Magazine Article


Safety in the Skies: Flight Plan for a Successful Aerial Photography Career

  • If something goes wrong-stay calm.

In an emergency landing, you are the pilot's extra set of eyes. Look for obstructions, wires, places to land. Once on the ground, go to the front or sides of the helicopter, in the pilot's vision, not to the rear of the helicopter-or it will be your last haircut!

  • If you end up in the water without floats, stay calm. Wait until the rotors stop spinning, then swim away from the helicopter.
  • Over water, wear a Personal Flotation Device.
  • Keep your gear secured so nothing will fly out of the helicopter and strike the tail rotor.
  • Tape your seat belt to prevent your exiting the helicopter before you're ready. I take a small strip of orange or green gaffer's tape and place it across the buckle, so it won't open by mistake. Don't wrap the buckle tight; you need to be able to get out.

Aerial photography is fascinating, exhilarating, and well worth the time and effort. But you've got to be safe to be successful.

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Editor's Note:
All photos were shot by Davidson with a Canon EOS 1Ds, converted from raw with Capture One DSLR, captioned with Photo Mechanic, then sized and cleaned up in Photoshop CS.
Cameron Davidson has shot aerial photography worldwide for corporate, advertising, and editorial clients, such as Freddie Mac, Shell, National Geographic, and Smithsonian. An active member of the APA, he has two recently published books: Chicago From Above and Washington, DC From Above.