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There has been little investigation for the automatic extraction of power lines from aerial images due to the low resolution of aerial images in the past decades. With increasing aerial photogrammetric technology and sensor technology, it is possible for photogrammetrists to monitor the status of power lines. This letter analyzes the property of imaged power lines and presents an algorithm to automatically extract the power line from aerial images acquired by an aerial digital camera onboard a helicopter. This algorithm first uses a Radon transform to extract line segments of the power line, then uses the grouping method to link each segment, and finally applies the Kalman filter technology to connect the segments into an entire line. We compared our algorithm with the line mask detector method and the ratio line detector, and evaluated their performances. The experimental results demonstrated that our algorithm can successfully extract the power lines from aerial images regardless of background complexity. This presented method has successfully been applied in China National 863 project for power line surveillance, 3-D reconstruction, and modeling.