Special photographers capture images of special flights The Blue Angels perform over Boston, MA. An elite group of Navy and Marine photographers are selected each year to travel the world with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team. (Terrence Siren/U.S. Navy via AP)
Special photographers capture images of special flights
Lexile

Fighter jet pilot Ryan Chamberlain has flown in war zones, logged more than 300 landings on aircraft carriers and thrilled millions since 2013 with breathtaking maneuvers as part of the Navy's elite Blue Angels demonstration squadron.
 
But Lt. Chamberlain says his career's most memorable moment came after he took detailed instructions from the petty officer riding in the backseat of his F-18 Hornet.
 
Chamberlain and Navy photographer Terrence Siren flew over New York City with the Blue Angels in 2013, and Siren captured an iconic image of the blue and yellow jets streaking past One World Trade Center tower.
 
"I will always look back at that image. It captures what we do, what we are about," Chamberlain said.
 
Siren, an accomplished combat photographer, will finish his tour of duty with the team in November. The New Orleans native is one of five photographers, all petty officers, assigned to the Blue Angels for three-year stints to capture images of the six-fighter jet team.
 
Siren said it took time for him to feel confident enough to make suggestions to the world's best pilots, despite having been a photographer for the Navy Seals and making various tours as a combat photographer.
 
"At first, I was thinking 'There is another plane 6 inches from my head. I'm not going to talk to this guy,'" he said. "But during photo shoots, there is a constant communication going on because I cannot move the plane and he cannot move the camera."
 
During demonstrations, the team reaches speeds of 700 mph, and the pilots and photographers can experience 7.5 times normal gravity during spins, turns and other maneuvers. The g-forces make a 10-pound camera feel like 75 pounds.
 
Blue Angels do not wear G-suits, which are designed to keep someone from passing out by pushing the blood toward the head using inflatable bladders in the legs. The team's tight formations, sometimes just inches apart, require careful control of the flight stick and the suit bladders could interfere with that. The photographers also fly without G-suits and must learn breathing techniques and stay physically fit to avoid passing out.
 
"It is like trying to take photographs while riding a roller coaster - a roller coaster on steroids," said Katy Holm of Naples, Florida, another team photographer.
 
The Thunderbirds, the Air Force's aerial demonstration team, have a similar program for Air Force photographers to fly with the team. Based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, the team flies six F-16Cs and two F-16Ds. The location of the flight stick does allow Thunderbird pilots and photographers to wear G-suits.
 
Navy photographer Andrea Perez of Inner Grove Heights, Minnesota, has passed out and thrown up while riding in the back of the Blue Angels' jets.
 
"It helps to be focused on the lens and not worried about what is going on outside - whether the ground is above your head or whether you are spinning in circles," she said.
 
After a ride in the jet, Perez said she feels drained. But the exertion is worth it when she reviews her photographs of the team flying wingtip to wingtip in tight formations.
 
"You have a viewpoint that no other photographer is going to have," she said. "It's pretty amazing."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is photography important to the Blue Angels?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (27)
  • victoriaz-bou
    11/30/2015 - 12:38 p.m.

    It helps to focus more on the lens and less about what's going on outside.

  • kianad-bou
    11/30/2015 - 12:46 p.m.

    Photography is important to the Blue Angels because it shows what they do and what they are about.

  • loganr-bou
    11/30/2015 - 12:46 p.m.

    There are several reasons why photography can be important to the Blue Angels. One reason, is to document shows and other flights in military records. Another reason is that the press may need these photos in order to share the right info with the public.

  • vedanta-bou
    11/30/2015 - 12:46 p.m.

    Photography is important to The Blue Angels because it helps them capture important memories such as when Lt. Chamberlain took commands concerning taking a photo of the jets past the One World Trade Center. These photos also help remind them of these exciting memories.

    • aidanc2-sch
      12/10/2015 - 11:16 a.m.

      I agree with your comment great job I think that its important for those reasons also

  • taylorl1-bou
    11/30/2015 - 12:48 p.m.

    Photography is important to the Blue Angels because the pictures captures what they do and what they are about.

  • juliaj-bou
    11/30/2015 - 12:48 p.m.

    Fighter jet pilot Ryan Chamberlain says that through photography he's able to look back at his accomplishments and experiences being a Blue Angel. He feels that pictures capture exactly what he does, why he does it, and what all of the Blue Angels stand for.

  • carolinam-bou
    11/30/2015 - 12:49 p.m.

    Photography is important to the Blue Angels because they like to look back at the pictures because it captures what they do and what they are all about.

  • maggiem-bou
    11/30/2015 - 12:51 p.m.

    Photography is important to the Blue Angels, because it 'captures what we do, what we are about'.

  • victoriad-bou
    11/30/2015 - 12:52 p.m.

    Photography is important to the Blue Angels because they do dangerous stunts and they want to be able to show the public how difficult it is to fly their planes. They want to share the indescribable experiences of their flights through photographs.

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