Video: Learn How the Thunderbirds’ Aerial Shots are Made

Have you ever wondered how the images on the beautiful posters of the Thunderbirds are made? Well, here's your chance to find out. In this video U.S. Air Force photojournalist Staff Sergeant Larry Reid Jr. explains how the airplane he flies in follows the team of six F-16s in close trail to allow him to capture images of the tight formation patterns in flight.

But being a photojournalist for a distinguished team of Air Force pilots isn't only a matter of pushing a lens against the canopy of an F-16. Reid Jr. often captures his photos while the airplane flies at speeds greater than 500 mph and pulls as much as 7.5 G, which not only puts stress on the body itself but also increases the weight of the camera equipment significantly.

To maximize his chances of getting terrific shots in this fast-speed environment, Reid Jr. preflights his camera equipment before each flight and blocks out any potential glare from his clothing and/or the avionics equipment by using black cloth materials.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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