Airspeed Contest – Shoot the Boomer

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Here’s a contest for all of you long-lens types.  You know who you are. You’re there in the photo pit at the airshow with a Howitzer-sized lens, shooting pictures of the airplanes and shouting “Vapes! Nice Vapes!”

Long ago, I heard from my friend Liza Eckardt of Fence Check about a strange and wonderful custom:  The “watch pass.”  Airshow pilots, and particularly Navy demo aviators would hold up their left fists on a right-to-left banana pass in front of the crowd so that their watches were visible through the canopy. The long-lensers would try to get a picture that showed the time on the pilot’s watch.  Naval aviators are known for wearing particularly large watches, but this is still a challenge.  Mark Sorenson of Tiger Airshows did this a few times and some of the pictures that resulted were pretty good.

Knowing Phil “Mongrel” Landram and other current and former boom operators as well as I do, I realized that they don’t get the love that the fighter drivers do.  And some of them even have heads bigger than a Naval aviator’s watch.  So I came up with a little contest.

The first photographer to send in a recognizable picture of a boom operator’s face gets USD 100 of Airspeed’s cash.  Here are the rules.

  • The picture must be shot during the 2015 airshow season (through November 30, 2015).
  • The picture must be shot at a US airshow during the practice or an airshow performance.
  • The show site must have FAA-approved box dimensions.  No special mil boxes.  The usual crowd standoff has to be in place and you have to be on the crowd area.
  • The boom operator must be at the boom position of a KC-135 and the view of the boomer must be through the boom operator’s window.
  • The aircraft must be in flight with the boom deployed.
  • The picture must have been shot from the ground and from the crowd line (photo pit okay, but shots from the pyro position or otherwise on the box side of the crowd line are not eligible).
  • The picture must show the recognizable face of the boom operator.
  • The winner must be eligible to receive the prize money in his/her country of residence (no remittances to Yemen, please).
  • Cropping and processing are okay, but only to isolate the boom operator’s face and/or bring out detail.  You can’t add detail.
  • You cant do unsafe things to get the shot.
  • You can’t break any law, FAA waiver restriction, or other rule in getting the shot.
  • This is supposed to be fun.  Don’t make it not fun.
  • Wheaton’s Law applies.

Airspeed’s editorial staff is the final judge of the qualification of the picture and the photographer and any construction of the rules.  We are horribly arbitrary and capricious, so be forewarned.  Contact us at with your picture.  You can attach it or send a link to where we can see the picture.  By entering, you give your permission to publish the winning shot and to identify you as the photographer.

Thanks to Kevin Hauswirth for the KC-135 image above to get everyone’s creative juices flowing.


Win Capt Force’s iPro Aviator

Hey!  look!  A contest!  I’ve done very few of these, but it’s time to do one now.

Want to win my iPro aviator from For Pilots Only?

The best original aviation limerick takes it! Write and submit yours between now and 8:00 pm US ET on 19 October 2012 as a comment to this post or e-mail it to me at  Note that comments to this post are moderated, so your limerick might not show up immediately.

Stay on topic. Rhyme and rhythm matter.  See the Wikipedia entry  for proper form.  Saltiness is fine (and is, arguably, an essential element of the limerick form). Disparagement of race, gender, sexual preference, etc. will get you the boot.

Multiple entries are fine.  Write all you want.

You’ll continue to own your rights in the limerick, but submission constitutes a license for Airspeed to use your limerick in future Airspeed media of any and all kinds and to attribute it to you.  You represent and warrant that your submitted limerick is your own work and that you have all rights in it necessary to grant the above license.

Steve is the sole judge and his decisions are final.

For what are you exerting your considerable poetic talents?  One iPro Aviator kneeboard (for iPad 2 or 3) from For Pilots Only.  The iPro Aviator is a well-made assembly of plastic, rubber, elastic, and metal that come together beautifully to turn your iPad into a kneeboard.  And, because there’s a flip-up panel that can cover the lower 2/3 or so of the screen, you’re not giving up your old-school notepad when you strap on the iPro Aviator.

If you fly straight and level all the time and/or don’t mind fishing around for your iPad on the floor or between your seats while your nose comes up and your airspeed decays, by all means just lay your iPad on your lap.  But, if you’re serious about cockpit resource management and having your information right there when you look for it, the iPro Aviator is a great way to secure your iPad for use in your aircraft.

The iPro Aviator and other promotional consideration was generously provided by For Pilots Only.

Ready . . . Go!

Making Good on a Deal – Audio Episode Show Notes

These are the show notes to an audio episode. You can listen to the show audio by clicking here:  Better yet, subscribe to Airspeed through iTunes or your other favorite podcatcher. It’s all free!

As many of you know, I recently flew my first aerobatic competition, placing second in the Primary category at the IAC Michigan Aerobatic Open in Jackson, Michigan 9-10 July 2011.  I kept a diary of the experience and turned it into an episode.  You can hear the audio by clicking the link above and you can check out the actual diary text and images at the links below.

Sunday 3 July 2011:  The Deal
Thursday 7 July 2011:  Setting Up the Box
Thursday 7 July 2011: I Suck!
Saturday 9 July 2011: Flying Aerobatics in Anger
Sunday 10 July 2011: Making Good on a Deal

For those interested, the Jackson contest will be 7-8 July 2012 at Jackson County Reynolds Field.  Organizers in the host city have some great ideas about organizing events around the contest to turn it into a destination attraction.  Head to IAC Chapter 88′s website for additional details as they become available.

In the meantime, if you’ve never flown aerobatics, now might be a good time to think about starting.  You have plenty of time to consider your options, head to a few local IAC chapter meetings, find an instructor and an aircraft, and go get upside down.  Though I’ve been flying acro on and off since 2008, I didn’t get serious about it until this year.  And I flew my first contest after less than two hours of flying the Pitts aerobatically.  This is a doable thing.

And there’s an amazingly supportive group of people that does this.  You know how pilots are such a reliably stalwart, competent, and friendly group?  Aerobatic pilots are even more so.  You’re going to love flying acro and love competing even more.