Pennsylvania Historic Preservation

Blog of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office

No More Penn Pilot for Historical Aerial Photos!


PA SHPO recently learned that the Penn Pilot website for historical aerial photographs will be taken offline in the near future. Two new online websites offer free access to these photographs, so update your bookmarks!

We know many of you make use of this data, as do our staff members, for all types of survey, research, and documentation projects – particularly projects involving farms, transportation, and large-scale landscapes.

June 14, 1958 aerial showing farm, fields, and roads.

Because Penn Pilot is built on outdated technology, Penn State is finding it more difficult to find the resources to keep it running, especially when there are alternative sites where users can acquire the same Penn Pilot imagery.

Here are two alternatives to the Penn Pilot website:

PASDA Imagery Navigator

PennPilot data can be identified and downloaded through the PASDA Imagery Navigator located at 

Landing page for PASDA Imagery Navigator

You’ll see the approximate display tile indexes available near the bottom of the “Display Tile Index” scrolling menu. 

Right-clicking anywhere on the map will bring up the PASDA Download Links box for that location.

Historical Aerial Viewer

PASDA staff has also completed the Historical Aerial Viewer application at

Landing page for the Historical Aerial Viewer application

This application also has links to all of the PennPilot historical imagery eras.  A nice thing about this application is that the user can view the approximate location of links on the map from all eras at the same time.

Author: Shelby Weaver Splain

Shelby Weaver Splain is the Education and Special Initiatives Coordinator for the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office. Shelby is a native of Bucks County and holds a Masters degree in Historic Preservation Planning from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Historic Preservation from Goucher College.


  1. Phil Troutman says:

    Thank you for the information. I’ve been using Penn Pilot for years to do informal research. I was panicking when I couldn’t get it for the last couple of weeks.

  2. Rich Saresky says:

    I use these photos a lot. Thanks for keeping them going!

  3. Jay says:

    That is a bummer the easy to use for us oldtimers Penn Pilot maps where you could choose the area and the year to 1939 up. I seem lost without it and there is nothing to compare it to

  4. J DeSantis says:

    Thanks for this update. Really enjoyed using Penn Pilot for historical research, so very nice to have other options to access.

  5. Beth Hager says:

    Thank you Shelby Splain and PA SHPO for sharing this info!!

  6. Jeffrey Johnson says:

    It is 10/14/2020 and I can not get any of the 50s and 30s maps to download. They all say not supported. Is there any alternate places to download these maps?

    Thank you!

  7. william anderson says:

    penn pilot was a good site, it must of taken some really smart people to take it offf the web. dummies

  8. Raymond Ziegenfus says:

    Please help a non computer type get back on the penn pilot website. I followed the new link but it does not work. I click on the download prompt, and am taken to a blank untitled page
    I enjoyed looking at the historical pictures, of Pa. But can no longer see them???
    Please help.

    Thank You5

  9. Bob Good says:

    There don’t seem to be the old aerial photos on either site, unless I am missing something.

  10. Kevin K. says:

    In the name of progress, the new system is exactly what I’d expect from Pennsylvania… a nonfunctional mess at taxpayer expense. The conglomeration of the new websites is an absolute disaster to navigate with missing information and the most user abusive interface I’ve ever seen.

    Oh how I miss Penn Pilot.

  11. Stan says:

    Does not work now. What a great resource that is gone. How hard would it have been to keep it going?

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