I'd like to come up this weekend, please let me know which day you pick so I can commit. Block Island is pretty, but the runway is a bit short for me (Aerostar 601P). How do we work out the rules of engagement, etc.
We did a GREAT photo shoot with 5x bonanzas with 0hours FF experience last month in California, and it went very well and very safe. I used a long telephoto lens and kept everyone at a safe distance.
#1 thing which keeps happening with 1st timers and these photo shoots is - Pilot becomes overly concerned with the photograph. Gets excited. Tries to direct me/photographer with background options, different photo ideas. All happening over the radio while in the air and in formation. Very bad! Please forget about the photos completely and fly the plane. Put all your trust in the lead ship/photo plane and we will handle everything (photo + flight ops)
- Next, keep your eyes on the right wing tip of the photo plane. No need to look around for traffic or terrain etc. The lead ship is your eyes and ears looking out for Area Traffic, Talking to Center, Talking to CTAF, etc. You have 1 job: Hold altitude, fly the plane and be safe.
- The formation flight itself. How do we do this? My standard procedure with 5-6x photo ships goes like this. Ship #5 departs first, Goes to a VOR or intersection point and climbs up to say 5,000'. Holds in a Standard Right turn pattern. Ship #4 departs behind #4 and does the same 4,000', and so on and so on. Everyone is listening on our FF freq 123.45, everyone can turn off their TCAS and transponders as well. We will take care of everyone with traffic and let center know what we are doing. Photo ship/Lead/#1 departs and calls out on 123.45 "#2 drop down" #2 is flying along a VOR radial or VFR point and #1 forms up along their left side. Within 5-10mins we will be done with the photos! Very easy and will not take too long. Sometimes takes more time if we are having issues forming up, but otherwise its quick. At this point #2 can land back at home base, and wait for the group to finish and debrief with us, advised. Otherwise, Its nice to say "#2 all done. Go home!"
- Another lesson learned from California shoot: no autopilot, no staring at the panel, please! Last time we spent 15-20mins going in circles trying to form up with a great Bonanza pilot, because he was flying the panel and not looking outside.
- Also, please check my website for photo samples. Sometimes pilots are receiving their pictures and hoping for a different look or a simple photo of them smiling inside the plane. It's not really my style, so please check the kind of work on my site. pilotportraits.com/
- Debrief on the ground tomorrow. If you can stay, please do so. We can all learn from eachother after a good talk about the flight.
- Monday I will send some samples to everyone and download link with your photos.