Back in the middle 90’s I was regularly deer hunting a certain piece of property, and I got the idea (probably from some hunting article) to get my own aerial photographs of the place.
I made a few calls and priced an hour of flight time, and as I recall I paid $225 to go up in a rubber-band powered Cessna for one hour. That price would probably be at least double today!
The appointed day and time came and I met the pilot at the field, and somewhere in the conversation to book the jaunt either he didn’t hear me, or I failed to tell him, that the purpose of the ride was to take photographs. So after we were already strapped in, and with the engine running, he expressed surprise at the appearance of the camera in my lap. So he jumps out of the idling aircraft, runs around to my side and takes the passenger side door OFF and stows it in the rear of the fuselage. Now I’ve never been a big seat-belt advocate, but you can bet your ass that when I realized what he was doing, I hitched my seat-beat up as tight as I could get it!
We took off and WOW what a view! It was so loud that you could hardly hear yourself think of course, and the only way the pilot and I could communicate was with headsets. In far less time than it took to drive there, we were over my hunting property and flying level at 1500 feet. I instructed my driver to try and fly on an east/west axis so all my photos would be oriented either looking north or south.
When we came over the first spot that I was particularly eager to see I asked him to bank the plane “a bit” so I could get a better angle for my photos. He banked it a little bit all right. Where a moment before I was looking at a green carpet below me, now I was looking at green wallpaper! He banked the airplane a full ninety degrees and I found myself looking straight down even though it felt like I was looking outward. Great for the photos I admit – but it took some getting used to.
When we were done and returning to the airfield, as he banked the plane to get lined up on the runway, the pilot pointed out something in the trees below us. I asked what the unrecognizable shape was and over the roar of the engine he replied “It’s a wrecked aircraft that went down here last summer – nobody was killed though!” That’s a disconcerting thing to hear from your pilot as you’re coming in on final approach.
I got some great photos that day and I made good use of them for many years thereafter. Sadly the area was completely logged out at some point and I stopped hunting there. The photos no longer being of any use I threw most of them away. But I kept this one just to remember the occasion.
Six months or so after I made my photo flight, my pilot was killed in that same plane, and on that same airfield, when he crashed while trying to pickup an advertising banner.