Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Brink of Humiliation

Originally uploaded by Darrell
I drew an assignment, on a hard deadline, to take some aerial photos. My little journey to North Carolina for the NCAA basketball tournament, combined with more than a week's worth of low cloud ceilings in advance of the trip, put me under the gun. Here is evidence that I made it . What you can't see is how aggressively I flirted with disaster in the process.
I had to have the photos by close of business Monday. The day dawned overcast, but by midday there was a break in the clouds. That was the good news. The bad news was the wind, which was whipping around at almost 30 miles per hour.
Did I say I had to have the photos? So, up we went in a Piper. Yes, airplane, not helicopter. This meant circling my targets while being buffeted by ridiculous winds. Literally bouncing my head off the ceiling of the plane while trying to focus with a long lens, I began to sweat like I had faucets attached to my forehead. Then, I started having hiccups. Could a lunch refund be far behind?
Somehow, I willed myself to not hurl. Somehow, I got all my photos in color and focus.
Then, it was time to land. During final approach, the tower issued a wind shear advisory. "Oh, swell, we're gong to drop like a rock." Fortunately, the landing went much more smoothly than the flight. When I found terra firma, the pilot looked at me, giggled and said "you look like you've had the flu for a week." Trust me, I felt like it, too. I said "this is my punishment for taking three vacation days."
A couple of good things came out of the experience. for one, I satisfied the client and delivered on time. Most importantly, there's a new story to tell. I'm supposed to do this airplane photo tour once a month until further notice. In April, I plan to stay around town to give myself more options for flying in better weather.

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