It’s SkyBall weekend at DFW Airport. SkyBall is a big fundraising gala for the Airpower Foundation. It draws some big-time sponsors, one of whom is American Airlines. American clears out its maintenance hangar at DFW Airport for the weekend and instead it’s filled with seats, tables, military aircraft, and the obligatory American Airlines jet (this year a 787!). There are many dinners surrounding the event and I was lucky enough to attend the POW dinner on Thursday night, where we got to have dinner with Vietnam POWs and hear from the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force. It’s definitely a memorable weekend that raises a ton of money to take care of families of US servicemembers and of the same servicemembers after they come home.
SkyBall usually brings quite a few military aircraft to the ramp outside of the hangar and I was lucky enough to receive access to the ramp on Friday morning to take some photos! I arrived an hour before sunrise to plan out my compositions and start taking some test shots. As the sun started coming up it brought with it a few more people on the ramp but that was ok, I got the shots I wanted for the most part. Instead of just one picture of the week I thought we’d do a bunch of them to show off these incredible aircraft!
I shot these with my Sony a7rIII camera with (for the most part) the Canon 24mm TS-E tilt-shift lens attached via a Sigma adapter, having a tilt-shift lens allowed me to adjust my composition while keeping the perspective intact (for more on tilt-shift lenses you can see a YouTube video I made here)
The F-35 is an imposing and domineering jet but unfortunately they are always under guard and civilians are not allowed to get too close to them. This limited my compositions a bit but it’s such an amazing jet so the picture was still wonderful!
One of my favorite jets is the A-10 Warthog, which is basically a 30mm Gatling gun with a jet built around it. The BRRRRT noise the gun makes is legendary and to be this close to one was an absolute joy!
What else can you say? One of the iconic fighter jets of the US arsenal. Just beautiful.
As the sun started to rise I went over to one of my favorite jets ever: the B-1B Lancer.
To be able to get shots like these with nobody around was such a treat!
As the sun continued to rise I used the warm sky as a backdrop and explored some more compositions with other aircraft around the ramp.
Among the special aircraft was an old DC-3 called Flagship Detroit. It was originally used in the 1930’s for American Airlines and is maintained and flown today for special events and airshows. A few friends of mine were lucky enough (i.e. they paid) to fly on it around Dallas!
Next to the DC-3 was something that looked like a sleeker V22 Osprey. I found out later this was a Bell V-280 Valor!
There was another A-10 Warthog painted with the classic paint scheme on the nose of the aircraft, so I just had to get a picture of it!
As the sun kept rising and the ramp became more crowded we eventually heard the WHUMP WHUMP WHUMP of a helicopter. A big one. I finally saw it and thought it was an Apache at first but it turned out to be an Mil MI-24 Hind Soviet attack helicopter.
Turns out there was a bit of a car show element to the weekend as well, a gentleman pulled his GTO up directly in front of the B-1B for an even more epic picture!
The sun was almost all the way above the horizon but first it cast a beautiful warm glow over the ramp, allowing me two final shots that were just beautiful.
I’ll leave you with one final shot of the long shadows cast by a golden hour sunrise over one of the most incredible jets in the world. I hope you’ve enjoyed these pictures!
Which picture was your favorite? Tell me in the comments below!