A few years back in October of 2006 a new job came my way – aerial photography. It started up north a bit in a place called Ingham, which is fairly far up the North on the Eastern side of Australia.
The actual work itself wasn’t particularly exciting as I was commissioned to shoot houses and farms non stop, 4 angles of each for hours at a time, it was endless flying around in circles in a cramped little sardine can with wings. At first it was a bit alarming as the door on my side was removed when we flew so that I could shoot without obstruction, but an hour or two of work and you get used to it. There is also no extensive harness system like you might think to keep one strapped in, only a little lap belt, the likes of which you’d find on your regular commercial jumbo jet flight. However in truth it’s centripetal force that keeps you in the seat and after you really realise this at a body level all fear vanishes and you can enjoy the ride (or get annoyed at the cramped space – depending on the circumstance).
During the job I worked out of two very similar planes, a Piper Cherokee & a Piper Warrior.
I was encouraged to take over the control for take offs and I even got a couple cracks at landing the thing. Unfortunately every time I got a go at landing we had a pretty severe crosswind, which makes landing tricky and the real pilot had to take over the reins. But some memorable moments ensued, including hair raising aerobatics & low level flying by my crazy pilot (and occasionally myself, when my pilot was in an even crazier mood than usual and would let me run a “cattle buzz”). Then there were the visually fantastic moments, only a couple of which I was really able to come even remotely close to capturing in images.