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5Jan
2017

Best Photo Moments of 2016

It’s that time of the year again! It’s time to step out of 2016 and into 2017! Another New Year has quickly appeared out of what seemed like nowhere, leaving behind another year that zoomed by. With that, it’s time for the yearly reflection on the best photography moments! 2016 was quite the year overall, with a lot of surprises along the way for the entire world. Some good, many bad… but as we cross that threshold between years many look to 2017 for something brighter.

For me, this year was certainly for aviation… as nearly ALL of the top moments this year came from air to air shoots, airshows, or special aviation related events. With most airshows picking back up after a few year hiatuses, it was a full schedule of events for 2016. While overall I had less air to air shoots than previous years, I picked up several airshows like March Air Reserve Base and Nellis Air Force Base, which had been on a break for some time and added the brand new Huntington Beach Airshow. This was the first year I decided to try out shooting RAW format for everything I shoot (minus Pinup shoots, which I don’t see the need for RAW). It was quite the challenge for someone who has faithfully shot in JPG for over 16 years. One of the largest challenges was space requirements… something you might not think about when first wanting to attempt to shoot RAW. A 4 terabyte (yes terabyte) hard drive just had enough space to fit all the RAW images from the whole year! Back when shooting JPG, I made the jump from archiving from many DVDs required for one airshow to one or two blurays that would be able to hold all the images. Now with RAW, it takes as many blurays as it used to take DVDs or CDs! There have been many rewards shooting RAW, and it’s an experiment I will continue rather than jumping back into JPG.

Technology is on the move again with advancements in not only DSLR cameras, but even phone camera abilities and the introduction of 360 cameras into the photography mainstream. I added a Canon 7D Mk II to the camera arsenal along with a Samsung 360 Camera which will probably produce images that make next year’s best moments list as the world goes more into the virtual reality realm. I relied heavily on my 500mm this year, opting to get more unique, different shots (even at the risk of missing many ‘normal photos’) and not using the 100-400 as much. I think that decision paid off well, especially when coupled with the RAW shooting.

It was tough limiting down this year’s moments to just 10 (I had 22 originally picked out), but I think the list sums up 2016 with a mix of incredible experiences, rare moments, great final photo results, and even moments where the RAW experiment really shined bright. So without any more introduction… here’s the TOP COUNTDOWN 10 of 2016!


Honorable Mention:

Snaggletooth and Wet Feathers

San Diego Safari Park - Tiger

Of course, every year I add an ‘honorable mention’ (which is really #11 on the list to start it off…), and for this year it’s one of the only two non-aviation related moments of the year. The San Diego Zoo and San Diego Safari Park are wonderful locations to do some animal photography. With a variety of animals on display, you never know what you might come away with. It can have a lot of challenges as well, since many of the animals sleep during the day (mainly the large cats), so going to the park on days when it is cooler and overcast will end up giving you a lot more photo opportunities. This year, I was only able to go out to the parks twice, but on one particular day I was able to capture two unique shots.

The threat of rain all morning meant that the Tigers at the San Diego Safari Park in the newer Tiger Trail exhibit were quite active. Three Tigers were walking around occasionally watching the people as they walked by. One Tiger in particular had planted itself down near some foliage and was watching all the people, including myself with the 500mm lens from his perch. This Tiger seemed to have a rather special trait… a snaggletooth. It stared at my lens while almost seeming to pose with the snaggletooth for a pretty unique portrait.

The second rather ‘right time right place’ shot came from a small Burrowing Owl, deep inside the Safari Park. It had just started to rain as I approached the Burrowing Owl exhibit. There is a small overhang shelter near the fenced off area for the tiny fist sized Owl for park visitors to take shelter from rain or the sun. I noticed that instead of seeking cover, the Owl instead stared right at my camera and stretched out its wings while puffing up… perhaps to shake off the falling rain. For what normally is just the same shots of this Owl huddled up standing motionless on some log each time I visit that exhibit, this was a truly rare shot (for what I’ve seen) of this little bird.


Best Photography Moment #10:

Connie’s Second First Flight

Lockheed VC-121A Constellation

The Planes of Fame Air Museum has had a very special Lockheed VC-121A Constellation named ‘Bataan’ at the Grand Canyon/Valle sister museum for many years sitting right outside the main building. This Connie is rather famous as it was the personal aircraft of Supreme Allied Commander General Douglas MacArthur during the Vietnam War. He would use this throughout the war during his trips in the Philippines and it would eventually take MacArthur to San Francisco where he was relieved of command by President Truman. It was involved with the Berlin Airlift, and, after the Korean War, was then assigned to NASA to serve as a communications relay platform for the Apollo program. Planes of Fame acquired the aircraft around the late 80s and converted it back to the VIP configuration used by MacArthur. It was then displayed outside for many years. Having been sold to Lewis Air Legends in Texas, ‘Bataan’ is scheduled to have a complete tear down restoration to flight status… something that can really only be done from the main Planes of Fame Air Museum Fighter Rebuilders facility at Chino Airport.

Preparation began to restore this aircraft to a temporary flying status to fly it from Valle, Arizona to Chino, California. Planes of Fame volunteers, Fighter Rebuilders mechanics, and other aircraft specialists went up to Arizona to prep this aircraft that has been scorched in the heat and covered in cold snow and get it to fly again in a short time. It was quite the undertaking, with an engine from another Constellation also being restored to flight borrowed to use on this Connie to get her back to Chino. After many weeks of work, the Connie was ready for flight on January 14 after completing engine runs and taxi tests a few days prior. I headed out to Chino Airport, not being able to travel all the way to Arizona to catch the departure. As with the EC-141 Constellation that came into Chino Airport back in 2012 (see #14 here: http://blog.airshowreview.com/2013-01-03/2012-best-photography-moments), to catch something like this coming in it would be a waiting game… getting out to the airport and waiting for word of first the departure from Arizona, then hearing the roar of the engines in the distance. After getting a late start, the word was spread around that the Connie had left. It was a mad dash for the runway as photographers, aviation fans, airport personnel, etc. all took up various locations surrounding the runway to wait for ‘Bataan’ to arrive.

The first sign of the Connie was a large dot on the horizon growing larger at around 1pm. I was fortunate enough to find myself near the touch down approach side of the runway and awaited ‘Bataan’ as she made one high altitude orbit around the airport and then came in for a landing. It was a pretty amazing sight to have now seen TWO Connies come into Chino Airport in the last 4 years. After landing and taxiing to the ramp, the Connie was left alone for a while and I took the opportunity to photograph the aircraft alone on the ramp after the incredible journey that day. The Connie is currently still undergoing the complete tear down restoration at Chino Airport with completion set for 2018. I suppose during that year the departure of the newly restored Connie for Texas will make the top 10 list for 2018!


Best Photography Moment #9:

MCAS Miramar Airshow

MCAS Miramar Airshow 2016 - F/A-18A Hornet

I’ve had the MCAS Miramar Airshow on my top moments lists for many years now. As stated on last year’s list: Next to the Planes of Fame Airshow, the MCAS Miramar Airshow is my all-time favorite military base airshow as it reminds me of the MCAS El Toro Airshows that I grew up with. Miramar will always have a special place for me because of that. This three day Airshow in San Diego draws more than half a million people. With the latest and greatest aircraft, this show headlines the Blue Angels and pretty much the military air power currently used by the Marines. This was the second year I would have my 500mm lens with me at the airshow, but the first year I’d be shooting the entire show in RAW format. Miramar made the list this year because of two reasons:

1) Shooting RAW – Miramar’s show is always action packed, with many acts and nearly non-stop action from when gates open till the very end of the show with the headlining USN Blue Angels. That means a lot of photos are taken over the three days of the airshow, not even including the vast assortment of static aircraft on display to photograph. This year had the typical line up of modern aircraft from the US Navy, Marines, and Air Force along with the always awesome Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Demo. I’ve been pretty skeptical about shooting RAW, mostly because of the space requirement from so many RAW images, and this airshow was one of the largest for the year with several thousand images and many gigabytes of data. That all being said, one thing many people struggle with at Miramar is the lighting. Backlighting is killer at Miramar, with the sun being in front of you nearly all day. This means often either blown out skies with properly exposed aircraft or properly exposed skies and black silhouette airplanes. I often tended to prefer to blow out the sky if I had to in order to get a proper aircraft exposure, and with JPG you couldn’t do much in post-production to recover the sky (within reason). Shooting RAW, however, allowed for a much broader exposure sensitivity allowing me to recover the sky and recover the aircraft for a nice middle ground. This, coupled with the 500mm, 1.4 extender (making about 700mm reach) and the Canon 1DX made for some of the best Miramar shots I’ve gotten thus far.

2) MAGTF – Aside from the Blue Angels, one of the largest draws for Miramar is the MAGTF performance. Showcasing the air and ground power of the US Marine Corps, it’s a small scale battle with pyrotechnics and an arsenal of military vehicles. This year, they took it up a notch with some tweaks that might not be noticeable to the average airshow goer, but to the aviation photographer made for some really awesome shots not really achievable before at Miramar. In particular was the attacking F/A-18A++ Hornets from VMFA-314 ‘Black Knights’ and VMFA-323 ‘River Rattlers’ who, during the attack run, would come in from the left, climb rapidly, flip the aircraft inverted pulling the nose toward the ground, then flipping the aircraft back over while ‘releasing’ the bombs and pulling up and out of the area. Normally, this was done so far away it was often difficult to get great shots of the inverted Hornets, even with 700mm lens reach. This year, the pilots decided to bring it in closer, pulling the Hornets inverted nearly right in front of the crowd. It’s not often you get fleet workhorse aircraft (and not the cleaned up demo show versions) inverted! Another minor tweak this year was the spacing of the ‘pass in review’ at the end of the MAGTF demo which featuring a unique formation of rotor aircraft used by the USMC including the MV-22 Osprey, CH-53E Super Stallion, AH-1Z Viper, and UH-1Z Venom helicopters.

You can see the full gallery from all three days of the MCAS Miramar Airshow at: http://www.warbird-photos.com/airshows.php?Year=2016


Best Photography Moment #8:

Apple Valley Sunrise

Apple Valley Airshow - B-25 Mitchell

The Apple Valley airshow is a great one day airshow held in October of each year. The show, held at the Apple Valley Airport, usually features an assortment of aerobatic aircraft and vintage warbirds from museums like the Planes of Fame Museum and Palm Springs Air Museum. Those in charge of the airshow, Rob and Susan Harrison, do an incredible job making photographers feel super welcome at the show. Each year, they give us access to early morning sunrise photoshoots, and the Apple Valley desert does NOT disappoint! This year, we were treated to a spectacular sunrise over several of the Planes of Fame Aircraft including the B-25 Mitchell, P-40 Warhawk, and P-51 Mustang. The power of RAW images really shined through on this shoot as it was able to pull in richer colors and quite the range of exposure from the bright sunrise clouds and the dark aircraft. Look for the 2017 Apple Valley Airshow on October 14, 2017.


Best Photography Moment #7:

LA County Airshow

LA County Airshow - Tora Tora Tora

Another airshow making the list is the third annual Los Angeles County Airshow which put on quite the show! Not only featuring the always awesome USN Blue Angels headlining act, the airshow also included the Tora Tora Tora demonstration team (a mock Pearl Harbor attack) and the Texas Flying Legends aircraft. The Planes of Fame Air Museum sent over a gaggle of aircraft to perform and we were treated to some nearby Edwards Air Force Base aircraft including a F-16D Viper, B-52H Superfortress, and a NASA ER-2 (former U-2 Spyplane). It was an impressive lineup with great flying and a few things I hadn’t seen before! It had been many, many years since I had seen the Tora Tora Tora Pearl Harbor reenactment (in fact, the last time I saw it was at a Edwards AFB Airshow) and I had forgotten how impressive the demo is with all the pyrotechnics, the replica/converted Japanese aircraft, and the P-40 attacking plane. With the sun behind you nearly all day, the lighting couldn’t be better with spectacular sunrise and sunsets as well. You can see the full gallery from all three days of the LA County Airshow 2016 at: http://www.warbird-photos.com/airshows.php?Year=2016

On a sadder note, this event also made the list because it was the last airshow I would see Cpt. Jeff Kuss, Blue Angel #6 (opposing solo) perform at an airshow before his untimely passing in an accident just a few months later that would be covered by news agencies all over the country. A big salute goes out to Captain Kuss.

Captain Jeff Kuss


Best Photography Moment #6:

Phantom’s ‘Phinale’ and Nellis AFB Airshow

Nellis AFB Airshow - QF-4 Phantom

After two years of hiatus, the Nellis Air Force Base Airshow returned out in Las Vegas, Nevada. Celebrating the 75th anniversary of the base and home of the USAF Thunderbirds, the show was action packed with an entire history of US Air Power. From early trainers to warbirds, the first jets to the latest high tech fighters… the Nellis AFB Airshow was quite the show in 2016. I was only able to make one day of the airshow due to a wedding, but I made sure to make at least the last day of the show. One of the highlights each year unique to Edwards is the Nellis Capabilities Demonstration (Air-to-Air & Air-to-Ground Demos) which is like the Air Force’s version of the Marine Air Ground Task Force at MCAS Miramar. This includes dogfights, air to ground mock bombing, strafing runs, ‘bad guy’ aircraft, and even helicopter rescues. The aircraft involved included 2x F-15 Eagles, 2x F-15 Strike Eagles, 2x F-16 Viper Aggressors (the bad guys), 2x A-10 Thunderbolts, and 2x HH-60 Pave Hawks.

Aside from the impressive air power history, this airshow marked another very important occasion… the last airshow performance of the QF-4 Phantom in USAF active service. The F-4 Phantom has had a long run in USAF service from the backbone of fighter strength in the Vietnam War to even being the only aircraft used by both the USAF Thunderbirds and USN Blue Angels for a time. This fighter is well beloved by nearly all aviation enthusiasts, and so after about 56 years of service it was time to retire the well-used aircraft. Originally, the Phantoms were phased out of use in 1996, however, the mothballed Phantoms were selected to be Target Drone airframes for missile tests. Phantoms were brought back from the dead and redesignated as ‘QF-4 Phantom’s with modifications to the aircraft so they could either be piloted by humans or remotely for the missile tests. About 250 Phantoms met their fates over the ocean with the missile tests, but the handful of Phantoms left were spared as the Target Drone program has moved on to older retired F-16 Vipers for target practice. Nellis had two of the last flying QF-4 Phantoms at the show, one on static display and one flying a final demo for an airshow crowd. When the Phantom took to the sky, everyone was glued to the iconic jet as it made several passes before landing for the last time at an airshow. After Nellis, only one other event would have flying Phantoms… the final retirement ceremony held just last month (December 2016) at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. For me, this would be the last time I’d see the Phantoms fly and it was quite a thrill to see them at both Miramar and Nellis.

You can see the full gallery from the Nellis AFB Airshow 2016 at: http://www.warbird-photos.com/airshows.php?Year=2016


Best Photography Moment #5:

Pacific Theater Fighters

Planes of Fame - Pacific Theater Warbirds

Just a day after the Planes of Fame Airshow had concluded, I got a phone call from the Planes of Fame Air Museum (Chino, CA) for a special photoshoot with quite the subject aircraft… a whole gaggle of Pacific Theater warbirds. The world famous and incredibly rare Japanese Zero (the only Zero in the world with an original engine that still flies) had returned from an overseas tour many months prior to the airshow. Because the aircraft was so rare, it was shipped overseas and back via container and during that time it was decided to give the Zero a complete overhaul, stripping it down to the bare airframe and putting it all back together. It’s quite the lengthy process with work on the Zero still continuing right up until the morning of the first day of the 2016 Airshow when it would fly again! A new more accurate paint scheme was also applied to the Zero in a design it would have worn when captured by the US Marines in Saipan.

The photoshoot would be with the Zero along with some of the American adversaries of the Zero… the F4U-1A Corsair, SBD-5 Dauntless, and P-38J Lightning. I’d be shooting with a fellow museum photographer and a photographer from Japan from inside the museum’s B-25J Mitchell. We formed up with all the fighters over Corona, Lake Matthews, and Riverside during the awesome photoshoot with the fighters switching positions and formations along the way. It’s always fun to go up and be a part of an air to air photo shoot, but it’s even better when you have a gaggle of aircraft out there with you! It was a great way to get some photos of the Zero in the new paint job as well!


Best Photography Moment #4:

Tank Combat Fire

LA Air Raid of 1942 - Sherman Tank

The Planes of Fame Air Museum makes the list quite a bit each year, and I’m very thankful for all the incredible opportunities they give me with their aircraft. For this one, however, it’s their Tank which has made the list! The Museum has a Motor Pool group that takes care of several vehicles at the museum from Jeeps, motorcycles, halftracks, and a working M4A1 Sherman Tank. The Tank is taken to various events throughout the year, and is completely functional including a blank firing 75mm cannon. The Sherman Tank is always a crowd pleaser when it fires with a very loud BANG and huge flame that comes out the main cannon. Plus it has functional .30 cal coax and bow guns and a .50 cal can be mounted on the top hatch.

There’s an event out at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, California called the ‘Los Angeles Air Raid of 1942’ that takes place in February. This event is half a 1940s swing dance and half historical ‘reenactment’ of a real event that happened in February of 1942. After the attack of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the nation was on edge fearing a Japanese invasion or attack on the west coast. On February 24, 1942 at night, something mysterious was spotted in the sky. With itchy trigger fingers and paranoia, coastal artilleries opened up on various ‘targets’ which was rumored to be anything from weather balloons, friendly aircraft, or even UFOs. The Fort MacArthur installation, now a museum, was one of the battery installations that lit up the night sky and now holds a special event where you are transported back to 1942 at a fictional swing dance USO party when the Air Raid happens.
The Planes of Fame Sherman Tank has been brought out to this event before, but often it is tucked in the back during the Air Raid and can be tough to see when all eyes are on the fireworks display that mimics the artillery fire. This year, the Sherman Tank and a M3 Scout Car were placed atop of the main hill of the installation and I was allowed to take some photos rather close to the Sherman Tank. I hadn’t brought a tripod with me, so using my hat to steady the camera for longer exposures, I attempted to capture the fire blasts from the Scout Car, hand guns, .50 cal, .30 cals, and even the main 75mm gun. It was very loud with the earth shaking and I could only imagine the soldiers in WW2 going through something like this but with the threat of their lives. It was an incredible experience and resulted in some awesome photos along with a short video!


Best Photography Moment #3:

Huntington Beach Airshow

Huntington Beach Airshow 2016 - F-18 Super Hornet Demo

It’s not often that a brand new airshow pops up in this day and age. With cutbacks in sponsors and cuts in military participation in airshows, most long established airshows have struggled to stay alive. That being said, when a new airshow does pop up, it’s a wonderful new experience! Huntington Beach has been attempting to get an airshow off the ground for a few years now, with the last mini-airshow having been in the 90s. The inaugural Huntington Beach Airshow took place on October 21-23 with three full days of aerobatics, flybys, jet demos, and the USAF Thunderbirds. It was also the last United States performance of the France based Breitling Jet Team who has been touring the USA for two years and was even the main sponsor of this show. For all of us in Southern California, this was the first ‘beach airshow’ we’ve had on the West Coast (unless you count Fleet Week in San Francisco).
The show featured a large assortment of aerobatic aircraft from biplanes with jet engines to high performance aircraft. Lyon Air Museum flew their WW2 C-47 Skytrain paratrooper plane for a few passes and the US Coast Guard performed a sea rescue demonstration. Several local Airborne law enforcement agencies also demonstrated their helicopters and FedEx brought out a Boeing 757 for some passes. The final highlights of the show were the Breitling Jet Team, the US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet demo team, and the USAF Thunderbirds. For the first two days, weather was perfect with your typical Southern California sunshine that brought out the swimsuits and sunscreen. By the third day, the weather had turned from the iconic bikini weather to cloudy skies, cold temperatures, and near the end of the show a downpour of rain. During the sunny weather, it was blacklit with the sun in front of you all day, but with the overcast skies the photos came out a bit better.

It was a GREAT kick off for the airshow and the 2017 show sounds to be even bigger with the USN Blue Angels and Canadian Snowbirds! You can’t beat a better view of the great Pacific Ocean while you’re sitting on the sandy beach watching aircraft buzz over the water! Look for the 2017 Huntington Beach Airshow to take place September 29 through October 1. You can see the full gallery from the Huntington Beach Airshow 2016 at: http://www.warbird-photos.com/airshows.php?Year=2016


Best Photography Moment #2:

Armstrong Flight Research Center

NASA Social - F/A-18B Hornet

In early May I got an email from the Armstrong Flight Research Center with an opportunity to take part in another NASA Social event, much like I was fortunate enough to do back in 2013 (See #2 here: http://blog.airshowreview.com/2014-01-02/2013-best-photography-moments) when I went to Vandenberg Air Force Base to tour the rocket facilities and see an actual rocket launch. This time, I would be heading to Edwards Air Force Base and to the NASA test facilities at the base to learn about Sonic Booms and how NASA is attempting to make them have less of an impact with newly designed aircraft features for studying the possible return of supersonic domestic air travel. This included an awesome flight demonstration by the NASA F/A-18A Hornet performing several Sonic Booms over the base at different intensities.

The event began with an overview of Sonic Booms by several NASA experts with historical data on why the booms happen, how they are able to measure the booms, why supersonic airline travel is banned in domestic USA, and unveiling the brand new NASA/Lockheed designed QueSST (Quiet Supersonic Technology) aircraft which will test quieting Sonic Booms by altering their frequency waves as they reach the ground. A question and answer session followed with the scientists and engineers with the medium sized audience made up of online/social bloggers/reporters/photographers from around the US. A NASA F/A-18A Hornet then took off from Edwards AFB and performed several different Sonic Booms beginning with a level flight Boom which was your standard Sonic Boom. From there, the Hornet went into special diving maneuvers that simulated muffled sounding Sonic Booms that this QueSST aircraft would be doing at level flight and demonstrating how this technology would make Booms quieter. The second part of the event focused on Unmanned Aircraft Flight with presentations by more engineers on the technology behind unmanned aircraft systems in high traffic density American airspaces. The final part of the tour included going out to the NASA Armstrong ramp and seeing the F/A-18A Hornet up close along with a NASA F-15 Eagle and then taking a tour of the NASA Ikhana unmanned aircraft (NASA converted former USAF Predator drones) and a rare look at the conversion facilities for the massive NASA Global Hawks (former USAF Global Hawk drones). Before leaving, we were allowed to check out the museum display aircraft outside the NASA facility that included historical NASA aircraft including an X-1E, SR-71 Blackbird, F-15 ‘Alpha’ Eagle, and more! It was an awesome event to take part in with a special look at NASA that civilians rarely get to see!


Best Photography Moment #1:

Airborne with the Collings Foundation

Collings Foundation - B-17G Flying Fortress 'Nine O Nine'

A few days after the air to air shoot with the Planes of Fame Pacific Theater aircraft (see #5), I was able to finally achieve a special shoot I’ve been attempting for a few years… an air to air shoot with the Collings Foundation B-17 Flying Fortress ‘Nine O Nine’. Each year, the Collings Foundation tours their B-17, B-24 Liberator, B-25 Mitchell, and P-51C Mustang throughout the USA on the ‘Wings of Freedom Tour’ jumping from airport to airport giving rides and tours of the aircraft. They pass through California around May each year, and often end up visiting a couple of local airports including Riverside Airport and John Wayne Airport where they station from Lyon Air Museum. I’ve had a long term goal of shooting with as many B-17s as I can and it was just a matter of timing and airspace that stood in the way. I was given a green light to be able to shoot with the B-17 and the other aircraft as it traveled between two airports and so it came down to finding the right time to shoot. Unfortunately, the original idea didn’t work out, but another opportunity presented itself when the bombers traveled from Riverside to John Wayne. I’d launch just before the aircraft in Aviator Flight Training’s T-6 Texan and orbit above the airport as the aircraft took off. We would then dive down on the bombers gaining speed (4 engines vs 1 engine!) to keep up with the bombers as long as we could through the very busy airspace of Orange County. It worked perfectly and we were able to intercept and fly with ‘Nine O Nine’ as it travelled through Corona. Also adding to the shoot was finding out that in the nose of the B-17 was a B-17 veteran named Lou Tirado, 95, whose last flight in a B-17 was when he was shot down in September 1944. A reporter from a local newspaper was in the nose of the B-17 and ran the story about the veteran and the flight with the featured photo being Mr. Tirado looking out one of the B-17 windows at the T-6 Texan photoship! After breaking off from the Flying Fortress, we made a U-turn and headed back to Riverside to meet up with the B-25 Mitchell ‘Tondelayo’ and followed it on the same path. It was a quick shoot, but worked out great with both bomber pilots doing a wonderful job of flying! The B-24 and P-51 couldn’t make it for that shoot due to some mechanical delays, but hopefully 2017 sees another shoot with the B-24 and new P-51 on the 2017 Wings of Freedom Tour.

This easily made the top of my list for 2016 as it was some of the best B-17 shots I’ve gotten yet, and some really rugged shots of the B-25. One of the shots now resides as a large 20×30 print in my house along with a shot of the other B-17 I’ve shot with, ‘Fuddy Duddy’. Huge thanks to the Collings Foundation for the opportunity!


So there we go, the top 10 photo moments of 2016! There are so many people I need to thank for these opportunities, which without them I wouldn’t have been able to have many of these special moments.

• Thank you to Frank Mormillo for the prime viewing spot to catch the Constellation coming into Chino (#10) and the opportunity to join the Planes of Fame Pacific Theater Air to Air shoot (#5)

• Thank you to Steve Hinton and the Planes of Fame Museum as well for the Pacific Theater Air to Air shoot (#5) including Rob Patterson (Corsair Pilot), John Maloney (Zero Pilot), Chris Fahey (P-38 Pilot), and John Kurpa (SBD Pilot) – http://www.planesoffame.org

• Rob and Susan Harrison for the sunrise airport access at the 2016 Apple Valley Airshow (#8) – https://www.facebook.com/applevalley.airshow

• Karen Strong and the LA County Airshow staff for the media access to the show (#7) – http://lacoairshow.com/

• Cindy Delaurell and the Planes of Fame Motor Pool for the special access at the LA Air Raid (#4) – http://www.planesoffame.org

• Barbara Caruso for the media access at the Huntington Beach Airshow (#3) – http://www.hbairshow.com/

• NASA/NASA Social for the special event at the Armstrong Flight Research Center (#2)

• Jamie Mitchell, Hunter Chaney, Robert Pinksten, Mark Henley (B-17 Pilot), and Greg Barnhard (B-25 Pilot) for all the support in making the Collings Foundation Air to Air shoot happen… and of course a big thank you to Daniel Wotring and Aviator Flight Training for the awesome T-6 photoship! – http://www.collingsfoundation.org/events/category/wings-of-freedom-tour/


With that, another year of best moments comes to an end. It was really tough limiting it down to the top 10 this year with many that could have made this list. I’m looking forward to 2017 with many new opportunities (China Lake Airshow, Yuma Airshow, Hangar Dance, Huntington Beach Airshow, etc) and hopefully many surprises along the way! There’s an awful lot in store for this year, and it makes me look forward to the 2017 top 10. I’ll see you in January 2018 when the best photo moments of 2017 is posted!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

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