The Most Amazing Jet Picture – new details emerge on how it was taken
In September, 2003, the picture below showed up on several websites. I remember the day it came out because it was absolutely amazing, but it seemed to be an impossible shot. The aviation boards were full of rumors about the picture being fake but few days later, more details surfaced on the accident and how this REAL picture was captured.
Click here to see the original high-res shot (with EXIF – AMAZING 3008×1960 image)
Here’s a summary of why the pilot is making a quick exit – Most airplanes have an altimeter that displays the current altitude above sea level. Here in the flat state of Florida where the tallest mountain is Space Mountain at Walt Disney World, we pilots get spoiled because we don’t do a lot of work converting altitude above sea-level to altitude above the ground – they are usually within 100 feet of each other. If our altimeter is reading 2,000 feet, we can fly all over the state with no worries about hitting anything (with a few exceptions, a couple of radio towers and a tethered blimp at 14,000 feet in the keys)! However, if you fly around at 2,000 feet above sea level in Colorado, you’ll bump into something fast! If you want to be 1,000 feet above the ground, you have to know what the elevation is of the ground below you and fly 1,000 feet higher than that elevation. This is the basis of how this accident happened. This particular pilot had practiced the maneuver many times at Nellis AFB in Nevada and was used to flying to around 2,500 feet higher than the elevation of the ground below him before starting the manuever…. but this particular show was in Idaho where the airport elevation was 1,000 feet higher than Nellis so he was much closer to the ground than he expected to be. Basically, he forgot to add the extra 1,000 feet resulting in a VERY exciting flight! I wonder what words he was yelling when he noticed the ground closing in and realized his little math error! He tried his best to recover, and came very close to pulling out of the dive in time, but physics won and he exited the aircraft at 140′ above the ground only 8/10ths of a second before crashing! The pilot did survive. The plane did not.
The photograph was taken with a Nikon D1X using a 300mm lens at f4 and a shutter speed of 1/1000th (EXIF data is included in the high-res shot). The photographer was Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III, Still Photographer, U.S. Air Force
Other pictures and multiple videos of the crash are available at http://www.avweb.com/avwebflash/briefs/186633-1.html
This week, a new video was put on YouTube by AvWeb (an aviation news organization) showing the accident with new details on how the shot was captured:
~ by gregorywilson on January 12, 2008.