Discover America from the air thanks to this breathtaking aerial footage

Discover America from the air thanks to this breathtaking aerial footage

From Superman to the humble city pigeon, there’s always been something inherently romantic about the possibility of flight. A favourite tool of documentary crews, a bird’s eye view lets you see the big picture.

Portland Head Lighthouse, Maine (Smithsonian Channel/PA)
Portland Head Lighthouse, Maine (Smithsonian Channel/PA)

Now the Smithsonian Channel is releasing nearly 70 episodes of its hit show Aerial America, available to view on YouTube, which means nearly 70 hours of stunning helicopter footage of every US state, and most major US landmarks.

What the US lacks in crumbling temples and ancient civilisations it more than makes up for with extraordinarily varied landscapes, spanning the swampy bayous of Louisiana to the dusty deserts around the Rockies.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (Smithsonian Channel/PA)
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (Smithsonian Channel/PA)

The show started as a state-by-state highlight reel, but as the series wore on the brief broadened, with specials focusing on areas of extra interest. Cities like New York and Boston, habitats like Yellowstone National Park and the Great Plains, and territories such as Puerto Rico have all featured in their own episodes.

The Homestake Mine, South Dakota (Smithsonian Channel/PA)
The Homestake Mine, South Dakota (Smithsonian Channel/PA)

The production team spent more than 2,500 hours in the air spread across five years to film the armchair adventure, and accrued an estimated 150,000 air miles doing so.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Puerto Rico (Smithsonian Channel/PA)
Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Puerto Rico (Smithsonian Channel/PA)

The cutting-edge camerawork was achieved by bolting a state-of-art camera to the nose of a helicopter, and controlling its movements with a joystick from inside. The director remained on the ground, plotting a course via a GPS.

Arches National Park, Utah (Smithsonian Channel/PA)
Arches National Park, Utah (Smithsonian Channel/PA)

Narrated by Canadian voice-over veteran Jim Conrad, viewers can expect postcard panoramas of Civil War battlefields, visceral vistas of volcanoes in Hawaii, and a soaring sweep around the summit of Denali, North America’s tallest mountain.

Chimney Rock, Nebraska (Smithsonian Channel/PA)
Chimney Rock, Nebraska (Smithsonian Channel/PA)

The Smithsonian’s official online resources are America-only, but for viewers across the pond they’re uploading episodes twice weekly to the Smithsonian YouTube channel. So far we’ve got Alabama, Alaska, Arizona and Arkansas. See if you can spot the pattern.

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