Dream job: being the official photographer of the US Air Force Thunderbirds squad

by Felix Esser

posted Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 1:21 PM EST

Let's be honest: how many of us wanted to be a jet fighter pilot growing up? And then when we got older and discovered our love for photography, how many of uses wanted to be photographers? Well, here's a guy who made both dreams become a reality.

Sgt Larry Reid Jr. of the US Air Force is not only a jet fighter pilot, he is also a photographer. And because he is able to keep his stomach's contents to himself at seven Gs and at the same time take pictures out of the canopy of a jet fighter, he is also a US Air Force photojournalist and one of two official photographers of the USAF Thunderbirds air demonstration squadron.

In his career, Sgt Reid gets to do things that most of us can only dream of. Not only does he get to take flights all around the country at 500 mph, he also gets to photograph jet fighters in action, in front of some of the most beautiful scenery that the United States of America have to offer. And it's not one or the other -- it's both at the same time.

For his aerial photography adventures, which he likes to describe as a "rollercoaster on steroids," Reid uses two Nikon camera bodies with a set of lenses ranging from 16mm wide-angle to 105mm telephoto. In order to prevent reflections from the canopy of the jet he sits in, Reid not only wears black gloves and a dark helmet (unlike his teammates who wear helmets painted in red, white and blue,) he also covers part of himself and the instrument panel in front of him with black cloths.

If you want to learn more about Reid's job that has him photograph fighter jets mid-flight, sometimes only several feet away from the jet he sits in, travelling at speeds of 500 mph and above, experiencing several Gs of pressure all while trying to keep his camera steady... then indulge in the video below, which was created by Jaron Schneider of Fstoppers. More of Reid's amazing photographs can be found below the video as well as over at the USAF Thunderbirds website.






(via PetaPixel. Photographs by Sergeant Larry Reid Jr./USAF)