When I was young, I had a habit of poring through national park books, fantasizing about visiting them all. Now I’m a part-time aerial adventure photographer, and I’ve been able to fly my Piper PA-11 Cub Special plane over many of the places I used to daydream over.
In a few instances, I have made it a point to fly over a park. But many of my best national park shots happen on unplanned trips. While in pursuit of another item to photograph from the air, I happen to find myself flying through one of the national parks. Distraction takes over and I forget about my initial project.
Since we’re celebrating the national parks centennial, these are some favorite shots that I’ve taken over the last four years. I like the aerial perspective as it’s a fast track to seeing the full magnitude of a park’s beauty. I continue to find unbelievable hidden places inside the park system from the air.
Photo: On this particular morning in September 2015, I was hoping to photograph nine peaks over 14,000 feet (five of them are viewable on the horizon where the clouds touch the peaks). Approaching from the airport in Alamosa, Colorado, the entire scene was shadowed by the rising sun, and I was convinced the entire exercise was going to be a waste of time. As I rode the winds to gain altitude over the Sangre de Cristo Range foothills, attempting to get a good angle on four fourteeners behind me, this panorama opened up.