Writing summaries of seasons, every time I mention how much happened in a given year and that it will be hard to repeat. However, each time, the next season turns out to be better than the previous one. This time I really cannot imagine that I can get closer to the level of my photo-activity that took place in 2017. It was a real madness, because in addition to traditional entrances to airbases, in addition to traditional Nikon Academy workshops and in addition to traditional attending air shows, a whole large branch of air-to-air photography with two large projects connected with it has come. One was the powerful project of the General Command of the Polish Armed Forces to photograph our military aircraft on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Polish military aviation, and the other my original Air-to-Air Meeting project, designed to photograph civil aircraft.
My photographic year 2017 began in February with a great trip with my girls to the mystical Fuerteventura. There, I warmed up my camera, my senses and emotions before the approaching aviaphoto events. It was brilliant! For those who are interested in this amazing island, I have created a small guide.
March 14-15, Krzesiny. In mid-March, I conducted aviation photography classes as part of the Nikon Academy in Krzesiny. This was my first aviation shooting in 2017. The weather and air attractions were great. In addition to takeoffs, landings and passes, we even photographed the F-16 Tiger Demo Team Poland display, which can be said to have happened as if specially for us!
May 12, Piotrków Trybunalski. That day the first ATAM (Air-to-Air Meeting) took place. It was a very important event for me. Who knows if not one of the most important in my life! Preparations for ATAM and its course have been widely described and illustrated with photographs and films in THIS Text. Summing up in a few words? Everything worked out beautifully. It was one of those events on which so many people did something for the first time, and after it ended, it received effects that repeatedly exceeded expectations. After completing the activities at the Aeroclub in Piotrków Trybunalski (and it was already very late evening), we got into the car with Ewa and drove to the 22nd Base in Malbork.
May 13, Malbork. That day I had an appointment with the White and Red Sparks Aerobatic Team for a small photo session related to their flights to air show in Iława. I had the pleasure of photographing their arrival at the airport, spectacular start for shows and return with taxiing. In the meantime Rafał "Pinek" Pinkowski - pilot of the MiG-29 aircraft from the Fulcrum Drivers Demo Team also started to Iława. The weather was good and it was beautiful day. We finished that day, and in fact the entire winning weekend, celebrating with exquisite dinner at the restaurant of Chef Gałązka in Malbork Castle and a beautiful Sunday in the dunes in Łeba.
May 15-17, Świdwin. The next day I was already in Świdwin, where the first session of the project for the centenary of the Polish military aviation with four Su-22s and with the W-3 Sokół helicopters from the Świdwin was to take place. Unfortunately, the session with Fitters did not come to fruition and I was left to spend the first day shooting from the ground (at the base). But the session with W-3s was beautiful. We flew over the areas of Świdwin, bathed in a May-spring atmosphere.
May 30-31, Mińsk Mazowiecki. Two weeks later I was in Mińsk Mazowiecki at the next edition of the Nikon Academy workshop. Once again, the weather was good and not only the weather, as also the attractions of the air were honorable on the occasion of the exercises taking place during this time. After saying goodbye to the participants of the workshops and after taking group photos of the airmen after the completed exercises, the time has come for the next air-to-air session for the centenary of our air force. This time with the W-3 helis from Mińsk Mazowiecki, but with the presence of Mi-24 helicopters and MiG-29 aircraft! We did the so-called CSAR (Combat Search and Rescue). The session was very interesting, with landing on the training ground and with the evacuation of the pilot. For the first time I took pictures of helicopters and MiG-29 planes flying by, much faster. A view of MiG passing by, or a second W-3 passing just below us, while we were sitting in the door of the helicopter - priceless!
June 9, Powidz. Thanks to the invitation of the American Embassy, I took part in the KC-135 tanker's flight. The main purpose of the flight was to photograph a powerful air parade, which was the culmination of the BALTOPS 2017 exercise and the refueling of German Eurofighters. It was probably my most dramatic event this year. Dramatic because of the totally extreme experiences. On the one hand, a brilliant view of the participants of the parade, which included, among others, B-1B and B-52 bombers, and on the other hand the inability to photograph the scene that works next to the second B-1B, around which the Russian Su-27 was flying! Unfortunately, I did not know that such things happen within the reach of my lenses. Even if I knew, I would not be able to shoot anyway, because the boomer window was full of photographic equipment of my American companions. I realized what was happening only when Flanker flew away threateningly presenting his hangings. Be in such a place, right next to such scenes and do not take a pictures!? Probably the second time I will not have such a chance :( The prohibition of shooting Eurofighters, released by loadmaster only filled up with the bitterness of this aviaphoto paradise. To be unable to reach dreams that are literally at your fingertips because of one such decision. Fortunately, I shot a few photos through the window going from the boomer :) Although so much.
19-21 June, Malbork. 10 days later I went to Malbork, where in the next three days there were three sessions on the occasion of the centennial of aviation. For the first fire went two Malbork’s MiG-29s, which like no other planes, beautifully presented over the castle in Malbork and during the session with the setting sun. The flight was completed with afterburners turned on. It was already dark and the pictures are not of good quality due to the high ISO number, but what the eye saw will stay in the memory for a long time. Awesome impressions! On June 20, we moved to Siemirowice, from where we made a flight along the coast from the lighthouse in Stilo, to Hel itself and back with a hitch about Babie Doły. Models were three M28 Bryza planes. It was brilliant to watch all known beaches and known places in the area of Jastrzębia Góra. The next day we had a session with MiG-29 and F-16 aircraft. Posing began with the Fulcrum, to which the Viper joined over the coast. Beautiful weather and a great light gave us the chance to enjoy unbelievable views. I did not know that the Bay of Puck with its shallows and sandy bottom, properly lighted and seen from above looks so amazing. It was one of the most picturesque session in 2017. The view of the Hel Peninsula from the edge of the CASA ramp at a height of 2 kilometers made a great impression on me. When we add such brilliantly posing aircraft for us, it's really hard to imagine something better for such an aviation freak like me :)
1-2 July, Piotrków Trybunalski. 9 days later I went again to Piotrków Trybunalski, where the Fly Fest air show was held. Thanks to the hospitality and kindness of the Aeroclub in Piotrków Trybunalski, "hesja’s highs" even received their tent, in which we had a base. The plan was to perform ATAM No. 2 during the airshow. As part of the meeting, we were to photograph Artur Kielak, Jacob Hollander from Scandinavian Airshow and Paweł Czajka piloting the MiG-29 plane! Unfortunately, Jacob did not make it because of the bad weather, and MiG-29, despite many days of dealing at all possible levels, turned out to be not for us. To make matters worse, the pilots involved in air shows could not deal with anything else during their air show time. Fortunately, we can not complain about the lack of willing to pose behind the ATAM’s Skyvan ramp and during the shows we got along with Mateusz Strama and the pilots of the "Cellfast" group that they would like to take part in the session. We did our only air-to-air flight after the show was over and unfortunately the best light was not at that time. Only Mateusz used a momentary glimpse of the sun, which softly poured the warm light on his beautiful Boeing Stearman. Artur Kielak flew as the second. Master! As the only member of this squad who already had experience behind the ramp, he really posed us great. Unfortunately, the “Cellfast” group composed of Mieczysław Machnik, Arkadiusz Nowak and Daniel Dębosz, although they flew really very nice, had the worst light, and in fact its total lack. We have gained experience which, according to the agreement, we will use next year.
July 3, Krakow. Straight from Piotrków I went to Krakow from where we took off to the next session as part of the anniversary. This time we photographed two CASA C-295 flying in the third one, which is why we created an interesting looking formation from the ground. The flight took place over the beautiful Bieszczady Mountains. Immediately before my eyes all memories of my Bieszczady wandering in my youth stood. The view of the Solina dam and in general the whole of Solina, Polańczyk and other Bieszczady attractions made a very nice impression on me. During the tour, we also photographed over the airfield in Krosno and near the Castles in Niedzica and Czorsztyn.
July 5, Powidz. Another session for the century. This time we took off from the airport in Powidz. Behind our ramp the majestic C-130 Hercules posed. It is an incredible impression to have such a powerful construction just before the camera lenses, and in the background a wonderful Wielkopolska with Biskupin, Lake Gopło, Kruszwica in the main roles, bathed in a warm afternoon-evening light.
July 11-13, Krakow. A week later, a visit to Krakow again. Three days this time. As part of the session for the century, we were flying from Krakow to the north of Poland. On the first day we took pictures of the beautifully hung pair of Su-22 aircraft, and two days later we had two sessions on one day. First with the four Su-22 planes above my favorite coast near Kołobrzeg and a second one with a tiger F-16, which was supposed to pose together with the other tiger – Su-22, but it so happened that he flew alone. A brilliant flight over the clouds in the company of the setting sun was a real fairy tale!
July 14-16, Fairford. At night, return from Krakow to sit in the plane at dawn. This time in airliner. The direction - UK and ... Air Tattoo. Unfortunately, the weather was not very photographic this year. We did not take a lot of pictures, but you do not have to take a lot of photos to be happy with the trip. Just a few special ones. It was during the RIAT that I did probably one of my best pictures of 2017 - during the pass of a B-2 bomber with two F-15 fighters.
18-23 July, Moscow. I came back from Air Tattoo on Sunday and go to Moscow on Monday to take part in the International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS. This edition was unique, because no one was allowed to go on the other side of the airport. It was difficult to get to our favorite places, and then take pictures so nobody would see us. In total, we managed to do it every day for three days in a row. The other days we decided to spend at the airfield area. One day at the public area and the other on the photo platform. It was a great vacation with friends and a powerful Russian aviation!
30 July, Piotrków Trybunalski. Another big event - ATAM number 3! This time with the Red Bull team. It was very important to me, because I knew that worldwide known pilots Lukasz Czepiela and Dario Costa would pose in front of our lenses. In addition, they had to accompany them Marysia Muś, who is flying helicopter! The most important and the most difficult was to plan this session well. It was not easy due to differences in flight characteristics of individual machines of our unique formation. It was necessary to emphasize and show the great maneuverability of Red Bull airplanes and incorporate the accompanying helicopter. Everything to photograph with long times of exposition and with safety rules. Again, however, everything went well. A great team, great weather, great flying, great views over the Sulejów Reservoir. We were all shocked watching the effects of our activities. Satisfaction of the pilots was the biggest award for us.
August 25-27, Radom. I went to Radom Air Show, even though I expected that this year's edition will not be as attractive as it usually was in Radom. I was strongly tempted to go to SIAF in Slovakia. However, how do not go to Radom? In the end, it's our flagship show! Additional attractions were of course our SPFL CAMP and a pack of friends, not only from our association. In total, the air show itself was also quite interesting. We photographed everything from Skaryszewska street.
8-10 September, Sanicole. The beginning of September is a three-day trip to Belgium for three attractive events. On Friday, the traditional Sanicole Sunset Air Show took place, which turned out to be more like Rain Air Show due to heavy rainfall. On Saturday we visited the Kleine-Brogel base in which Spotter's Day was held, and on Sunday we had an air-to-air session with Aviation PhotoCrew. After a rainy Friday, which in principle we spent the whole time in the hangar, playing best with our Dutch friends, Saturday was quite pretty and interesting so that on Sunday it was simply brilliant. Especially since it was another day spent on the ramp. We made five flights during which we were posed by a whole series of interesting machines including our MiG-29 from 22nd AFB in Malbork.
September 11, Dęblin. After a day of flying and shooting, we came back from Belgium at night, which was a total hardcore in the subject of fatigue. However, coming to Warsaw did not mean the time for rest! After arriving in the morning, I just switched to my car and went on my way to Dęblin for the next two air-to-air sessions as part of the celebrations of the centennial of aviation. We started with four SW-4 Puszczyk helicopters. Bartek took pictures of the entire formation from the Mi-2 helicopter, and we sat in "our" SW-4 and took pictures from inside the formation. I had a place in the helicopter number 4, which unfortunately in the middle of the session over Kazimierz Dolny has failed and we had to return to the base in Dęblin. Waiting for the boys, I finally managed to close the eye in the car for 2 hours and then sit back on the ramp in the afternoon. This time for a session with our White and Red Sparks aerobatic team. It looked great, especially over the beautiful Kazimierz Dolny and Vistula near Sandomierz.
PICTURES WILL COME SOON :)
September 16, Ostrava. Next show in the Czech Ostrava and, unfortunately, another in the rain. To the extent that on Sunday nothing was flying at all. This, of course, did not prevent us from having fun in the already cult place we usually have.
October 3-4, Krzesiny. Next classes in the Nikon Academy. This time at Krzesiny. Everything was played beautifully and the weather and aerial attractions. In addition, I had a great team. As usual, the weather in Krzesiny was great and sat down at the end of class :)
October 18, Świdwin. A week later, I went with my friends from our Association to Świdwin. Unfortunately, I had some problems with the photo equipment, which is why I took pictures at a wider angle. Despite everything, the photo-hunting was successful. Finally, a normal shooting in the base without a clip of responsibility, which I usually have during the classes at the Academy.
At the time, we planned quite specifically a trip for airshow in the United States in Nellis (Las Vegas). Purchased tickets, reserved hotels and ... there is a message from the Command that the remaining three sessions for the centenary of Polish military aviation are to take place in and around our expedition. ORLIK before the excursion, so ok, but the tiger Su-22 and F-16 on November 8, so two days after the planned departure! What should I do? Fly according to plan to the US for a tour with the Los Angeles, or pay a lot of cash to rebook the tickets and join them only for the shows in Nellis? After two sleepless nights, however, I decided to rebook tickets. Los Angeles will stay there next year as well but such air-to-air session may not be repeated for a long time, if ever. Somehow, the money will come back someday. Unfortunately, the session with Gulfstream was completely out of reach, because I would have to give up the departure to the US. After these decisions, I only dreamed of no one, nothing changed and the weather allowed flights.
November 3, Radom. Session with the Orlik Aerobatic Team. The weather on the ground was hopeless, but it was wonderful over the clouds. Finally, there was a lot of light and you did not have to fight with high ISO numbers. On board, apart from our crew, we also hosted two other TV crews (TVP and TVN), which assembled interesting materials, later released in the air.
November 8, Krakow. Now it was only to look forward to the session with "tigers". I was afraid to answer the phone, not to hear that the session is shifted, for example, by one day, which would break my whole plan. The only "bad" information was only the fact that instead of the tiger Su-22 No. 707 in our session will fly Su-22 with number 305 called "Black Boar". We took off from Krakow for the session. Then landing in Świdwin, check-in, preparation for the flight and only when I was on the ramp I noticed that our CASA did not have these side shields, and I had a place just to the side. In addition, we had to fly at very high speed. Madness began already when the ramp opened. I quickly realized that it would not be possible to sit on the edge and we all withdrew as much as we could, although this maneuver did not shield me from the powerful forces my shoulder and back were affected by air movement at a speed of about 410-430 km/h! Meanwhile, our models appeared behind the ramp. It was the most hardcore shooting in my life. I felt as if someone with a powerful force constantly tugged my arm, leg, kicked my back and pushed my head. The rush of air wrenched the camera from the hands, twirled the camera's wheels and changed the focal length of the lens. All this, however, was not important compared to this beautiful dance, which our two models performed just behind our speeding CASA. The photos were really good. The more value they have for me when I consider the conditions in which they were made.
November 10, Death Valley. After our CASA landing in Krakow, I go immediately to the car and took direction - Warsaw. Suitcase from the apartment and without sleep straight to the airport, where I was already at 4 am. Rest came during the flight to Paris, and later to Los Angeles, from where my cheerful crew picked me up. From Los Angeles by car to Las Vegas, to go to Death Valley the next morning to hunt for possible flights in Rainbow Canyon. Of course, we did not have any information whether or not something would come. We had one flight and that was F-16 from Thunderbirds! The main benefit of this day, however, was the fact that we got to know the area well and now we know exactly where to set next time. Views in the Death Valley - brilliant!
November 11, Las Vegas. Last air show in the year welcomed us with beautiful weather and an incredible amount of aviation actions. The whole number of attractions, amazing flights and ... it would be perfect if not for the fact that for some of the displays I kicked the camera settings. Surely put down tiredness could be a sign. Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to make up for my mistakes, because the next day over Las Vegas came the clouds and the weather was not as good as on Saturday. That's how it happens sometimes. You can not take all the pictures and the more you want to come to the place again. After all, the shows were great and with a nice accent from the commentator who greeted "Photographers from Poland" on Sunday before the entire show crowd.
November 18, Smardzewice. Where and with whom is it best to sum up the season? Of course, during the SPFL AIR-ACTION Meet in the group of friends from the association!
Now, when writing this summary, I look at the intervals between the events. When I add a few trips to the sea, a trip with my friends to the lake, all the fuss resulting from buying a car, some big family events, I can not believe that I actually managed to get it all together! After all, there were exactly 31 air-to-air flights! That's why, as I mentioned at the outset, my photographic activity in 2017 is an unbeatable achievement for me.
I would like to once again thank very much to everyone who invited me to various activities. All those who organized sessions or helped me organize them. All thanks to which I managed to find so much time for it all. In the end, everyone with whom I photographed and had a great time! I have not done the whole material yet, but I already know that it was a brilliant year!
Thank You! :)