The Atlanta Warbirds Weekend 2016, and I had planned on spending it photographing the wonderful warbirds that would be on display again this year for the Commemorative Air Force, Dixie Wing in Atlanta, Georgia. I had planned this trip for months. I would be doing the aviation photography workshop for the second time. What I didn’t know was that I would be hearing from the FAA the day I was leaving for Atlanta.
Packed and ready, I’d be leaving around lunch time to make the four hour drive from Charlotte. I was working from home in the morning when I checked my email and found a response finally from the FAA on my medical certificate. My heart stopped and I think I quit breathing for a few seconds.
Oh God, do I open it? Everything in me wanted to open it, but I hesitated. In the back of my mind, I could feel myself panicking. What if I don’t get cleared? What if they said no? What then?
I sat there for a minute staring at my email.
I took a deep breath. I have to know, and the answer is in the attachment they sent. I clicked on it. When it opened, I began to read, “…you are ineligible for medical certification under Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs)…”. My heart sank. How could this be? Don’t they know how important this is to me?
I started to stop reading, but in bold letters right after that statement were the following words,” I have determined, however that you may be granted an Authorization for special issuance of the enclosed third-class medical certificate as provided for in Title 14 of the CFRs, section 67.401.”
I sat in the silence and tears filled my eyes. I could feel the relief rise up through my body and I breathed again. Tears flooded my eyes and I started to sob. My hand covered my mouth as a sigh echoed from my lungs. I said it out loud, “I’m cleared to fly!” “Thank you, Jesus!”
Just when I thought I might never get cleared to fly again, everything changed. The beauty of this moment, it was my birthday. The best birthday present I could have received. The timing could not have been better for me.
Leaving for Atlanta made me feel like a new person. Woohoo! I’m cleared to fly again! A whole host of other panics set in, but that’s for another story.
With a fresh feeling in my soul, I couldn’t wait to photograph some beautiful warbirds. Like them, I’ve a got a story now, a battle with breast cancer that has forever changed me. A battle that is never far from my mind.
This year’s theme was a gathering of P-40 Warhawks. What a site it was to see them lined up on the ramp together. Each unique, each a rich history and proud in their stance parked there on the ramp.
I captured this fun moment when Thom Richard was pre-flighting. It was good to see him flying after an incident just days before at the Reno Air Races when his hand was injured.
There is so much character exuding from their colorful exteriors. Each uniquely capturing special squadrons or missions in their themes.
This was my second year attending the AWW. A year ago was my very first aviation photography workshop. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing a year ago. It was the best money I’ve spent on learning to photograph these beauties. Learning to capture them in hopes that others might fall in love with them like I have.
A year has made a huge difference for me, in my photography skills and my connections to the wonderful world of aviation. What began as a way to keep myself close to the flying community while grounded as a pilot, has turned into a passion for documenting them for generations to remember.
We lost several dear pilots and planes this past year. You never know when they may not be flying any longer. I am deeply saddened by each loss. In a community that is small, it’s easy to get to know so many people quickly, and form connections that make each person, place and plane a wonderful memory etched forever in your mind.
I was excited to get an opportunity to photograph the P-40’s for a sunset shoot. We were blessed again this year with amazing skies to enhance the backdrop of each plane. You can never guarantee what the weather will do, but when the clouds show up at sunset, make sure you have your camera ready. It’s a sight to behold!
Even night photography is fun but challenging and getting a chance to enjoy all these beauties for an entire day, is worth the effort no matter the weather or how tired you get. It’s a great chance to get up close and personal with a few of your favorite planes.
I’m grateful for the gentlemen at 3g Aviation Media http://3gaviationmedia.com/ for their photography workshops and sharing their skills with novice’s like me to help improve my images. It’s also been a wonderful chance to connect with other aviation photographers who are excited to share their knowledge as well.
A year behind me now in aviation photography and my passion hasn’t dwindled. It’s time to see if I can find the time to do both, finish my pilot’s license and still find time to chase and photograph these wonderful flying machines. I hope to find a way to combine both my passions in the future to create some beautiful pictures and continue to share my adventures with you.