Foxbat as photo ship

Foxbat 7277 short strip landingWe recently set out to do some air-to-air and air-to-ground photography using my yellow Foxbat demonstrator as the photo ship. By ‘we’ I mean Mike Rudd – veteran professional videographer and photographer – in the right hand passenger seat and myself flying.

Normally, these shoots centre round the subject aircraft, on this occasion a Top Cub by Cubcrafters and another (red) Foxbat, which happened to belong to Mike. And indeed, we got some great pictures – have a look at the photo gallery to the bottom right of this blog to see some samples.

However, on this occasion Mike urged me to write something about one particular short sequence where, quite spontaneously and unplanned, we video’d his red Foxbat doing a very brief touch-and-go on a short, narrow and wet bush airstrip in the middle of nowhere. The video will appear shortly on YouTube (I’ll put up a link when it does) but meanwhile, here’s a preview of what we did.

After the air-to-air shots and some stills of the Top Cub landing and taking off, the pilot of the red Foxbat decided he’d emulate the Cub by landing on the same short strip – this impressed me because the Foxbat pilot was Stephen Buckle, Cubcrafters dealer for Australia. Who once owned a Foxbat of his own before drifting to the dark side….and Stephen’s passenger, Terry Walker, who owns a super little taildragger Kitfox, making them both familiar with the demands of short strips.

Stephen and I executed contra-direction circuits (‘patterns’ for our friends across the Pacific) and began parallel approaches to land. Except that Stephen was lined up on the runway and we were lined up about 50-60 metres to his left over some fairly tall trees. Now the Foxbat typically touches down in the high 30’s knots, so to get the footage, we had to slow down to much the same speed or we’d miss the brief touch and go-around.

Mike was busy with his camera, concentrating on his red Foxbat urging me to go ‘slower’ and ‘faster’, ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ to get the video he wanted. So there I am, sitting in the left seat, subject plane on the right, and lower than me, flying at about 35 knots….watching the tall trees coming up ahead of me.

It was during that sequence that once again it was emphasised to me what a great plane for photography the Foxbat is.

Controllable down to 30+ knots with full flap, I could see the subject plane all the time, even though it was on the opposite side to me, and Mike with his (large) camera in the passenger seat. It has an abundance of power – on the YouTube video you’ll hear the engine noise, not of the subject aircraft but of mine, so you’ll know when the power was on and off.

The only thing I regret is not having had a camera pointing straight out the front so you can see the trees and bush which close right up to the strip. When you think of all the variables and the process of shooting that short piece of video, there aren’t many aircraft short of a helicopter that could have handled it.

Look out for a future post on some thoughts about getting some good photos from your aircraft. And, of course, the link to the YouTube video of Mike’s red Foxbat and that tricky little bush strip.

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