Airborne geophysics can be defined as the measurement of Earth properties from sensors in the sky. The airborne measurement platform is usually a traditional fixedwing airplane or helicopter, but could also include lighter-than-air craft, unmanned drones, or other specialty craft.
The earliest history of airborne geophysics includes kite and hot-air balloon experiments. However, modern airborne geophysics dates from the mid-1940s when military submarine-hunting magnetometers were first used to map variations in the Earth's magnetic field. The current gamut of airborne geophysical techniques spans a broad range, including potential fields (both gravity and magnetics), electromagnetics (EM), radiometrics, spectral imaging, and thermal imaging.