As you can see from the beautiful photo, the stars aligned this week and we were able to complete our planned air-to-air photo mission of the Sweepstakes 172.

One of the challenges of shooting air-to-air photography in the winter…in Maryland…is to find a background that isn’t gray-green-brown landscape. Maryland hasn’t had any snow this year, so we didn’t even have a winter wonderland to photograph. The ground shots we took last week positioned the airplane against a turbulent-looking gray sky.

But Senior Photographer Chris Rose is used to dealing with these kinds of issues. We headed northeast to Prettyboy Reservoir, which sits in a forested watershed in Baltimore County. It’s outside the Class B airspace that surrounds Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and it’s also outside the Special Flight Rules Area. The reservoir provided the lovely setting for the Sweepstakes 172.

PIC in the 172 for this trip was Mike Filucci, vice president of flight operations and the Pilot Information Center. Mike is a highly skilled formation pilot who owns a Van’s RV4.

Piloting the photo ship was Editor at Large Dave Hirschman. He owns an RV3, and I think he speaks formation flying as a second language.

Ferdi Mack, senior manager of the PIC, joined us on this mission as safety pilot. His job was to watch for traffic and transmit Chris’s position requests over the air-to-air frequency to Mike.

Though I’ll admit my heart still sometimes jumps up in my throat during photo shoots, Mike and Dave put safety at the front of every mission. Chris finds the best in every airplane he shoots. Look for more photos in an upcoming issue of AOPA Pilot. 

Learn more about how you could win a Cessna 172 in the AOPA 172 Sweepstakes.