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on Oct 28, 2020 in Aviation

Too Cold to Fly … ?

4e Stearman Speedmail
captured by D5 / 70-200f4

“Do you do any air-to-air in the winter?” Ted emailed me this great question. The quick answer is yes, but as you might imagine, there is more to the answer than just, yes. On this particular evening shoot (the sun was below the horizon for our altitude when this photo was taken), it was -1 as I hung out of the 185 and that doesn’t include the wind chill. While that sounds really cold, keep in mind one of the weird things about me, I tend not to get cold.

The pilots, that can be a totally different story. Addison in the Speedmail, while he has the “heater” on in the cockpit, he is exposed out in the slipstream. He has on the classic airmail suit of past with modern materials so he was “warm” for the flight but we were only airborne for a little over 30 minutes. The pilot of the photo platform, Ryan, had the cabin heater going at full blast and was comfortable. So the comfort of all was fine but that is only part of the cold equation.

Ice and planes don’t mix! Icing on the wings disrupts airflow which has brought down many an aircraft. And before you even get in the air, the oil in the engine needs to warm up and if you’re not in a heated hangar, that can be a challenge and really mess up your timetable if not planned into the photo mission. And you as the photographer must have faith and trust in your pilots that they know all of this because safety is still #1 in a shoot. So the answer is yes, with a whole bunch that comes along with it.

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