Airspeed Contest – Shoot the Boomer

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 11.49.52 PM

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.


ICAS Convention 2012 – Tuesday Ends

My first full day of the 2012 ICAS Convention ended well.  The exhibit hall opened in the morning shortly after the jet team announcements and it was time to check out all of the new stuff for the 2013 season.

The Aerostars hosted a Redbird G1000 C-172 in their booth and I had a chance to fly around Niagara Falls, including an ill-fated attempt at a wingover abeam the falls.  With all of my airshow flying, I haven’t had the opportunity to get much instrument work in this season, so I’ve been dependent upon a Redbird unit at Solo Aviation at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport for currency.  Both this unit and the Ann Arbor installation are great units.

Franklin’s Flying Circus brought the new Dracula: The Rise of Vacul aircraft and it’s drawing a lot of attention, taking up multiple booth spaces with lots of production value.  I love the huge control surfaces and the apparently massive engine.  This one if going to be fun to watch this season.

No ICAS convention would be complete without hanging out at Le Central (the “circle bar”) with airshow pros.  I had the chance to meet Ryan Keough in person after all these years, as well as hang out with Matt Jolley, Billy and David Werth, and Liza Eckardt.  And, of course, just sit there at the bar and watch my heroes walk by like it’s ICAS or something.  I hit the hay at 0200L and I’m not firmly on Pacific Time.  This can’t bode well for my condition upon arrival Thursday morning back in Detroit.  But it’s ICAS . . .