Last weekend was one of the most awesome experiences ever, during which I was able to capture some of the best photographs of my life. I don't say that lightly! Read on...
I went up to Alliance Airport in Fort Worth, TX. Their airshow was held on the Saturday and Sunday. I went up on Friday morning, to hook up with a bunch of friends of mine, who had travelled in from all over the USA and from Europe. Most of these guys inhabit the Mustang Air-to-Air thread on Fred Miranda. If you click the link, you'll find us there hovering near the top of the page. It's a fabulous community of aviation photographers that has coalesced over the last couple or three years, and it was started by Jim Wilson.
Jim is a professional aviation photographer and Ultimate Nice Guy. He also has the B-25 Mitchell 'Pacific Prowler' at his disposal. Here it is, parked on the ramp at Alliance:
And here's Jim, sitting in his customary shooting position in the tail of the bomber. Notice how there's no glass? Or anything else? Yup, Jim straps in and shoots his gorgeous images from there, with the subject aircraft formating directly behind. No glass, perspex, distortions or anything else to get in the way.
Jim had organized for those of us who were keen and willing (and able to stump up the cash), to join him on a pair of photo missions that he had planned for Friday and Saturday nights. Friday night's mission got to shoot a T-38 in Thunderbird colours, and a T-37 Tweet.
I went on the Saturday mission, and this is what I saw...
A Douglas A-26 Invader
A Douglas A-1 Skyraider
A North American P-51D Mustang
And an Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros
Can I just say, this really was awesome?!
There were five photographers crammed into the back of the B-25. Jim stayed at the end of the tail, harnessed in, and acted as a block, while the rest of us took turns in crawling up the tunnel so we could shoot around Jim at whatever was hanging off the tail at the time. On my second journey up the tunnel, I was greeted by the sight of the P-51 rising into position from underneath - what a sight!
There were also two side shooting positions; one large porthole through which three could shoot at once, and they removed the gun from the other side which left a hole a few inches wide, good enough for one shooter at a time. These were great for when aircraft flew alongside.
It was noisy, crowded, uncomfortable, breezy and warm in the Texas evening sky. We were climbing over and around each other to get the shooting positions we wanted, as aircraft moved around us. Crawling up the tunnel was a hands-and-knees affair, and I was deeply glad I'd brought knee pads!
Large amounts of thanks go to Jim for setting this up, to Gunny and Jim who piloted the B-25, and all the owners and pilots of the subject aircraft who came to have their photos taken. I hope we did you justice, and that we get to do it again!
Finally, here's a short video. It's full of perspex reflections and something weird has happened to the letterboxing - first time I've used video out of the 7D and I guess I need to tweak my Final Cut settings - but here you go; it gives an idea of what it was like: