Thursday, April 28, 2011

300mph Hanging Out the Backdoor...

On Sunday we ran a special section on the 50th anniversary of the C-130 at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene. So, in preparation of the section another photog and I were sent up in a C-130 on a media flight. The main reason I was going was to shoot video, yay me (that was sarcasm, in case you didn't know). So, of course there was no way I was going up there and ONLY shooting video. The cool thing about this was we were pretty much given free reign of the plane. Before take off, I got all the basics out of the way. The video interview, which I split up between shooting a minute on my video camera and the rest on my audio recorder to save camera battery (the video function on the D3s suck battery like crazy!). However, I needed something other than just a talking head. Luckily, the super cool crew that I was flying with hooked me up with a headset to listen in on the pilots' and controllers' radio chatter.
After getting some really good audio, it was off to my seat for the takeoff. I'd heard the pilot saying he was going to let us feel like it was to make a true "combat takeoff." Unlike a jet the C-130 can get full power from its engines right away allowing it to take off from much shorter runways. The C-130 only needs 1,500 feet to take off, less than 1/3 of what it takes a normal cargo plane. So, about 15 seconds after the throttle ramped up, we were in the air. Not long after that the loadmasters had us strapped in at the back of the plane and the back door was open. It wasn't long before the older model C-130H and the newer C-130J were flying up behind us in formation.
We spent about two hours flying across the Big Country banking left and right, climbing and dropping and fighting winds and a little turbulence. It wasn't too long before a couple of people pulled back and had their head in the barf bags. To me, it felt a lot like a boat in really choppy waters. It didn't really bother me much except for having a hard time holding my camera still while shooting the video clips. After I made a few nice frames of the C-130's flying past the Trent windmills I decided to go grab some video and photos from the cockpit.
As I climbed up into the flight deck I noticed my coworker with his head in the bag. I got a good laugh and got a good thumbs up pic of it. The cockpit was a little more choppy-feeling than the back, I guess it's because I was sitting down back on the ramp, in the front I was standing and trying to work my way around the pilots, who were awesome. I finished out the flight up front. The whole thing lasted about two hours and probably went a lot longer than we really needed but it went by quick.
Overall it was a lot of fun. As for the video... well, the audio I got was really good, and the video was well received, so I was happy with it. But, it still won't change my feelings on video as a whole, or the importance of it versus a strong still image. And, a big thanks to my good friend and video guru, Rebecca Ducker, for some great advice and encouragement! Here is a link to the final product: 50 Years of the Flying Hercules




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