'AOPA Pilot' 2008 General Aviation Photography Contest

The perfect canvas: Your top 15 revealed

December 1, 2008

There’s something inherently beautiful about general aviation and the places and people it touches. Take earth, water, or sky, add a sunset or a season, and mix in an aircraft, a person, or an event to portray its amazing culture.

Back at AOPA headquarters, the editorial and art staffs had the pleasure of viewing hundreds of stunning images received during the 2008 AOPA Pilot General Aviation Photography Contest. Cell phone cameras and conventional equipment revealed dazzling places and outstanding subjects, and your love of idyllic scenes—preferably a seaplane in safe haven, backdropped by majestic mountains, snow, and a sunset. Take a look at your monthly top three if you don’t believe it.

With your help—more than 5,000 votes for the 15 finalists published here—we now present you the top rankings in each category (Aerial, Aircraft, Airports, Altered, and Pilots).

And the winners are…


Grand Award, First Place AerialGrand Award, First Place
Glacier Skiing
Chris Flowers

Wouldn’t you like to take a winter vacation to fly your buddy and your Super Cub into Alaska’s backcountry for some quality skiing? Airline pilot Chris Flowers thinks it’s a great way to experience Alaska’s beauty when he’s not goofing off or raising his two sons. Sharing that breathtaking experience has earned him this year’s top honors in the photo contest. This awesome picture shows friend Tory Dugan skiing back to Flower’s Super Cub in the majestic Talkeetna Mountains.

Second Place AerialSecond Place, Aerials
Deception Pass Bridge
Greg Bell

You better not be afraid of heights or water. This terrific shot was taken over the Deception Pass Bridge at Whidbey Island, Washington. According to photographer Greg Bell, the current can be tricky for boaters to traverse. It sure looks like a venturi channel.

Third Place AerialThird Place, Aerials
John English

Kansas’ farmers take great pride in the precise planting of their crops. That’s what struck John English when he photographed a farmer harvesting corn. And when you look closer at the straight rows they seem like rays of sunlight beaming from the quarter circle of crops in the upper right corner.


First Place Aircraft
First Place, Aircraft
C-185 at Tumbang Marikoi
Darrell Ash

Mission clinics around the world depend on supplies and patients being delivered by airplane. Indonesia’s Tumbang Marikoi clinic is no exception. There is no road access and the airplane saves 12 hours’ travel by boat. Darrell Ash, a Mission Aviation Fellowship pilot, took this picture of a Cessna 185F landing on the Kahayan River.

Second Place AircraftSecond Place, Aircraft
Sky Crane
Eric Cobb

Sometimes spectacular things can be observed from the air, such as when Eric Cobb spotted a flying crane picking up water in Lake Cachuma, north of Santa Barbara, California. The crane later released its load on a nearby island in a training exercise, but Cobb captured the moment quickly from his perch above.

Third Place AircraftThird Place, Aircraft
1934 Waco
John Meyer

The retired Pan Am pilot, riding the Waco’s front seat near Concrete, Washington, is John Meyer’s father. The 92-year-young retiree got his early IFR training in a similar aircraft back in the 1930s. Meyer’s timing was perfect as he captured the grace and beauty of that flight with the Cascade Range as the backdrop.


First Place AirportsFirst Place, Airports
OSH Seaplane Base
James Knight

An all-time favorite—the Oshkosh seaplane base nestled just off the shore at Lake Winnebago. James Knight ventured over to the OSH Splash-in site during EAA AirVenture 2007. A perfect shot: Can things get more cozy and idyllic?

Second Place AirportsSecond Place, Airports
A Family Outing
June Cunningham

“The children giggled, and there were oohs and ahs, every time an airplane took off or landed,” said June Cunningham of this family’s outing at Geauga County Airport in Middlefield, Ohio. This Amish father and his children evidently enjoyed the scene at the EAA Chapter 5 fly-in.

Third Place AirportsThird Place, Airports
Somewhere in France
Laurent Chantegros

Have you ever flown outside the United States? Private pilots flying general aviation in other countries face different challenges than their U.S.-pilot kin. But one thing remains the same no matter where you are: The good old windsock—universally situated at airports across the world.


First Place AlteredFirst Place, Altered
Slick Takeoff
Curtis Chapline

“The J–3 Cub was taking off at my small base airport in Cypress, Texas, but the background wasn’t what I wanted,” says Curtis Chapline. Thus he changed things to his satisfaction using computer software.

Second Place AlteredSecond Place, Altered
Selina Looks to the Skies
Doug Chervenak

As a TWA flying nurse and stewardess, Selina fell in love with flying during the 1930s. Her son, Doug—a pilot and physician—remembers she flew with him wherever and whenever she could. Chervenak’s beautiful portrait of her tells the story.

Third Place AlteredThird Place, Altered
Red Bull MiG-17
Stephen Raney

The photo was taken at the 2007 Mount Comfort Airshow, held in Indianapolis. It stands to reason that you’ll find some great airplanes at an airshow. But sometimes a special craft takes the limelight. Thanks to Stephen Raney for this striking MiG-17 creation.


First Place PilotsFirst Place, Pilots
Boys and Airplanes
Denise Hash

“Our boys love aviation and flying in small airplanes,” said Brian and Denise Hash. Denise took this picture of Nolan (age 6) and CJ (age 4) at a park-and-ride at the south end of Auburn Municipal Airport (S50) in Washington. Nolan started flying in airplanes at five weeks, and CJ says he will be a pilot when he gets bigger.

Second Place PilotsSecond Place, Pilots
Lima Lima Slot Pilot
John Rippinger

A great self-portrait of John Rippinger while flying his T-34 Mentor in the slot position of the Lima Lima Flight Team during the 2006 Chicago Air and Water Show. If you look closely you’ll see the other five T-34 aircraft in Rippinger’s gold tinted visor.

Thirs Place PilotsThird Place, Pilots
Ronn Rutan at Moose Pass
Vern Kingsford

Owner and operator of Alaska Float Ratings, Vern Kingsford had a great opportunity to take a snapshot of Ronn Rutan, one of his seaplane students. The Alaskan scenery, tranquil waters, and Ronn taking in the fresh air cinched the deal for a great photo opportunity.

To view the other entrants and get information on the contest visit AOPA Pilot Online.