P ALM S PRINGS, CA - Picture this, kids, Cubs, and ooh-so-sweet sunsets. The photographs came in all shapes and sizes, black and white and color. Most were delivered electronically, magically appearing on the computer screen; others came in big packages via the U.S. Postal Service and were carefully framed on poster board. Some were expertly composed; others were snapshots (one photo in particular we still don't quite understand).
But all the entries in the AOPA Pilot 2006 General Aviation Photography Contest had one thing in common: They captured for one general aviation pilot on one particular day the essence of why we fly.
Among the thousands of entries received this year, more than a couple themes emerged.
It is clear, for example, based on entries as well as votes, that many of our members dream of flying floatplanes in Alaska. We received numerous "floatplanes at sunset/sunrise" shots that were so appealing and evocative that they made more than one staff member think about chucking the editor job for the floatplane flying life.
One idyllic image is a case in point. The photo was taken by Brian Dary, a commercial pilot who lived the dream for nine years. His photograph of a de Havilland DH-2 Beaver on floats at the Juneau float pond next to Juneau International Airport was an overwhelming member and staff favorite. It garnered the top honors - including a total cash prize of $1,750 - in this year's contest. Cash prizes this year include $250 for third place, $500 for second place, and $750 for first place in each category, with the Grand Award winner receiving an additional $1,000.
Other subjects that were obvious favorites? Our future pilots - babies as well as young kids of all sizes and ages - was a consistent theme. Many photos showed a young child at the yoke of an airplane, others showed children watching others fly airplanes, and some were just photos of, well, kids being kids around airplanes.
And it would be a grave omission not to mention the numerous images we received of four-legged fliers. We've got your dog in flying goggles, your dog sporting headsets, and even your dog soloing a Piper Cub (our design director is still trying to figure out whether that photo was "enhanced").
Thanks to all who entered, voted, enjoyed, or otherwise participated. Next year's contest opens at 12:01 a.m. on January 1 online ( www.aopa.org/photocontest/) and will feature some new twists, including a new category or two and even bigger prizes to the winners, so keep those cameras snapping.
Until then, the following present the best of the best, as selected by you, the members, and the staff of AOPA Pilot.
Taking the top honors in the AOPA Pilot 2006 General Aviation Photography Contest could not have come at a more opportune time for our Grand Award winner. This month Brian Dary celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of his first solo flight. With $1,750 in prize winnings, Dary can afford to do a little celebrating for dual reasons.
Frank Seymour, of Jensen Beach, Florida, nearly stole the show in the Altered category with two award winners. His winning photo was taken at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh: "I removed all the modern-day airplanes out of the background and then sepia toned the photo to make it look old," he explained. If you look closely, you can see a Cessna (between the spars of the biplane) that Seymour intentionally left in just for fun.
This dramatic image of Shiprock, New Mexico, was taken by Steve Zimmermann, of Longmont, Colorado. Zimmermann describes himself as a "serious amateur photographer." His work was an all-around favorite in this year's contest; in addition to his first place award, he took honors as a monthly winner and earned second place in the Airports category.
A private pilot from South Carolina, Thomas Klein snapped this photograph of a Cirrus SR22 just about to land near the top of the 4,919-foot-high Slickrock Mountain in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. "I am by no means a photographer," said Klein. "I just got off a couple of lucky shots."
Chuck Newman, a United Air Lines pilot, is shown here about to touch down on the grass strip at Cawleys South Prairie Airpark. Amateur photographer and private pilot Arlo Reeves captured the action from the backseat: "I extended my arm out the open window and used fill flash with my Canon S-70 set full wide," said Reeves.
With more than 408,000 members, AOPA is the world's largest civil aviation association. Some two thirds of all U.S. pilots are members of the association, which is dedicated to protecting the interests of general aviation.
November 9, 2006