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I finally did it! I finally flew in a light plane. I finally photographed some planes air to air. What do I plan to do now that I’ve achieved these goals – work towards doing a whole lot more of it.

Several years ago, I read an article in Digital Photo Pro about aviation photography. Aviation photography had long been a field that I was interested in pursuing, but knowing that professional level aviation photography usually requires some special access I had no idea how to go about it. This article gave birth to a kernel of an idea of a way I might be able to make it happen.

This made me hyper alert to any further information I ran into online of ways I might be able to make this happen. I saw several things online early on that inspired me that this may be possible. One of the key items was there are actually workshops out there that teach photographers how to do this sort of photography. Here it was the key thing that would allow me to demonstrate ability in the field in a method that the only thing I needed was money to make it happen.

Unfortunately, money was in short supply and I had to let several opportunities pass me by. I was afraid every time that the opportunity might be my last. Finally, when 2014 rolled around, I received word that a friend, Lyle Jansma, was arranging an event known as Madras A2A X in conjunction with the Erickson Aircraft Collection. Here was the best opportunity yet. It was closer to home than any of the others, reducing travel costs. It was with a collection with which I was very familiar, although I knew them as Tillamook Air Museum up to that point. I was determined that this time it was going to happen.

I threw together every dime I had. I discussed the issue with family and mentioned that for the time being I’d prefer a contribution to this venture to any birthday, Christmas, etc., gifts. Together, we made it happen.

The night before the first flight was quite interesting. I couldn’t sleep to save my life. I was very excited about the next morning. I was also scared that I might be very frightened by aspects of flying in a light plane, most notably, sitting in the open door of the plane in flight. Turns out, none of this scared me when I flew. In fact, I found that there’s nothing like flying in formation with a couple of warbirds while skimming along the tops of the clouds. It is beautiful and strangely peaceful. (Ok, it’s also dang cold, but well worth it.)

In addition to the absolutely incredible flying – first hop with an FM-2 Wildcat and F4U-7 Corsair skimming the clouds in the late morning, second flying close formation with two incredible aerobatic pilots in the late afternoon, and the final hop right at dawn with a P-51 Mustang and a Focke Wulf FW190 replica) – we had lots of fun on the ground. There was the grand opening and dedication of the Madras Maiden party, several lunches with the group, and finally a real cool bbq with the airshow crew to close out the weekend.

Now it’s time to get back to work incorporating aviation photography into my editorial/commercial photography business, where I specialize in people, the cool things they do, and the machines that help them do it; in simpler terms, portraits, planes and cars.

I’d like to thank the organizer Lyle Jansma, our instructor Scott Slocum, and the pilots Scott Slocum, Brent Conner, Mike Oliver, and Greg Anders.

Please check out a bigger selection of my images from Madras A2A X or my aviation portfolio.