This has been a LONG time coming and I want to start off by saying thanks to everyone who has patiently been waiting for this first gallery to drop and I hope it was worth the wait. I’m going to try my hardest to keep this blog posting relatively short, but there is SO much I want to rant about! Just for starters, how many stories do you think could be spun from this shot?
Before I go off the deep end talking about airplanes, I want to thank my good friend Tom Robinson for making all this happen. I know he’s not going to like this picture, but I think it captures one of his best qualities, and if you couldn’t tell he’s a great people person…despite the “what the hell is Tom talking about?”look on Bill Kerchenfaut’s face. Tomwas the Deputy Chief of Police in Reno and used to be on the Board of Directors who organize the race every year. He really went out of his way to get me an all access press pass, which enabled me to take all these great shots and none of this would have been possible without him.
One of the big highlights of the race for me was discovering this aircraft. I have always been a HUGE F4U Corsair fan ever since I was a kid and even more after reading Baa Baa Black Sheep (a must read for anyone). I wondered why this Corsair was painted red and noticed that the race guide had it listed as a F2G which really confused me, until I got to a computer. As it turns out, the F2G was developed towards the end of WWII as a low altitude interceptor with 28 pistons!!! ONLY 5 of these aircraft were ever built and here was one racing over 50 years later, how incredible is that?!? I’m going to write more about the WWII fighter racing culture when I hit on my second day of shooting, during which I followed around a race team from sun up to sun down.
Some of my favorite moments from the races are these rare moments that remind me of being back on active duty with the air force.
Tom was nice enough to take me to one of the outfield pylons where we were literally 150 feet away from these aircraft screaming overhead. The planes would come hustling over a small hill and then would disappear in the blink of an eye. The first couple laps really caught me by surprise, but once I was able to get their rhythm I was able to set up for some pretty cool shots (1 and 2).
I’ve seen the Thunderbirds perform at least a dozen times, but this was my first time with a DSLR and some serious glass (I rented a 70-200mm 2.8 from Alphalensrental.com) and was really taken back by the images that I had managed to capture. This one reminds me of the American flag, anyone else?
I defintely went nuts with shooting and trying to capture the races the first day (I think I captured around 1,200 pictures), but one of my problems is (maybe it’s a problem?) that I can’t stand being next to another photographer! I HAVE to crawl around and find that shot that no one else is going to get. This was pretty difficult with all the FAA officials parked all over the ramp and with the small press box that was provided. But, I managed to work around it and ended up getting a couple of shots low to the ground on the west ramp underneath a firetruck (don’t worry, I asked them if I could crawl under it first) that turned out pretty well. This shot really gives you a good sense of how close they were to the ground.
And I think I’ll finish out the set with this old timeblack and white of the warbirds rounding the first turn. I’m so glad that I got a chance to attend and shoot this race with my camera. I am hooked on air racing and I am going to try to make it back year after year since no one is really sure how much longer these birds are going to keep flying.
You all are in for a real treat when Part II of my air race adventures premiers in about a month.