For my birthday, Angela got us Photo Tour and Photo Pit passes for the Dayton Air Show this year. This was the first year they did this early morning tour, and it kinda showed. It wasn’t the most organized event I’ve ever attended. But, it was a chance to hit the flight line to get up close with planes you normally don’t get to, and see all the static display planes before anyone else, so we got up ridiculously early and made the drive over to Dayton Saturday morning.
The tour basically consisted of going in groups to each of the different areas and taking photos of the planes. I had hoped for an actual guided tour, with some information about the planes, maybe even a chance to chat with some of the crews, but the only information we got was that we would get in really, really big trouble if we took photos of the rear end of the F-22. Apparently, the engines are still classified. (Even the demo of the F-22 in flight, as impressive as it is, mentions that they can’t show you everything it can do. As Angela said, “I’m glad we have that and not some other country..”) As it was, they had inserted plugs into the engines, so we wind up being able to photograph it any way, we just couldn’t get too close to it.
The Photo Pit wound up being a fenced off area near the end of the runway. It was not show-center by any means, but it was pretty cool to be able to get some shots of planes as they taxied and warmed up for flight. The area came complete with folding chairs. and free bottles of water all day, which we took much advantage of, since the heat was brutal! Which brings me to another recommendation, bring the sunblock in with you. The tour starts at 7, the show ended at 4, somewhere in between, our sunblock quit working as well as it should have. (Not to mention the spots I didn’t get covered completely, and in turn baked to a bright red. OUCH!)
I did have some lens envy in the photo pit. There were some people there who obviously had, at minimum, 5-10 grand invested in their photo equipment, some much more! My little 200mm zoom just felt puny next to them. Oh well, I can’t afford to drop that much cash on a hobby!
One last lesson, when your wife tells you to go ahead and walk over to get a t-shirt now, you won’t miss anything, don’t believe her! After spending much time “admiring” the male pilots, when the one female pilot of the FA-18 Super Hornet, Page Felini, call sign Pie, strolled by the photo pit area and said hello to some of the folks, I wasn’t there. By my wife’s own admission, she put to rest forever the thought that only the male pilots are hot.
Overall, the Photo Tour and Pit were pretty cool, once. I don’t know if we’ll do it again. I don’t know what else would be worth it once you’ve had the one chance to get the photos this way.