Reading PA – At the most recent edition (27th) of the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum’s World War II Weekend (June2-4), Air Museum Network had the opportunity to attend the sunrise shoot of the vintage aircraft parked on the airport apron. This exclusive access permitted those media present to getting up close and personal of some of the rarest flying warbirds.
In the dark of the night, and like enemy troops, the clouds snuck in and took position over the Pennsylvania country side. The sound of the rain falling on the car windshield was dousing the flame of excitement and igniting the flame of rage. Of all the Saturday’s of the year, why did it have to rain on this one? Thankfully, prayers to the Air Show Gods, spoke louder than thunder. The rain subsided and peace was restored.
Air Museum Network was greeted by the MAAM Representative. The media present were given the lists of dos and a list of don’ts and the all necessary and important safety briefing. During the walk to the flight line, the flame of excitement was reignited. The rain that had dashed all hopes was actually sent by the Air Show Gods. They made sure that those present had the proper ingredients to produce the photography equivalent of a Crème brûlée. The ingredients were all lined up: Five vintage warbirds, reflection from the wet tarmac, beads of water rolling from the aircraft skins, the overcast sky and a pinch of sun for that extra kick. Now all that was needed was the chefs to put it all together.
Sitting on a silver platter were, the Commemorative Air Force’s Boeing B-29 “FIFI”, Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, Beech C-45 Expeditor “Bucket of Bolts”, Yankee Air Museum’s Douglas C-47 “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, Boeing B-17 “Yankee Lady”, all poised to be photographed with “gusto”.
It is a unique experience to get close and personal with any warbird, but to walk around and underneath these pieces of history is indescribable. Up until this past year, “FIFI” was the sole flying B-29 while the Helldiver is the lonesome dove.
Present for this shoot was a Japanese film crew. They were there to capture footage for a documentary about the B-29 and how that aircraft shaped their society of today. The photographers each went their own direction, all in hopes of capturing the aircraft in the surreal morning light. Not too many words were being spoken. An eerie silence filled the air. The quiet was only disturbed by the occasional sound of a moving vehicles or a whispery chatter between photographers. It seemed that anything above a whisper would wake the bivouacked reenactors (representing allied and axis force of the war).
The MAAM World War II Weekend is a gathering of warbirds and reenactors. Living Veterans of the war are on hand to tell their story. Being there and knowing this, gave the necessary context to shoot these aircraft on this damp and overcast morning. It is impossible to walk under a Flying Fortress and not think about the thousands of young men that would risk their lives on missions over Europe or the Superfortress over the Pacific. It was humbling to say the least.
It is through initiatives like this one, organized by the Mid Atlantic Air Museum, that history comes alive. It is where young learn from the old and the experiences of those who were there do not become ghosts of the past. For it is because of them, that Air Museum Network had the opportunity to be on that tarmac. It is with great honor that Air Museum Network dedicates this body of work to the Greatest Generation.
Special Thanks to the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum and Clarence Carvell for allowing us to be present at this event.
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