I had recently flown a number of fun formation photo flights, documenting a varied number of different aircraft types, such as the Nanchang CJ-6, RV-7 and other aircraft. After an offer from local Northwest aviation photographer Jason Fortenbacher, it was time to get our Warrior in front of the camera, since she had just completed an interior upgrade and an engine cylinder replacement, and was just purring in the air.
The May flying weather in the Great Northwest had been quite nice, so I coordinated with James Polivka, who had graciously offered to fly his Cessna 172 as the camera platform for Jason, and picked a Monday afternoon that would work for all. I flew my Warrior up from Renton to Paine Field with Mary in the left seat, and briefed the formation/photo plan and locations with James and Jason outside Regal Air. James also wanted to try out his tail mounted GoPro, so we had a full agenda for shot opportunities.
We taxied in trail, lined up on the runway together and I took off with 10 seconds spacing and joined to James' right wing as he turned to the northeast from runway 34R at Paine. The low clouds that were present all day had moved east to the Cascade foothills, providing some character to the in-flight photos, while still opening up the sky to the west. The late afternoon lighting on the Cascade foothills, Three Fingers Mountain, Mt Baker and Mt Rainier all made for beautiful mountain backgrounds. James' smooth turns in the 172 made it extremely easy to hang in close formation, and 3DC's recent cylinder re-work provided excess power to easily hang with the Cessna.
After climbing to 5500' for the Cascade photos, we started a slow descent west, just north of Arlington. We followed the Stillaguamish River into the lowlands, continuing west where the Stillaguamish forms a broad delta as it enters the Puget Sound, just north of Warm Beach. The views over the muddy delta, along with the setting sun, provided more excellent backgrounds for our Warrior. After a salute and bank away in thanks, Mary and I proceeded back to Renton for a glorious sunset landing.
Thanks for the smooth lead flying, James and thanks for the outstanding series of photos, Jason, highlighting our Warrior flying among the varied and beautiful landscapes of the Great Northwest!