This past Friday a good friend in the Aviation World was lost. Robert Odegaard was the best damn pilot in the sky and also the nicest. You will be missed by all who knew you Bob. Blue Skies and Tailwinds….
For a year my http://www.moosepeterson.com/blog/2012/09/04/epson-finish-strong-campaign/Dad was talking about this day. Going over details and details down to every rivet in the plane and letter in the contract. It was a long trek through lots of paperwork and constant revises of aircraft but finally on July 1st 2012 we went up in the skies and made history once again come to life.
The target for the day was to do a shoot that we had never before attempted. We were going to photograph the F2G-1D Super Corsair, of which it is the only of it’s model flying with the exception of an F2G-2 Super Corsair. Combined there are only 4 survivors left in the world. That wasn’t the tricky part or the new part. We were going to do the shoot Air to Air, still not new, with the objective of capturing shots not only of the plane but of the photographer inside the photo platform photographing the plane. Yikes! That’s the new twist. When my Dad asked me to be apart of this for none other than the Finished Strong Campaign For Epson. I was blown away and scared out of mind. How the hell were we going to do this? The first step was the planes. Amazingly enough the hardest part in most shoots, the photo platform, was the easiest to get a hold of.
The next challenge was the subject plane. With the idea behind the whole Ad as big, powerful, fast and beautiful no ordinary plane would suffice. After a long list of plane ideas they landed on the Super Corsair. With the Pratt & Whitney R-4360 engine powering this beautiful beast it was fast, new paint made it beautiful, and the fact that it is the only one of it’s model left made it unique. I won’t go into all the details about the plane in this post but you can read more about in a previous post I wrote in last January. Our good friend and pilot Larry Perkins was once again at the stick of the Super, no better place to be. With us for the shoot was our test pilot Scottie, Kevin pilot and owner of the Bonanza.
5:15, the light wasn’t up yet. We were awake and waiting for the sound of the engine to turn over. The crews, the spectators and the pilots were for what was to come ahead. The briefing we had rehearsed the day before was buzzing around in my head as last minute checks. All gear was in place, planes were ready and the cameras were on. With a quick crank and loud bang the giant blades of the Super Corsair began to turn as the engine started up. The R-4360 was coming to life. We saddled up in the Bonanza and 15 minutes later we cranked over. The Bonanza didn’t need as long as a run up time as the Corsair did. Down the private air strip we went with the Corsair in tow we headed out to the Astraea Mountains. The temperature had cooled slightly and thankfully was below the 100 degree mark. It was enough to keep the air slightly less bumpy. The heat was a factor in the shoot. More heat meant more dense air which slowed the planes down and caused more unsteadiness with formation flying.
For 90 minutes we flew over the mountain range. From the East side to the West we made orbits around both covering every angle of the plane we could out of the starboard side of our shooting platform. Back, Forward Up and Down the Super Corsair was constantly being moved in order to get as many useable images as we could. The flashes were firing away and the cards were filling up. This shoot mattered more than any other, there was no other chance to get it right it was this morning or nothing. After 90 minutes of flight time, both pilots hungry and tired we headed back to home base. We had our debrief on the ground, uploaded the cards and did the one thing that we all were anxious to do, look through the images.
The results speak for themselves.
My Thanks to all those that made this possible: the Epson marketing staff, special thanks to Dano Steinhardt, Larry Perkins, Kevin Crozier, Scott Foster and of course my Dad and Mom for making this happen.
After the high of flying with two Super Corsair’s and the 10 hour drive back home, exhausted barely begins to describe how tired Dad and I were yesterday. Processing through images was quite difficult with tired eyes, but well worth the time. It was one heck of a flight and a moment of history that I will never forget. The Super G’s flying together in the afternoon light, shinned like no other flight I’ve done so far. Dad and I were in an A36 Bonanza, he first seat which is closest to the door and i was second seat, behind him. Every time I wanted to shoot I would have to look around Dad’s head. It’s still very doable for getting good shots but it does have some limitations.
The planes moved in and out around the Bonanza, as Robert and Casey flew different formations for us to get the shots we wanted. I say wanted because this wasn’t a flight for business reasons, nor for teaching others, but it was a flight that needed to happen for those passionate about Aviation. Air to Air flights happen all the time, but a flight that has two of the three remaining Super Corsair’s, the only two that fly, is something that probably won’t happen again. It took tremendous effort from all those involved to bring these planes together, my Thanks go out to them.
It was weird see people’s reactions to the planes as they were parked outside the hanger on Tuesday. The CAF Arizona Wing had a good crowd while we there, people shuffled in and out all day. Both Super G’s were parked outside and anyone there could go up and look at them. Dad and I watched in amazement, wondering if any of those people new how rare a sight they were witnessing. I overheard some say to their kids that they were Corsair’s but beyond that nothing. They were witnessing two planes brought together for the first time since 1949, and they probably didn’t even know it.
Images Captured with Nikon D3, AF-S 70-200 VR, TC-17e, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again The Super Corsair is just a beautiful plane. The morning we had it at Reno for the static shoot was just amazing. As I’m going through images from Reno getting everything processed I thought I would share one that really sums up the morning. Oh and this is another image that I experimented with detail enhancer on. See if you can tell.
Image Captured with Nikon D3, AF-S 70-200 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
It’s still hard blogging after what happened last Friday but it’s best to look at the good things that occurred not just the worst. A perfect example is of course the F2G “Super” Corsair. This is one sweet plane! It was rebuilt by the Odegaard’s and is the second Super Corsair that they had rebuilt. It’s one of the classic racers with the previous flying #57 Super Corsair competing in several Reno Air Races. The plane was originally designed as an interceptor but with the war ending in 1945 only 5 FG2-1 and 5 FG2-2 were completed.
When I first saw this aircraft it seemed enormous, compared to a F4U-4 Corsair. The paint job is what really stood out on this plane. The white racing stripes were perfect for the races, a simple and effective scheme for the Races. The photogs were all drooling, even myself. We were very fortunate being able to do three static shoots with the plane! This is all from the second shoot which is late in the afternoon Wednesday. It was kind of a piggy back shoot while another photographer was using the plane for a model shoot. It served everyone’s purposes to leave the plane out and the Odegaards were nice to do just that.
The Super G shows off some of the true racing spirit that can be found at the races. With the rich history the plane has from previous years as a contender, it will be interesting to watch this plane in the near future.
Images Captured with Nikon D3, AF-S 70-200 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
Over the last few years I, along with the rest of my family, have had the honor of attending the Air Races as part of the Media Ops team. In that short amount of time we have come to consider everyone there as family and graciously my family has been inducted into there’s. Needless to say that attending the races is always a big deal for us, even if that means driving 16 hours from Montana in order for me to attend. The event started as it usually does, a predawn shoot on the tarmac with a plane that was graciously pulled out just for us photogs. It just so happened that the first one we worked with was the Super G Corsair, courtesy of the Odegaards. I’m sure if you have gone to Dad’s blog by now that you realize not only how close we are with them but also how close that plane is with Galloping Ghost. It was a beautiful morning shoot with followed up with a day of walking the pits, talking with the crews, sucking up every bit of information that we could about the planes.
Thanks to the friendships Dad had created with the Odegaards and Jimmy, we were able to reunite the Super Corsair and the Ghost for another early morning shoot that will always be remembered. Everyone out there was in awe seeing these historic aircraft together and we gave thanks that we could be part of such an event. However, after the events on Friday, they were the hardest images to look at. It’s the sad truth to aviation that planes go down, and the ones we love we lose. Standing out at Pylon 2 Dad and I finally made the connection that Ghost was flying in that heat, unfortunately only seconds after we made this discovery we saw the cloud of dust come up and the horrible gut wrenching feeling came over us, as we knew exactly who went down.
Rushing on to the bus and back to Media Ops we watched the stands hoping that everyone was going to be okay, fearfully knowing that it wasn’t going to be. As soon as we arrived Dad and I were directed to be part of the first response but shortly were turned around being told that they had enough volunteers. We spent the rest of the that horrid day waiting around, helping where ever we could, consoling whoever needed it. We kept busy or at least as distracted as possible to try and keep away the images of what had occurred to come flashing back into the mind. As the day went on volunteers and photogs started to leave, they made the journeys homeward talking with all their loved ones and friends. Mom, Dad and I stayed around we helped until there was nothing left to do that night, including answering phones in the RARA office, talking to those that feared they had lost their family and friends. We spent three hours in that office, Dad and I entered names into the computer and Mom was on the phone. Everyone just wanted to keep busy. We went to bed that night, not sure what the next day would be like or how much worse it would get.
Saturday was the first day that i can remember coming to the races and sleeping in. We always got up early, but this time there was nothing to get up for. No planes to shoot, no crews in the pit to talk to, no sounds whatsoever. It was quiet, it was unnerving. Dad and I walked the pits that morning looking for all those that we knew and could find, trying to talk with anyone to make sure they were okay. The pits which usually have a movement to them in the morning were clam and stark. It was like walking through a ghost town. At times it seemed our voices echoed there was so little going on. NTSB had locked everything down and taken control of the scene within hours of the incident. It still seemed odd that there was no one at these planes. We walked for 2 hours before we came back to Media Ops at which point a security guard stopped us and said “you can’t be in there.” We hung around the trailer and the building helping where ever we could.
The few photographers that were there talked about what had happened, sharing our stories about Jimmy. We laughed when we could, remembered things that Jimmy had said or done. We all tried to get a handle on what had happened, and what was going to happen.
Eventually most people left, leaving only a few volunteers and the family to help break down Media Center. It felt even stranger breaking down the media center on a Saturday. It usually is busy, everyone is moving around getting lists made, flights ready, and photogs in and out so they can shoot the races. There was none of that. The only commotion was getting the place packed up, again keeping us from thinking about what had happened.
There was press conferences that started the day before and continued through the weekend. The News teams yet again proved their rudeness and true lack of interest in the tragic event. They were all trying to get their 5 minutes of fame paying little if any respect to the good man that we lost. It was disgusting for those of us watching that knew Jimmy and knew about the plane. Most of us walked out before the conference even ended. This was the first crash that i had witnessed with such devastating affect, I truly hope it is the last. The reality is that this kind of flying is dangerous, the pilots know this we spectators have a harder time handling it. I realize the little solace there is in these words, knowing full well that it does nothing to bring anyone back nor ease that horrible feeling that we now have. I can only say that this event hurt is all and as a community we’ll have to work together to get past this.
My thanks go out to all those that called, emailed or texted to make sure that me and my family were alright. All your support made a big difference, please show the same support now for those involved with the accident. My hopes and prayers go out to Jimmy’s family, along with all those that had friends and family involved with the tragic accident. May those that we lost always be remembered in our hearts, and pray that they are watching over us in a better place.