|Heading out to the firing range for live fire.|
In spite of several long hops to the firing range aboard a the powerful, vibrating, platform of a Black Hawk multi-purpose helicopter that left my insides shaken like a maraca (it's a military helicopter, troops don't have to be comfortable, I guess), and the chill of being windowless for a clear view, it was of those days that reminds me just how great this job can be.
As our Black Hawk pilot flew an observation pattern keeping the camera side of the bird facing the firing range, I twisted in my five-point seat belt, trying to keep the swarming Apaches in view trying to anticipate when the combat helicopters fired their weapons at targets on the ground. Not having a headset to hear communications, this was no small task. The bottom line, be ready at any hint of smoke.
I knew from the beginning that higher-than-normal shutter speeds and shooting many extra frames formed the foundation of my plan for overcome the combination of helicopter vibration (not to mention shivering from flight temperatures at 3,000 feet) and high speed of the combat helicopters.
Even on a fun day, physical and environmental challenges demand a level of focus that leaves you exhausted but satisfied when the bird touches back down on the pad in Phoenix.
|Colorful start to operations.|
|Flying in formation over the West Valley|
|Loading the rocket pod.|
|Always wanted to take a ride in a Blackhawk helicopter.|