Double Ugly? Not.

October 11, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I was at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, the week of September 12 through 16, 2016, photographing some of the US Air Force's remaining F-4 Phantom II fighter/bombers. The base had recently flown its final unmanned mission with these, now-designated QF-4, aircraft and would soon cease their use in the "full-scale aerial target" role. In honor of that impending occasion, here are a couple images of an aircraft some have dubbed "Double Ugly." I, myself, see beauty in this beast!

aircraft arriving and parked

Above is a QF-4E making a high-speed, knife-edge pass. If you need it plain, unadulterated, focused on the flight, you might as well make it dynamic… (And you've gotta be quick with this kind of shot because he's coming at you, um, quickly.)

aircraft parked and stored With a little leeway, bringing out the natural, if muted, colors in a portion of the vaunted General Electric J79-17F engine (a section that includes controls for the movable stators, a big advancement in turbine engines) develops a different kind of dynamism.

Or this one peering into the afterburner section. In each case, the bold colors are not added, but appear by emphasizing — a lot — the colors that appear in the original shot.

aircraft arriving and parked

Back to natural colors and a straightforward (straightsideways?) approach to showing the aircraft, but finding a mildly humorous composition to keep the viewer lingering just a bit longer.

Holloman AFB

Or this maintainer climbing into the intake through which he will inspect the compressors of the engines. The plane has just landed, so the metal is hot, and it's hot in the "bunny suit," but it's important to make sure the compressors were not damaged and to not leave anything behind during the inspection. To me, though, it also makes an interesting image.

Some of these photos might be suitable for journalism, others for art. I enjoy them all and thank the US Air Force for giving me access to capture them.

Phantoms Phorever, as Phantom Phans do declare. (They can be a cheesy lot.)


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Photography is a massive field. Aerospace photography less so. In these writings I share stories and tips.
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