The idle gained momentum and I cracked my eye open, taking in our nose-high attitude and how far the ground seemed from our reclined perch. The grass started moving underneath the wings in front of me. Beyond the struts and wires holding the wings together, I could see the ailerons moving.
Fast forward to today, one year after our initial founding...the Full Disc family is humming along at high RPM, churning out incredible stories I never would have imagined we'd have the privilege of telling. They've snowballed from one another; out of each story sprouts the next opportunity.
I grew up going to airshows and flying a lot; that's what triggered my passion and when I see little kids at an airshow...[my wife] Teresa and I, we were watching the F-22 yesterday, there was a young kid, a boy, probably four years old, with his dad and just watching them watch the jet and watching the fascination on his face...I like being a part of that…..
The father and son enjoyed the experience so much that they searched and found a Taylor E2 Cub. The pair were enjoying these projects and were even winning awards with these aircraft. When two aircraft turned into five, the family asked "What are you going to do with all these airplanes"?
The first time you fly the jet it is actually shocking how easy it is to fly. Obviously, it's pretty nerve wracking being solo, but it's a very forgiving airplane and our pilot training is great preparation. The jet is very similar in handling characteristics to the T-6.
SSgt Betty Chevalier: My most noteable interaction I had with a fan was actually very emotional. During our demonstration, I was taking photos near the back of the crowd. As we started the Heritage Flight, a gentleman walked over to me with tears streaming down his face and all he wanted to do was thank me and the team for bringing the A-10 to the show. He had served overseas and the A-10 was one of the reasons he came home from combat. Just to see the Hawg fly was everything to him. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.
…I did what I could to see outside as the pavement began to move through my view much more quickly. All of the sudden the subtle vibration from the tires on the runway ceased. I heard one of the pilots call for “gear up” and then it hit me. I was really flying in a B-29.
A wise man once wrote, “When a body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body”. Lynne and Carly are two of those forces that when combined, are more powerful than Ali’s one-two punch.
My own story with RIAT can be traced back to 1993 when my father won camping and show tickets for weekend. We had only been to two shows previously and far more locally in Wales, but this would set the precedent for the rest of my life, and one I have always been grateful for. IAT 93’ is ever etched in my mind as spectacular but tragic at the same time. This year would see the arrival of Russian Air Force hardware the likes of the West had never seen.
The evening air made for a very smooth ride. Once Vic had the Stearman safely on the ground, Greg entered the traffic pattern. I set my camera on the seat and enjoyed the rest of the ride in disbelief of what had just happened.
That being said, the weather was still a factor. With dense tropical moisture in place, there would be periods of heavy rain and storms throughout the weekend along with an abundance of humidity; hardly ideal for an airshow…or is it?
One by one, I come across those photographic treasures. Each one evokes a unique emotion and transports me back though time, to that place, and that moment. I begin going through the photos like a librarian would go through a card catalog... flipping past a dozen… pulling one out… flipping past another… pulling one out.
When they landed facing us the second time, the spray from the reverse-pitch props threw up a tremendous wall of water, obscuring the aircraft for a few moments in amazing orange light. The beach was buzzing with excitement.
This was a particularly reverent moment for us; Joe has hundreds of arrested carrier landings flying F-14s and on the 1998 NASA mission STS-89 he piloted the space shuttle Endeavor to the Russian space station Mir and back.
One of the coolest and most desired airshow acts is that of a Harrier, and outside of seeing the US Marine Corps Harrier AV-8B Demo, there is only one other way to witness a Harrier Performance: Art Nalls.
Full Disc Aviation got to spend a few minutes with Chef Pitts (Clemens Kuhlig) at the fenceline before the Manassas airshow and he was kind enough to answer some of our questions. Chef flies a crimson and black Pitts S1S with a mustache on the cowling, his signature triple smoke trails and outside loops wowing audiences along the east coast.
Adam pulled the aircraft out and lined her up for us just as the rain started to fall, typical of Virginia in the spring. Undeterred, he climbed in the cockpit and fired her up for us. If that wasn’t enough, he asked us if he should hit the smoke. The photography tells the rest of that story.
I recognized that I was not as sharp with everything as I would like to be so I took my sweet time with my pre-flight. I even sat in the cockpit for a few extra minutes rehearsing my panel flow. Finally, after feeling a little more comfortable, it was time for the fun part to begin:
What do you think about when you think of the US Air Force? You think of the jets, the level of service, and the people that strap on their boots and throw their uniforms on every day. But what you may not think about are the men and women who wear a suit and tie, the men and women that are in the car next to you on your commute, who may very well commit to a level of service before self.
To anyone who follows the Blue Angels, there is one place that always seems to be at the top of their lists for seeing them: Naval Air Facility El Centro. Follow along with our adventure as we make our inaugural trip to the witness the greatness that is El Centro.
One of the greatest bits of wisdom I received wasn’t about settings at all. Once I understood what panning was and was comfortable with a certain shutter speed, I’d drop it again. Struggling slightly with my panning, I reached out to an incredible photographer about his technique. “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast,” he said. Like a quick-draw marksman, the smoother the motion, the faster one can safely be on target. So it is with shooting planes.
"I always wanted to fly fast and upside down. Combining speed and airplanes was the Holy Grail for me. Just after high school I spent a week recording some music with a band I was in. While sitting in our room one morning, I came across some videos of Rob Holland and Skip Stewart whipping their planes through the sky. “Dude.” Rock and roll, fast planes, extreme flying. That’s when it really hit me."
It was something I thought I would never experience, being so close to a Phantom that you could feel the exhaust from the two J79s powering each of them and that unmistakable smell of Jet A1 that so many fellow aviation photographers and fans love