Show 4, Post 2, Part 1: Tuesday and Wednesday
It’s been a while since I got back from Oshkosh. After resting, getting back into my work routine, shooting over 11,000 images during my 4 days and 5 shows at Oshkosh, It’s time to share my Airventure story with you all. If you’re a photographer who loves shooting anything aviation related, you must attend Oshkosh. Even if you went all week, you’re going miss something. There’s no way to see and do everything at Oshkosh. On that note, I have way too much to say for one post, so show 4 post 2 will be split up into 3 parts. Part 1 will be Tuesday and Wednesday, part 2 will be Thursday and Friday and part 3 will be Saturday and Sunday.
I had little to no expectations about Airventure. I know that “Expectation is a down payment for Disappointment.” Not say the whole event was going to be a letdown but I’ve found it’s better to start an adventure with a neutral mindset and accept the outcome. I knew that Airventure was big, over 10,000 aircraft and over a half million people attend during the weeklong event. Each day at Oshkosh, there is a daily airshow and each day is different. This year’s main attraction was the only two flyable B-29’s flying together, the 75th Doolittle Raid Anniversary with up to 16 B-25’s and USAF bomber flight with the B-1, B-2 and B-52. These three historic events may not happen again and not at the same event.
What I was excited about was where I was staying and who was going to be there. I’m a new member of “The International Society for Aviation Photography” (ISAP) and every year for Airventure their rent a house for members to stay. I was fortunate to get a spot and stay there from Tuesday night to Sunday morning. Staying in the house with a group of other aviation photographers during the largest aerial event of its kind in the United States, talking photography with other photographers, listening and telling about past airshows and people they met along the way, making memories with friends of old and new. Going through the daily routine with other photographers and all the unknown actives that was to come, that’s what I was looking forward to.
Was a very long day. Worked 8 hours then drove home, took a shower, packed the car and headed off to Oshkosh. Leaving from southeast Michigan, I had a 7 and half hour drive ahead. It gave me time to decompress from work and start to think about the next 5 days. Just how grand is Oshkosh? How would the other photographers in the house accept me? Who would I meet? What would I learn? What opportunities would come my way? And why is my GPS routing me through Chicago? NO! NO! NO! Holy crazy drivers! There must be some new law in Chicago that you can’t drive no more than a 1000ft in any one lane. I made it through Chicago and all the sporadic lane changing. The rest of my road trip to Oshkosh was uneventful.
I made it to the house about midnight. Larry Grace, the President of ISAP was still up talking to one of his old friends, Stacy who was leaving in the morning. Most of the others were already in bed sleep. Larry introduce me to Scott Slingsby, pilot and photographer who I was going to share living space with during my stay. After a brief but enjoyable conversation, it was off to bed. Even after the long day, I was pretty excited about what was to come in the morning and the days ahead. Tuesday night was the only night that falling asleep was a problem.
Wednesday: 1st day at Airventure Oshkosh
Woke up Wednesday morning to the sounds of the house coming alive. People making breakfast, taking showers and getting ready for the day ahead. Making my way to the kitchen, I first met Vincent Trelut, a well-traveled enthusiast photographer from France who knows his way around the kitchen. Then there was Chuck Burin, also an enthusiast photographer who is a retired Marine aviator that flew A-4’s in Vietnam. Next was Bonnie Kratz, buzzing around getting ready to head out to the field. She is currently a Professional photographer who had also worked as staff photographer for the EAA for 6 years. Larry and Scott soon made their way into the kitchen. This morning topic was the weather. All looking on our phones, watching as a thunderstorm head straight in our direction. It was not going to be an all-day wash out but there were possibilities for off and on rain all day. As we were all seasoned photographers so when it comes to rain and our gear, staying dry is top priority. One of the benefits of the house was it is very close to Wittman regional Airport where Airventure is held. Travel time from front door to parking was easily 5 minutes. Larry had business to attend to at the field and Scott went with him.
Rob Wetterholt Jr, a good friend of mine and fellow photographer was going be here Wednesday and Thursday. We were planning to meet up, catch up and shoot the show. I called Rob on my way to Wittman as the rain starts pouring down. My first thought was to just turn around and go back to the house until the rain start or clears up. While talking to Rob, he only had two days to go. Rain or shine, he was going. I figured I’d go, met up get the lay of the land today while the weather is crappy. The weather for the rest of the week was going to wonderful.
We met up at Doc, beautifully restored after 16 years. There we talk with Connie Palacioz and learned of her story of how she worked on B-29 during WWII and how she also helps on Docs restoration.
From there was made our way over to warbird alley where to our surprise there was an amazing TA-4 that was have not seen. From there, Rob wanted to head over to the vintage area but on the tram ride over Rob began to feel ill. We got off a few stops early so Rob could sit and wait for it to pass. We made our way through the crowd and stop by one of the shops to get him some water. I had a feeling he may be getting dehydrated but it was cloudy and barely 75. Plus, we been to hotter shows in the past and was able to stay hydrated. After a bottle water, he seemed to be good to go but it was short lived. Over by the arch, Rob laid in the shade under a wing of a home built and his condition worsened.
Worried about my friend, I ask him if he could make it over to the medical center and replied he didn’t think so. I then located the medical center and told them I have a friend who needs help. Two emt’s (I presume) packed up their gear on a cart and left to get Rob. After picking him up and on their way to the medical center, Rob got sick twice. A sure sign of dehydration. They were going to keep him there to rehydrate him and told him to text me when he was released. Bummed out but I know he is going to taken care.
So, I ventured off alone into the countless rows of aircraft looking for something to catch my eye. Not long into my journey, I get a call from Larry asking where I’m at and could I go to a location so he could pick me up. The USN Blue Angels were arriving soon and both him and Scott were head to one of the media tower to catch them landing. After a bit of miscommunication 😊 Him and Scott scoop me up and off to the tower. Once there, ran into Roger Cain, Director and chief photographer for” Society for Aviation History”, who I have met at plenty of airshow. Now all we need is the Blues to show up. I myself could not shoot from the tower but it was a great location to catch the Blues landing. But with the sky being crappy, I decided to switch over to shutter priory and dropped my shutter speed to 1/100th to blur the background as the Blues landed. The Blue showed up with 5 jets and two of them were “family models”, that’s what I like the call the two-seaters.
5 tries @ 1/100th, I got 3 but this is the one I like the most. And yes, Vincent it passes your “is it sharp test” LOL. (Look here) One time at the house, Vincent said a good way to tell if your image is sharp while looking at it on the back of your camera, if you can read “Blue Angels” in the banner below the Blue Angels logo on the front part of the fuselage, you know it’s sharp.
Soon after the Blues landed the Mother Nature started up again. Overcast sky and more rain does make for nice pictures, we decided to pack up go back to the house. And the chances of the night show happening were dropping alongside the rain. Which would suck cause the night show was going have the 75th Doolittle Raid Anniversary: with up to 16 B-25s to take off in rapid succession like on the deck of the USS Hornet. Along with the B-1 was going to fly in the night show as well. Truly a real treat. The Bone rarely fly at airshows more or less a night show. To get a shot of the B-1 in the lovely evening light with the afterburners glowing… would be awesome!
Back at the house, time to dump the cards and check out what we shot. Scott went outside to call his wife and after a short time he came back in and said it looks like the bad weather was clearing out. Larry opted not to go. So, Scott and I grabbed up our gear and headed back to the airfield.
Our timing could not have been any better. We parked and made it over to the double row of B-25’s parked just like there were 75 years ago on the deck of the U.S.S. Hornet before their famous raid. I managed to find a spot up front and in the middle of the two rows of Mitchells.
The sound of all those big radials so close is something I will not forget. With all the B-25’s started and taxied to the runway, Scott and I along with everybody else watching, quick moved over to the show line to watch the Mitchell take in rapid succession.
After the B-25’s finish their act and all landed, The BONE was inboard and the light and the sky was perfect. The B-1s performance was brief but well worth it. The glow of the burners, the pops vapor and the sky was amazing!
Scott then started take picture of his B-1 shot from the back of his camera with his cell phone and text them to Larry showing him what he had missed out on!
At the end of the night show, there is a fireworks display. Scott wanted to get an aircraft/firework shot and had a few aircraft picked out. After scoping out the others, Scott finally chose a Lockheed Electra to shoot with the fireworks. As I was sitting and waiting for the fireworks to start, Rob and his friend Steve walked up. After spending the afternoon in the medical center, Rob was rehydrated and feeling better. The two of them were making their way to the car and was heading out. He said with more rain coming and they did not want to get stuck in the rain after the fireworks. More rain? What? And just as the firework started, mother nature again.
So, Scott and I got “rain qualified to shoot fireworks at Airventure” and we took cover under a wing of another Electra. I did manage to get 3 images of the fireworks and an aircraft but here’s the one I’m happy with.
After the firework, we made our way back to my car. Got off the airport grounds fairly quickly. And driving back to the house, I spotted an Arby on the passenger side of the road and mine you I’m in the 2nd lane farthest from Ardy’s. Thinking a milk shake would be nice about now. I hastily asked Scott, “Have you had Arby’s Orange Cream shake?” He replied no but sounds good. By the time Scott answered, I had passed the entrance to Arby’s but with my Detroit driving rules, I managed to turn into the gas station right beside it. Thinking that the two parking lots were linked together. Wrong! There was a 4-foot strip of grass separating us from orange cream goodness. “Think I should drive over it?” I ask Scott. “Go for it.” I then proceed to “go off roading” in my Veloster. All the while the kid in the drive thru window is watching and is probably thinking “What the Hell are these jackasses doing?” Yeah! Hold that thought, we’re about to driving around to order! Milk shake in hand, back at the house, time again to dump the cards, change batteries and get ready to do it all again in the morning. Also that night, the newest house guest arrived, Peter Keller, an enthusiast photographer new to aviation photography, was welcomed to the group.
Part two of Show 4, post 2 coming soon,