A friend called Monday and asked if I wanted to go flying. Five minutes later, he called back to ask if a friend could join in his beautiful yellow Husky. I’m not one to turn that photo op down!

We met at the airport, looked at the sky, and made an impromptu decision to head east into the Chugach Mountains, just behind town.

Here’s what’s amazing about Alaska: A couple of friends get together off-the-cuff on a Monday afternoon, go out to enjoy Alaska together for a few hours, and come back with these images.

Air-to-air photography is not easy. Getting the subject plane in position in the scene, while at the same time aligning the helicopter for the shot, is exacting. You’re both flying at high speed, and if you drift up or down by a few feet, you blow the composition. It can take minutes to safely regroup in the air and get set up for the next sequence.

Air-to-air photographs also require flying in close formation. That goes against every pilot’s deeply-ingrained habits to stay away from other aircraft! In this case, the yellow Husky had to trust us while we flew in his blind spot at close range.

My fingers got so cold that, at one point, we flew over the Prince William Sound and landed, so I could warm them up. I made this image while the Husky was scouting the shoreline for a place he could safely land.

I used a wide angle lens to capture the entire landscape, so the subject plane is closer than it appears. With the door off the helicopter, it was close enough so we could actually hear his propeller slapping the air. And he could see me freezing my fingers off in the sub-freezing air rushing past me at 60-75mph at 6000 feet elevation over the glaciers.

Behind The Lens

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Bob Kaufman