The plane is my tripod, and it is a moving tripod
January 3, 2018 8:54 AM   Subscribe

 
Madrigal: It’s like you said, your plane is your tripod.

Holtzman: I’m moving the plane around and sticking my head out the window. And then I’m moving the plane, kicking it around left and right to get what I want. It’s not like I’m in a blimp right above it waiting for it to fly.

Madrigal: When I first saw it, I thought maybe you’d mounted the camera to the bottom of the plane.

Holtzman: I do have a camera hold in the bottom, but I almost never use it. I need to keep a literal eye out for this thing and then watch it through my lens, then kick the plane anyway that I can. It’s a handful. It’s the challenge. Where he ended up, I started rolling it over to get [the plane] inside [the stadium], so I could get a vertical picture. I hate to say the word, but I am totally oblivious to where my plane is aiming.
Metafilter: Your plane is your tripod.
posted by notyou at 9:10 AM on January 3


Cool technique, godawful subject matter on so many levels. I just see it dropping bombs on mud huts.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:10 AM on January 3 [11 favorites]


"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."
the military-industrial complex and those who glorify it can burn in hell
posted by entropicamericana at 9:25 AM on January 3 [24 favorites]


I was just thinking about how crass the display of unrecognized nationalism was at football games with people pouring time/money/energy/passion into artificially constructed causes that end up just being men fighting with rules, ignoring systemic health issues and unnecessary spending and all things also capitalist, and all of it dotted by national anthems, service members, and other displays of patriotism

and then I see this picture and

oof
posted by runt at 9:25 AM on January 3 [7 favorites]


I'm 100% with y'all on hating the display of military hardware at sports events. OTOH that stealth bomber is a pretty cool airplane and the idea this guy is flying a little Stationair to photograph it is amazing. I'm really surprised he does this solo, it sounds like part of his process is he's literally positioning the plane while taking the photos. I wouldn't think a 300 mph closing speed offered much time for making maneuvers or photographic decisions; he's only got, what, 12 seconds where the target is less than a mile away? You don't get a second try.
posted by Nelson at 9:37 AM on January 3 [11 favorites]


An airplane moving at 200mph is over the grass of the field for about a second and a quarter. The camera in question can shoot 6 frames per second. You're closing at 300mph. You've got to be in exactly the right spot at exactly the right moment, and you get a burst of 7 or 8 shots and hope one is decent.

I don't like the subject matter or the photo, but those are some pretty big technical hurdles to overcome just to get any shot.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:43 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


Unless I'm mistaken the max frames-per-second that the 5D MkIII can handle is 6. That's really slow compared to others, and leaves me surprised that this guy was able to capture this shot. There's obviously a ton of skill and planning that goes into it but at six shots a second there's an undeniable luck factor as well when it comes to that perfect framing.

but if he hadn't gotten lucky then I guess we wouldn't be talking about it right now, would we?
posted by komara at 9:43 AM on January 3


Having grown up a navy brat in the 70s - my dad was 3rd generation navy, I enlisted in the Marines - I find that the deification of veterans is deeply weird and bothersome.

That being said, I lurve me some jets, and this is a stellar shot.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:46 AM on January 3 [7 favorites]


I'm really surprised he does this solo

I do this occasionally, and it's definitely pretty difficult. The Stationair is a very forgiving airplane, thankfully. It's designed as a heavy hauler to get in and out of short and unimproved runways, so with only two people in it you can basically throw whatever you want at it and it'll take it. Although if he's got his son in the back, he should just take the doors off and give him the camera.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:46 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


A massively expensive engine of destruction, an ostentatiously huge flag, a crowd cheering it all on.

America, ladies and gentlemen.

Technically, an impressive shot. Culturally, very revealing.
posted by dazed_one at 10:05 AM on January 3 [14 favorites]


METEOR 2020
posted by fleacircus at 10:23 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine the amount of math in combination with a pilot's hunch to even time it remotely right, much less put the subject matter in the perfect spot in frame while they're moving at 300mph towards each other. Terrrrrrible subject matter, but genuinely amazing ingenuity to get the shot.
posted by mathowie at 10:29 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, I was in my backyard on Monday, directly under the flight path of these planes. My first thought was, "This is it. We're at war with North Korea." My second thought was, "Nevermind, just the Rose Bowl." Got me for a second there.

It was really loud and they were flying really low. I could make out details of the aircraft, they were so low. The bomber looks really eerie and alien up close.
posted by kamikazegopher at 10:37 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I will give it to the fighter engineers. I was out at a little airport in a state I where I used to live. Suddenly just outside the cafeteria windows a little US Marine fighter pulled up, and the boys got out, for lunch. That plane was the purtiest little toy of death, ever. Really it was a beauty. I grew up an Air Force brat and I used to know all planes. I still love the beauty of them, and the stealth bomber is a beautiful, atrociously expensive, item in the inventory of this country who makes dubious purchases all the time.

What a great photographer, and what a great picture. The photographer is the American thing about this, and the Canon 5D Mark 111, those Canons are far and away the best on the market. They got ahead of everyone, and never looked back. I just won't hate on a stadium full of Americans on New Years Day, and the display put on in hopes of unifying them. Should have done holographic blue whales, maybe later, eh?
posted by Oyéah at 10:46 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


My first thought was, "This is it. We're at war with North Korea."

I had the same experience in July (I live right next to Dodger Stadium, and for some reason we had jets this year for 4th of July), except my first though was that Trump had ordered the military to seize California.
posted by sideshow at 10:50 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Very cool story! I have no idea what that cockpit must look like if he has pedals he is pumping (or why he is pumping pedals? Rudders? Flight is MAGICAL.)

I have a hard enough time walking with two legs and a bump in the carpet and this dude is coordinating flight plans with halftime shows, a military plane and his own small aircraft! Very cool.
posted by jillithd at 11:06 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


I have no idea what that cockpit must look like if he has pedals he is pumping (or why he is pumping pedals? Rudders? Flight is MAGICAL.)

well since you asked

Airplanes have three major control surfaces - ailerons, elevators, and rudder. Ailerons control the roll of the aircraft, which is how far from horizontal the wings are pointed. Elevators control pitch, which is how far the nose of the plane is pointed up or down. The rudder controls yaw, which is how far the plane is rotated relative to its forward motion.

The Stationair (like most airplanes) uses a yoke and pedal system to control the vehicle's attitude. Turn the yoke left and right, the plane rolls. Push or pull on the yoke, the pitch angle changes. Press on the pedals, the rudder moves and the plane yaws. This is what the cockpit of my club's Stationair looks like (there are really only two pedals per seat, the panorama was stitched together poorly).

Normally, you would control where the plane is going with a combination of roll and yaw - angling the wings with a roll input causes the plane to turn in a circle, and the rudder is there to keep the plane in a "coordinated" turn, that is, to eliminate sideways g-forces. This guy's description of how he's controlling the plane makes me think he's doing one of two things:

1) Both of his hands are busy with the camera, so he's controlling the plane's direction solely with the rudder pedals. This is possible, but difficult. It would also cause the plane to do a lot of other unpleasant movement since the three individual control axes are actually coupled from a dynamics standpoint (so pressing the left pedal and not touching the yoke would yaw the plane left but would also cause the the wings to roll and the nose to dip).

2) He's put the plane into a slip in order to get a better downward angle. A slip is an uncoordinated maneuver where you apply opposite aileron and rudder inputs in order to drop a wing without initiating a turn. Maintaining a slip angle could require a bit of footwork depending on the conditions.

As I said, it's a difficult thing to handle the plane and a camera at the same time by yourself.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:33 AM on January 3 [14 favorites]


Living on the parade route, I've been overflown by the B-2 so many times now it's almost an afterthought thing.

Two distinct memories, standing outside my house one day before the New Years and seeing off to the east the B-2 pop out from behind the Angeles as they were doing a practice run since they had minorly messed up the timing the year before. Weird seeing that thing just circling out there.

Two, the first time getting over flown I had two thoughts - damn that's loud, thought it was supposed to be "stealthy" followed by - idiot, you wouldn't be hearing it because you'd already be dead by now if this was in earnest.
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:37 AM on January 3


How dangerous is what this guy is doing? Seems way more complicated than texting and driving.
posted by Mitheral at 11:41 AM on January 3


Flagged as fantastic, backseatpilot. Thank you for the explanation and I do apologize for getting little bits of brain everywhere trying to mentally map anything beyond 2 dimensional space.
posted by jillithd at 11:44 AM on January 3


How dangerous is what this guy is doing? Seems way more complicated than texting and driving.

pretty sure there's no pedestrians at n-thousand feet, except for the occasional momentarily surprised desert coyote
posted by entropicamericana at 11:45 AM on January 3 [8 favorites]


I was driving north on Lake Shore Drive once just approaching Soldier Field when a B-2 did one of these flyovers from the other direction. It is a heart-stopping sight. They sometimes show up for the Air and Water Show, but never like ... surprise!
posted by lagomorphius at 11:47 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Does the NFL still charge the armed services $$$ for these things because they are advertising? Wasn't that a big scandal a couple years ago when somebody dug it up from whatever obscure account they were hiding it in?
posted by lagomorphius at 11:51 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I live close enough to an airport to see the WWII-era planes practice formations for airshows, and even that is unsettling if you're not expecting it. It's like being inside a VR war film.

A friend's parents live even closer to the airport, directly in the flight path, and those planes are low when they fly over their house. Like moments from takeoff or landing low. We laid in their yard and watched them one airshow weekend and it was really incredible. And scary.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:02 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Probably not too dangerous. I haven't flown a 206 in particular, but smaller cousin planes like the 172 are very forgiving. As long as you have reasonable airspeed you can mess around with the rudder all you want for 15 seconds and the worst that'll happen is you'll feel a bit of motion sickness. Presumably there's no risk of collision with another plane. The bomber is safely 2500' below him and the TFR is keeping other planes away.
posted by Nelson at 12:05 PM on January 3


The only time a military jet has scared me is on 9/11/2001 when a lone fighter jet flew overhead. They often circle over my house before flyovers at Patriots or Red Sox games so usually I'm like "Cool, a jet!"

Granted, I'm sure I would feel differently if I'd ever been on the receiving end of one, and I totally understand what these jets are ultimately for.

But I posted this just because I thought it was a neat photo taken in a creative way.
posted by bondcliff at 12:08 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


pretty sure there's no pedestrians at n-thousand feet, except for the occasional momentarily surprised desert coyote

Caninus Nervous Rex ( AKA Carnivorous slobbius, Eatius birdius, Overconfidentii vulgaris, and Poor schinookius)
posted by mikelieman at 12:16 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


A slip is an uncoordinated maneuver where you apply opposite aileron and rudder inputs in order to drop a wing without initiating a turn.

I had somehow managed to forget my experience when my then roommate took me up in a plane and showed me what that feels like. It was really unpleasant - it felt like we were in freefall only somehow it just kept going.
posted by solotoro at 12:16 PM on January 3


Many years ago I was at a major sporting event with both fighter jets (F-14s maybe?) and and a B-2 flyover.

First observation: Jesus Christ are fighter jets loud.

Second observation: Jesus Christ are B-2 bombers quiet. Ominously quiet. Sounded like one of those white noise machines you use before bedtime. "SSSHHHHHHHHHHH." It was like the Batplane.

Looks like I'm not alone here. A B-2 Stealth Bomber Flyby is Eerily Quiet.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:29 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I live close enough to an airport to see the WWII-era planes practice formations for airshows, and even that is unsettling if you're not expecting it. It's like being inside a VR war film.

I live a short hop from the home of one of the two Avro Lancasters still flying. In my back yard, the warm weather brings out the twittering songs of birds, the drone of insects, as well as the frequent rumble of four Packard Merlin V-12s in tandem, growling along 2,000 feet overhead. I scarcely notice it any more.

I was in Niagara Falls last year on the day before Canada Day and heard the familiar sound of the Lancaster overhead, clearly making a test run for a flyover the following day. It made a couple pf wide circles and I pondered just how far over the Niagara River these circles were (and thus, how far into American airspace) and then what kind of clearances are required to fly a foreign country's (unarmed) bomber into the US.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:57 PM on January 3


No GPS, using a Thomas guide to find where I was going...

Spot the native Californian of a certain age!
posted by librarylis at 3:26 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Looks like I'm not alone here. A B-2 Stealth Bomber Flyby is Eerily Quiet.

(Here's that video without the Popular Mechanics page interference and cued to where the quiet starts.)
posted by Burhanistan at 4:33 PM on January 3


This is a great photograph. I'm a Boeing kid. Grew up in the Seattle area. I love airplanes, and I love ships.

Unfortunately, lots of airplanes and lots of ships are military in nature. It has always been such.

I appreciate and empathize with the feelings of those who don't like the uses the B2 is put to. War is hell. But like porn, military uses drive technology. Remember the computer you type on had its origin in devices used to prevent people from getting killed, by killing other people. Remember the network you use to read this article had its origins in research funded by the military. If you fly, the technology of all modern aircraft either originated in the military or is purchased by the military. The weather and communications satellites you use every day have their roots in military technology.

We can't avoid the intermingling of military and non-military in our everyday lives. Even if we someday grow beyond our need for militaries, our technology will still have its roots in the making of war.
posted by lhauser at 7:37 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I grew up right near the Glenview Naval Air Station (now closed and redeveloped into a TOD, and it's nice and all but I sort-of miss the base). They used to fly scrambles super-early on weekend mornings (when O'Hare wasn't using the airspace) where the fighters would take off and land, take off and land, take off and land, and we'd see them circle over our house (very noisily!) over and over as their pilots practiced.

But the absolute pinnacle of excitement was when the B-2 flew over, which it did a whole bunch of times! It sometimes flew in and out of GNAS, either stationed there for a while or just visiting, I don't know how military airplanes work, but I remember seeing it flying over when I was about 10 and I asked my mom, "But I thought the stealth bomber was invisible" and she told me about how its weird shape and black panels made it invisible to RADAR but not to the eye, and I was a little disappointed because I'd heard about it on the news and I thought it was INVISIBLE-invisible, not just invisible to radar!

Anyway, it wasn't noisy like the fighter jet scrambles. It's pretty silent, really, so you have to just happen to be outside and looking up when it goes over, which is actually SUPER GREAT when you're ten years old and often in the backyard on the swings or looking at clouds or whatever. Kids saw it much more often than adults because adults weren't out back staring at the sky for no reason noticing silent aircraft!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:36 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Presumably there's no risk of collision with another plane. The bomber is safely 2500' below him and the TFR is keeping other planes away.

He said he was above the TFR (the regular stadium flight restriction goes up to 3000 feet above ground) so other aircraft have the same right to be there as him. Freedom! But he also said "I was on a discreet frequency," i.e., talking to air traffic control which would help reduce the risk of a mid-air collision.
posted by exogenous at 6:56 AM on January 9


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