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.
Again I am honored to be part of the Palm Springs Air Museum. Here as photographer, content creator, social media manager and even in flight operations at the 55th National Championship Air Races in Reno for 2018. Thanks!
The Palm Springs Air Museum again became the standout at the 55th National Championship Air Races in Reno this September. The most prestigious race in the fastest motorsport in the world saw our Red Tail P-51 Mustang “Bunny” and our P-63 Kingcobra “Pretty Polly” fly around the pylons in front of crowds estimated to be 150,000+. “Bunny” flown by pilot Mark Moodie took a Third Place “on the podium” win in the Silver Unlimited Race with a speed of 333.562, less than one mile per hour away from first place! “Pretty Polly” flown by pilot Jim “JD” Dale made for a crowd favorite in 7th Place in the Silver Unlimited Race with a speed of 307.781. We finished with both aircraft “in the money”!
We were most honored for the second year in a row to be joined by a man who is indeed a very special friend to the Air Museum, 98 year old Tuskegee Airman, Lt. Col. Bob Friend. With us everyday at the Races to meet people and sign autographs, we were most proud to have him start our airplanes and watch as they taxi’d out for the Finals. The honor even extended further as the Colonel joined us on stage for the Awards Dinner to accept our trophies as he was given an extended standing ovation by a hangar filled with 1,000 racers and crew and family and friends. A moment in time that brought many to tears as cameras and cellphones saved the moment for history.
Certainly “Bunny” stole the show in so very many ways. A Red Tail dedicated to the famed Tuskegee Airmen of World War II and specifically to the aircraft flown by Lt. Col. Bob Friend, many would say she is the most beautiful of all P-51 Mustangs. But we had another very special girl with us, “Pretty Polly”. One of perhaps only four P-63 Kingcobras still flying, it has been forty years since a Kingcobra raced at Reno. Race fans, aviation fans, aviation photographers all greeted the news of “Pretty Polly” at Reno and her arrival and racing with huge enthusiasm and appreciation. Our Race Pit was continually visited by Kingcobra fans who specifically came to see her. Even a fan from Japan came by wearing one of our Air Museum ‘Pretty Polly” shirts! Pilot Jim “JD” Dale was on hand to talk with so very many and they were in luck because “JD” is a tremendously knowledgeable Kingcobra historian and of course one of the very few Kingcobra pilots.
The National Championship Air Races Reno gives the Palm Springs Air Museum the opportunity to bring our message of living history to expanding audiences around the world. Millions of people online will share in our adventure being there. We have endless numbers of people to Thank in getting us to Reno. Mechanics, pilots, the people who loaded the trailers, and so very many volunteers. And of course the individuals and sponsors who donated to funding our being able to make it happen. Everyone has their own reasons for being part of Reno with us. But to a person, it is unselfish and giving, whether through their money or labor. To everyone a huge and heartfelt Thank You! And an excited; see you in Reno for 2019!