There’s something remarkable about a place that transcends time, brings together a passion for timeless beauty with an enduring legacy of pride and resilience. Stallion 51 in Kissimmee, Florida is just that kind of place.
I did a post last Valentine’s Day about the state of my heart not too long after my breast cancer surgery. I figured it might be good to do an update a year later and post cancer.
Those first few months were agonizing and long. I wanted to die rather than face this battle. I cried many tears. I know it was hard for those closest to me. I shut people out and buried myself from the world.
While it was probably the lowest point in my life, I can look back on that time, and see that it wasn’t the end of the world like I thought it was at the time. It was a very difficult, intense time but in the end, I think I’m better for it. If I had a choice, I would not choose this path; but, it is my path and from it, I’ve learned that I can get through just about anything now.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a wet year in the South. I was spoiled early on with blue skies and sunshine, but the later part of 2015 was incredibly wet. I’m beginning to understand how it must feel to live in the UK. Learning to photograph in all weather is becoming very important. While I’ve learned that photographing in full sun is not ideal, photographing in full rain and cold is even more challenging.
Here I am looking back at 2015, starring down 2016 and wondering exactly what this next year has in store for me. 2015 certainly didn’t go as I had hoped it would, but in the end, it’s been an amazing year in spite of battling breast cancer, and several family deaths that brought some intense emotional battles to my family.
It’s been one year since I started photographing air shows. Winston Salem 2014 was the first one, and now one year later, I’m back to do it again. This time is different, I have a year of experience under my belt, a photography class and an aviation workshop also behind me.
One thing you never know for certain is what the weather is going to do. When I scheduled my trip to Rome, Georgia for the Wings Over Georgia Air Show, I thought fall would be a fantastic time for it, not too hot, not too cold.
Since I started photographing airplanes, I’ve marveled at the absolutely gorgeous shots by published photographers of the sun setting behind planes, and longed to replicate such pictures. I wasn’t sure how you would even gain access to do such shots unless you knew the owners. I found that most of the air shows I’ve attended would end by 5pm, and that was long before the sun set.
What I had hoped to be a simple process of getting cleared to fly again, has met another speed bump on this road called life. After being declared cancer free by my oncologist, the FAA wasn’t completely convinced, and wanted an MRI of my brain since it was the only part of me that hadn’t been scanned.
There are days that my heart still aches for a different time, days when I remember what it’s like to be so absorbed in a moment that there’s nothing else you can see around you. Moments when I could melt from the heat raging inside of me, of a fire burning so strongly it fills my soul. A warmth like a kiss of sunlight on my skin, a breath so deep and slow and full that my eyes close and I just inhale deeply, and feel my chest rise. I remember a time before cancer when I could get lost in my own thoughts and hide from the world. I remember when flying made me feel like this. There are times when I want to remember, but other times when I think it’s best not to dwell on it too long.
July on Pensacola Beach and at 8:00am, it’s already hot, crowded and exciting! Parking is the biggest challenge you face besides the heat. Plenty of people have stayed the night and camped out on the beach, so even though finding a spot isn’t really an issue, you can’t see the ocean for the sea of tarps and tents that are already in place.