Something’s wrong with this picture

Posted: December 23, 2010 in Older posts, Shoots in short

Glen Dell. Cool, calm and collected

So there we were, 5000 ft above the Atlantic Seaboard, the door of the aircraft open, a fresh breeze cooling us down. And right next to us, a mere 10 ft away, was another aircraft. Upside down. Something’s wrong with this picture.

To make matters worse, the photographer and pilot, Anthony Allen, is not steering our aircraft. Guess who’s gone white knuckle around the yoke!

The shoot was an air-to-air job for Red Bull and BP, photographing their new Extra 330 acrobatic planes against the backdrop of Table Mountain and the Atlantic Seaboard. Anthony, an aerial photographer and long-time fellow paraglider, invited me along “to just help him look out for other aircraft” while he was shooting.

Aerial photographer Anthony Allen

I was happy to oblige, because I could drag my video equipment along for hopefully some rare air-to-air footage as well.

Taking off from Cape Town International, the air was really bumpy thanks to a brisk southeaster causing all kinds of mischief downwind of the Table Mountain massif, but fortunately, I was not flying the aircraft through the turbulence. Yet.

Above 5000 ft the air went silky-smooth, though, and allowed us to cosy up to Red Bull race pilot Glen Dell, a master at the helm, who at one stage flew no more than 5 ft away from us! My job was to keep one eye on the skies for other aircraft, and the other on Glen, in case he touched our Cessna 172. I’m still squinty-eyed as a result.

The next afternoon we were back, operating in the same area to shoot the BP aircraft. Again, thanks to some really professional piloting (not mine), the shoot again went off like clockwork with Glen pulling some spectacular aerial moves right next to us, a priviliged grandstand seat.

With 330 HP in a 650kg aircraft, he could literally stall and almost hover the aircraft at full power right next to our much slower plane. I managed to shoot some video with my EX1 running all the time, pointing out the open door behind our seats.

For the record, Anthony shot these images on a Canon EOS1MKIIIs, using an 80-300 IS f3.5 lens, shooting on shutter priority at around 200/f5.6-11 to help freeze the action.

  1. Mo Haarhoff says:

    Takes me back to the days when Herman Potgieter was a master of aerial photography.

  2. Kathy Waddington says:

    Stunning stuff! Green with envy …

  3. Keith says:

    What an awesome experience! great pics!
    Makes me think the early morning Harvard patrol from Grand Central will be worthwhile!!!

  4. frenske says:

    I have always loved flying in small planes, done loops and pulled stalls 9000ft above jhburg sacrobatics and all,but this takes the cake.It must have been one heck of an experience, and sure you have great footage. Thx for posting /sharing, Jaco
    PS happy holidays to you and the family

  5. frenske says:

    flip (excuse the pun, unintended!) but the video footage is scary awesome!

  6. Chris Szabo says:

    Hey, really lekker shotz!! Nice to see Glen at it, I can’t ever get tired of him!

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