Aviation Smiles

Pilot Gerry Flaugher of Poplar Grove, Ill., flies a Ford Tri-Motor over Valparaiso, Ind., during a demonstration flight originating from the Porter County Regional Airport in Valparaiso, Ind., Monday, October 3, 2011. The aircraft, built in 1929, is one of seven left in the world that is still able to fly.

Whenever I have a photo assignment that involves flying, there’s a common theme that runs through every FBO I walk into. Everyone is always smiling and in a good mood! For those not obsessed with aviation lingo, an FBO at an airport is a “fixed base operator” — basically a company that provides services for airplanes and pilots. They’re places where a pilot can purchase fuel, rent a car, grab a snack, check the weather, or just sit down and relax. Whether pilots at FBO’s are just starting their journeys or taking breaks from one, it seems to be a rare occurrence to encounter one with a salty disposition.

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Posted in Aviation, Photography, Photojournalism, Thoughts On Life on October 10th, 2011. Comments Off.

Thrills In The Sky

A U.S. Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle performs during the Gary South Shore Air Show held at Marquette Beach in Gary, Ind., Friday, July 15, 2011. The show featured a variety of solo and group aviation acts.

As I sat strapped into the rear seat of the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team’s Fokker C31 aircraft on the ramp at the Gary Chicago Airport last weekend, I tried to count back in my mind on all the times I’ve flown with the group in the past five years. It had to have been my twenty-something-th flight, but I’ve lost track. Though the number of flights may have escaped me, having a front-row seat to document some of the most skilled men and women in our armed forces, up close and personal, is a privilege I’m not lost on. Having the soldiers greet me by my first name as I entered the plane was another reminder of just how many times I’ve taken to the skies with them on their airborne adventures.

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Posted in Aviation, Photography, Photojournalism on July 21st, 2011. 5 Comments.

The Beasts Will Always Win

A nostalgia funny car suffers an engine fire after crossing the finish line during the California Hot Rod Reunion at the Auto Club Famoso Raceway.

In the die-hard world of drag racing, a community of lifelong fans and devoted technicians alike fills the racetrack grounds with an unmistakable drive and passion. The group is present to do everything in their power to witness and attain two simple goals: Go fast, and be the fastest. Team members for each car are noble gear warriors, wielding chrome lances (usually taking the form of socket wrenches) between their fingers blackened with grease, fighting to tame their beasts on wheels.

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Posted in Aviation, Photography, Sports, Video Production on October 21st, 2010. 5 Comments.

Freedom Of Flight

AeroShell Aerobatic Team pilot Steve Gustafson of Tallulah, La., flies a World War II era AT-6 Texan aircraft in a formation over Lake Michigan near Marquette Park Beach in Gary, Ind., during the Gary South Shore Air Show, Saturday, July 10, 2010. This image was shot with a Go Pro Hero HD camera mounted to the wing, set to capture a still image once every two seconds.

Far in the distance, though the hazy blanket of hot summer night air, they greet my eyes as shimmering, golden orbs far on the horizon. A rising planet? A star? Something from beyond our solar system? I start to get nervous, “This might be it, Guy, remain calm.” With my eyes now keenly fixed on the target, the shimmering golden color begins to ascend into a brilliant white as the orb rises higher into the sky. OK, it’s not a star, definitely not a planet… this may be the mother ship! Quickly, I grab the binoculars and squint down the barrel. Rocking my hands back and forth on the focus adjustment brings the target into sharpness, and reveals the instant killjoy of my celestial backyard discoveries: rhythmically constant strobe lights. Just like all the ones before it, the mother ship I’d discovered was simply another Southwest 737.

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Posted in Aviation, Photography, Photojournalism on July 18th, 2010. 7 Comments.