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on Feb 11, 2014 in Aviation

Access is All About Relationships

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When you start in photography or been doing it for a while, you often look at some photos and just wowed by the subject matter. Often you simply ask the question that hit my inbox today. “How do you gain such access?” That email came in response to a photo I had posted over on G+. It’s hard to imagine being so close to something so cool. Many moons ago when I started out in photography and I saw some amazing images of critters, I wrongly assumed as many do that you have to have a big name to gain access. I quickly learned that one could gain access to the critters or anything really desired by simply having the passion. As they say, it is infectious and it sure does open doors faster and wider than f/stops and shutter speeds. Our shoot with these two legendary aircraft is just such a story.

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I meet the Odegaards just a 18 months prior to this shoot with the two Supers. In a very short time though, we struck up a dear friendship that led to (and continues too) many grand aviation adventures. One of them dealt directly with #74 F2G-2 Super Corsair that the Odegaards were restoring to airworthy. They had already successfully restored and raced at Reno Cleland’s Cleveland racer #57, F2G-1D Super Corsair. The work on #57 had long been completed before I got interested in Supers but the restoration of #74 was in progress. And as it worked out, the first time that giant corn cob turned over for the first time in Kindred, ND I was there documenting the story of the family and the aircraft. A cherished memory I was honored to be apart of. I was then there at Reno that fall as the Odegaards raced #74 the first (and only) time and then again a month later when we did the first air to air shoot of #74′s career. All of this was from passion, no pay. So then because of who Bob was, he arranged for a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to photograph air to air the only flying Super Corsairs in Dec, ’11.

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The day after Christmas, Jake and I made the drive from Mammoth down to Falcon Field, AZ. Unknown to us, Bob & Casey had arranged an sunset shoot for us with both Corsairs. Bob knew how I love to work statics so made the opportunity available just to us. And in case that wasn’t enough, he had the scissor lift there so we could work all angles that evening. Here the next generation of aviators and photographers are working together, Casey and Jake up on the scissor lift as the sun is well below the horizon. Bob and I were on the tarmac enjoying it all which was the normal MO. A special evening with two gorgeous aircraft. And then we got to talking about the next day’s flight in which Bob said, “It’s something you’ll probably never see again.”

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Pilots are typically not early birds, especially if flight is not involved. None the less Bob & Casey were at the hangar long before sunrise pulling out the two Super Corsairs and getting them into position for us. These two aircraft’s history together is nearly legendary, having both once being part of the Cleland Race team in the late ’40s at the Cleveland Air Races. While the Super Corsairs never saw any wartime battle, they say plenty of air racing battles. It was that history that was the main story I wanted to tell in the photographs along with a family’s passion to preserve our aviation heritage. It was a magical morning on the ramp followed up by a great breakfast in prep for the big flight at sunset.

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My client this entire time was Bob who wanted just the fun and passion of aviation captured and the story shared. Bob told me from the beginning that these aircraft belong to everyone which I always carry with me. Well, the day unfolded as most plane stuff does. After a quick spark plug swap, Larry Perkins permitting a switch in pilots so Bob & Casey could fly the two Supers for us and the great light of the AZ desert and as they say, the rest was truly history. And sadly Bob’s statement came to be true. This would be the one and only air to air shoot for these two aircraft together. The following year, we lost Bob & #74 except in our hearts. And the access to take these photos and share this story with you came from just that, the heart. Now don’t get me wrong, once that door is open, you have to walk in and with all the skill and passion you can muster, you need to come up with the photographs to tell the story. But if that door doesn’t open, the rest is really very irrelevant. This means that these opportunities are available to all of you! Open up the heart and open up the doors and than share that with all the rest of us.