2019 has been a banner year for aviation photography for me. I took part in some exclusive opportunities offered to me as a member of the media, while others required some detective work on my part in figuring out how to pull off certain concepts (these were also self-funded, which still stings a bit). In the middle of it all, I bought a bucket list camera, opening even more doors to me with the power of that camera.
So welcome to my inaugural Aviation Photography Year in Review. Like I said, 2019 will be hard to top, and looking back through my archives has been so much fun and brought back great memories.
Delta A220 inaugural flight
In February, Delta inaugurated their new A220 in the most competitive way possible: flying it from New York’s LaGuardia Airport nonstop to DFW. It was a power move directed squarely at American on one of its most “fortress” routes. Aside from the rare chance to see visible airline competition, I was thankful that I was out on the taxiway at DFW (as a guest of the airport) to see the A220 land for the first time carrying passengers. I was even more excited that DFW Airport used one of my pictures (with permission) for the official DFW press release!
American Operations Overnight Lock-in
Later in February I had an unprecedented chance to see how American Airlines operations work overnight to get flights ready for the morning. It was a creative and cool event hosted by AA’s global engagement team, with attendees from all manner of publication (I felt a bit out of place sitting next to professional journalists from the likes of the Wall Street Journal but did my best to fit in). We learned a lot about the processes which take place, the teams involved, and we got to see it all in action, including time in an A350 simulator! It was a true behind-the-scenes experience that I won’t forget for a long time.
DFW Airport reopens runway 17C
Still in February, DFW Airport reopened its completely revamped runway 17C. One of the busiest runways in the world, 17C underwent a $133 million renovation and is now an asphalt runway, which is a bit unique. I was on-hand again for the first departure from the new runway, an American 777-200 to Miami.
DFW Terminals Like You’ve Never Seen Them Before
We finally arrive at March 2019. A good buddy of mine, Mike Kelley, has done some incredible top-down shots at LAX, among his other masterpieces of aviation photography, and I wanted to see what DFW looked like from above. With the help of my buddies at Epic Helicopters we spent an hour flying over DFW making steep turns while I shot from a Robinson R44 helicopter with the doors removed. The resulting images are some of the best I’ve ever taken. I paid for the flight myself (around $1000) and got my money’s worth of images for sure.
Air France Returns to DFW
Air France made its long-awaited return to DFW after 18 years. Once again I was on-hand to grab some pictures of its arrival.
American Airlines DFW Flagship Lounge Opens
American’s long-awaited Flagship Lounge at DFW opened in May and I was able to attend the pre-opening party for some great images before passengers started arriving. I love the lounge and visit every chance I get at DFW. My full review is here and my review of the Flagship First Dining Room is here.
American Airlines unveils new Skyview campus
American had an aging headquarters complex just south of DFW and spent $350 million building a beautiful new campus just west of their current one. In late May I had the chance to start documenting some of the artwork being assembled in the new Skyview 8 building, which turned into some epic images of the new campus as it opened for American team members in June. American actually linked to my coverage on their internal JetNet site, giving many American team members their first glimpse of the new campus!
First Officer Will Fagundes
My good buddy Will Fagundes left his corporate desk job almost three years ago to follow his dream: to become an airline pilot. His wife and family made huge sacrifices (and Will didn’t take a day off for over 2 years) and, just 2.5 years after his journey began, landed at DFW Airport for the first time as a First Officer on an Envoy E175. I was there to take some pictures of him and write a story about his journey from Corporate Life in Oklahoma to Airline Pilot in Texas.
Flying low over the field at DFW Airport
I was out at DFW Airport’s Founders Plaza doing some planespotting and a helicopter flew over really low. Low enough that they needed lots of permission from DFW Tower to do so, based on my experience earlier in the year. I took a picture of the helicopter, looked up the tail number, and found the phone number of a guy who flew over the field at DFW regularly. Because of some big events coming up I asked him how soon we could go up. We made quick arrangements and took to the skies for some incredible images.
American Airlines MD-80 Retirement at DFW and Roswell
September 4 was a memorable day for American Airlines as they said goodbye to the McDonnell Douglas MD-80. Once the bellwether of the American domestic fleet, the aging jets time had finally come. Alongside the retirement of the fleet, I proposed a video idea to American Airlines and they were happy to accommodate me and provide me with unfettered access to an MD-80 to film it. This video is now sitting at 86000 views on YouTube, by far my most successful video!
During the filming of that video I also took one of my favorite images of all-time: a 100-megapixel photo of the MD-80s cockpit.
Two weeks later, the festivities began early in the morning at DFW Airport.
American dignitaries made their remarks, as well as the best flight attendant in the world, my friend Patti Lundy Strait.
I watched the final revenue flight depart for Chicago and then it was time for our flight out to Roswell.
The ceremony in Roswell was sincere and heartfelt with many photo ops with the MD-80…and then a buddy and I got some access into the boneyard.
All in all, an unforgettable day. For my full coverage, check out this link.
Skyball Aircraft Expo
In conjunction with the Airpower Foundation’s annual Skyball fundraiser, numerous military aircraft were staged next to the event venue: American’s east maintenance hangar (colloquially known as DWH) at DFW Airport. I received special access privileges and was able to get some amazing sunrise images of some incredible aircraft.
Last, but certainly not least, some good old fashioned planespotting
Among all of the amazing access I got, there’s still little better than heading out to Founders Plaza at DFW Airport for an afternoon of watching these incredible machines take off and land.
What a year!
If you would’ve told me at the beginning of 2019 I’d end up taking some of the pictures I took I would’ve thought you were crazy. I had some great opportunities and worked hard to make sure I delivered some great images. I honestly don’t consider myself a “natural” at photography but I’ve worked very hard over the past five years to develop what natural talent I do have. I hope you’ve enjoyed this look back through my favorite aviation images of 2019 and will stick around for 2020, who knows what we will see together next year!
Which was your favorite image? What was your favorite airline experience of 2019? Tell me in the comments below!