Massive Photo Shoot of All U.S Military Jet Demo Teams Makes History

Massive Photo Shoot of All U.S Military Jet Demo Teams Makes History

One aviation photographer made history last week when he photographed every single American jet demo team flying at the same time. 

Last week, 21 jets went up in formation over Lake Erie for what would be the largest photo shoot in aviation history. The brave cameraman of this legendary shoot was Glenn Watson, aerial photographer and pilot out of Central Texas. Watson took these incredible images from the back seat of Blue Angel number eight, a two-seater Boeing Hornet belonging to the U.S. Navy demonstration team. For the history-making shoot, Watson stuck to his go-to setup, a 24-70mm on a Nikon D810.

According to The Aviationist, where you can find Watson's full interview, this is likely the first and last time all demo teams will be photographed at the same time. Due to the extremely dangerous nature of the shoot, it took a year to plan every crucial detail including altitudes, route, and formations. You can check out all of Watson's images on his Mach Point One Aviation Photography website. I have seen all of the teams perform at airshows before; it is incredible to watch. I cannot imagine how thrilling it would be to photograph them from the air; it's truly an impressive and noteworthy accomplishment by the whole crew. 

Lead image used with permission of Glenn Watson.

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Michael Hicks's picture

Snowbirds aren't U.S. military, but what a great shot!

Roger Morris's picture

The Snowbirds (the red and white ones in front) are Canadian.

You might want to fix that ... bad wordsmithing takes away from a great picture.
(you forgot Glenn's key word prior to "American" ... which would be "North").

Johnny Rico's picture

I guess cool context? But this photo does nothing for me

Dwight Erskine's picture

Also missing is the Air Combat Command A-10 Demo Team. Awesome shot, misleading headline and article (to an extent).

Photo Kaz's picture

I think the bigger issue is that one of the demo teams isn't even from the USA. Go Canada!

David Pavlich's picture

It may not be the best shot, maybe a so so shot, but it's nothing but terrific! To get these excellent pilots and their ships in one shot is pure magic.

michaeljin's picture

I guess I'm not on the "rah rah MILITARY" thing, but why exactly do we have incredibly skilled pilots flying million dollars worth of military equipment and burning jet fuel for our amusement again? It seems especially odd when you continue to read reports of how thinly stretched the USAF is in terms of active duty service members and equipment.

Does this also serve some sort of secondary function as relevant combat training? I'm lacking a lot of context here and I'm genuinely curious...

Roger Morris's picture

Military flight demo teams primary purpose is as a recruitment tool, plain and simple.

Their secondary purpose is as a public relations and outreach tool to the general public. Flight demo teams are considered a crucial bridge between the general population, and the military establishment.

John Dawson's picture

No F-22 Raptor Demo Team

Roger Morris's picture

Indeed there is an F-22 Demo Team ... but you've got to remember that the U.S. Air Force (along with other branches) uses the word "team" to describe everybody involved with a demonstration flight, even if there is only one plane involved, they still use the word "team" to include all the ground support crew.

John Dawson's picture

Yes, as an USAF vet I understand, but "all" means "all". There were exactly two U.S. military jet demonstration teams represented in that picture. That's a far cry from all.

Roger Morris's picture

Ahhh, sorry - I misunderstood your post.
Yes, it was identified at the top of the comments that the headline was in error, and the article itself was full of misstatements.
F-Stoppers editors seem to feel that leaving those mistakes in place is appropriate though ... which is a bit odd.

stephenstarkman's picture

Could you please fix your error - the Snowbirds are not US Military. Gawd, Americans can be so ignorant of the rest of the world sometimes.