T6 “Taxi” captured by D3s / 70-200f2.8

January 2010 was my first air-to-air photo mission and it’s one I’ll never forget. I went up a clean slate, with no clue as there were no resources to read up on what to do and more importantly, what not to do during an air-to-air back then. I was tasked to produce some exciting content for Nikon and my mind when to aircraft. I asked a couple of folks and I was directed toward Dennis up in Carson City. After a phone call, we had a date on the calendar for an hour flight over Lake Tahoe. Jake would be in Dennis’ yellow T6 he called his “Taxi” and I would be in one of his other T6s Dennis was getting ready for the Reno Air Races that year. I would be shooting with the brand new D3s and relatively new 70-200f2.8. Dennis has won the Reno Air Race, T6 class, a number of times so we were in good hands and very excited to get in the skies!

We took off and man, we weren’t more than ten feet off the ground and I was hooked! We rose above Carson Valley and the view was incredible! As we started to get where was the target area for the photographs (I did know to go for the great backgrounds at least), Dennis’ warning kept going through my mind. Don’t stick any body part like an arm outside the cabin. The slipstream would snap my arm and break it! While that was in the forefront of my mind, I didn’t think beyond my arms. I slowly spun in the seat so I can shoot and raising up a tad. Woosh … my headset went flying off my head and was doing an “Arnold” banging against the back fuselage. I slowly pulled it back in via the cable hoping I didn’t damage the headset or the T6. Once I had it back in, I put it on my head to hear it working as Dennis said, “ready to get back to photography now?”

I shot lots of stills and videos during that hour. My muscles were so sore afterward holding that gear still in the space of the cabin. The first lesson, I needed to stretch prior to heading up. Next, lesson, that darn dust! You don’t see it in the stills as it was dealt with in post. Yeah, not so much in the video where it’s everywhere. All great lessons I still think of first thing when I’m getting ready for a flight today. While Nikon never really used any of the content I created, Dennis and I went on to do many shoots from statics to air-to-airs as recently as last fall. I learned sooooo many lessons from that first air-to-air photo mission that I still use and share to this day. Simply put, I’ll never forget the first!

T6 “Taxi” captured by D3s / 70-200f2.8 / my first A2A video

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