Origins of the AirCam

Photos courtesy of Lockwood Aviation

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The Lockwood AirCam is a two-seat (tandem) pusher twin powered by a pair of Rotax 912 four-cylinder aircraft engines. The AirCam was designed by Phil Lockwood, originally for a National Geographic photo expedition to the Ndoki Rain Forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo because no single-engine airplane could have safely done the job.
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In Africa on the AirCam’s first expedition, Lockwood, in the front seat, flies over the village of Bomassa on the edge of the Sangha River.
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Nick Nichols shooting from the front seat of Jeremy Lezin’s AirCam, Chiquita, over the Redwoods in northern California.
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A master of photography, National Geographic’s Michael “Nick” Nichols marvels at the expansive view from the front seat.
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The town of Ouesso was the last stop on the flight from Brazzaville in southern Congo en route to our destination of Bomassa in Northern Congo on the edge of the Ndoki rainforest. Ouesso (pronounced Wayso) and Brazzaville were the only paved airfields I saw while flying in Congo. The AirCam garnered huge attention every where it went.
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The 600-foot AirCam landing strip in Bomassa. Lockwood could come to a stop before the end of the runway — without using brakes.
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Our fuel was transported up the river from Ousso in dugout canoes. All fuel was filtered through a special water separating filter/funnel before going into the AirCam. Our low fuel consumption averaging 3.3 GPH per side was appreciated as fuel was difficult to come by. We always tried fuel from a new untested drum on one engine while running the other engine on fuel from a proven drum.
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Flying low over a narrow section of the Sangha river which drains the Ndoki rainforest and flows into the Congo river. With no floats the twin engines keep each other company and run much smoother than a single when flying over un-landable terrain.
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Phil Lockwood and Bryan Harvey steady the right wing for AirCam #1 as it is transported from the research camp to a temporary 600-foot airstrip at the village of Bomassa on a narrow dugout canoe known as a pirogue
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Navigating over this remote forest would have been difficult without the portable Trimble Flightmate GPS.
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The Ndoki is located near the equator so sunrise and sunset are at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. year-round.   Each morning we took off at 6 a.m. on a new photo flight. Note the early morning ground fog.