I just returned from the ICAS convention, International Council Of Air Shows at Paris Las Vegas. I am the Aviation Coordinator (and photographer) for the Palm Springs Air Museum. “Delegates” numbered 1,501 and 247 exhibitors in the trade show. This Tuesday morning opening session hosted by “Good Morning America” David Hartman featured three World War II Veterans; Tuskegee Airman Colonel Charles McGee, B-29 gunner and Japanese POW Staff Sergeant Kargin Thomasian, and B-29 Pilot Lt. Col. Bob Vaucher.
I went to a hotel restaurant for lunch and ended up sitting next to Colonel Vaucher. The Colonel had flown the first B-29 strategic combat mission over Japan on June 15, 1944. And he flew as lead pilot in a massive 525 B-29 formation over Tokyo Harbor during the formal Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945. As a Lieutenant with a total of 2.5 hours in the B-29 he took delivery as Pilot in Command of the first B-29 to enter service. His Second in Command was a Captain but with only 90 minutes of B-29 time.
I did invite Colonel Vaucher to come see us at the Palm Springs Air Museum. And I expect in the next few months he may do that. In talking with him, I think he finds where he has been in his life as amazing as we do.
The Memorial Service at the Palm Springs Air Museum for a great man, Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. Robert Friend. I am so very honored to have been part of planning, the flight operations, photographer, writing the story; and even more so, knowing him.
Personal big Thank You to the people who I reached out to help on the photography side things. It was too much and too important for just one person. Thank You to Rick Rowell and Ian Glover. And a huge Thank You to Scott Plummer and Lisa Plummer for their incredible video coverage and photography. Truly Thank You!
Shooting this morning for the Palm Springs Air Museum. A flight of ” Bunny” the P-51 Mustang dedicated to the “Red Tails” of the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. The actual “Bunny” was flown by Lt. Col. Robert J “Bob” Friend (February 29, 1920 – June 21, 2019).
Photographed with my FujiFilm X-T3 and XF100-400 lens. Pilot Tom Nightingale.
Honoring a great man, Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. Robert “Bob” J. Friend. And I am very honored as well to have stood next to him when I shot this photograph of him saluting during the National Anthem at the Reno Air Races 2017.
This graphic was displayed on the 18x10ft high definition screen over the Memorial Services for the Colonel at the Palm Springs Air Museum. The beautiful painting of the Red Tail P-51 Mustang by aviation artist Stan Stokes.
Some behind the scenes info… I was going to be right next to the Colonel while he was introduced to the huge crowd in the grandstands at the beginning of the race finals. I wanted to be inconspicuous so I had put my Fujifilm X-T1 camera on my shoulder with the Fujifilm 16-55 f2.8 lens. It also made for a smaller and lighter package than the other cameras I had brought along for the races.
The National Anthem started playing and the Colonel raised his hand in salute. Only a couple of feet away from him, I brought the camera up, looked through the viewfinder and fired maybe two or three frames and brought the camera down. I saw the photo through the viewfinder and knew I had shot, for me anyway, a photo of a lifetime. For the Memorial Service, his daughter Karen specifically asked for that photo to be displayed. Afterwards she said “This is how I want to remember him”.
Opportunities to be present with such great people are always not to be missed. At the Palm Springs Air Museum yesterday to photograph and video Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. Harry Stewart. By the way, he is 95 years old. Here is a very fun minute…
How do you solve one of the unforeseen problems of enduring a 6 1/2 hour mission in a fighter aircraft? You might never have thought of this! Explained by Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. Harry Stewart.
Yesterday at the Palm Springs Air Museum for the West Coast World premier of the Colonel’s book “Soaring to Glory: A Tuskegee Airman’s Firsthand Account of WWII”, along with author Philip Handleman.
The Colonel flew forty-three combat missions as a Tuskegee Airman in World War II. For his flying prowess with the famed 332nd Fighter Group, known as the Red Tails, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
It was a standing room only event and his book was a sell out!
Just some of what I did (shoot some video) on Memorial Day at the Palm Springs Air Museum…
Aircraft start up for the flyover and flower drop, Memorial Day 2019 at the Palm Springs Air Museum. A World War II Mitchell B-25 bomber, F4U Corsair, P-63 Kingcobra “Pretty Polly”, Red Tail P-51 Mustang “Bunny”, PB4Y-2 Privateer and T-33 jet “Shooting Star”.
At the Planes of Fame Airshow this past weekend with the Palm Springs Air Museum. Honored to have with us, 99 year old, Tuskegee Airman, Lt. Col. Robert Friend.