Planning 1948 Flying Ad

PA-17 Vagabond captured by Z 9 / 180-400VR

First flying at the end of WWII, the Piper PA-17 “Vagabond” is a small, two seat plane that sold for $1900, in 1948. I have a good friend who has one up and flying and looking like it just came out of the showroom in 1948 that I’ve fallen head over heels for. The plan, to do an A2A this coming weekend but I want more than to just fly alongside and photograph this cute little plane, but take a step back in time. In other words, make the uncommon from the common.

Looking at advertisements for the PA-17 from the day, I got sense of who Piper was marketing it to. With that, I did some online searching of the area we’ll be flying to find a “rural” background reminiscent of those ads. Then had to look at charts to see if we can get down to 500AGL. Then had to look at the sun direction and level during the day. This gives me a general flight plan to talk over with the pilots. And with that, I’ll go through my preflight checklist in preparation for the photo mission.

But here’s the deal and what you’ve got to be prepared for, it all could be scrubbed! I have had one heck of a lot of A2A photo missions scrubbed this year because of everything from weather to the price of gas to planes just not wanting to fly. That’s part of the process that you have to be prepared for, you gotta mentally plan on as well. I love the whole process which includes the planning a 1948 flying ad!

Zero but Who’s Counting?

4e Speedmail captured by D5 / 70-200f4

There are only seven of these Speedmails left, and this one by far is my favorite! I’m real fortunate that I get to spend time with it every month. On this flight a number of years back always comes to mind when the first snows fall. We had already done a couple of A2A photo missions before the Speedmail. The pilots just said, “There’s still some light, lets go!” and who am I to say no?! Now the air temp on the ground was already hovering at the 20 mark but once we got up to 1000 AGL, with was Zero. Now Addison in the Speedmail was warm and toasty in his winter flight suit and cabin heater. Ryan had the heater in the 185 keeping him nice as toasty. They were actually worried about me hanging out the open door with just gloves and a long sleeve shirt. But I’m weird, I was warm and having the time of my life. Ever since though in the winter when I go to the hanger, I have all the clothes / gear I need to be up where it’s cold cause the light, it’s hot, hot, hot! Cause when I’m flying, it might be zero but who’s counting?

The Long Shot

Piper Super Cub captured by Z 9 / 180-400VR

One of the first lessons I was taught about aviation photography is get the “going away” shot. It can be a very powerful photograph! Not just the mere fact you’re taking it, but by incorporating a background that tells a story. In other words, when you have some drama n the sky. In this case, an incoming storm at sunset set the stage. The Super Cub in the pattern doing touch & goes made for the perfect subject. Bringing the two together just took standing behind the hangar on the taxi ramp and the 180-400VR @560mm. I shot it both ways, with the camera plum with the earth and cocked to make the Cub appear it was making a left out of the pattern. The bottonline is that despite the fact the Cub is tini tiny in the frame, you can’t help but see it. And it appears to be heading out against the big storm all on its own all because of the long shot.

Piper Super Cub captured by Z 9 / 180-400VR

Wings Over Houston this Weekend!

Blue Angels captured by D4s / 200-400VR2

The year’s airshow season is wrapping saving what I feel photographically with one of its best. Wings Over Houston at Ellington Field is one of my favorites and bummed I won’t be there this year. But you should be because the field is set up for photographers. There is no bad pass in bad light!!! The Blue Angels are there and they seem to revel in the open skies. If you’re looking for a little assist, give this a gander which might give you some photographic ideas. And be sure to update your Z 9 Firmware as it will help you bring back that great photographic memory!

Fall is a Great Background

Cessna U206G captured by Z 9 / Z400f4.5

Fall has so many great attributes going for it, none of which is color and light. The only thing I can think of that is better than fall color is aircraft in front of fall color. I had a marvelous day a couple of weeks ago at Lake Hood PAHL AK doing just that. The wind pushed the pattern so the planes were landing on the water right in front of this smallish patch of color. I shot with the Z400f4.5 cause even though it was a bit tight at the end of the flight, its narrow angle of view was able to isolate the plane in front of that small patch of color. At the same time, it helped eliminate those distracting elements taking the eye away from the fall color. The key to all of this was my positioning of myself. I walked up and down the bank placing myself so when the plane got below the color I was directly opposite so all I saw was the color. I certainly got my steps in but I also captured a number of clicks I really like. It’s a short window of time, but fall is a great background!

Cessna U206G captured by Z 9 / Z400f4.5 Too Much Fun!

de Havilland DHC-3 Otter captured by Z 9 / Z400f4.5

Lake Hood Aerodrome (PALH) is the busiest seaplane base in the United States. It’s a killer place to spend time when you have the light, wind, and weather for photographing float planes. You will see every shape, size, kind, and vintage of aircraft taking off and landing right in front of you. I’ve spent lots and lots of time here over the decades either eating a picnic watching the action or like this afternoon, shooting. I love shooting in the fall because you have fall color for a background and at times like this afternoon, the first dusting of winter snow on the peaks. The vast majority of my shooting is when the aircraft is right above the lake and down the channel they taxi through. This is because as that’s where the fall color is located. I’m parked right on the water’s edge so you can see the aircraft on approach when landing to the north. You can pick them out minutes before recovery and pan with them all the way in. That’s how I picked up Rust’s DHC-3 Turbine Otter inbound.

You know a Rust’s Flying Service aircraft because they are all red. And with the gray moody skies, they really pop! So long before he splashed I tracked and photographed its approach. The Otter is a big aircraft, a tad bigger than your small commuter aircraft. Shooting with the Z400f4.5, it pulls in the background making it appear as if it were shooting the gap rather than just having entered the pattern. It was coming straight towards me so the Z 9 was hammering away producing a cool series of the approach. Then when it was over the lake, the Z400f4.5 provide tight coverage of the last seconds before splashdown. By the time it hit the water, I was way too tight to capture anything than a couple of drops of water. It didn’t matter, it was a great afternoon, too much fun!

de Havilland DHC-3 Otter captured by Z 9 / Z400f4.5

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