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
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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 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 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 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.  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 (41)
  • elizabetht-fel
    12/09/2015 - 02:26 p.m.

    Photography is important to the Blue Angels because they believe that it is important to get a photograph of a Blue Angels plane flight to thank and remember those fighting to protect this country and as a way to represent what it is that they do.

  • coled-fel
    12/09/2015 - 02:27 p.m.

    CTQ: Photography is important to the Blue Angels so they can capture every moment of the flight in which they're controlling.

  • garretta-fel
    12/09/2015 - 02:27 p.m.

    Photography is important to the Blue Angels because the photos show a still picture of the incredible tricks the pilots pull off.

  • ethanw-fel
    12/09/2015 - 02:27 p.m.

    Photography is important to the Blue Angels because the article says "But during photo shoots, there is a constant communication going on because I cannot move the plane and he cannot move the camera.This tells us how important it was to the Blue Angels.

  • johnj-fel
    12/09/2015 - 02:28 p.m.

    Photography is important for the Blue Angels because they feel like its important to capture memories and show people "what they are all about."

  • mattv-fel
    12/09/2015 - 02:29 p.m.

    Photography is important to the Blue Angels because it reminds them of what they do, what they're there for. Who they serve and why. It's kind of a sentimental thing.

  • travisb-fel
    12/09/2015 - 02:30 p.m.

    Photography is important to the Blue Angels because it creates everalasting memories for them and others to look back on. Also what they are doing is really cool and they might want to show off a little.

  • callans-fel
    12/09/2015 - 02:30 p.m.

    The reason why it was important to photograph the Blue Angles because they create a memories for the people and others. Many people do not get to see that and it makes a lasting memory.


    ???llamas with hats???

  • hollyk-fel
    12/09/2015 - 02:31 p.m.

    The photography is important to the Blue Angles because they want something to look back on the image because of what they do and what there all about.

  • calaabj-fel
    12/09/2015 - 02:31 p.m.

    Photography is important to the blue angles because it capture what they do and what their about.

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