Photo Flying Days (August 17th - 19th, 2012)
From August 15th to August 19th, the former NATO reserve airfield of Malle in the province of Limburg, Belgium, hosted the 3rd edition of the Photoflying Days which coincided with the 10th edition of the APCK(Aero Para Club der Kempen) fly-in.
The Photoflying days has, in the short time-span of 3 years, grown from a modest event to an international concept. It was all organized and conceived by Eric Coeckelberghs along with a small group of enthousiasts during the 2008 annual Chipmeet. Purpose of it all was to provide the opportunity to a select group of aviation photographers to shoot images of aircraft in their natural environment: up in the air.
The next year saw the additional participation of a couple of other aircraft, such as a Boeing Stearman and some Stampe SV-4s. In 2010, the group started the Air-to-Air Academy at the same annual event and it became an instant hit in Europe.
Now, just 3 years later, the Photoflying days can count on a vast international participation from both general aviation aircraft and warbirds, and the team can barely keep up with requests from photographers all over the world, all waiting to get the opportunity to take part in an air-to-air photoshoot.
Main camera ship for the aerial shoots is the InvictaSkyvan.
Although the Photoflying days is not an airshow but a fly-in, the event brings together an ever increasing group of aviation enthousiasts and photographers. Star of the 2012 event was to be the Breitling Lockheed Super Constellation (officially the Super Constellation Flyers Association from Switzerland), which unfortunately had to cancel at the very last moment due to engine problems. Its crew tried all week to get the Connie airborne, but to no avail. To compensate, the SCFA did send a worthy alternative to the event, namely the Breitling DC-3 Dakota.
A very welcome change to this year's edition of the Photoflying Days was the organization of an additional spotter package, including access to the entire airfield on Friday and Saturday as well as providing those photographers the opportunity to participate in what had to be the world's largest blue-hour photoshoot on both evenings.
The Air-to-Air academy participants took part in various theoretic photography classes before they could go up in the Skyvan. Various side classes were also organized such as model photoshoots, photoshoots with various re-enactors and several Ford Mustang classics.
What makes the airfield of Malle such a delightful location for all of this is its beautiful natural surroundings with a huge tree-line backdrop and the colorful heath fields. There's also a dedicated area where various re-enactors wander around and where several WWII vehicles, tents, weapons & even a tank are put on display.
The event is also open to the general public on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, where everyone has a chance to admire the aircraft present in the fantastic green environment, and where people can have a chat with the pilots and have the opportunity to see the aircraft taxiing, taking off and landing, all from sunrise till sunset.
Particpating aircraft ranged from a large array of small general aviation aircraft to a large amount of warbirds such as the P-51 Mustang, a Hawker Hurricane, a Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Vb, the Red Bull Corsair, Stearmans, Trojans , not one but two Grumman Avengers, the S-38B Osa's Ark, …
The anticipated arrival of the Super Connie escorted by four BAF F-16 Fighting Falcons obviously did not go through, but the BAF was kind enough to send 2 special painted F-16s on several flybys nonetheless.
When the last photoflight of the day ended, the Academy participants and the spotters were given the opportunity to take part in some magnificent blue-hour photoshoots. No effort was spared as there were several photo models and re-enactors present, as well as a number of classic Ford Mustangs (www.mustangdrivers.be).
This continued until well after sundown, at which time the taxiway was lit with several floodlights and a couple of thousand gallons of water was sprayed down to add a nice effect to the night shootings.
On Saturday night, all photographers were treated to a fabulous night shoot starring the Breitling DC-3 on a wet tarmac and with its engines running!
I think we can all safely say that the 2012 Photoflying days again were a huge success and that we're all looking forward to seeing what Eric and the crew can come up with to top it all again next year.
A big thanks to everyone involved in organizing the event!