I found out about Air2Air workshops a couple of years ago when looking at Moose Peterson’s website. The workshop had 3 Instructors Moose Peterson, Richard VanderMeulen and Doug Rozendaal and was held in Arizona, Florida and Texas each year. Unfortunately the Insurance for the Skyvan used for the photographers went out of reach, as the insurance company wanted a $ 25,000 insurance to fly 8 persons for an air2air photo shoot. It was decided to stop the workshops. A sad ending to a great adventure for anybody interested in air2air and aviation photography.
I went to Galveston Texas and when I got into town I found 5000 Harleys and their owners at the annual Lone Star Harley event. Those bikes make a lot of noise but cannot beat the sound of the B-17G engines when you are 200ft away from it in midair.
On Friday Morning I went to visit the Lone Star Flight Museum and saw the aircraft that we were going to fly with on Saturday. Unfortunately the P-51 was in the hangar with a leaking radiator so it would not be flying with us, that is aviation for you.
At 7pm Friday the workshop started with the 8 participants and the instructors introducing themselves we went right down to business with an image presentation, gear basics and preparation for the morning shoot.
Saturday morning up early after a restless night of sleep disrupted by the thousand Harleys showing off on the beach promenade. At 6:45 we are at the airport and the B-17G “Thunderbird” and the P-47D Thunderbolt “Tarheel Hal” are parked on the apron and we start the static shoot. Shooting goes on until the sun is up and illuminating the aircraft beautifully. we break for breakfast and head back to the classroom for formation training and air to air briefing with Doug Rozendaal, an exceptionally talented and experienced photo pilot. The photo plane is a Short Bros. Skyvan flown by “Rabbit”.
The origin of the P-47D Tarheel Hal NameThe pilot Lt. Davis had 2 girlfriends and was too chicken to name the plane after anyone of them so he named it after his baby brother who was named Hal – so therefore, being from NC the Tarheel state the plane was named Tarheel Hal – the plane was orig. named Big Chief.
At 4;30pm we are harnessed and ready to roll. The first aircraft is the Corsair, followed by the B-17 and finaly the P-47D. We are off and climb, suddenly filling my viewfinder the Corsair, close enough to feel and hear the rumble of the engine over the rushing 160 knot slipstream in the open door. The Corsair’s distinctive sound, earned its Japanese nick-name “Whistling Death”, partly because of the engine sound, that was caused by the wing-root inlets for engine air. We fly over the clouds, under the clouds and then the Corsair disapears, and the B-17 shows up. The memory cards are filling up quickly.
It is fun hanging out the back of a Skyvan where your next step will have you swimming with the fish. Next is the P-47 and we get a chance to get some shots of little and big brother together. Following us to the airport we get the P-47 with the gear down…and then the mission is over. We touch down a couple of minutes later.
At dinner the talk is all about the shoot and when I get back to the hotel I have no problem sleeping, do not hear the Harley’s driving up and down the beach promenade.
At 7:00am on Sunday we are ready for the next mission. This morning we are joined by 5 RV’s with two models of the popular homebuilt RV-3 and 4. Three RV-3’s follow us as we go chasing for the sun, which we find soon, after having climbed through the clouds we are in brilliant sunshine and again the cards fill up quickly. The RV’s follows us down to the runway where we do a last shot of them over the runway and then we climb back up in the sky again, to meet up with the other two RV’s, one RV-3 and one RV-4 (Two seater side by side), flown by a Husband and wife team.
Suddenly it is all over. The lessons learned at this workshop have made me a better aviation photographer.
Here are a few more photos from the workshop.