Bob McPhail 12:30 p.m., April 26
- Community Blog
Flying Around Downtown
Have you ever seen a blue biplane with red wings buzzing around San Diego? It belongs to Barnstorming Adventures out of Montgomery Field. I recently took a ride to do some aerial photography of downtown and it was a real thrill!
We flew over the coast at Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach and headed down to Point Loma lighthouse. From there, we turned up the bay and circled around downtown several times before heading back over Mission Bay where the pilot put the Travel Air biplane through some sharp and exciting turns and stalls.
The great thing about this plane is that two people can sit side-by-side in the front seat. It gives a single person with a camera lots of room, but it is still comfortable with two.
A biplane would not be my first choice for aerial photography. The wings and struts tend to get in the way, but I can't resist the open cockpit ride.
If you feel like trying some aerial photography for yourself, you'll need a camera with a fast shutter speed. I shot all my pictures at around 1/1000 of a second to help eliminate the vibration from the plane. I used shutter priority set for this speed and an ISO of 400. As long as there was enough light to maintain the shutter speed, I didn't care about the F stop. The photo above was taken at F7.1 with my 18-200mm zoom set to 29mm. The lens turned out to be a good choice, because I could crop out the wings and struts in the viewfinder.
I used a large capacity card so I didn't have to change it in mid-flight and I was careful not to rest the camera on the airframe. I also did not use a lens hood as I could easily have imagined it being blown off into the bay.
The people at Barnstorming Adventures were very helpful and accommodating. They were happy to fly me anywhere I wanted to go around San Diego. I hope to repeat the experience sometime.