Monday, February 17, 2014

This air-to-air photo of a Singaporean Chinook almost didn't happen!

Click for hi-res image

I was invited to the Republic of Singapore Air Force's Family Day, as part of its 45th Anniversary celebrations held in conjunction with the RSAF's involvement at Singapore Airshow 2014. As part of the event, we were given a ride on a CH-47SD Chinook helicopter on Saturday the 8th of February. Arriving at Changi East Airbase that morning, it was obvious from the number of people going for the ride that there were to be two helicopters provided for the flight, which meant that I would get a rare chance at an air to air photo of the other Chinook.

I had assumed that the only way I would be able to get the shot would be to sit on board the lead ship near the rear, and shoot the No.2 aircraft out of the (open) rear ramp. Now at this moment we had no idea which was the lead Chinook and which was No.2 so I had to take a punt and chose one of the Chinooks to board. As it turned out I had gotten on board No.2 ship, and to top it off I ended up sitting somewhere near the centre of the helicopter. As we departed the base I rued what I thought had been a missed opportunity as both helicopters headed to the waters south of Singapore's Central Business District for a flight at 500ft AGL in loose echelon formation.

It was during this portion of the flight that I spied the lead Chinook, visible off the open port front window of our Chinook. Flying on a roughly northerly heading at that point, it also meant the morning light was falling perfectly on the lead helo. What luck! I hurriedly snapped off a series of photos, thankful that I had mounted a 70-300mm lens on my camera so I would have enough reach to zoom close enough and confident I would get a few useable shots. As you can see, the lead Chinook had its rear ramp closed, so even if I had boarded the lead Chinook, the closed ramp would have meant no photos of the second aircraft would have been possible!

As it was, I did get a number of photos of the lead Chinook which I'm really happy with. And as a bonus, the rear ramp of our Chinook was open as well, which meant that shots like this were also possible:

Click for hi-res image

Special thanks to the kind folks at Singapore's Ministry of Defence Public Affairs Directorate and the Air Force Information Centre, who made the event possible

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