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Air to air photography using Model Aircraft

Yes it is possible and here is the proof.

These photographs were taken in 1986 and were the result of two frames from a 36 exposure film. In fact we did achieve 8 frames with an aircraft image but these 2 were the best.

A friend and I decided to try air to air photography. We had been flying together for some time and knew how each other flew. Every time we took to the air we flew closer and closer with our models. This took a lot of nerve. There was a couple of occasions when we did touch and we picked up the bits!!

The problem is that you are flying in 3 dimensions but can only see 2 at one time. Imagine two aircraft flying towards you. You can see their height against each other and their distance apart but not their position forwards or backwards from each other. This is hard enough if both aircraft are the same type and powered by the same engines but ours were not.

One model was an Acro Wot and the other a Titan. The Titan flies best at the slower end of the Acro Wots cruising speed. We tried flying together on several occasions without the camera on board the Titan and did get pretty close. There were several scary moments when we waited for the CRUNCH but it didn't happen. Well we loaded the camera and took off again. Glynn flew his Titan at a nice steady height and speed while I flew as close as possible. Waiting for the film to be developed was agonizing. Then the disappointment of seeing only landscape or 'spot the dot' a tiny speck of aircraft in the distance.

Well we persevered and several rolls of film later and flying desperately close together we finally achieved the results you see. Smack in the shot about 10-15 feet away from the camera lens was the other 'plane and it was in focus!

How can we be sure about the distance. Well the camera used was a SLR with a 50 mm lens and positioned in the 'plane so that you could see in the frame the wing tip of the camera 'plane. We were very pleased with ourselves and the photos.

I remember once being at Old Walden, Bedfordshire, at one of their Model Days. We were approached by a fellow modeller who wanted some air to air pictures of his aircraft. We explained that if we were allowed to fly his model we would be happy to do so. He declined our offer and walked away. I don't think he quite understood the work involved in achieving our results.

The secret to air to air photography we feel is TRUST and LOTS OF PATIENCE.