Tuesday, July 26th – Photo Flights

Its another early morning drive to AirVenture.  Noted nature and aviation photographer Moose Peterson, for Warbird Digest,   wants us up as soon as the field opens at 6:00am.  With parking, and getting an escort to the taxiway, etc., we don’t actually lift off from AirVenture until about 7:00am.

We follow the Bonanza photoship on takeoff, and head north just a few miles.  There Moose has us do slow S-turns around the edge of the lake, edge  below them for overhead shots, and then they pull ahead of us to get the ‘sun-in-your-eyes’ shots.   At one point, the photo ship is a good 100 yards away. Chris is doing a straight and level flight when Moose says over the radio ‘Don’t look so serious, Chris!”.   Yikes!

The last maneuver they want is a hard break to the right, so they can get us with the high wing up.  I’m glad Chris warned me, as when the que was given, we snapped hard enough down and to the right that my forehead popped the stick and I was glad I didnt eat breakfast…

We zoomed down toward the lake and got a ‘beautiful!’ from the photoship.

Our instructions were to land at Waupaca airport, 11 miles north of the lake, so we land there about 8:00am, and fill up.   After a wait, we connect with the EAA photographers, and were told we needed to be staged back at Waupaca at 3:00pm.   With the rest of the day to kill, we head down to Fond du Lac, (we don’t want to go into AirVenture and get stuck….) where Hans, acting as an excellent ground assist, waits with the rental car.

We need to get the bazookas, already packed up, over to the Sonex Aircraft hangar, where our friend and fellow Porterfield owner Jason Algra works.  He has kindly offered to help us ship the 200 lb crate straight from the field, back to California.

Between us and the Sonex hangar, unfortunately, is 2 active runways, hundreds of aircraft and thousands and thousands of people.  I do what I do best, trot over to the warbird headquarters and wheedle some assistance out of the very helpful volunteers there.  Bill, director of the flightline, hears of our plight and brings his jeep.

We get a grand tour of the flight areas on our way to Sonex. There is something to having ‘go-anywhere-at-AirVenture’ car pass!

The bazooka box makes it safely to Sonex (although Bill says we can’t blame him if the bazooka box ends up mysteriously in his basement in Fond du Lac….).

We drive back to Fond du Lac in plenty of time to fly back up to Waupaca for the evening photo shoot. Because of all the aircraft in the area, we stay 800 feet up, and below the 1800 AGL traffic into AirVenture.

Several other aircraft are also waiting for photo flights; a stunning early Stearman, an Italian light sport aerobatic, a T-34 in Navy colors, and a Thorpe-18A.

Its a bit of a wait and the vending machines are out of order. Hmmm…didnt carry 2 pounds of beef jerky across the country for nothing, I guess.   While we wait we get the pilot briefing from EAA photo pilot Bruce, who’s done this for over 30 years in his Cessna 210.

We’re up second, behind the light sport. We take off about 6:30pm, and head south, back to the lake.  We can see the light sport in the distance, zooming upside down, spouting smoke. The photographer says brightly “Okay!  You can go rightside up now, and head left…..”

Bruce puts us through more slow S-turns, left and right.  He spends time putting us closer to the photographer (he’s already warned us “no dopey faces!”).  More turns, and yep, another request to ‘break hard to the right”.   I was ready this time, and kept all my body parts away from the stick….

Its 8pm before we finally fly back to West Bend airport, where Chris and Hans will depart for home tomorrow morning.  The weather today has been stunning, and tomorrow’s forecast shows thunderstorms forming in the afternoon, giving Chris and Hans plenty of time to head out in the morning.

Leave a Reply