I looked down from above the plane, and photographed it flying over the clouds

Airplane over the Hudson

I’m sure that, like me, you are fascinated by the endless photos of airplane wings posted on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. What can be more breathtaking than seeing yet another wing set against yet another cloud? It never gets old and it certainly isn’t trite! Look, for instance at this array of recent #airplanewing photos on Instagram, there’s an almost meditative quality to the repetition and lack of variety!

Airplane wings on Instagram

Living, as I do, the playboy lifestyle of the extremely wealthy, I knew I could go one better. I would charter a jet for myself and from there, photograph a commercial flight as it traveled from New York to Chicago. I would pay special attention to photographing the wings of the airplane against whatever clouds I could find. What better tribute to all those images of airplane wings on social media?

It took a whole year to prepare (including two failed trial runs) but here are the final results. At the head of this post, you can see the plane shortly after taking off from LaGuardia as it begins its trek to Chicago O’Hare. Look at the mighty Hudson River below!

Taken a short while later, you can here see it over cumulonimbus clouds above Pennsylvania. I find this image particularly awe-inspiring:

Airplane over clouds, somewhere above Pennsylvania

The reason it took a year to take these images was the sheer amount of red tape and then creativity I had to show. Obtaining permission from the federal government and the airline took months. Then I had to personally design the equipment to photograph one airplane from another. After much planning, I duct-taped a Hasselblad to the underside of an Embraer ERJ 145. I drilled a small hole in the fuselage to allow me to use the remote control from within the comfort of the cabin.

On the day of the shoot, we took off 20 minutes before the commercial flight to Chicago, which enabled us to carefully position ourselves for the best images. Here, for instance, you can see the plane flying over a break in the clouds. Which city is that below? I’m not sure, I think it might be Akron, Ohio.

Airplane over Akron

If you look closely you can see that the in-flight movie was 12 Years a Slave.

Here, shortly before its final descent, the plane is flying across the grandeur that is Lake Michigan:

Airplane over Lake Michigan

Not only were we able to capture stills, but we also took this aerial footage of the plane coming into land at Chicago O’Hare. And so ends an amazing journey!

Airplane landing, a descent through the clouds from Richard Peevers on Vimeo.

Wow! I feel that descent through the clouds is reminiscent of the opening of Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove, or Riefenstahl’s Triumph des Willens.

I can’t wait to see all your future photos of airplane wings on social media! It’s such a creative way of making the best of getting a crappy seat (squished against the window and with no view). This one’s for you, guys!

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About Richard

I am a writer who travels endlessly. Fascinated by how our lives are propelled forward by what's left behind, I thirst to know everything. I read, collect, gather, organise, list. Here are some of the things I read, see and experience. Please make yourself at home: drinks and pretzels will be served shortly. If you'd like to get in touch, I'd love to hear from you!

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