Although there are a lot of excellent amateur photographers out there, few have a lens long enough, or the necessary years of experience, to capture the roaring, racing, arcing, tumbling moves of aerobatic pilots during a performance. Air & Space asked three of our favorite aviation photographers who they enjoy shooting the most during airshow season. Here are their answers. —The editors
Top: Arnold Greenwell on The AeroShell Aerobatic Team
“The AeroShell Aerobatic Team is an act not to miss. This formation team flies the venerable AT-6G Texan and is a perennial favorite on the airshow circuit. With skill, grace and coordination this is precision formation flying at its best. And who does’t like watching big honking radial engines, belching clouds of smoke, whip the sky into submission? Photographically, the AeroShell Team fills your viewfinder with a little bit of history, a lot of energy and loads of color against a azure sky. Now go eat some smoke and take some pictures.” —Arnold Greenwell is a pilot and freelance aviation photographer based in Hillsborough, North Carolina.
Second image: Tyson Rininger on Bill Stein
“ From a photographer’s point of view, one of my favorite acts to watch though the camera is Bill Stein in his Zivko Edge 540. Besides being an incredible performer with a long line of credits, he’s chosen an aircraft paint scheme which never photographs the same way twice due to its rainbow pearlescent colors.”—Tyson V. Rininger is a regular contributor to more than a dozen aviation and motor sports periodicals worldwide. His book, Red Flag: Air Combat for the 21st Century, came out in 2006.
Third image: Erik Hildebrandt
“Airshow pilot stories are as diverse as the aircraft themselves. Besides the same seven pilots who appear in almost every article ever published on airshows, I believe the future of airshows also belongs to lesser-known airshow stars like Bill Stein and Skip Stewart. For that matter, I better mention John Klatt (pictured in the foreground) and John Melby. Airshows are great no matter who is flying, what matters is that we all keep getting together to celebrate our shared passion for flying.”—Erik Hildebrandt is a Minnesota-based pilot and photographer who has self-published seven coffee-table books on military aviation and airshows.