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Technical Editor Mike Collins' favorite shoots

Fascinated by photography since his youth, Technical Editor Mike Collins taught himself black-and-white darkroom skills in junior high school. He went on to earn a degree in photojournalism from Western Kentucky University and worked as a newspaper photographer and photo editor before transitioning into aviation. “Photojournalism is all about storytelling,” he says. “And aviation is full of great stories just waiting to be told.” Today he most enjoys the opportunities to simultaneously tell a story through photos, words, and video.

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Mike Collins

“Honoring the Tuskegee Airmen,” December 2011 'AOPA Pilot': When I learned Matt Quy’s 1944 Boeing PT–13 Stearman would be displayed in the National Museum of African American History and Culture, I suggested photographing it over the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site at Moton Field Municipal Airport in Tuskegee, Alabama—where it was first assigned during World War II, training the military’s first Black aviators. The sense of history was palpable when I snapped the shutter. (Nikon D300S, 70 mm, 1/60, f/8, ISO 200) “The Magic of Plane Savers,” August 2019 'AOPA Pilot': Who wouldn’t want to document an all-out effort by Mikey McBryan and an army of volunteers in Canada, resurrecting a historic Douglas C–47 that hadn’t flown in almost 30 years? McBryan is general manager of Buffalo Airways—yes, the one in the Ice Pilots NWT reality TV show. They achieved their objective of returning the veteran to flight on the seventy-fifth anniversary of D-Day—and built an online community that lives on. (Nikon D850, 24 mm, 1/800, f/5.6, ISO 400) "Flying Miss Jenny," July 2016 'AOPA Pilot': It’s always gratifying to see young people introduced to aviation, and Chuck Coppinger's explanation of rib stitching was excellent. He volunteered for Kentucky-based Friends of Jenny, which restored and operated a Curtiss JN–4 Jenny replica to preserve the history of barnstorming, World War I pilot training, and early air mail. (Nikon D7100, 70 mm, 1/320, f/7.1, ISO 400) "Celestial Survivors," March 2017 'AOPA Pilot Turbine Edition': The Starship looks even faster in flight than it does on the ground. Beechcraft’s first full-scale Starship prototype flew in 1986, and Raytheon sought to decommission the fleet in 2003—but there were holdouts, and five Starships remain airworthy today. Raj and Suresh Narayanan, who own Aerospace Quality Research and Development, base two of them at Addison Airport in Dallas. (Nikon D7100, 98 mm, 1/160, f/9, ISO 400) “Polish On, Fly Off,” October 2018 'AOPA Pilot': Passion in aviation doesn’t always involve flying. Vince Lalomia’s immaculate 1954 Cessna 170B boasts a mirrorlike finish. The New Jersey-based pilot quips that he spends more time with the orbital polisher in his hand than the classic Cessna’s yoke—and it’s a beautiful machine, on the ground and in the air. (Nikon D500, 20 mm, 1/8000, f/4, ISO 200) “Around the World in 25 Days,” December 2013 'AOPA Pilot': A flight around the world is full of breathtaking moments, and this early morning fog filling valleys near Salzburg, Austria, is my favorite of the 2013 trip. Mike Laver and I circumnavigated the globe in his Mitsubishi MU–2; this day’s flying will take us to Ankara, Turkey, and Kuwait City, Kuwait. (Nikon D7100, 11 mm, 1/60, f/16, ISO 400) "The New Rainmaker," May 2012 'AOPA Pilot': A spectacular high-desert sunset is reflected in the flanks of a Douglas DC–10 on the ramp in Victorville, California. Tanker 911, operated by 10 Tanker Air Carrier, had just completed U.S. Forest Service qualification flights for the 2012 fire season. Slowing to 140 knots, the converted airliner can drop 9,400 gallons of retardant—almost 85,000 pounds—in as few as four seconds. (Nikon D300S, 110 mm, 1/50, f/6.3, ISO 400) "Re-Living History", February 2019 'AOPA Pilot': It was a privilege to do a story on the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team as members trained for the seventy-fifth anniversary of D-Day. Special guests in Frederick, Oklahoma, for part of that week were these two D-Day veterans, owned and operated by the Commemorative Air Force—That's All, Brother (left) led the paratrooper drops in support of the Normandy invasion. If these two historic aircraft could talk, what would they say? ADT members relished the opportunity to jump from such iconic aircraft. (Nikon D500, 16 mm, 30 sec, f/13, ISO 400)

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