Hangar Talk

The story behind the story

September 1, 2004

Orchestrating the elements for a photo shoot takes patience, foresight — and flexibility when weather, airplanes, and various interests conspire to disrupt carefully laid plans. Senior Editor Julie K. Boatman rediscovered this truism while putting together plans for the photo essay "Incredible Journey," which begins on page 86. The biggest challenge was determining where to meet up with the Flight of Discovery expedition for the best combination of aerial photos and ground shots. "I had decided on the Columbia River valley and Vancouver, Washington, which on paper looked like it would offer the best of both worlds. But when the expedition experienced a weather delay in Montana, we looked at having to extend our trip in order to accommodate the schedule change — or fly several hundred nautical miles to get the shots we needed in a rental airplane. However, fate smiled on us, and the Flight of Discovery team decided to press ahead, and then they graciously offered use of one of their helicopters so we could add more depth to the photos we sought. Many thanks to them for an incredible story, and for working with us to bring it to life." To illustrate the story, AOPA tapped the photographic talents of Cameron Lawson, AOPA 4646093, a private pilot who just purchased his first airplane, a 1951 Cessna 170A. Lawson has numerous credits in climbing, kayaking, and other outdoor photography, and bases out of Bozeman, Montana.

A chance meeting between writer Patrick Mathews and independent film producer/director Brian Terwilliger proved to be the amalgam of a solid and productive friendship. Terwilliger was working on a sophisticated production of a new documentary on the seventy-fifth anniversary of California's renowned Van Nuys Airport (see "Movie Magic," page 78). "I was impressed by Brian's passion and knowledge of the subject and his determination to get this film made to a quality and style not usually seen in documentary filmmaking," says Mathews. As well as great entertainment, this film is designed to be an archival record for future generations.

"The small world of aviation strikes again," says regional airline captain and Pilot contributor Peter A. Bedell. "In early 2003, I flew a month with Mike Godfrey, a flight attendant at my airline who is an inactive pilot. We whiled away many layovers talking airplanes and war stories, but I was most intrigued by the prospect of meeting his son-in-law, Bo Hixon, who just acquired an amphibious Cessna 206. Hixon was also a pilot at my airline and after many months, all three of our paths finally met in the terminal crew lounge. With the formalities out of the way, I learned that Hixon was a bona fide aviation nut who has owned several airplanes. Needless to say, we always have plenty to talk about," says Bedell. Hixon's amphibious 206 was fresh from the mod shop at Wipaire when it was photographed for " Four-Wheel Water Wagon," which begins on page 70.