As I write this, my thoughts go back to this past Sunday. I decided to take some time and clear a bunch of old and useless email from one of my accounts. While doing so, I ran across a very complimentary email from Jim Marony from a few years back. I read it, smiled, and said to myself yeah, I’ll keep this one.
It was midway through the morning of the next day while at work that I received the text of Jim’s tragic accident. I’m not sure what others do, but in situations like this my head becomes flooded with memories of the times I shared with the person who has passed. In thinking of jim I was quickly struck by the thought that it was hard to remember a time I hadn’t seen him with a smile on his face.
I have read of Jim’s many accomplishments in aviation both in the military and civilian life. I’m pretty sure this list of people who have done the same or more is a very short one. I only got to see Jim a few times a year, but he would always take time to chat and share a laugh. The last time I talked to him was at Waukegan. I was explaining a shot I had of him taking off through the smoke from Paul Stender’s jet school bus. He was laughing when I told him it looked like his Chipmunk had caused all the smoke.
As photographer you attend many airshows, and see many performers. Many fly the same or similar aircraft. While all are talented, some really stand out from others who fly the same plane. Jim caught my eye the first time I saw him do the outside Waldo Pepper loop. I’m not sure if any other performers had this maneuver in their shows, but it was the first time I had seen it. However that was not quite enough for Jim. I think it was at the Quad City Airshow that I first saw him open the canopy and stand up in the plane while still in flight. I can still hear at first the gasp at the start, then cheers upon completion of the maneuver.
I feel lucky to have known such great person and talented performer. I feel good that our last conversation had made him smile and laugh, but I know that feeling of sadness and of something missing will hit next time I’m at an airshow without him performing. So take a bow my friend, you will be missed by so many.
We airshow photographers love shots with vapor. Give us jet aircraft on a humid day, and we’re poised and ready. Vapor normally occurs when the aircraft reach speeds around 400 mph, and conditions are right. The amount of vapor depend on moister content in the air, and the make up of the plane. Jets with broad wing surfaces tend to develop more vapor and at lower speeds than others. Either way the effect is quite dramatic.
There is another type of shot that to me is more impressive. This shot can only be achieved when the aircraft is right on the edge of breaking the sound barrier. Without getting into the physics of it, this happens at the speed Mach 1.0 (between 662 – 760 mph) depending on weather conditions. When light is right you can see the shockwave created by the plane. I have captured this effect twice here is one of those shots, from 2010 at the Quad City Airshow.
While preparing my schedule for 2013, I had already decided as far back as November that my airshow schedule would be quite different from past years. Even before sequestration, I was planning to skip many of the large shows I would usually attend in favor of smaller ones. The primary reason, variety. I felt the small shows would provide unique and rare aircraft that normally does not get booked into large shows. For me this worked out quite well. I was able to get up close to, and meet the people who own and fly these great old aircraft.
Poplar Grove’s Vintage Wings and Wheels Festival was a perfect example of just such a show. Vintage aircraft flying and on display, as well as vintage cars and tractors.
It’s not often you get five or six Stearmans in one place, and flying formation. Also in attendance were WACO, Fleet, Pietenpol, a and Bird BK among others.
With the a fair amount of old cars and tractors included, it was a day well spent. For me this kind of up close and low key show is a joy to shoot. The ability to get close and interact with the people who love these machines adds a lot to the experience. This show and others like will be a priority for me going into next year.
Try not to get cross with me if I get you crossed up with this post. In Airshow language it might be the the high speed cross, the knife edge cross, the double cross, or the switch blade cross. Whatever you call it it is one of the most eliciting maneuvers performed by military or civilian aerobatic teams.
The illusion of two or more aircraft on a collision course and narrowly missing one another by mere feet always draws gasp, then applause from the audience. But it is just that an illusion. These pilots are not dare devils, or reckless individuals. In fact just the opposite. They are highly trained and skilled aviators doing what they are good at. But still we will leave the average Airshow spectator with their illusion, it excites them and makes them come back for more.