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.  He has logged more than 300 landings on aircraft carriers.  And he has 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.  Siren captured an iconic image.  It was of the blue and yellow jets streaking past the 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 is an accomplished combat photographer.  He 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.  They are assigned for three-year stints.  Their job is 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.  That is 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.  The pilots and photographers can experience 7.5 times normal gravity.  It can be experienced 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. Those 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 are sometimes just inches apart. They require careful control of the flight stick.  The suit bladders could interfere with that. The photographers also fly without G-suits.  They must learn breathing techniques.  And, they must 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.  She is another team photographer.
 
The Thunderbirds are the Air Force's aerial demonstration team.  The Thunderbirds 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 (36)
  • adamp-3-bar
    11/20/2015 - 03:07 a.m.

    Photography is important to Blue Angels because the blue Angels flying is something very iconic and they want to remember that. "I will always look back at that image. It captures what we do, what we are about," Chamberlain said. Chamberlain is a navy photographer and this quote proves they want to remember these events because they are very iconic. The photographers probably also have a lot of fun taking pictures. "You have a viewpoint that no other photographer is going to have," said Perez, a navy photographer. This quote makes it seem very fun to take pictures of Blue Angels. I think this is a cool article. I wish that I could go in one of those planes. These photographers make it seem very fun.

  • jacobd-ver
    11/20/2015 - 02:56 p.m.

    I think this is cool because the jets look seem like they can go really fast. I also think it is cool because i have seen the inside of a thunder bird. The Thunderbird are used by the air force.

  • calebr-ewy
    11/20/2015 - 03:43 p.m.

    I would be thrilled to do some thing like that.It would seem fun.

  • elenag-ver
    11/23/2015 - 10:17 a.m.

    Photography is important to the blue angles because the pictures represent them for what they do. People respect them because the blue angles were used in war, and people look back at them because the people who flew those jets wanted to protect our country and they did. The thunderbirds are the Air Force's aerial demonstration team. The thunderbirds have a similar program for Air Force photographers to fly with the team.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    11/23/2015 - 04:12 p.m.

    I think that this is cool because the Blue Angels are going to be taken photos by photographers that they are going to be get taken photos by photographers. The photographers might have been an air combat photographers that they are going to take photos of the combat planes doing flight spins or other stuffs. The Blue Angels might have been doing a lot of things during the three year stint because a all of the combat photographers are going to be needed to be analyzing the flight spins or something else that the person in the combat plane can do.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    11/23/2015 - 04:23 p.m.

    I think this is cool because I never knew that you could take photos while flying at 700 miles per hour in the air. It must be pretty thrilling and scary. It must also be hard because a 10 pound camera can weigh 75 pounds while flying. I wonder what kind of pictures the Blue Angels produce.
    Why is photography important to the Blue Angels?
    Answer: Photography is important to the Blue Angels because it captures their memories.

  • annabel1226-yyca
    11/23/2015 - 07:20 p.m.

    Wow, it will be a great view if you are in the jet and looking outside. It must be a very nice picture that the photographers took. I think this is cool because the jets look seem like they can go really fast. I think the photographers took the picture with a special camera. I think they took a picture with a special camera because in the article the titles were special photographers. I hope that one day I would ride a jet. I also hope that I would be in a picture riding in a jet.

  • william1108-yyca
    11/23/2015 - 08:50 p.m.

    WOW!

  • william1108-yyca
    11/23/2015 - 08:52 p.m.

    WOW! I am surprised that they have no gear to go with. I am sure that I don't want to fly jets because I might throw up. Maybe I will do it to find out if I do throw up. But A back seat person throwing up. I thought that there was only one person. Ad also one seat per jet. But guess not. There is more than one. Maybe there is also more that two. Maybe I will think about if I want to fly a jet or not.

  • ryans-5-ver
    11/24/2015 - 02:49 p.m.

    This article is really neat. I wonder if I would be a good blue angle.

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