Tutima Academy of Aviation Safety

So you’ve got your license or are a seasoned pilot, and are
wondering; now what?!? Well for those that want to take their flying to
the next level, they come to King City, CA and enroll in the Tutima
Academy of Aviation Safety. Whether it’s just learning how to control
an airplane during an uncontrolled spin or learning precision
acrobatics, people from all over the world come to Tutima. Yesterday, I
was invited by Ben Freelove, Director of Operations for Tutima as well
as an Instructor Pilot, to come fly and experience what a typical day
is like as a student and to get some dynamic shots.


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Fallen Officers Flyover

Today I got to be a part of a very special event that paid tribute to 11 local officers who have been killed in the line of duty since 1924. Every year, the San Jose Police Department honors these officers with a ceremony at City Hall with flags lowered to half staff and a fly over with their EC-120 “AIR 2”. And this year, neighboring law enforcement helicopters from the Santa Clara County Sheriff Office and California Highway Patrol participated in the flyover as well. I was able to fly aboard STAR 1, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s helicopter and shoot the other two helos during the formation flight over San Jose’s City Hall.


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Sky High in Chile – That’s a wrap!!!

Well, I’m finally back home in sunny California. Although coming from being in the mid 80’s in Santiago to overcast and in the low 70’s is a bit hard. But I am very glad to be home. As much fun as I had down there, I do enjoy sleeping in my own bed. Especially after the long flight home. In my last entry, you’ll recall that I flew 10 hours, nonstop, on a KC-135R from Santiago to NAS JRB Fort Worth. Web seating is not my friend. But refueling those 3 F-16’s from the 457th Fighter Squadron made it all worth while. But unfortunately, after we landed late in the afternoon in Texas and checked into the Base Housing, I listened to my voice mail and got a pleasant surprise. My flight on American Airlines from DFW to SJC scheduled for the following afternoon had been canceled. And American had rescheduled me for a flight on Saturday. Not good. So as soon as I got to my room, I called up American. Of course I was on hold for over an hour and got disconnected twice, but eventually I did speak to a nice agent who rescheduled me on the first flight out in the morning at 0945. Which meant that I had to get up super early and catch a cab to the airport, which is approx 30 miles away. Luckily the 1st Lt that was traveling with me also had an early flight, so we split a cab. And we both got on our flights without an issue. Continue reading “Sky High in Chile – That’s a wrap!!!”

Sky High in Chile – Day 13

Lucky 13! Well, my time in Chile has come to an end and it’s time to bid it a fond adios. It sure has been very bueno, but come 7am, it’s time to load up my bags onto our AZ KC-135R and ship off. Luckily it was dark and I had two seats all to myself. 🙂 Actually the real luck came in the form that we were actually going to be tanking 3 F-16’s on the way back to Carswell.

Our first tanking came just as the sun rose to the east and offered some nice soft light.

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Sky High in Chile – Day 11

As we began the second day of the NEWEN exercise, I was able to fly with the Gucci Boys from Travis once again.  Today’s mission: refuel the Chilean F-16 as the participate in the aerial war games with the US Air Force F-16’s and F-15’s.  With two “wars” to be fought in the skies today, the Chilean F-16’s were using the time in between to keep current on their tanking skills; an absolute necessity in any aerial battle.

But the secondary mission for this flight was a photo shoot showcasing both air forces.  With the help and cooperation from the higher ups at AFSOUTH, an F-15 from Mountain Home, Idaho and an F-16 from JRB NAS Ft. Worth, Texas joined a Chilean F-16 for a brief formation off the KC-10.   And much to my surprise, I was treated with the wing birds from each unit.  🙂


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Sky High in Chile – Day 10

FIDAE has officially ended, and now begins the NEWEN Exercise (which I’m told means “Force”in the Mapucho dialect). It’s a collaboration between the US Air Force and Chilean Air Forces and has three parts to it. The first is a joint air to air exercise pitting the Chilean F-16’s as the Blue (good guys) Force against the USAF F-16’s & F-15E’s as the Red (or bad guys) Force. In the second part of that mission, the Chileans will practice aerial refueling’s from KC-135R’s and KC-10’s. The third part of NEWEN is the AeroMedical Mission; Combat Search & Rescue (CSAR) of a downed pilot and Personnel Recovery (PR) from a mass casualty event.

So today I was scheduled to fly in the 0900 HC-130P AeroMedical practice mission. 300′ AGL (above ground level) low level to the coastal town of Quintero, short field landing, hot load the Chilean & USAF ParaRescue Jumpers (PJ’s), climb to 10,000 feet, execute two HALO (High Altitude Low Open) jumps, and then high tail it back to Santiago. 4 hours at the most. And once we landed, back to the hotel to change and then I was off to a 7pm dinner at the Ambassadors house. Sounds like a good plan huh?


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Sky High in Chile – Day 7

After a quite evening and recuperating from my 9 hour KC-10 flight, it was back to FIDAE early in the morning. Today was my first real day of shooting the air display acts. The line up was sparse at best since it was a practice day and half of the teams weren’t even preset yet. Not that it mattered much since the layout of the Santiago airport has you starring into the sun till about 2am. And thus really bad for photography. So I ended up wandering around a bit and visiting the various air crews. Such as Ritz, pilot of the F-15E Strike Eagle Demo Team, speaking to some Santiago engineering students from a local university.

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Sky High in Chile – Day 6

As I mentioned in my last blog, day 6 started out really, really early. But it was well worth it. I was going to fly on a KC-10. And even though it was my first time on the -10, I was more excited to be flying with the Gucci Boys from Travis AFB. For the past 3 years, I’ve been trying to coordinate with the Travis PAO to go up in one of their -10’s. And I had to fly 6,000 miles from Travis to make it happen. But it was well worth the effort. The Gucci Boy’s from the 349th AMW gave us one hell of a ride.


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Sky High in Chile – Day 5

Ok, first off let me apologize for not keeping this updated. For those of you who are reading this blog daily, you’ll notice that I’m a couple of days late. It’s been quite a busy couple of days, so I’ll keep the writing short and let the pictures do all of the talking. But I do want to say, that I’m pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy hanging out with Americans. I know, it’s an odd statement to make, but let me put it in some context.


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Sky High in Chile – Day 4

Hola! Como estas? I hope that things are well where every you guys are. I’m rocking day 4 here in Santiago. Or should I say that it’s starting to rock me. The adrenaline is starting to wear off, and as should be expected, I’m starting to slow down a bit.

Yesterday was a pretty awesome day, so it’s going to be hard to top that. The kids that we met were so awesome and it was hard to come back to the show site and resume “business as usual.” The air expo is the main priority, but I’m so glad that the US Air Force is doing humanitarian missions while they are down here. I was speaking to some of the crews that went with me yesterday and they were just raving at how much fun it was and how much they got from it. Some are even planning on volunteering to go to other orphanages during their days off. 🙂

But today, it was back to interviews and photography. When I got to FIDAE this morning, I was hitting the ground running. No sooner then I had gotten out to the ramp, Captain Nathan Broshear (the uber cool PA for the 12th AF), had lined up a one on one interview with Mr. Bruce Lemkin. If you recall from yesterday’s post, he’s the Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force (International Affairs) and is one of the top civillians in the Air Force. I was very lucky to have some of his time.

After that I had a chance to meet and photograph Mr. Paul Simons, the US Ambassador to Chile.


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Sky High in Chile – Day 3

Buenos Noches everyone! I hope everyone is enjoying reading my entries. While I’m sure many of you are looking forward to reading about my adventures at FIDAE and all the aircraft being showcased here, but today’s entry is geared to another aspect of this trip; the humanitarian mission. While the 12th Air Force is here to participate in the air expo and military exercises, it is also here to give back to the community. And one realities of Chile is the vast difference between the booming business society and the poor. And today we had a chance to visit an orphanage and hang out with the children there.

But before all that was attending the opening ceremonies at FIDAE 2008. Here are the top brass of the Chilean Air Force officially starting the air expo.

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Sky High in Chile – Day 2

Good evening from a beautiful Santiago. Let me just say that it was 80 degrees today and simply beautiful. Everyone here is super nice and very friendly. That and my Spanish is not so bueno. 🙂

Today was a low key day and so I had a chance to catch up on my sleep. That an we gained an hour last night. Apperently, yesterday was the day that we “Fall Back” with daylight saving time down here. Huh. Who knew? But I still woke up around 9am and found my self well rested. So I got ready and decided to go for a short walk around my neighborhood of Providencia, or the business district of Santiago. My Best Western hotel is located next to the river that runs through the city, so I decided to walk along it for a bit and explore. But quickly I realized that it was Sunday and everything was closed. 🙁


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Sky High in Chile – Day 1

Well, I’m finally here in Chile! 🙂 And let me say, it’s been one hell of a day. For those of you who have worked with the military, then you know first hand what I’m about to say. All the best plans go out the window. So let me give you a quick rundown of my day.

After we finally got the which bags go in which aircraft dilemma solved, it was off to billeting and get processed to get on our 161st ARW KC-135 flight courtesy of the Arizona Air National Guard! With over 60 Maintainers, pilots, public affairs, and two media guys on 2 planes, it was fun separating who goes on what plane and where their luggage goes. And when a freak thunderstorm threatened to cancel our flights, we just waited for it to pass. Eventually it did and we made it out to the aircraft. And once again there was confusion as to which aircraft was ours. Fun.

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Acrobatics, Tucker Style!!!

What’s it like to pull 5 G’s with two planes just 15 feet off your nose and take pictures at the same time??? Well, yesterday I had a chance to find out. I went down to King City, CA; home of The Tutima Academy of Aviation Safety and training grounds for world famous acrobats Sean D. Tucker, Eric Tucker, Bill Stein, and Ben Freelove to shoot the cover for In Flight USA. And the images below are the proof off the amazing flying skills that can be honed at Tutima. I even got a chance to test my skills at flying some acrobatic maneuvers. But with a rockstar like Eric Tucker coaching you, it’s all blue skies!!!



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Associated Press Image and new cover shots

The month of January has been a good month. I landed three more covers; one for San Mateo Daily News, one for In Flight USA, and one for Airliners. But while that is really good, the highlight was a photo of mine being picked up by Associated Press Images. For those of you who don’t know, AP is the international news wire service that provides hundreds of thousands of newspapers and magazines stories and images. And I’m proud to say that one of my images made it’s way all around the world and published in countless of newspapers. Here it is on Yahoo! France.


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Indoor Skydiving at iFLY SF Bay!

With slight apprehension, the clear doors shut and we entered the fight chamber waiting area at iFLY SF Bay.  A slight rumble filled the chamber, and quickly the four 250 horsepower fans roared to life.  Forty five minutes prior to this we were being briefed by our expert flight instructor Travis.  Chin up, arch our back, keep your arms in front of you, bend your knees, but not too much, and have fun.  With the wind ripping through the waiting area, all those instructions escaped your mind.  But luckily Travis was there to guide you through it.  And any fear was gone in an instant.  Arms against your chest, take a step forward into the main chamber and instantaneously I achieved what man has dreamt of for eons.  Flight. Pure, unadulterated flight.


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