Statue of Liberty Photo Flight - August 16, 2015


Written on August 2, 2016.


On August 16, 2015, Zinger Aviation Media was cordially invited to take part in a special photo flight organized by several airshow performers from the 2015 Greenwood Lake Airshow to fly down the Hudson River and by New York City.  What was once thought of being a photo flight featuring nearly all of the performers slated to fly ended up being only three of the performers.  It did not dawn that the flight until less than twelve hours before we would take off that this was not just down the Hudson River, but to go to the Statue of Liberty.  This would only be the second time I had ever been to the Statue of Liberty - I'm counting this as being a visit since we flew around it several times - the first of which was when I was twelve years old and my parents took me to the Statue of Liberty, onto one of the ferries that serves Ellis Island, and getting my first glimpse of New York City and the only time I would ever set my eyes on the twin towers of the World Trade Center. 

At any rate, this was a flight that I was made aware of the day before it happened.  A simple "Hey Steve, want to go down the Hudson River tomorrow morning?" was the invite and obviously the answer was yes.  Like I said, it didn't dawn on me until much later in the day of the goal of the flight was to get the aircraft photographed as they passed by Lady Liberty.  Needless to say, I did not want to screw this up.

The day of the photo flight required arriving at the Greenwood Lake Airport as early as possible.  I was suggested to arrive about a half hour after sunrise, which meant a 5:00 AM wake-up to get to the airport by 6:30 AM as my hotel was a good thirty-five minute drive from the airport.  Once at the airport, a thorough safety briefing was put together - what not to do while in the photo plane, how to advise directions for the photo subjects, where we were going, handling New York air traffic, and much more.  All respective air traffic controllers from New York Center, TRACON, LaGuardia Tower, and more needed to be advised of our intentions at all times so as not to draw suspicion from air traffic control, the FAA, and the citizens below.  Needless to say every I was dotted and every T crossed in the interest of safety.

Timing was also key.  Departing the Greenwood Lake Airport as early as we did enabled us to return to the airport early enough after the mission was completed so that the performers could get their airplanes ready for that day's airshow and also have enough time to get ready for the performer safety briefing.  In addition, doing the photo flight early in the morning is advantageous due to the enormous amount of air traffic in and around New York City with passenger flights into and out of EWR, JFK, and LGA as well as all of the sightseeing aircraft and helicopters that go in and around the Hudson River corridor.  We're talking about some incredibly busy airspace.

Taking part in this photo flight were airshow pilots Greg Connell in his Wolf Pitts, Greg Koontz in his Extreme Decathlon, and Ken Rieder and Jon Thocker of Redline Airshows and their two RV-8s.  The formation of five aircraft (the photo shop was a Piper Cherokee 6 flown by Andrew Topp and assisted by Derek Neill, while Ken's son Austin also took part and assisted with GoPro footage) flew down the Hudson River, over the Tappan Zee Bridge, the George Washington Bridge, down the West Side of Manhattan, and circling the Statue of Liberty multiple times so that each pilot could pass in front of Lady Liberty as well as all four pilots in front of Lady Liberty (we could not make that one work out after two attempts) and following the same route north to head back to the Greenwood Lake Airport.

The results of the flight were photos that I never thought I would ever have the opportunity to capture. 

This is a gallery that I was hoping to release in the first half of 2016, but there were many other things that took precedent before putting together this gallery.  In addition, several of these photos were featured in the magazine World Airshow News and two can be found on  Apologies for the large copyrights in each photo - this is necessary in this day and age where photos are widely stolen and passed along as if they are one's own.

This gallery is also dedicated to the memory of our good friend Greg Connell, who departed to be with the Angels on May 14, 2016, and absolutely LOVED the photos I captured during this flight.