Science fiction turns into reality

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Maurice A. Hodges
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
As a child, I recall seeing an Air Force commercial of a KC-135 Stratotanker refueling two F-117A Nighthawks, but those aircrafts were not what etched the commercial into my memory. It was the moment of seeing a B-2 Spirit approaching the KC-135.

The oddly shaped plane seemed somewhat extraterrestrial to me.

As a military photographer, I shoot everything from portraits to mission aerial shots. The highlights of my new Air Force career have been photographing planes.

Today's Air Force photographer must be a well-informed individual and know what to expect to get the best shots.

Before a shoot, as does any photographer, I research as much information as possible about my subject. When I found out I was going on a flight refueling B-2s, I began researching the history of the B-2s and saw pictures that others have taken.

Being new to the Air Force, I was excited about getting my first chance to photograph a plane that has lain dormant in my memories for years.

The moment I saw the B-2 approaching, I felt science fiction turn into reality. I remembered what it was it was like to be a kid again, and there was no comparison to seeing a B-2 in real life.

What made this mission exceptional was that the B-2 was flying during the golden hour-- the last hour of sunlight during the day. Shooting during the golden hour is a photographers dream because of the softer and "warmer" lighting. These ideal conditions turned the war fighting machine into a piece of artwork art.

As a photographer, I wanted to properly display the beauty of this aircraft, but I did not expect how challenging it would be.

"Pilots love to have photos of themselves," said Courtney Witt, a former Air Force photographer. "The B-2 pilots are willing to work with you if you if you need to get a special shot."

At the end of the flight, my fellow photographer and I departed the plane with great photos and footage, evidence that the oddly shaped planes are no longer science fiction; it is my reality.

I now feel part of something greater than myself because I share a role in documenting the B-2s, like the commercial in my childhood.

I'm ensuring that they are preserved historically for future generations.