AHEAD of a new book and BBC documentary series, Scotland from the Sky, author and presenter James Crawford shares some of his favourite highlights and aerial views.

1. Flying in a Tiger Moth over Strathearn

While filming Scotland from the Sky for the BBC, I had the incredible opportunity to fly over Strathearn in a vintage Tiger Moth.

This is where I grew up – you can see my home town of Auchterarder at the top left. But from the air, a place that I thought I knew so well, became something else.

My flight was recreating another flight – over this same valley – made in 1939 by Osbert Guy Stanhope Crawford, a pioneer of aerial archaeology.

In the low, raking light of sunset what Crawford called "shadow sites" suddenly emerged. These humps and bumps in the landscape are the traces of ancient structures and human activity, only visible from above in the last instants before dusk.

It's hard to think of a better way of really seeing history brought to life: the closest we could ever come to time travel.

2. The "Viking Shipyard" at Rubh an Dunain in Skye

At first glance, this place would seem to epitomise remote wilderness – an isolated peninsula on Skye's southwest coast, sealed-off from the rest of the island by the massed ranks of the Cuillin. The history of this site is far different, however.

More than 1,000 years ago, a man-made canal was built to link the loch at the tip of the peninsula to the sea – converting it into a dry dock and "shipyard" for the Norsemen who once held dominion over this landscape.

Look down from above and it suddenly becomes so obvious. This place is the perfect site for people whose lives were dominated by the sea.

3. Loch Linnhe, Ballachulish and Glencoe (1948)

This image was taken by the world's first aerial photography company, Aerofilms. While their work was driven by raw commercialism and determined by opportunism, there is no doubting the enduring beauty of many of their photographs.

This view of Loch Linnhe – with the snaking course of Loch Leven on the left and the dark funnel of Glencoe on the right – uses light and shadow to stunning effect, echoing the pictures of the renowned photographer of American landscapes, Ansell Adams.

Note also the absence of the Ballachulish Bridge, which would not be built for another 30 years.

4. Central Glasgow (1948)

This startling, top-down, geometric image of Glasgow was taken by the RAF as part of a post-war photographic survey across every inch of Scotland. The view from above was now an essential tool for planning and redevelopment – and many planners did not like what they saw.

The influential father-figure of modern architecture, Le Corbusier, wrote: "The airplane instils, above all, a new conscience, the modern conscience. Cities, with their misery, must be torn down. They must be largely destroyed and fresh cities rebuilt."

In Glasgow, they planned to do just that, with the city's chief engineer Robert Bruce recommending the levelling of this old centre in its entirety.

5. Ullapool

When you look at Ullapool from above, it stands out as an unmistakably human intervention in the landscape – a tiny little stamp of ordered lines amid an unruly, muscular mix of lochs and mountains.

For me, what this creates is rather beautiful, opposites that attract to tell a story that is both poignant and hopeful.

Ullapool failed at first as a planned fishing port, but it thrives today, thanks to another industry that has grown enormously in the Highlands over the past century: tourism.

The new three-part series Scotland from the Sky will be shown on BBC One later this spring and an accompanying book will be published by Historic Environment Scotland, priced £25. James Crawford will be appearing at Aye Write! Glasgow's Book Festival on March 15, 24 and 25. Visit ayewrite.com