Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Aerial Photography from an Air Force Tanker

The news of Boeing's new tanker contract reminds me of flying in an Air Force tanker during my US Marine Corps avionics days.  I worked on F-4 Phantom fighter jets.   This is my shot of two F-4S Phantoms flying over the Caribbean on our way back from a deployment in Puerto Rico.

Please click on image to enlarge.

I made this shot from the boom operators station in a McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) KC-10 tanker.  The Phantoms would refuel in flight every so many hours, saving them from having to land and refuel.  While flying in formation behind us, the rear Phantom suddenly did a barrel roll.  I thought it would make a great shot so I asked the boom operator, who was in constant radio contact with the Phantoms, to ask the pilot to roll again.  Not only did he roll but he stayed inverted for a few seconds, giving me time to get the shot.  It resulted in this unique image and remains a favorite in my collection of aviation photographs.

Todd a. Smith is an award-winning Washington, DC architectural photographer with offices in Alexandria, VA and Spring Lake, NJ.

Please visit Todd A. Smith Photography, LLC to see more of Todd's work.

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