on the biggest shopping day of the year, and I’m hovering hundreds of feet above the city of Philadelphia. The world beneath my feet is glowing, the darkness pierced by pockets of light.

What am I doing here?

Deptford, New Jersey, Walmart from 1000 feet.

Deptford, New Jersey, Walmart from 1000 feet.

For three hours that night, we flew loops around Philadelphia in a small helicopter, capturing aerial photographs of cars at five different Walmarts to discover how large a parking lot should be.

Walmart had commissioned an engineering firm to study the capacity of their parking lots on their busiest sales day. My aerial photos would help them answer the classic Goldilocks dilemma — are existing parking lots too big, too small, or just right?

The answer is important: too large of a parking lot and money is being wasted, too small a parking lot and potential sales are lost due to customers not being able to park.

Cockpit of Schweizer 300 helicopter as we approached our final landing.

Cockpit of Schweizer 300 helicopter as we approached our final landing.

The next time you’re out shopping, remember that we’re out there too, working to make your life just a little easier through the magic of aerial photography.

Comment