Air to Air with the Apache

My name is Arnoud  Schoor. I am a Combat Camera/ Aerial Photographer in duty  of the Dutch Audio Visual Department of Defence (AVDD). There are several specialisms in the AVDD, Eric Vorstenbosch and I are the only specialsts in aerial photography.

One of the most amazing things to photograph are the demo display teams of our defence. Especially for our apache Demo ” sky is the limit”. They make the most magnificent manouvres and there seem to be no bounders.  In their demo sequece they show maneouvres as;  hammerhead, looping, Split S, barrelrolls and verticals up and down. Even flying up side down looks like a peace of cake in their demo display. This team won’t except level flight pictures. Apache demoteam  expects spectaculair air to air PR images which can be used for posters, flyers, media etc. This is the greatest challenge of our work

Normally I should use a tele lens in combination with a gyro stabilizer. But in this case Eric had to make video and needed the gyro more than I did. Without a gyro and with vibrations you normally use a fast shutter speed. Unfortenately this was no option while this creates a non movement in the rotorblades. These limitations makes it a real challenge because I needed to stay real close to the object.

For flight safety reasons and a good photo result this air to air needed a good briefing before flight, with all crewmembers. For safety reasons we could not be close during the whole sequense. Whe had to made up seperate set ups. At the briefing we explain what we want to see and how we want  to achieve that. We draw positions, hights and speed on a story board.

The Alouette III helicopter is our number one choice for this kind of air2air with helicopters. This aircraft gives you the necessarily visual contact with the pilot. The wide doorway gives you a overwelming workspace. The pilot flies on th right side of the helicopter. Depending on the wind we often have to work out of the left door. In that situation the pilot can’t see the apache. At that moment we are also the eyes of the pilot while we make our images.

One of the charges they gave us was to make a picture with flare during the looping. When the apache was hanging up side down we had to capture him exactly at the right moment. We arranged that the Apache continually made his loopings while our Alouette closed in bit by bit. From a very close distance we gave a count down from three and the up side down Apache popped all his flares at once. At the images you can see the results.