His Last Victory

The world of aviation is filled with its hero’s but some certainly do stand out more than others. One of those men is Richard Bong, who flew P-38 Lightnings in the Pacific Theater. He was a natural-born flyer and took every chance he could get to be in the skies. He considered his gunnery inaccurate so he got as close as he could to his target in order to score as much damage as possible. With his tactics and skill, he became the highest-scoring American fighter pilot in WWII. By December 17th, 1944, he had racked up his 40th aerial victory. It would also be his last.

A Day in Infamy

78 years later and we still remember that morning when a surprise attack of Japanese aircraft bombed Pearl Harbor and effectively pushed the United States into WWII as an allied power. Many men lost their lives that day and hundreds of thousands more would perish in the years to come. We remember today, not in anger but to learn the lessons of our past and avoid making the same mistakes in our future.

The Back Country Airports

There are some real hidden treasures in the world and it takes a bit of an adventure to find them. On a recent trip to Washington for Thanksgiving, I was fortunate enough to be on one such adventure. Flying in a Cessna 185 and with the Nikon Z50 in my lap, I headed to a backcountry airstrip flying over some amazing country of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. The destination was Magee Strip, a small airstrip which today is used for hunters and fisherman. For us, it was just a fun outing.

Aluminum Looks Best Bright and Shiny

There are many ways to make the aluminum on aircraft to pop in a photograph. Pretty much anytime light hits bare metal it makes the metal turn a different color. The shadows and highlights can define every edge of a plane. With bare metal one of the amazing ways to show off the surface is too use a strong highlight in the background. It’s one of the times that a bright white background actually works well.

Image Captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Beauty in the Crop Sprayers

Crop sprayers have their own beauty to them but they often get overlooked. Granted some beautiful light and great clouds never hurt to have but the lines of the planes are just as good either way. Each aircraft has its own story and the lines on each plane help to tell that story. With all photographs the background and foreground are important. With a crop sprayer having the plane parked on the grass makes for a stronger composition then if it was parked on the concrete.

Images captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Fast and Furious

The Hawker Sea Fury was developed too late to see combat in WWII but it saw plenty of action in the decades afterward. Powered by the Bristol Centaurus 18 Cylinder Radial Engine, the Sea Fury was an impressive fighter. With a maximum speed of 460 mph it could easily keep up with the other fighters of its day. Today you can see it flying around the pylons at the Reno Air Races.

It Pays to Get Up Early

This has been one weird weather year! Every time someone thinks they have it figured out something changes. We went from a cold winter to a cold and wet spring, to a blast of heat followed by a wet summer and now in August, the temps at night have been barely above 50. Only in Montana does it seem to change this much. I know everyone says that about where they live but it sure feels that way this year in the Rockies. The one major benefit of this unique summer is how it has affected the atmosphere. Thunderstorms during sunset and ground fog in the mornings. Over the last few years, I have been going to the Three Forks Flyin and this was the first year where there was ground fog at the beginning of August at sunrise. It was pretty darn cool!

Images captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Montana Gems

You wouldn’t think of Montana has having a lot of aircraft activity but the state has always had a healthy history of privately owned aircraft going back to before WWII. Once part of the old US Mail route, Montana has seen its fair share of progress over the years. Still, to this day there is a healthy number of antique aircraft flying around to keep the legacies of the past alive.

This Stinson 10A is a great example of just that legacy. Built as a light utility aircraft by the Stinson Aircraft Company, the 10A was a later variant of the 10, which was a modified 105. The 10A sported a roomier cabin and a Franklin 4AC-199 engine. This particular aircraft is one of 7 flying examples of the 10A in the world and it was part of a 10-year restoration right here in Bozeman. It was pretty cool to see it once again fly over the hillsides.

Image Captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

75th D-Day Anniversary

Today marks the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion. One of the biggest allied operations or WWII which lead to the downfall of Germany’s Occupation of Europe. Thousands of men, aircraft, machines, supplies, and more went into making the operation a success. Today you can watch as a special memorial is taking place over the skies of France as over a dozen C-47’s are taking part in a flight over Normandy.


It Feels Good.

I’m very pleased to be able to share this finally. Last August I had the privilege of meeting Jim Booth and his wonderful family. Over the next several months we did a series of photo shoots, including my first Montana air to air shoot with his PA-12 Faust last October. The story just came out in EAA Sport Aviation. If you’re already a member be on the lookout for it. If you’re not, well you might wanna consider it. EAA has three great publications for you photographers and aviation buffs.

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