Musings of an Aviation Photographer

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Occasionally, you’ll shoot that one photo that really stands out above the rest.  Sometimes it can be totally unexpected, and you don’t even realize it until you see the photo on your computer.  Other times, you can see the photo falling into place allowing you to click the shutter button at the exact moment that you know you’ve caught your own personal masterpiece.  Ever so often I’m going to showcase some of what I personally think are interesting and pretty cool photos I’ve taken, with a bit of info behind the photo and how it all came into place.

C-53D Skytrooper 'D-Day Doll' on the eve of the 66th Anniversary of D-Day

The thing about sunset shots at airshows is you have to stay late after the airshow is over.  Sometimes this is possible, sometimes you’re kindly kicked out of an airshow because the gates are literally closing.  But for the die-hard photographers, staying till that last second of light or until security mentions it’s time to go is what sets apart the average photographers from the ones who do it because they love to.  Having that chance to take sunset photos can really give you the change to take some breathtaking photo of these magnificent aircraft with bright orange colored skies surrounding them.  This shot was a mix of luck, ingenuity, and knowing the history of this aircraft, because this isn’t just a random aircraft on a random evening… this is an aircraft about the celebrate it’s anniversary in history.

The Douglas DC-3, or called the C-47 Skytrain or C-53 Skytrooper when in military use, was one of the pivotal aircraft for the Allied forces during World War 2.  Best known for dropping paratroopers over Europe during the war, the DC-3/C-47/C-53’s service in life ranges from crucial military support to famous airliners after the war.  There’s still a few of these aircraft out there, many of them still flying and wearing either the military or civilian colors they wore many years ago.  Pictured is a Douglas C-53D Skytrooper owned by the Commemorative Air Force, name ‘D-Day Doll.’  And there’s a big reason she’s named that, she actually took part in the invasion of Europe on June 6, 1944 most known as Operation Overlord, or D-Day.  Paratroopers from all different divisions and nations were dropped over Normandy on the eve of what was at the time the biggest invasion the world had ever seen (at least until Iwo Jima).  C-53 Skytroopers like D-Day Doll here would have taken off from fields in Britain and flown across the English Channel with the combat paratroops strapped in waiting for the green light to make their jump into Europe and finally bring the second front of the Nazis.

So what makes this shot so special besides a pretty cool sunset behind D-Day Doll? This photo was taken on June 5, 2010… the sunset before the 66th Anniversary of D-Day.  66 years ago from the the time this photo was taken, D-Day Doll was probably being readied to carry the paratroopers over to Normandy  if not already on her way.  There she sat at Gillespie Field Airport in San Diego, California as the sun sets behind her reflecting on her part in history 66 years ago in the event that changed the tide of the war in Europe.  It turns this photo from just a sunset photo with D-Day Doll to a moment in history!

For more in this series, click here!

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