Different Flight Subjects

Many, many years ago I did a lot of aviation photography. Since I was a young child I always liked things that flew. Before getting hooked on photographing birds, I enjoyed photographing aerobatic and military planes. As I was cleaning out old backup drives I found a few images so I thought I would post some just to show a little different flying subject matter. These were all from air shows, some on military bases & others at smaller airports. Some would limit you to 1 camera, 1 lens, especially after 9/11. But you could sometimes get permission to add to that.

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The U.S. Marine Corps C-130 Hercules, “Fat Albert,” assigned to the U.S. Navy “Blue Angels” flight demonstration team, uses Jet Assisted Take Off (JATO) bottles. Fat Albert kicks-off each show with an assisted takeoff, demonstrating the C-130’s ability to get airborne in minimal time and distance, simulating conditions in hostile environments and on short, unprepared runways.

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Fat Albert climbing above clouds

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F16 high speed FlyBy (just under Mach 1)

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F15 High Speed Pass

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A10 Warthog Ground Attack Aircraft

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A10 FlyBy

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Thunderbirds F-16 Flyby

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F15 FlyIng out in the setting sun

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F117 Stealth Fighter Flying out in the setting sun

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Blue Angels Demonstration Team starting a “Starburst”

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Blue Angels FA-18 Flyby

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A10 Flyby

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A10 waiting for smoke to clear

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Simulated A10 ground attack on field (coordinated with ground effects crew)

14 Comments on “Different Flight Subjects

    • Thanks! They were fun to photograph, but being on a really hot tarmac staring up for hours was really draining! Too old for that now!😊

  1. These shots are awesome, Reed. There are so many cool, action shots, but I think my favorite might be the one of the stealth fighter.

    • Thanks Mike! I was a lot younger then! Baking in the sun on a hot tarmac for 6-8 hours was exhausting! I like Eagles, dragonflies and other birds now!! Most of my aviation shots were on slide film. These were taken with early Digital cameras, Nikon D1X, Fuji S1 &2 & early Canon 1D MkII

  2. Growing up in El Centro, winter training headquarters of the Blue Angels, I had the opportunity to take a whole lot of photos.

    The Blue Angels were my favorite subject. I have followed them since they transitioned from the Grumman F11F-1 Tiger to the F-4J Phantom II, to the Douglas A-4F Skyhawk II, to the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet … and in January (2021) the team will transition to the Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornets.

    The Phantom is the only aircraft flown by both the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds. In February, the T-Birds — flying the F-16C Fighting Falcon — arrived in El Centro for a week of joint training; but due to the pandemic, the Department of Defense suspended the air show season that was set to begin in March. This month, both demonstration teams have been conducting joint flyovers — morale flights — in cities across the United States. Air Show demonstrations may begin as early as June.

    Fat Albert’s JATO demonstrations ended in 2009. The external tanks were a Vietnam-era technology no longer in production. The all-Marine crew that pilots the Blue Angels transport/logistics plane will transition from the C-130T to the newer C-130J in 2021.

  3. Those must have been exciting shoots, Reed. Just how fast did your shutter have to be? I imagine it had to be very fast indeed!

    • It is different for jets vs Prop planes. For jets it is usually 1/150 to 1/400 th of a second. For propeller driven planes it is 1/50 th to 1/150th at the higher end. If you use too fast a shutter speed for propeller driven planes the propeller does not look like it is moving much so it looks like it would fall out of the sky. You usually use a much slower shutter speed, but pan along with the plane as you are shooting. That takes some practice though! Thanks again!!

  4. Nice work, Reed. You scared the cr*p out of me with that last shot until I read the caption. Should have been at the top of the picture. 🙂

    • Sorry About That Steve! It was more impressive in person with 3 A-10s flying above with the pyro crew firing Loud explosives Along with the flames! You could feel the heat even from our viewing point!

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