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Choosing a pilot

No one is more important in aerial photography.


A good pilot is essential for straight-down shots like this.
A good pilot is essential for straight-down shots like this.

THE PILOT MUST BE QUALIFIED

Needless to say, for your aerial photography, you will want to ensure that the pilot is fully-qualified and preferably experienced in aerial photography. The pilot should have a commercial flying license and would ideally be certified as a flight instructor.

THE PILOT'S FAMILIARITY WITH THE AREA IS A BIG ASSET

The pilot should preferably be familiar with the area you wish to photograph. He or she can then help in planning a flight route that takes advantage of the location of the sun, that minimizes travel time between shoot sites and can predetermine the best altitude for each location.


EXPERIENCE IN FLYING PHOTOGRAPHERS WILL HELP YOU

A pilot who has experience in flying aerial photographers can be of significant help to you. Such a pilot can often suggest a better vantage or even ideas for images or angles you may not have thought about, and will, for example, know just when to slow the aircraft to give you sufficient time to open and secure the window for a shot, and in general can give you the benefit of his or her experience.

A personable, competent and safe pilot is your best aerial photography asset
A personable, competent and safe pilot is your best aerial photography asset

Great pilots like the late
Great pilots like the late "Blackie" Apsouris of the Pacific Coast are treasured by photographers

THE IMPORTANCE OF PERSONALITY SHOULD NOT BE OVERLOOKED

Personality can be important. You will be working as a team, cooperating to get the best possible picture-taking opportunities. A pilot who understands that, who wants to work with your interests in mind and is willing, for example, to go back for another pass or even a third one if necessary, is an asset.

SAFETY-CONSCIOUSNESS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT CHARACTERISTIC

The one factor that over-rides all others, though, is that you must have a feeling of confidence that the pilot is a safety-first flyer, and will not take any risk that he or she thinks will enable you to get a better picture.