Pilots visit places that others rarely see, and several are sharing their unique view of the world on Instagram. With an eye on “inspiring others to go fly,” AOPA Social Media Manager John Munn recommends following five Instagrammers who are sure to please any aviation geek.
Combining photography and aviation opens new horizons to many, and it is evident that Florida resident Jessica Voruda shares a passion for both. “Mostly it’s all about feeling and emotion,” wrote Voruda, who has more than 8,000 followers and quickly responded to an Instagram message. Her images range from dynamic time lapses to photos that bring out the best lines on classic, as well as modern, aircraft.
Adventure pilot Deon Mitton has flown a seaplane from Alaska to Florida and has the photos to prove it. He wrote that his passion for aviation began at a very young age. Mitton’s effective use of light, color, and shapes has attracted 22,700 followers along the way.
During a brief break from his travels to Norway and South Africa, Mitton wrote to AOPA that he learned to fly in the African bush and is “inspired by the world’s natural beauty—all around us” and is especially appreciative of aviation for the bird’s-eye view that it allows.
His love for “anything outdoors” brings viewers along as Mitton examines nature from a pilot’s perspective that challenges himself “to never stop learning.” His passion shines as he documents aircraft ranging from de Havilland Beavers in the bush to fireworks exploding over a Pan American painted DC-3. Mitton wrote that the art of capturing light in interesting ways helps him convey to others the emotion and love of aviation that he feels when he is flying.
With nearly 29,000 followers, Alaska bush pilot Matt Bertke captures the rugged beauty of aircraft on floats and skis overflying spectacular landscapes that many pilots dream about. He lives at a remote fishing lodge and primarily flies a Piper PA-12, so the aircraft is “not only a vessel for exploration but also a lifeline to get the supplies” he needs from town.
Bertke wrote that his visual inspiration comes from “exploration of the unknown” and aviation allows him to “explore and find new areas to fly fish, snowboard, or even just step out of the plane and take a photo.” He started his Instagram page @flyakbush because, “Alaska, to me, is the ultimate place to fly.”
Piper Super Cubs and de Havilland Beavers are prominently displayed in Bertke's outdoor adventures that more often than not involve snow, tundra, or ice. His eye for shapes and patterns that exploit lighting and texture also treats viewers to an inside look at the life of a backcountry pilot.
Australian nature enthusiast and Papua pilot Geordie Paton takes 3,500 followers along as he documents his views from the cloud-hugging, cliff-top runways he routinely visits while ferrying supplies and people into and out of Papua New Guinea's often unforgiving terrain.
Paton’s photos capture the spirit of the biologically diverse island country off the coast of Australia and its inhabitants, and showcase its amazingly tight airstrips.
He responded to AOPA via Instagram that that he didn't think his pictures were "anything worth writing about," but Paton was, nonetheless, appreciative for the recognition.
One of the top dogs of aviation photography is actually … a dog.
With more than 50,000 Instagram followers, Airport K-9 Piper is a photogenic border collie that often can be found with handler and owner Brian Edwards patrolling the grounds at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Michigan.
Piper’s famous black-and-white face and expressive brown eyes have been the subject of numerous television news reports. Whether he is scaring away flocks of birds, guarding the airport from other four-legged intruders, or performing perimeter checks, Piper “loves to work” and takes “a proactive approach to wildlife management and aviation safety,” operations supervisor Edwards wrote on the airport’s webpage.
“The thing about these five is that they give a real-world look at what being a pilot is all about,” said Munn. “What’s so awesome about these aviation Instagrammers is that they can spark new interests that can lead to a passion for flight that you didn’t know about.”