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  • Behind the Scenes at Helicopter Big Bear

    For the Fourth of July weekend, my friend Rachel (who is a fellow photographer/filmmaker) and I decided to relax up at Big Bear Lake with a cozy little mountain cabin. Of course, there is no rest for the aviation enthusiast, though. I managed to set up a photo shoot with Helicopter Big Bear, located at the Big Bear City Airport. This company offers an assortment of scenic tours in both their helicopter and airplane. They also offer flights for photographers, which I will have to do next time!

    Photos by Rachel Marie Smith.

    Rachel took some Polaroid images of me working on the tarmac. Although most of my magic happens behind the computer, angle, lens, and light are really key to a dynamic aircraft image. I love the vintage effect on the expired film from The Impossible Project too.

    Photos by Rachel Marie Smith.

    Here are a few of the finished photographs. Other photos from this shoot will be posted into my Aviation gallery soon.

    Jennifer and the pilot, Roy, were great to work with and very accommodating. It's great to meet people as passionate and excited about aviation as I am!

    A big thank you to Helicopter Big Bear for letting me work with their beautiful helicopter and aircraft as well as Rachel for the behind the scenes photos.

  • Launching NASA's IRIS

    This past Tuesday and Thursday, I had the opportunity to witness the product of some great collaboration at Vandenberg Air Force Base. IRIS, which stands for Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, is NASA's latest mission aimed at exploring our sun.

    Left to right, top to bottom: Bryan Baldwin (Orbital Sciences), Geoffrey Yoder (NASA HQ), Alan Title (Lockheed Martin), and Dr. S. Pete Worden (NASA Ames)

    Tuesday was purely a day for the press, starting off with pre-launch briefings with some of the great people involved in the mission from NASA, Orbital Sciences, and Lockheed Martin. It was a great opportunity to really get a grasp for the importance of this mission. By far the best part of the day was getting escorted out to the runway to see Orbital Sciences' L-1011 "Stargazer" aircraft with the Pegasus XL rocket that housed IRIS. We were also able to tour the interior of the aircraft.

    The L-1011 "Stargazer" aircraft with the Pegasus XL rocket fitted beneath.

    Stargazer and Pegasus preparing for takeoff.

    After being delayed a day due to a power outage at Vandenberg, the launch resumed on Thursday. I was fortunate enough to be on the flightline for the takeoff of the F-18 chase plane and Stargazer. It was a beautiful early evening with beautiful light as the pair took off and headed out over the ocean where Pegasus was then launched.

    The L-1011 aircraft with the F-18 chase plane taxiing just before takeoff.

    The L-1011 "Stargazer" aircraft taking off at Vandenberg Air Force Base.


    You can follow the IRIS mission and view footage from the launch here.